A bit of everything: 16 years of MODFEST in Hasselt


January is not known as a month with an abundance of parties. After a heavy December, filled with extravagant events of all sorts, climaxing with NYE, many people need their three-week rest to overcome the party fatigue. But, at some point, someone needs to be the first to throw a big event to mark the beginning of the new club season. MODFEST has gladly been taking on this role in Limburg for the past 16 years.

Taking place at Muziekodroom in Hasselt, the concept of this festival – music for everyone, all genres are welcome – has been left virtually untouched since the first edition. “Generally MODFEST has no musical boundaries. It's an event for alternative music lovers, so everyone has something to like. There are 4 rooms with techno, house, electronica, rock, booty, hip hop, disco, jazz, crazy experimental stuff or just pure atmospheric soundscapes – everything is there. As long as it's danceable, it's possible”, says Kristof Claes, one of the co-promoters of MODFEST.

Such a wide variety can be intimidating for people who are not familiar with the event, but the 1500 ravers that visit every year know what to expect. After all, Muziekodroom used to be a rock-only venue. “MODFEST was the first ‘dance music' experiment here”, explains Claes. “Next to DJs, live sets have always been very important to us. On the first edition in 2000 Harvey Lee performed a crazy live disco show and ever since we’ve had a room with a full live lineup”. That creates the ideal combo between a rock festival and a club night. “It’s the combination of live performances and DJs in variable genres is what makes the concept timeless. You never know what to expect, but you know you're gonna have a lot of fun”.

Next to mastering the live aspect, acts at this event should also have a strong tendency to go full experimental. “Over the years we’ve invited had acts like a dressed-up Hard Ton, Dopplereffekt, MMM, Drvg Culture, Kenji Minogue, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool or Legowelt. All of them are very visual and in-your-face artists that you can’t particularly classify as boring".

While this ruckus is going on in the ‘live room’, the main room is reserved for the bigger house, techno and electro headliners. And sometimes, there’s more to discover in places you won’t find easily. “Every year we revamp a small room somewhere in the venue – sometimes secretly”, adds Claes. “Last year we transformed the classroom in this building into an acid, booty and ghetto house club. Once we did a party in the cloakroom – and this year we’re doing a special disco room with only young DJs on the bill”.

But don’t be mistaken. It’s not a big festival with a massive hall. That’s why Muziekodroom is the perfect location for such an event. With its many different rooms, crevices and stairways, one could easily get lost. And that seems to be the point. You could wander from cosy room to cosy room and never get bored. “There are surprises everywhere. Last year we installed a huge ‘Pong’ game. Two buttons were all people saw until you pushed them, and then... the games were on!”

At this stage, one would almost forget to mention this year’s lineup, which – by the way – looks crispy as hell with a formidable headliner. Claes elaborates: “I-F is a legend, a true pioneer! I used to buy all his electro and italo records. With surprising sets going from acid house, dark industrial breaks to pure italo or even with the occasional ABBA thrown in. This is what MODFEST is all about”!

Lastly, Claes doesn’t forget the roots. The event may have many big names to draw the bulk of visitors, at the base it remains a festival rooted in the Limburg scene – and that can be noticed by the support for local acts. “Bands or DJs that rise up through Limbomania or DJ-Mania (the local talent contests, red.) always get a chance here. Gewelt and Konna are doing a little back to back with some old school disco and The Whatevers will be – as tradition dictates – closing down the after party in the MOD Café with the best singalong bombs”.

So, whether you’re into italo disco, ‘real’ electro or fancy a decent rock performance – MODFEST has got you covered. See you on one of the dancefloors at Muziekodroom this weekend!

MODFEST 2016 AFTERMOVIE from Muziekodroom on Vimeo.

Info and tickets can be found here.

*Pictures by Magali Merzougui