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Electrifying songs, a sold out auditorium and the usual cheerful athmosphere. The Humanistic Song Festival was once again a hit with the Brussels’ student community. The night’s winner? A bunch of convincing ‘Old Bags’ with their song “Wie anders?” (Who else?).
The Humanistic Song Festival is the annual song contest in which the student organisations of Vrije Universiteit Brussel go head to head. Each organisation can submit lyrics and a recording to BSG (Brussels StudentenGenoothschap), the organizers of the event. Based on the submissions 12 teams were selected to perform their act on the main stage of auditorium Q, which was transformed from a room that holds serious - sometimes tedious - lectures into a concert venue complete with music, ambiance and beers. This year’s edition was already the 31st running of this student tradition.
The lyrics vary from playful to serious and critical, but remain true to the edition’s theme, which this year was titled ‘F*ck BSG! No hard feelings’. Why you ask? Well, the overarching student organisation isn’t always equally popular with students. Many point a finger in their direction when something goes wrong or changes on campus. No more glasses allowed at St. Vé? BSG! Other decibel standards or closing times for parties? BSG! Annoying security staff at events? You guessed it, BSG! Therefore BSG invited everyone to do some old school society bashing, but not without a healthy dose of self-mockery.
Entering the auditorium to live music, seeing klakken everywhere and beer galore. It is clear that this is not your average weekly lecture.
The evening is opened by two very enthusiastic presenters who kick off the event by announcing the renowned ‘BSG-dance’. The opening scene of the Song Festival so to speak. BSG has clearly made an effort to go above and beyond in their own effort to adhere to the theme of critiquing and mocking society and self. Traditional Belgian folklore figures Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet are ridiculed and even assaulted, after which a number of animals - the VUB fox and frog - are abused, a clear reference to Gaia-gate of a few weeks ago.
Next up: vice rector education and student affairs Jan Danckaert. The newly appointed vice rector leaves a great impression. Although, Danckaert announces he’s never before attended the Humanistic Song Festival, as he had up till a few weeks ago, never attended a full St. Vé and that he studied in Antwerp. His natural charisma and playful demeanor allow him to get away with it, even in this crowd of student folklore habitués.
Luck of the draw allowed the ‘Old Bags’, a sextet of alumni, some recently graduated, some with a little more mileage on their tellers, to kick the evening off. Often the audience tends to be fresh, gladsome and attentive at the start of the song festival and groups that are among the first to perform reaped the benefits of that early slot on numerous previous occasions. Things are no different this year. Obviously the place on the bill is not the only reason for their success, lyrics and musical arrangement play an even bigger part. In their song, the ‘Old Bags’ jokingly laid blame for all society’s problems with BSG. Perfectly tuned polyphonous voices with minimalistic percussion turned out to be the ideal way of conveying that message. Their performance reminded many to folky Laïs.
Aside from the first jury price, the‘Ouwe Zakken’ also won the Prijs der Barden and the public’s choice award. The Kring der Brusselse en Brabantse Studenten (KBS) took home the Prijs der Vrijzinnigheid and the second jury price. Finally the West-Vlaamse Universitaire Kring (WUK) was awarded the third jury price.