Live Reviews

Groezrock 2010 – Live

Meerhout, Belgium

Following last year’s ultimate festival experience at Groezrock, we were more than eager to cover the event this year. Taking place near an eerily quiet country village, signs pointing to ‘Rockfestival’ look strangely out of place as you traverse the Belgian countryside, yet the pop-up community created by the organizers is anything but quiet. Groezrock has been steadily building a reputation as one of the world’s best punk music festival and this year did not disappoint.

The festival was even more of an achievement than normal this year as organizers had to overcome the inconveniencies of volcano-related flight cancellations which many of the bands booked to play experienced. A slight panic ensued when the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate, Saves The Day, Snapcase and Hatebreed gradually revealed that their intentions to play had been scuppered. However, Groezrock picked itself up, dusted itself off and added some mighty replacements to the bill including Funeral For A Friend and The Ghost of A Thousand. Not too shabby with 2 days’ notice.

We headed to the campsite, which can only be described as quaint in comparison to the never-ending tent-filled fields at the likes of Download and Glastonbury. There were some slight organizational errors which resulted in some mighty queues but once we were in and settled, all was well and the weekend could really begin. The strains of Young Guns’ tune of a song – ‘Weight of The World’ – filled the air as we readied ourselves to enter the arena. Not a bad start at all.

Instead of running around like headless chickens, we limited ourselves to a few key bands and Friday’s proceedings included Glassjaw and Funeral For A Friend. Glassjaw were typically sullen but still packed a punch. Though the tent was not as full as expected and the band seemed a bit peeved about it (“Does anyone actually know who we are?!” or something along those lines were some of the only spoken words out of Daryl’s mouth), it was still a visceral and enjoyable set. FFAF, on the other hand, reveled in their late night slot which they played to a pretty packed out second stage. Despite some pretty dodgy sound throughout, they pulled all the hits out the bag and the crowd seemed to love it. Ending with ‘Juneau’, they seemed excitable and happy to be there, as was the audience watching them.

On Saturday, the bands start at 10am. A tad early in my book but the eager beavers were up with the lark. I was slightly less eager after a late night and managed to drag my corpse-like body out of the tent at a semi-reasonable hour (midday) to watch The Ghost of A Thousand. It was worth getting up for as the band absolutely smashed it. the concept of a hardcore festival is in itself a slightly bizarre one as it’s not usually a genre that lends itself well to such an environment, traditionally being championed in grotty venues and basements rather than arena settings. However, TGOAT proved with this set that Groezrock somehow makes hardcore work within the festival aesthetic. Fans of the band flooded the stage throughout their set and there was that genuine feeling of camaraderie present that only becomes apparent when hardcore is actually working as it should do.

A Wilhelm Scream were next on my list and the second stage tent was rammed full so I observed from the outskirts in the blazing sun. the set was fairly enjoyable on the whole as the band rampaged through a mix of old and new material with some truly incredible guitar and bass riffs. The singing was perhaps a little on the rough side but this added to their charm and an absolutely killer version of ‘Killing It’ was the icing on the cake that was their very enjoyable set.

A period of respite in the guest area was interrupted only by a mini singalong to several Bouncing Souls songs as they commanded the mainstage. A couple of hours of severe nostalgia were to follow as we took in sets from Lit and Sum 41. As was perhaps to be expected, both were ultimate fun whilst playing ‘the hits’ but a little on the dull side as they rattled through newer material which wasn’t so well known by those assembled.

The Bronx and AFI comprised two of the most enjoyable sets of the weekend (though they did overlap – grrr). Catching the first half of The Bronx was a joy as their dirty punk captivated the crowd there to watch them. Singer Matt proved that he can’t keep on stage, even in a festival setting, as he jumped into the crowd within the first few songs, proclaiming that he’d “rather die here than on stage!”Heading hastily over to see AFI on the mainstage was well worth it. This band are pros.

Theatrical and technically brilliant to boot. Now that they’ve lost the whole gothic pretense to some extent, you can really focus on the awesome songs and excellent delivery by Havok and crew. Passionate and full to the brim with hits, this band has become an ultimate festival act, loved by anyone who has any sense at all. The inclusion of old and new material is an art form they are perfecting though there were some serious catalogue omissions. Still, can’t really complain after a set as fun as that! Story of The Year close our weekend but there’s just no following AFI and whilst their anthemic melodic rock is being delivered expertly to a rapt audience, there’s something missing in comparison to AFI and we decide to call it a night.

Roll on next year!