This year’s edition of Groezrock – their 25th anniversary – was an odd one. No means to set a negative tone here, but as a 25-year-old, punk/hardcore-loving kid this year’s line-up wasn’t quite what I expected or hoped for. And looking at the comment feed of the Groezrock Facebook-page and the amount of friends who didn’t think it was worth buying a ticket, people felt the same. Add the horrific weather forecast, and we weren’t off to a good start. However, with some highlights to look forward to, we set off with good hope for an ever awesome weekend in Meerhout.
Arriving at the festival site at around 6pm on Friday afternoon, our biggest surprise was the total mix-up of the festival tents. The Back To Basics and Impericon tents were set up right next to each other with sets planned back-to-back. The best part: the Impericon tent is now identical to the Back To Basics stage, which means, NO BARRIERS! The Monster Energy tent, the Watch Out stage and the mini American Socks tent were on the other side of the festival site – they created a funnel with stairs so it kid of felt like there were two areas. In a way it was weird that they mixed everything up as you didn’t get that typical “AHHH YEAHHH LET THE GROEZROCK WEEKEND BEGIN” feeling when you enter the festival site for the first time. On the other hand they improved a lot of things so it’s definitely a good step forward.
As said earlier, this year’s bill didn’t offer much regarding up and coming hardcore bands. Sure, Youth of Today, Dag Nasty, Burn and Sick Of It All are all amazing bands who’ve influenced a ton of bands I listen to today. But I kind of missed the bands that I currently listen to. However, I still witnessed some crazy performances this weekend. Terror was the first band we saw on Friday and they tore the Back To Basics stage apart. It was clear that Scott still hasn’t fully recovered from his back problems as he didn’t move as much as he usually does, but it was a great set nonetheless. Getting a compliment from him after the show that The L.A. Journal is one of his two favorite current zines made it even better.
Hatebreed played the Monster Energy stage at 21:15 – it was packed, but it wasn’t as crowded as expected. The vibe was chilled and the band played a tight set, performing classic tracks such as ‘Live For This’, ‘Doomsayer’ and ‘To The Threshold’. Youth of Today was up next headlining the Back To Basics stage this evening. The legendary hardcore band – whose members play(ed) in Judge, Gorilla Biscuits, Shelter, Project X, Rival Schools, Warzone, Quicksand and CIV amongst others – drew a huge crowd with many hardcore fans from the first hour. After watching a few songs from Rancid and sharing a few beers with our friends at Kingsroad Merch and Evil Greed, we called it a night.
Our Saturday started with Broken Teeth on the Impericon stage – I think everything was still warming up from the cold night in their tents as the crowd didn’t set off as it usually does (Broken Teeth’s set at Ieperfest was KILLER!). Nevertheless the lads played a tight and energetic set – stoked for their upcoming record that comes out via Nuclear Blast Records! While enjoying a hot cup of coffee and the first beams of sunshine, Maurice and Adrian of Call It Off took on the Just Like Your Mom Livingroom stage, situated right behind the vegan foodcourt, in the backstage area. The converted sea container was the perfect setting for an acoustic show and l hope JLYM is able to expand this concept to the main festival site in the future.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes were up next at the Impericon stage. After cancelling two shows in The Netherlands I was beyond stoked to finally see them in action. They didn’t disappoint. On the contrary: the British 4-piece with (ex-)members of Gallows, Pure Love and Heights impressed with an incredibly energetic set, filled with antics by frontman Frank Carter. Definitely one of the highlights of this day!
After watching a bit of Burn – who played a good but not an outstanding set – we headed to the Back To Basics tent to see Modern Baseball. Even though I hadn’t listened to the band much, the touching documentary they recently put out definitely made me wanna see them. And HOLY SHIT they’re good. I love their no nonsense attitude, keeping it normal, leaving no room for ego’s or rockstar bullshit. They’re just four dudes playing their hearts out and they do that incredibly well: Poppunk of the highest order.
After allowing ourselves an hour break to hang out, have some more vegan kebabs and chili burgers from Just Like Your Mom and catch up with friends, we headed back to the Impericon tent to see letlive. And hot damn, what a set! Once frontman Jason Aalon gets up on stage it’s ON! Tearing their backdrop down, jumping off the stage, climbing all the way up to the ceiling – nothing is too crazy and his energy level goes through the roof until the last note hits. Absolutely AMAZING performance. Oh yea, and a big FUCK YOU to the asshole in the Vanna sweater who decided to punch me in the face TWICE for stagediving on top of him. There NO PLACE for that type of shit in our scene.
After some more hang-outs at the Reflections Records and Shield Recordings stand, we headed to Iron Chic. With their 2014 performance at Groezrock still fresh in our minds, they played a tight and energetic set once again filled with good vibes and singalongs. Now let’s hope they come out with a new record soon. Moose Blood headlined the Watch Out tent on Saturday and played an incredible set with a very solid crowd packed in front of the stage. I had only given their latest records two or three spins, but I’ll definitely put it on rotation in the weeks to come.
So that was it for us! It was cold, it was wet, but above all we had heaps of fun seeing a bunch of great bands and hanging out with friends from all over. Onwards to next year!
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