Here we are, Groezrock 2013 is the best way to celebrate the opening of a fabulous festival season (and the end of the school year for many, many students, including myself). A sunny Saturday in the city of Meerhout, Belgium.
Okay, we’ve missed the first bands of the day, but we’ve managed to kick off things right, midday with CROSSFAITH. The japanese electronic hardcore band knows how to wake up the crowds and they’ve showed it with the very first song of their set which sounds like a “let the party begin!”. It was really entertaining and pleasing to see people of all kinds all dancing and losing their minds to the electronic metal core outfit, this is a great festival opening for us and also another win for the Japanese in Crossfaith, these guys have made it in Europe, outdating all the well established bands of the genre here and it’s only the beginning. It’s already their second time in the continent within a few months and they’re supporting BMTH on their UK headliner next. Road to success? I guess so.
No time to rest, we’re already rushing to the Etnies stage where the Dutch punk rockers in JOHN COFFEY are already destroying it. A lot of people showed up (we’re kind of in their territory after all) and the least I can say is that they blew my mind. The songs are absolutely brilliant, genuinely well shaped and performed. This is real 2013 punk rock, paradoxically clean work but trashy at the same time. From the beginning, until the end, there’s not a second in which things cooled down, and the ‘no barrier’ policy of this stage helped a lot in getting things wilder! Non stop crowd surfing, a lot of moshing and a crazy band on stage (Singer David climbed the tent structure for instance). Here’s what made JOHN COFFEY‘s efficient rock a success. This was without any doubt one of my highlights at this festival! Excellent band, excellent music, really, go check it out!
Now it’s time to go and grab a well deserved drink to overcome this mental performance that felt just like a huge slap in the face. Right after that, we hit back the Etnies stage, which was almost fully packed for the canadian hardcore band OBEY THE BRAVE. This is their second time in Europe and people seem like they’d been waiting for them. Without being the performance of the year, OBEY THE BRAVE did their job quite well which was more than satisfying to any metal / hardcore lover and judging by the public’s reception, they will surely be back soon!
After walking around a bit (yes we needed to fuel on a few Monster Energy drinks) exploring the festival site, it’s 17:00 already, meaning one on the bands we were anticipating the most were getting ready to go on stage. Needless to say, pretty much everyone in Meerhout was anticipating their performance, as the Etnies seemed to be THE place to be for like 45 minutes. It’s only a matter of minutes before the stage is invaded by devoted fans of the outfit and the Walnut Creek guys seem to be overwhelmed by such a response. Indeed, they’re not used to play Europe and the lack of The Story So Far in our lands can be easily perceived right now. There’s a lot of emotion in the air and sometimes you don’t even know if people are screaming, singing or crying (or both?) and it is really pleasant to witness such a connection between fans and artists. Wanna know what I am talking about? Check out this live video of Quicksand. ….Too bad we came over too late and had to watch it almost form outside the tent.
Anyway, this was a pretty nice spot to check out the small Macbeth Stage (my second favorite, yes, you know we love small up and coming bands here at P/I HQs) and luckily the Swedes in Like Torches were getting ready for their show. Formerly called You Ate My Dog, new directions gave birth to Like Torches, who were lucky enough to get to work with some notable pop rock artists, such as Ryan Mendez of Yellowcard. I usually say that Sweden is a good land of music and the guys in Like Torches confirmed it once again here. Perfectly clean and well-shaped set, they’ve got energy and the will to give and share, even though there are only a very few people watching them playing. It’s honorable and they look happy and blessed. Great job!
What’s next? Oh the sweet dilemma! The moment you and your friends are taking separate ways. Three options : Trapped Under Ice, Emmure or Frank Turner. Honestly, I’d have loved to do everything (minus Emmure, I confess.), but my choice directed towards the Etnies Stage, once again, for Trapped Under Ice. After an epic introduction (see video below), time for the guys and their muscles to hit the stage. They’re back in the ol’ continent and I’m very glad I made that choice because a) It was my first time seeing them and their performance was terrific b) they’re taking a two-year break right after that, so thank god I did the right choice! On a more serious note, the Maryland hardcorers played a consistent set, alternating songs taken from all their directory, which was a delight. There’s no need to mention all the craziness that took over the place, once again, I’m impressed and satisfied with my choice. And I am even able to catch the latest minutes of Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls for a song or two on the main stage. Another artist on my bucket list, that I have enjoyed a lot on stage, even for a short period of time.
The next biggest meet up was the one for Hatebreed, a few minutes later, at the main stage. I bet you know their song Destroy Everything? Well, it just sums up what happens during their show, just as usual. You.can’t.stay.static when watching Hatebreed on stage, you have that urge to actually destroy everything, or at least mosh around like crazy.Yet another of the rare bands of the genre I’ve seen gathering this many people around their music, wherever they go and THIS specific performance at Groezrock is another performance of it. With a great 21-song setlist, let’s say that Hatebreed opened up solid the evening party!
Still not enough? Just wait! Do we have a half an hour break? Let’s check out another band! A band we don’t know? Alright, Impericon Stage, a dark Impericon Stage, with only a bunch of people watching, or actually staring at a strange group of performers; And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Not only they had weird gestures (but hey, artists are all weirdos), but this is probably the first time I see band members casually changing roles twice or thrice during a show. “But hey, wasn’t the singer playing drums earlier? Yes, and the drummer is now on the guitars”. Okay then, that’s the entertaining part. As of the music itself, it’s pretty good, the atmosphere set is somehow hypnotizing, and the vocal performance is pretty impressive, it’s captivating. I am conquered and pleasantly surprised. I don’t forget to head back to the main stage right after that in order to see the veterans of punk music of the day, called PENNYWISE. How could I miss them? Down to earth and honest performance, ending with the legendary (and catchy) Bro Hymn, that all of the festival attendees will sing, scream and shout until the end of the weekend.
Am I tired yet? I think so. After a very short night, 9:30pm in the cold sounds just like bedtime for me but eh, sleep is for the weak! Still, I went to have some rest at the campsite. Which is why I spent almost the whole set of Rise Against (which has started at midnight) fighting the tiredness. Ain’t no blasphemy, my body was in total control! However, I managed to enjoy their long and beautiful performance, don’t worry. I quite felt like death mid-set, though. But let’s not talk about myself, please, no one is interested. I had an absolute blast in all seriousness. There are some songs that are so immense to me that I couldn’t believe I actually was standing there, watching it live and for real. The band delivered an amazing performance, involving a lot of emotion (through a few acoustic songs for example) and great sense of sharing. The fact that they communicate a lot with the audience was amazing to see and listening to a blend of so many old and new songs, classics such as Ready To Fall for instance were a highlight of the set.
Also, some quality guests made an appearance, which made things even more pleasant. Seeing such a big crowd singing from the top of their lungs so many anthemic-choruses was a blast. And here I am, finishing a long and busy first day of festival on a magic note, ready to go and meet some sweet dreams inside my sleeping bag. It’s 1:15 am and I still don’t know that I’m not going straight to my tent tonight again. I blame Belgian beers, DJ Mike Rock and Alex Baker for this!
Originally posted on BTC.COM