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LIVE! – Groezrock Festival 2011

May 3, 2011 by  

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LIVE! – Groezrock Festival 2011

EVENT: Groezrock Festival 2011
LINE UP: Cancer Bats, Millencolin, NoFX, Saves The Day, Hatebreed, Danko Jones, Sugarcult,
VENUE, TOWN: Meerhout, Meerhout
DATE: 22nd April 2011
RATING: 4/5

FIVE WORD REVIEW: Punk Bliss In Sunny Belgium

MAIN REVIEW: Festivals on the continent are a different kettle of fish from those in ol’ Blighty. Groezrock is microscopic in comparison to the monstrosities of Reading and Download and all the better for it. Just big enough for impressive headliners but not too big that it becomes anonymous and devoid of character. You’re not going to get accosted by drunken fourteen year-olds weilding crude shanks crafted from tent poles here, no no. Food and drink was varied and thankfully, reasonably priced. No £8 burger and chips here (shame on you, Reading. Shame shame shame.)

DAY ONE
Following a struggle to erect a tent in the dusty, cramped site, it was only a short walk to the main arena where your expectant ears are greeted with the grizzly horror of Danko Jones. Here is a band notoriously difficult to take seriously, almost to Spinal Tap proportions. Their sound was a porridge of leaden beats and nonsensical ‘banter’ that mystified and disgusted in equal measure. Awful, awful stuff.

Confusingly, festival mainstays Cancer Bats were on in the middle of the afternoon in the ‘up and coming’ tent, which filled out with a rabid audience bouncing around to an intense set of fuzzy distortion and thrashing, super-aggressive guitars. Surely they’ve already ‘up and come,’ but if they haven’t for you, go and have a listen. Then drown in tears of envy that you have yet to witness them live.

Unfortunately this overlapped slightly with Millencolin’s set on the main stage. Surely everyone with a vague knowledge of pop culture recognises this band for their track ‘No Cigar,’ which should be lodged in this generation’s consciousness as one of the best tracks on the impressive Tony Hawk’s soundrack. This made for a fitting opener, setting the bar high for a consistantly brilliant set of catchy, emotive skatepunk. They may well be getting on a bit but didn’t seem hindered in the slighest.

Hatebreed were an intimidating prospect – a tent filled with drunken meatheads, bald spots gleaming in the diffusive stage lights. There is something slightly disturbing about a band who refer to their music as a ‘way of life’ when their lyrics are as simplistic and mundane as the most ill-thought out nursery rhymes. If chanting a phrase over and over again while punching those around you in the face can be regarded as ‘a way of life,’ then sign me up. Sounds a tad less stressful than this ‘responsibility’ stuff. If you’re drunk enough that pain manifests only in a dim ache and noises seem to reverberate around your brain, then Hatebreed play a half-decent set that explodes in all the right places. If by this point you are sober as a judge, Hatebreed play an incoherant mess of misguided rage. Your call.

DAY 2

The afternoon of the second day yeilded little to be enjoyed, the tent for Hoods being impossible to get into. At times such as these, the obligattory Drum ‘n’ Bass tent is a tantalising prospect. Thankfully there was one, tucked away at the back, close to empty. For some it was a sanctuary of ass-shakin’ solice, while some seemed bemused by this addition – the odd mohawked fellow would wander in, bleary eyed before shuffling away, but for most it made a welcome change and a place to loosen up before the serious business of avoiding getting dragged into a circle pit.

The main stage filled to capacity at the first hint of The Descendents appearing on stage, and for guys of their age they have a shocking amount of energy. The set was intense and varied, barely letting up for a second with crowd pleaser after crowd pleaser. Their rendition of ’I’m The One’ was damn near perfection, the crowd left with huge smiles on their faces after seeing musical legends in action.

Saves The Day made for a glorious set of sunshine and wholesome cheeryness, offset by Chris Conley’s morbid lyrics. They played a fine set, despite the relative emptiness of the tent, and debuted some new material from the soon to be released ‘Daybreak’ album.

Following such a gleaming example of musicianship, what better juxtaposition than a shambolic set from The Used? Yes, sweaty sweaty Bert McCracken is not the most consummate of performers, for the first few songs he staggered around like the drunk girl at a party, with cringe-inducing shoutouts aplenty. Thankfully he appeared to sober up about halfway through, rollicking through ‘The Taste Of Ink’ which was sadly dispensed with little fanfare. A band truly past their prime but enjoyable enough if you’ve overdone the Jupiler.

NoFX closed the festival in fine style, blistering through a speedy set of choppy, quick numbers. As with the Descendents, their energy was astounding, ‘Fat’ Mike on top form, goading the crowd into one last push after an exhausting day of tents and dubious festival spaghetti. (Yes, spaghetti.)

Despite the patchy distribution of decent bands, Groezrock far surpasses its British counterparts in terms of atmosphere and value for money. Definately one to treck to next year.

LINK: http://www.groezrock.be/

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