Two years ago, you could've waterboarded me while asking questions about Liège. You'd get nothing from me. Because I knew nothing. Except that it's a city in the south of Belgium. No, fuck... in the east. See? Nothing. Now I know two things: it has this cute vintage store my girlfriend loves. And it has two bands I really fell in love with. So I asked them to tell you more about their city. Here's your guide to Liège, according to vocalist Aurélie Poppins from punk band Cocaine Piss and Damien Aresta, vocalist and guitarist for noise enthusiasts It It Anita.
PRT: What made you first fall in love with the city?
Aurélie: The music scene. A few years ago, we were spending most of our time going to Liège from other cities to go to shows. At some point before he had his place here, Mathias crashed for 5 months or something on a mattress at Mathieu’s, who was organizing all the shows. We had to move.
Damien: I was born and I grow up here. I had no choice but to love the city. I tried another one, I lived in Brussels for 8 years, but at the end, people from Luik always come back to Luik.
PRT: If you had to come up with a marketing slogan for the city, what would it be?
Aurélie: Liège, less shitty than you think.
Damien: Luik. Beautiful Ugliness. Or the one I often use: Luik. Capital of the world.
PRT: Best place to go for a late night drink after the show?
Damien: Lou’s bar is the place to go if you want to see one-or-two piece rockabilly/rocknroll acts
Aurélie: Mathias’ place. Seriously, it’s huge. He even calls it “The castle”. Yup, tables have turned, Mathias has his own place now and it’s awesome. Mathieu is relieved.
PRT: Best place to play?
Aurélie: The castle! Great atmosphere. Tons of space. They’re having Rocky Votolato on the upcoming tour. Mathieu is obviously putting the show.
Damien: La Zone is the perfect underground place. It has been there for almost 30 years now. There is also a new place — well, not new, but new dynamics took control — called Kultura, where a lot of cool collective organise cool parties and shows.
PRT: Best place to go for a late night snack after the drink after the show?
Aurélie: We didn’t find THE place yet. It’s a giant hole in our lives.
Damien: If you’re lucky enough to grab a falafel at Murat’s, they are the best! Impossible to know exactly when it’s open though. Which is why I said 'lucky' in the first sentence.
PRT: Best touristy thing to do in the city?
Aurélie: La montagne de Bueren. It’s a super huge staircase. 347 steps, so it sucks a lot to climb there but then you get to slide down the ramp and it’s a pretty fucking awesome 2 minutes of your life.
Damien: La Montagne de Bueren. It’s not the best but it’s a cool thing. In 2013, it was ranked as #1 on The Huffington Post's list of Most Extreme Staircases.
PRT: Best hidden spot in the city?
Damien: The best coffee in town: Grand Maison. Food is excellent, desserts are homemade, everything is local… If you’re in Luik someday, go there! It’s more of day thing as it closes at 16:00 (it’s also closed on Saturday and Tuesday), but these girls have the sunniest place in the city.
Aurélie: We have that park in the coteaux. Yay you have to climb even more stairs to reach it! It’s super well hidden. It’s the kind of place some people show you, but you’re not really paying attention, and then you never find it back when trying to go on your own. There’s an awesome view on the city and the roofs.
PRT: One thing you would like to see changed in the city?
Aurélie: The city just destroyed the squat on the corner of Mathias’s street to build a police station instead. Super gross.
Damien: It’s not about the city, it’s about the citizens. I’ve noticed that people here often tend to criticize any new initiative immediately, without even giving it a chance or just 'because we have to give a bad opinion'. That pisses me off. Because it is always people who are comfortably installed behind a computer or in a soft couch who shit on these initiatives. That’s a bit exhausting, because on the other side, there are a lot of people who have twice as much energy. That’s also why the city’s cultural and artistic aspects are growing right now.
PRT: What's your best memory about the city?
Damien: Leaving Luik because I was seeing the same people at the same places every night . Then, coming back to Luik 8 years later to see the same people at the same places.
Aurélie: When we started Cocaine Piss. It was the summer, it was warm as fuck that week. We stayed in a shitty parking basement for most of the week to come up with a first set to play a few days after. The practice room was cold and wet. And full of asbestos, we found out midway. Every few hours or so we were going out of the basement to get some sun on the sideway. And beers. That was so chill. Damn that was a sweet summer.
PRT: Favorite song about your city you'd like to share, either yours or someone else's?
Aurélie: People don’t seem to sing a lot about Liège. Probably they have some football songs but let’s not go there. Wikipedia says there’s one by Brel. Not a big hit I guess. Amsterdam took it all. The song is about snowing on Liège. It’s all white, and the river is grey. “Le crrrrroissant noirrrrr de la meuse sur le frrrrront d’un clown blanc”.
Damien: It’s a song by Italian singer Adriano Celentano. It’s absolutely NOT about Luik, but there’s that lyrics that could fit: Ma ho capito in un momento: tu sei fatta per il rock (I understood immediately : you are made for rock)