Last year’s trip to Groezrock, a wonderful punk/hardcore festival, was a blast so of course I had to go this year as well!
Unlike last year we didn’t take the train anymore. You can’t imagine how much nicer flying is (especially when it’s also cheaper than the damn train). However, due to the fact that our flight was heading for/leaving from Rotterdam, we decided to skip day 2 of the festival and instead did a city trip after the festival.
But enough blabla, let’s get to the festival!
We arrived on Thursday evening after what was a bus trip to remember. We took the shuttle bus from the train station in Geel and after a few miles there was suddenly a loud thud. However, the driver didn’t mind and went on. After half a mile another big thunk. We drove on for at least another mile before the bus driver finally decided to stop.
Well, it turned out the bus did not just have a flat tyre, the entire thing was gone! We had been driving on the wheel rim. The side of the bus was even burnt.
While discussing whether we should walk to the festival, it started raining. Heavily. And after ten more minutes it began to hail.
As crazy as it sounds, we actually were lucky to be on this bus. It saved us from raising our tent during the rain and getting totally wet and on top of that we got to see the most beautiful rainbow!
When we finally had our tent up, only an hour was left until what I expected to be my first highlight of the festival.
Last year they had an acoustic stage (basically just a few wooden boxes) where everyone who knows how to hold a guitar can play a song. Many great artists (also people from bands who really played at the festival) did a few songs and I absolutely loved it.
Well, this year it turned out to be a huge disappointment. About five different people played that night and almost all of them were completely horrible (except for one guy with an ukulele playing an Operation Ivy cover). Not even Ian, the guy who is somehow in charge of the acoustic thing (at least I think so) could save the night. He did a great job but had no chance to safe the mood. For some reason the acoustic stage was put up right next to the party tent meaning that you could barely hear a thing (with some of the guys playing you were happy about that). The only gleam of hope besides Ian and the ukulele dude was Dan Allen, the singer of Ducking Punches. He dropped by and played a few songs. For about ten minutes the atmosphere was great, the people were singing along and cheering.
However, for me the night ended when to boys started playing Oasis’ Wonderwall.
Friday was when the festival really started!
The first band we went to see were The Dwarves. For me they were this year’s Casualties. That means a band I don’t want to see for their music but to find out how fucked up they are. And let me tell you, they ARE fucked up. The middle-aged singer seemed to think that he’s the hottest thing around while the bass player was doing the show completely naked. COMPLETELY!
The Dwarves were followed by Against Me! who did a pretty good job.
After having a nice time with a few new and old friends at the camp side we headed to the stage to see the Broilers. I remembered them to sound a little commercial but this was plainly awful. There was no chance I could watch the entire show so we grabbed a bite to eat. Turns out the guys with the great catering raised their prices – huge annoyance!
After that Lagwagon hit the stage. They had a bad sound and somehow acted a little pissed. Just like Pennywise afterwards Lagwagon also didn’t seem too fond of the headliner Social Distortion. I guess all these points contributed to a rather mediocre show.
We had a hard time deciding whether to see Pennywise or Title Fight but in the end we settle for the latter band. Surprisingly they turned out to be the band of the day for me. The show was pretty good, but unfortunately we were at the far end of the crowd (as we wanted to be able to leave for Social Distortion quickly). So big thumbs up for the guys from Title Fight!
Back at the main stage we caught the last few songs of Pennywise before Social Distortion were on. I was really excited because I had
never seen them before. They came on stage and the crowd was cheering. Well, not for long…
It soon turned out that Mike Ness can’t even play his own songs. Before ever song a roadie had to put a sheet with lyrics and/or notes at the front man’s feet. I can’t recall which song it was but during a repetitive solo you could clearly see that he was searching the sheet for how to on. However, this was only the tip of the iceberg. There was basically no interaction with the crowd and the people were hardly singing along as the set list was a bit strange. When they were done no one asked for an encore, still they came back (Mike Ness said something like “we have to do this”…) I’, pretty sure everyone was glad when they finally left the stage for good.
I’m really sad to say so but this year’s Groezrock was a disappointment. The people I met were very nice but aside from Dan Allen at the acoustic stage and Title Fight all the bands were a letdown. The food was good but more expensive than last year, it was cold and the camping was hell. Next year the line-up has to be really good, otherwise I won’t go again.
However, the trip to Rotterdam afterwards was amazing, but more about that in a different post 😉