One Upon a Time in the Town of Meerhout… (#1)

Groezrock 2015 © Morgan Legars // www.plugin-mag.com
Groezrock 2015 © Morgan Legars // www.plugin-mag.com
…The sun was timidly shining as the early risers slowly wake up from a short and cold first night. And what’s better than a Joyce Manor set to kick off an eventful weekend? Perfect wake up call we say! The band’s heartfelt melodies will warm everyone’s hearts and as we where melting from the inside listening to Catalina Fight Song (and that was only 2 songs in), we soon realized that with too many emotions flowing already, the next 48 hours were not going to be easy to handle! Joyce Manor even played a Weezer cover, before wrapping up their appearance with Constant Headache and everyone wishing this lasted a few more…Hours.
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Speaking of the many emotions that would roam all over our minds, The Swellers didn’t fail to provoke them, with their show at Groezrock being their last ever performance. It was very early and still, a lot of people gathered at the main stage to give them the goodbye they deserve and while the atmosphere seemed rather calm, we could see most of the people smiling and singing along to songs such as Runaways and Inside My Head, Dirt and Should. Of course it all warmed up a little more when the first notes of The Best I Ever Had kicked in and everyone slowly realizing all the good things must come to an end. Even inside the band, the reactions varied, between some of the band members staying on stage a few more minutes to hug each other while others quickly left the stage after a bittersweet goodbye.
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One of the performances we were really looking forward to was Set Things Right opening the Impericon Stage. Nearly twelve months after releasing their sophomore album ‘This Is Home’, this was probably another achievement unlocked for them after quite a busy year. Somehow they didn’t get the best luck, having to face technical difficulties. Set Things Right however kept things going with a lot of confidence, showing their growth as a band. Following up with songs such as Feeding Snakes, Don’t Close Your Eyes and their popular cover for Fairytales Gone Bad, these guys clearly know their craft and invest the stage pretty well. The tent was filled and the response to their performance turned out to be great despite everything, showing that -as well as being excellent representants of their music scene in Belgium – Set Things Right have a good community of fans and supporters in the country.
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Speaking of the local scene, we also did a quick trip to the Macbeth stage for the only time of the day to watch a bit of Wolves Scream; a post-hardcore band from Namur, who caught out attention last year. We’ve been keeping an eye on them since then and the good news is that they didn’t disappoint at all! Wolves Scream know how to deliver a good performance, as well as having fun on stage, allowing therefore their audience to feel good and enjoy their time. An audience that has warmly welcomed them, giving the band an incredibly active response with many people fully involved. We had fun and we liked the music. Most of all, we had fun and that’s a good thing.
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So we’re still kicking off gently and we decide to go have a look at the Back To Basics stage for Set It Off, as we know this is a band that is fairly entertaining live. The Floridians have a particularly strong stage presence, lead by charismatic frontman Cody Carson and his powerful voice. That day, however, was probably not what they wished for, as they had to face technical issues that lasted. It resulted in them starting to perform at least 15minutes late to a nearly empty tent. This was a shame and despite acting with good will, and handling things professionally, we’re not sure it really went off and we sadly had to leave after only two songs because While She Sleeps were about to perform a few meters away.
We’re back at the Impericon stage where we are about to drop our first beads of sweat. Ever since they came back with ‘Brainwashed’ after a lot of time off allowing them to rest (and to heal), it seems like While She Sleeps have been taking things to the next level. As they entered the stage, the Sheffield boys got the whole packed crowd moving, following up songs – mainly from their latest release – such as monumental opener New World Torture, Brainwashed, seemingly new fan favorite Our Legacy, as well as older numbers such as Death Toll, Crows and Seven Hills. While She Sleeps even invited a fan to sing a song with them, which reminded us how close these guys remain to their audience. They haven’t changed a bit and remain faithful to themselves, despite becoming more successful and filling up bigger stages. And this is something we really do enjoy about them because it definitely adds something even more powerful to their performances, making it always a great time one can have. In all honesty this was one of the best While She Sleeps performances we’ve ever seen!
