GRASPOP 2012 – Day 2 – Belgia
Saturday started with good weather and fresh Dutch stroopwafels which taste fantastic when warm. Highly recommended. Another driver from Eindhoven to Dessel and we’re just in time to attend Heidevolk’s concert in the Metaldome. I only knew a song from Heidevolk, but it was enough to make me want to see them live since they sing about being Vulgaris Magistralis and riding on a mastodon. The impression wasn’t far from the reality of the concert. It was a fun experience as everyone around me knew the lyrics (sung in Dutch) and danced to the songs. Or crowdsurfed when appropriate. It really was an awesome day starter, even if I have small regrets for missing Russell Allen on the main stage as he performed with Adrenaline Mob. Alestorm and While she Sleeps were two gigs during which we decided to fix personal stuff, such as food hunting and beer tasting. And finding a good spot to see a bit of Primal Fear. I didn’t occupy the spot for too long though as I didn’t enjoy too much of the high pitched parts of the songs. Plus, it was such a lovely weather outside, neither too warm nor too cold (the clouds were moving so fast that you never had time to freeze nor to cook). It was quite enjoyable to sit on the grass and look at the people passing by in the silliest of outfits, but being happy altogether. This is the best thing about metal festivals. I always encounter happy people. Quite drunk as well, but overall there’s a feeling of genuine happiness that I hardly find anywhere else.
DEATH ANGEL @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)
Back to music, time for Death Angel in one of the tents. I really liked their headlining show at Inferno festival in 2011 and was looking forward to see them again. It lacked a bit of the fascination of them playing the main stage of a festival, but they still put up a good portion of thrash with the classical guitar solos played wonderfully by Rob Cavestany. I took a short trip at the end of the gigs to see what The Spudmonster is about and, as it would have been no time to enter the tent and get to a point where I can see the stage (I’m 1.60!!), I had a good laugh watching on the screen how the band invited the crowd on stage and the security guys had no idea how to handle the situation. But it all seemed to end well and in good terms.
After this, the main stage was occupied by one of the bands that many people grew up with and, back in the days, I would never thought I’d get to see such a name live. Thin Lizzy. Although, by now, the variety of music out there might leave them way behind when it comes to songs complexity, Thin Lizzy were surely innovators in a lot of areas and many of today bands own them a little bit of inspiration. Live, I didn’t find it a very outstanding performance, but it was way too cool to see people pass their fifties in front of the stage dancing and jumping around and even having tears in their eyes when the band performed some slower songs. That was fantastic. After Thin Lizzy, I joined my friend who really wanted to see Eluveitie, folk metallers from Switzerland. The band does have what it takes to make a cool live show. They do have stage presence, various decorations around the microphones, plenty of instruments to spice up the folk rhythms and most important energy to pass along to the crowd who is continuously on the move. But I guess this just wasn’t my best weekend for folk metal since I felt like leaving after few songs to check out a bit of All Shall Perish. I only got to see it from the point when the singer directed a wall of death and it seemed like hell broke loose in the tent after that moment. And I noticed some folks getting out of the tent without tshirts and soaked in sweat. They must have had a good time inside.
EXODUS @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)
Trivium was a good moment to go around the metal market of the festival where the variety of tshirts with funny texts grows bigger each year. Happy I didn’t bring the card with me I left the place only with some pics on my camera and with the same amount of Euros in my pockets. They do have some nice stuff there, I admit, but for reasons unrelated and uninteresting for the reader, I had to stay away from stuff. So I went back to the cool stuff that we all went to Graspop for: music. This time more old school thrash metal from the eighties – Exodus. I think that if they kept on playing, they would have actually brought the tent down. The crowd was mad and didn’t stop jumping or moshing for the entire performance. Not to mention singing and/or screaming along the lyrics. Even the singer, Rob Dukes, admitted this is one of the best (if not the best, I don’t remember exactly) shows of his life. He told the crowd that they were completely insane, which probably made them willing to go even more crazy in the pits. It must be quite special to be up there on the stage and see thousands of people reacting like that to your music. At the end of the show, the band got a little kid from the audience on stage and he got to play one of the guitars. That was also an awesome gesture which probably will leave great memories to the kid and his parents.
MEGADETH @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)
Megadeth was another moment of relaxation for the day. While I respect their influence in the world of metal, I completely lost respect for their main man after starting to read more and more of his idiotic declarations against certain parts of population. Especially when you sing a song saying you love all the world. From where we stood, the wind would hardly allow us to hear the vocal parts, so we had some sort of instrumental Megadeth on the background, until we relocated to the tent to see a bit of Fear Factory. We saw even less than expected since there were some problems that delayed the start with about ten minutes, then, after one song, the power in the PAs went off and it was silence in the tent while I was going out. So I can’t comment much on this show. Afterwards I met my friends in the Metaldome where, with thanks to the Leprous guys, we got a nice spot to watch their show. And what a show the guys put together. I’ve seen them live countless time and they haven’t yet ceased to impress me with the amount of energy they put in each note they sing. I also like how their songs seem to always change a bit live (or maybe I just notice different things that I didn’t pay attention to earlier). The Leprous guys performed some songs of their own and after that they were join on stage by the Emperor legend Ihsahn, who just released a new fantastic album Eremita and performed a few songs from it, combined with older classics, all of them performed incredibly skillful. The biggest disadvantage of the show was that it was scheduled at the same time as Twisted Sister, a band I so wanted to see live again. Hence, with big regrets, I had to run after two Ihsahn songs, but it was just in time to catch ‘Burn in Hell’ and the mighty ‘I wanna rock’, which the band manages to play without showing any sign of boredom after so many years of performing it live. It’s always cool and entertaining. Dee Schneiders is a magician when it comes to making the crowd laugh and scream with all their strength that they want to rock. As far as I’m concerned, they could have just went on with it for half an hour more and it would have still been cool.
DIMMU BORGIR @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)
I went on rocking on the meaner symphonic beats of Dimmu Borgir but after seeing their show with orchestra and choir in Oslo, it’s no longer as majestic to watch them live. They’re skilled musicians with experience, but the intensity was not the same. Plus, everyone was talking that day about Pennywise and I felt like I should go and watch some of it in the other tent. I am ashamed of not knowing Pennywise from before since what I saw in the second Marquee was fantastic. Almost everyone was dancing and singing along and it was way overwhelming to be in that crowd. And too hot as well, so I went outside to watch from the screen (together with hundreds of folks who would still sing and dance) and I got a lot of goosebumps when the band played their own version of ‘Stand by me’ and their ‘Bro Hymn’ when everyone would sing along the ‘ooooohs’. It was really fantastic and now I can only hope I get the chance to see them again, this time better prepared.
The surprise headliner of the day was Limp Bizkit. Everyone I spoke with wondered why are they on a metal festival schedule, yet I was surprised by the number of people going towards the main stage when the concert started. A lot of them knew the lyrics to the songs and started dancing and ‘hip hop’ing with each tune. I didn’t bother to go too much forward as I didn’t find the music especially appealing. The light show seemed intense from the distance and Fred Durst enjoyed being on stage. So, despite the fact that I didn’t stay for the concert, I am glad if people enjoyed it and had a good time during the lesser metal moment of the day.