Audience of fans

2 decades on, rock band K’s Choice still ‘humbled’ by Israeli love

‘I’m trying to talk a lot so I can stay here longer,’ lead singer Sam Bettens tells crowd in Tel Aviv

The Bettens siblings and members of Belgian band K's Choice on stage at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv on December 16, 2019 (Courtesy Alon Levin)
The Bettens siblings and members of Belgian band K's Choice on stage at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv on December 16, 2019 (Courtesy Alon Levin)

Belgium’s Gert and Sam Bettens, the siblings of rock band K’s Choice, showed their love and affection for their Israeli fans at Monday night’s performance in Tel Aviv’s Hangar 11.

In return, the pair and their band received thunderous applause and howls from the crowd. It was K’s Choice’s eighth time performing in Israel, but the first with Sam Bettens performing as a male. It’s only been a few months since he announced on social media that he was transitioning from Sarah Bettens.

The band hit the stage in matching denim shirts, belting out “We Are The Universe” to the thrilled audience.

Sam Bettens’s signature enigmatic sound was still there, despite fears from fans that his voice might change due to his transition to male. Bettens made a coming-out video in May, announcing that he was taking hormones but was working with a voice coach.

“It’s been a crazy year for me, thank you to everyone that showed me support,” he told the crowd.

Hailing from Antwerp, K’s Choice has always made it clear it has a special connection to Israel.

“People asked us before we came here, what makes your relationship so special between K’s Choice and Israel? And I don’t know, I think it’s you guys,” said Sam Bettens. “We love being here, thank you so much for being here tonight.”

K’s Choice first played in Tel Aviv back in 1999 when it opened for Garbage at the same venue. There was an air of nostalgia on Monday night, as many of the fans were teenagers when K’s Choice first came to Israel.

K’s Choice Sam Bettens, formerly known as Sarah Bettens, came out as transgender last year, and was warmed by the reactions of the Tel Aviv crowd on December 16, 2019 (Courtesy Alon Levin)

“When we first came here about 20 years ago, we were so surprised because we felt so lucky we could come to this beautiful place and play, but we had zero expectations that anyone was going to know our songs and we were so surprised to see people sing along and I have to tell you after all these years we are so humbled that you come and watch us play,” said Sam Bettens.

The strong affection between the band and the audience was clear throughout Monday night’s concert. One fan threw a gift onstage, a T-shirt with the message “Kiss whoever the F**K you want.”

Sam Bettens showed it to the crowd with great glee.

K’s Choice Sam Bettens at Tel Aviv’s Hangar 11 on December 16, 2019 (Courtesy Alon Levin)

“Have you ever had a body massage?” he asked. “It’s almost impossible to enjoy it until the end as I know it’s going to end. It’s kind of how I feel today, I’m trying to talk a lot so I can stay here longer.”

The two-hour show was replete with multiple hits from the group’s 27 years of recording. The band provided a slick, faultless performance, changing guitars at the beginning of every song.

The performance of “Not an Addict” from its 1996 album “Paradise in Me” pleased the crowd, as the audience bellowed the lyrics over Sam Bettens’s voice.

One surprise of the evening was a powerful rendition of “Mr. Freeze ” and “Everything for Free” by legendary Israeli husband and wife rockers Tom Petrover and Orit Shahaf of local band HaYehudim.

Shahaf and Sam Bettens harmonized together, backed by Petrover and Gert Bettens’s guitar work.

Sam Bettens (left) and Orit Shahaf perform together at Belgian band K’s Choice performance in Tel Aviv, Monday, December 16, 2019 (Courtesy Alon Levin)

“Who is pleasantly surprised?” asked Bettens, as the crowd went into a frenzy.

Just when the audience thought the show was over, K’s Choice reappeared on stage and performed a moving a capella version of “Killing Dragons” that warmed the hearts of the crowd as it made its way out to the cold winter night.

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