Graspop, the festival where everybody can be themselves without being judged. One big community that comes together to enjoy the metal music. Even if it is rainy, stormy, sunny or all of the previous, it doesn’t matter. Bands show respect to fans and fans show respect to bands and to other fans. So raise your devilhorns and prepare for the four day story to be unfold.
Day 0, Thursday June 16, 2016.
If you have a combi ticket, you get to enjoy an extra day of Godisch music. Sunday was a really rainy day, so the festival field was starting to get more of a swimming pool for your feet. However, there was still grass and not that much mud. The campsite was another story. Hard working people trying to get their stuff through the mud all the way to the end of the camping hoping to find a spot left. (Being at the back of the camping means around a 20 minute walk back to the festival). Being far at the back of the camping wasn’t only a negative thing. Most spots there were dry and less muddy. Less people actually walked there which means that the ground is not tortured either which means it has more time to deal with the water.
After delivering hard work on the camping, the surprise act was there to cheer you up. Even though the surprise act was not really a surprise act anymore as it was already announced that Trivium was going to play. The rumor was that they would only play Metallica covers, that was actually only a rumor. Trivium promised to play different songs on Thursday, as they would also play on Sunday. The Thursday set included more of their older songs and songs they didn’t play that often. The Sunday show would include the more known songs.
Primal Fear was next. A band that I didn’t know but definitely got my attention due to their catchy heavy metal songs. They were simple songs, and by simple I don’t mean musically simple but lyrically. The songs they played weren’t about deep topics or anything but about metal itself like their last song ‘Metal is Forever’. Like I said before, it was catchy and got the crowd going. How do I know that it was catchy, well basically the crowd kept singing it for ages after the band stopped playing.
With the statement Metal is Forever I started the muddy journey back to my tent.
Day 1, Friday June 17, 2016
It rained a bit in the night, but it was dry in the morning. Though my shoes were still wet form the last day and I only brought one pair (note to self: bring also a pair of boots next to regular shoes).
Starting the day with good ol’ Rock ‘n Roll with Monster Truck. They played songs as ‘Don’t Tell Me How To Live’, ‘New Soul’, ‘Old Train’ and ‘Why Are you Not Rocking?’ There really was no reason why you shouldn’t be rocking. With guitarist Jeremy Widermand jumping around and duck walking on stage.
Sixx A.M. was a band where I was really curious about. I’ve never seen live, but Nikki Sixx, the bass guitarist of Motley Crue formed this band. So I didn’t know if I had to expect it to be like Motley Crue or totally different. The answer is: totally different. From the moment they came on stage till the moment they left, they caught my attention and never let it go. There’s so much power and emotion behind their songs and they’re able to actually show these feelings on stage and make you feel it with them. They played older songs like ‘This is Gonna Hurt’, ‘Life is Beautiful’ and ‘Stars’. Also new songs form their new album ‘Prayers for the Damned’ were played like ‘Rise’, ‘Prayers for the Damned’ and ‘When We Were Gods’.
For our daily dose of punk rock Bad Religion was there. They played one song after another with not really that much show, but that’s what makes Bad Religion Bad Religion and Punk Rock Punk Rock. Songs as ‘Father’, ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Punk Rock Song’ were played’. If you compare this band to Primal Fear form the day before, then Primal Fear has musically more technical songs, but lyrically Bad Religion has really put more meaning into their songs.
Foreigner spread the love and destroyed the hate (if there was any) throughout their show. They played songs as ‘Head Games’, ‘Dirty White Boy’, ‘Feels Like The First Time’ and ‘Cold As Ice’. During ‘Cold As Ice’ singer Kelly Hansen went to say hi personally to the crowd. You can watch that though the YouTube link below. After the encore, they played ‘I Want To Know’ and ‘Hot Blooded’. During ‘I Want To Know’ Kelly said that we should hold the person next to us. Everybody did and it was a beautiful moment.
Disturbed opened with a blast, but already at the second song they took some time to make everybody just stand still and enjoy the moment when they played a very beautiful cover of ‘Sound of Silence’. In the middle of the show David Draiman said: ‘Why do you come to a metal show’? ‘To feel powerful, to feel that nothing can hold you back or bring you down’. They played Motley Crue’s song ‘Shout to the Devil’ together with bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and guitarist DJ Ashba form Sixx A.M. And I don’t think I have to tell you what the last song was… OEH AH AH AH AH!
Honestley, Megadeth didn’t really get to me. I kinda felt like I was listening to my cd player. Nothing special. Lead singer Dave Mustaine looked like he was high on something and did look down almost the whole time. Nevertheless he said that he loved looking at the crowed and that he felt like he knew us, even though he didn’t know us personally. They played songs like ‘Tornade of Souls’, Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying’ and ‘Symphony of Destruction’.