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Speaking of muscular performances, Cancer Bats, who were also While She Sleeps’ tour-mates until that day teared up the Back To Basics stage to say the least. The Canadians are back in full force now that they have released the acclaimed ‘Searching For Zeros’, quickly turning the heavily packed tent in utter mayhem. No barricades meant even more madness with people literally flying everywhere from the stage. Cancer Bats graced our ears with a consistent set of old and new songs, from Hail Destroyer to True Zero, including the catchy Bricks and Mortar and of course their legendary cover for Beastie Boys’ Sabotage. This one climbed up to a new level when Oathbreaker’s vocalist appeared to shout a few lyrics before jumping into the crowd. Oathbreaker had just finished a tour with Cancer Bats and While She Sleeps and it was a way for the Bats to honor them in their home country.
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That non-barricade is clearly a thing at Groezrock and probably one of our favorite places to be during the festival. It’s not always easy to get in when you get there mid-set of practically any band play it but it’s definitely worth it! Trash Talk are another band who turned it into pure chaos, with their super short and super fast songs. In complete Trash Talk fashion, frontman Lee Spielman spent his whole time shouting in the middle of the crowd while everyone was relentlessly stage diving. This is another band who has a lovely relationship with Belgium who’s always welcoming them with open arms. Even though it isn’t necessarily the genre of music everyone appreciates, this is a band that’s totally worth the watch at least once in a lifetime.
In a complete other genre, Atreyu made their big return in our continent, which brought back memories and nostalgia to a whole generation of fans. Playing the Main Stage, Atreyu provided us with their anthemic heavy rock. They obviously know how to put on a good show. Although it wasn’t a big highlight of the festival, we had a great time watching them. They have a certain aura on stage and vocal skills no one can deny. Bass player Porter McKnight, especially, has tons of energy that we weren’t quite expecting. Atreyu even played a fun Bon Jovi cover that got everyone dancing.
Speaking of legends, Pennywise, who are now regulars of Belgian festivals were here one more time to provide us with enjoyable classic punk music and good times. Maybe they’re getting old, but they’re still rocking! After all, we all still find comfort in their kind of father figure, so their presence at festivals is always welcome…Especially when we know that Bro Hymn is definitely a festival anthem over here!
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Also regular but always efficient; the presence of both The Ghost Inside and Stick To Your Guns who are two of the most popular bands of this generation. Always touring, always putting out great music, both of these bands always get everyone to agree and gather a lot of people, to say the least. They have their anthems everyone loves singing from the top of their lungs and even it’s something we’re now used to see, it’s still moving and still beautiful to witness. From Stick To Your Guns’ “We Still Believe” to The Ghost Inside’s “Engine 45” and these popular ‘All my life I’ve been searching for something/ To break these chains/To break these chains/But I’ll keep swinging’ lines that a whole crowd of thousands kept going even when the music ended. These are bands with a real sense of sharing as well as a real love for music, with a positive message to deliver and they honestly never disappoint.
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Since this first day started with many feelings and emotions involved, it could of course not just disappear in the blink of an eye and it’s around 11pm that we all have a special rendez-vous at the Back To Basics aka the non-barricade stage for yet another beautiful, beautiful escape. Defeater are in fact playing a show and we are more than happy to finally see them back in full force after one year, during which frontman Derek Archambault had to face some health issues. Fortunately, all of this is behind them now and Defeater are standing here, ready to perform. Once again, things got off pretty quickly and it was a strange blend of movement and admiration that was growing inside the tent, with people jumping everywhere, stage diving but singing their hearts out at the same time as if their whole life would depend on it. Brothers, Empty Glass, Dear Father, Cowardice and a few others followed up in a brutally sweet atmosphere. Defeater are brilliant and they took everything we had left, leaving us happily empty.
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Of course what is a Groezrock day without the classic legendary headliner? Social Distortion were completing this duty on day 1, bringing together all the festival-goers, who despite having had a long day were still asking for more music (and more beer), because well…Ain’t no rest for the wicked, right? However you could feel that it was late in the day, because the atmosphere wasn’t really close to a party, however we have this theory that people were actually calm out of respect and enjoying the music rather than going mental, to a music that isn’t necessarily something you can move all over the place to. After all, they had quite some legends facing them.
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Another good thing is that there weren’t that many horrible clashes on that day, except for Frank Iero and the Cellabration that we had to miss because While She Sleeps were playing at the same time (decisions…) and Ceremony clashing with The Ghost Inside, but overall we managed to schedule our day without really suffering so that was a good thing.
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And to finish we will just share some thoughts we had at some point during the day; “Dear Groezrock, thank you for crushing my heart from day 1, I’m still wondering how to survive day 2.”
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Photos : Morgan L. // www.plugin-mag.com

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