Even though this little bar is easily overlooked between all the tourist establishments that fill the streets around the Grand Place, the Brussels-based music enthusiasts know that this place provides a steady stream of laid-back electronic music nights. With alternative DJs on rotation until dawn every day, this unsuspected business is a local favourite for the ones that like their music without Top 40 hits or blaring midrange overkill. Just a few weeks ago, this graciously named establishment celebrated its third birthday – but, unfortunately, that’s probably going to be last time they do so. For a look back over these past years and a preview of what’s to come, we gave Axel Nalesso (bartender, resident and artistic director) some questions we were dying to ask…
In your own words: what does Épicerie Moderne stand for?
"Spreading electronic music in all its forms and developing the local scene."
Do you actually have DJ-sets every night like your Facebook profile tells us?
"Yes! Well, every night we are opened, at least. So that’s each week from Thursday until Sunday, from 10PM to 6AM."
For a bar - rather than a club - you have always curated surprisingly deep and alternative lineups. Did you never feel the pressure to book more accessible stuff to draw in more people?
"To be honest, we never felt that pressure. We are a small venue, so it actually plays in our advantage. Luckily, we can pull off risky lineups without much actual risk."
What are the challenges of running a bar with late, loud music practically ‘on’ the Grand Place in Brussels?
"The biggest challenge - by far - is acceptance by our neighbours and visiting tourists. It’s not always easy, but in the end the location contributes to an interesting mix of a cosmopolite audience and local regular customers."
What’s your take on the current state of nightlife in Brussels? Especially after the lockdown period 2 years ago? How did you see it change during the 3 years you are open to the public?
"We still feel the scars of this time, but today we try to focus on a better future, filled with new projects."
Where does the name actually come from? Did this place used to be a grocery store?
"‘Épicerie is actually the nickname of our founder. Jeremy’s last name sounds a bit like ‘spicier’ in French, which means ‘grocer’ – hence the name, really. Unfortunately this was never an actual grocery."
What are the best memories you have after three years of Épicerie Moderne?
"There are tons of good memories, but if we have to choose, I’d say Blao’s party with Ichon, Orpheu and Low Jack and Ron Morelli going B2B, the times Rick Shiver invited Phuong Dan or Toulouse Low Trax on his Nose Job parties, ... Honestly, there is so much more, but we will keep the best to ourselves (winks)."
Were there low points as well?
"Yes, there were. We’ve been put under a lot of pressure by our landlord and the local authorities. This year alone we’ve had 5 big inspections already. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a current, untenable situation; so it’s with great sadness we have to mention that Épicerie Moderne will close sooner than later. But don’t let that get you down, we’re already working on the next thing!"
Are there still some nights on the agenda we shouldn’t miss out on?
"There’s an all night long B2B session between Exal and ABSL from Blocaus on December 9. Finally, obviously, there’s going to be loads of good music played here on New Year’s Eve!"
Experience the final nights at Épicerie Moderne, every week from Thursday until Sunday, between 10PM and 6AM on Rue des Chapeliers 30, 1000 Brussels.
For the complete schedule, head over to its Facebook page.