Amon Amarth on the other hand had a huge show. There were dragon heads, like the things that are in the front of a Vikingship and there actually came smoke from their mouths. Lead singer Johan Hegg stood on top of them several times to show the power of Viking metal. They played some older songs like ‘Death in Fire’ (with actual fire) and ‘Destroyer of the Universe’. But also new songs from their latest album Jomsviking like ‘First Kill’ and they closed the show with ‘Raise Your Horns’.
The prince of darkness, Ozzy Osbourne with his band Black Sabbath was one of the main acts on this day. It was an honor to see Black Sabbath live at their last show. They meant a lot to the world of rock, and they showed us again what they’re worth. I have to say, Ozzy is a real ‘handyman’ as he asked us like 30 times to put our hands up in the air. And we love to do so for our prince. They had a very cool intro that was only shown on the screen behind the band, so I’m not sure if you could see it very well if you were all the way in the back. Anyway, you can watch the video of that intro below. Black Sabbath played classic songs as ‘Paranoid’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Children of the Grave’ and ‘War Pigs’.
Day 2, Saturday June 18, 2016.
The day starts warm with a slight breeze. My shoes are still wet and I remind myself again that I really need to buy rain boots or water-resistant shoes. For our daily dose of punk rock we had Pennywise. Pennywise is a really down to earth band who is all for doing what you want and fuck all the haters. They really show that in their performance. You feel the power behind each word they sing. They played songs like ‘Fuck Authority’, ‘Broken’, and of course ‘Bro Hymn’. They also played a cover of ‘Stand by Me’ and let the microphone go through the crowd to give some people a few seconds of fame.
Next up was Skillet, a band that I had never seen live before and was curious about what they could do live. Well, they did not disappoint me. In fact, they’re better live than on cd. But even if you watch the recorded version of the show on Youtube, it’s not as good as it was live. So the message is: go watch Skillet live and let your soul be pounded by good beats and powerful lyrics that make you feel like you can handle the world. They played songs like ‘Whispers in the Dark’, ‘Sick Of It’, ‘Feel Invincible’, and ‘Monster’. Also during their show Jani Kazaltzis was crowd surfing. The Belgian people will definitely know him, but for the people who don’t know him, he’s a stylist that absolutely doesn’t (or didn’t) like metal but decided to give it a go. With one of his shows ‘Jani goes…’ he went on a metal cruise and was surprised by how nice and friendly everybody was. So he decided to go to Graspop on Saturday and he really liked it as well. He didn’t expect so much love from the metals scene, but know he’s proud to show his devilhorns (Or the rabbit, as he calls the devilhorns).
Killswitch Engage blow though the crowd. With singer Jesse Leach back it kinda feels like the old Killswitch, but then better. And what is Killswitch without some humor? Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz: ‘The next song is for the women with big boobs and really, really big vaginas’. ‘Vaginas that can fit five dicks, yes five dicks’. He got everybody laughing cause it just didn’t make any sense. They played songs like ‘My Last Serenade’, ‘My Curse’ and ‘In Due Time’. You can watch ‘My Last Serenade’ through the link below.
Dropkick Murphys started with ‘State of Massachusetts’ followed by ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’. They also played a brand acoustic song from their upcoming album later this year called ‘Sandlot’. We were asked to sing it with them while it wasn’t out yet, but with the bands support we were able to sing a song we didn’t know. Now that was a feeling of unity.
Bullet for My Valentine then took over mainstage 1 with a blast of a show and fire. They encouraged us to scream as loud as we could and we screamed along with songs as ‘Scream Aim Fire’, ‘Four Words’ and ‘Tears Don’t Fall’.
Nightwish wouldn’t be Nightwish without a story to tell. I saw them live last year, so I though maybe I would see the same show, but that was not what happened. What happened was an empty stage and then al of a sudden Nightwish was on there together with fireworks and fire cannons. The cover to the story was opened. The songs being told were a mix of older songs and new songs like ‘Nemo’, ‘Weak Fantasy’, ‘Storytime’ and ‘Elan’. The book closed with a nice, calm feeling of fulfillness.
Volbeat was there to close the day. I didn’t really know that much about Volbeat, so I asked the people from Sweden I met, who were huge Volbeat fans. They said that I could expect a show, but that it would be even better if you went to a Volbeat only concert. I yet have to experience the last, but the first was indeed awesome. With songs as ‘The Devil’s Bleeding Crown’, ‘Dead but Rising’, ‘Goodbye Forever’ and ‘Heaven Nor Hell’ Volbeat made the crowd silent as well loud as hell. We left the day wet as hell, half dead, but satisfied as it could be.
Day 3, Sunday June 19, 2016.
SUN! Today was really really hot. So I took my time for once and enjoyed the music and the sun. Where I actually was waiting for was the signing session and the show of Bury Tomorrow. With my album close to me, I went to were the signing sessions were and saw it was cancelled. A bit sad but not disappointed, I went to the Jupiler stage (yes, I did something else than stand in front of the mainstages all day) and claimed my front spot. Their show was amazing. Singer Dani Winter-Bates asked us to hold on to the person next to us and then start jumping. Just looking back for a second, I saw an image I would never forget. The whole crowd bouncing at the same time. They played some older songs as ‘Lionheart’ and ‘Man on Fire’, but also songs from their new album Earthbound like ‘Last Light’ and ‘Earthbound’. Bury Tomorrow created the best circle pits and even made the security crowdsurf. And if that wasn’t enough, Dan told us he hates bands who ask a lot of money to be able to meet them. He said the bands should want to meet us and not the other way around. Dan wanted to meet us all and said he would be standing next to the stage and actually take the time to meet us. So here we have the reason the signing session was cancelled.
Click the link below if you want to see Lionheart live.
The Trashmasters of Anthrax showed us their new album For All Kings. But there is always one song that can’t be missed from an Anthrax show: Indians.
Trivium showed their respect once again, but this time with a different show. Like lead singer Matt Heafy already said on Thursday: ‘We had a hard time being away from home when the shooting was there in our home town Orlando. But I know you were with me. And when the terrorist attack happened in Brussel, we were with you. When the shooting happened in Paris, we were with you’. This time they played songs like ‘Strife’, ‘Silence in the Snow’ and, like they always do to close the show, ‘In Waves’.
Iron Maiden was huge, awesome and full of humor. Lead singer Bruce Dickinsons famous ‘Scream for me …’ was loud and clear. From an awesome stage with old Mayan stuff (including the drummer, according to Bruce) to a huge Eddie on stage that rocks with Maiden. Bruce eventually rips its hart out and throws the blood on guitarist Dave Murray. As it was their Book of Souls tour, they played most of the songs from that album like ‘Speed of Light’ and ‘Book of Souls’. But old classics like ‘The Trooper’ and ‘Number of the Beast’ were not left out. Next to humor, Bruce can also be very serious. He said: I cannot get all the hate out of this world, but I can bring people together here. It really was a beautiful show.
Twisted Sister played Graspop for one last time with their 40 and fuck it tour. Thinking that it would be really hard to beat Maidens show, Twisted Sister did just that. They gave a tribute to all the musicians that passed away and all the other people who died, including their drummer AJ Pero who passed away last year. He chose Mike Portnoy to fill in for him if something happened, although nobody expected him to die. Lead singer Dee Snider asked if the lights that were shining on the crowd could go of, and here was this beautiful meadow of lights and fire, almost like fireflies. It literally got me breathless. They played songs like ‘I Wanna Rock, ‘S.M.F’. and ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. That last one got stuck in our heads and we sang it till the next day. I looked up some songs on Youtube, but they really sound much much better live.
Is Graspop worth going to?
YES! ABSOLUTELEY! FOR SURE! Those were 4 days of being equal, of not being judged, of respect. I really want to thank all the bands and all the people for those moments. Graspop is a festival where you can look how you like and be who you want as long as you’re nice to everybody.
Above, I only talked about the bands I’ve seen. But there’s so much more. Like ‘Ducks of Trash’. If you collect 20 cups or bottles and bring them to the recycle booth, you can fish for 3 ducks. You can win a gadget, like wristbands, guitar picks, stickers, patches, … . You can win a free ride in the Ferris wheel or the bumper cars, a fast lane ticket for the signing sessions, a skydeck ticket and even a backstage pass. It’s really awesome that you get that opportunity to win stuff like that.
At the left side of the mainstage is a booth where the signing sessions are. There’s a sign that shows which band is signing at what time. It’s really awesome that you get a chance to meet bands.
On the way to the camping, there was also a piercing studio where you could actually get piercings, a fake tattoo shop and a barber shop to get your hair or beard cut.
The lavatory is actually pretty good, festival good. That means that the toilets are actually clean enough to sit on. They’re toilets which you can actually flush, and the staff also looks when they need to be cleaned and then close them of to clean. So if you’re early enough, you have a fresh, clean toilet on a festival. And if you’re even more lucky, you get a free concert while you’re waiting in line. There were also pretty clean showers, although it didn’t really matter that much if you showered or not with all the mud. And there were also ‘sinks’ where you could brush your teeth and give yourself a cold shower.
The food is good, but really festival food though like hamburgers, fries and hot dogs. This year they put the metal market, a place where you can shop for cd, clothes, patches, piercings and other random stuff, on the outside of the festival. A lot of people thought you could also enter it though the festival, but they were wrong and had to go all the way back. Were the metal market normally was, on the right side of the festival, they put a corner where you could get all different kinds of food like Asian food, American food, healthy salads, frozen yoghurt, … But not a lot of people knew this and used the regular food shops closer to the stages.
It is really expensive to get stuff. If you preordered the tokens, they were €2.50 each and if you bought them at the festival they were €2.75 each. So a pizza slice cost 2 tokens and any drink was 1 token. So you pay about €7.50 for just that and then you’re not even filled. But that’s really the only negative thing I can tell you about Graspop.
The weather this year was ok. I’ve literally been frozen and burned in the same weekend. It rained a lot on Saturday during Nightwish and Volbeat, but I think we can’t complain. We didn’t have any major storms or injured people because of the weather.