GRASPOP 2012 – Day 3 – Belgia

GRASPOP 2012 – Day 3 – Belgia

The final day of Graspop 2012 didn’t start too encouraging, as it was raining like crazy in Eindhoven when we left and it did so a big part of the drive to Dessel. It also kept on raining until later in the afternoon, making the tents rather crowded and hot. But, rain is afterall part of the outdoor festival life and it brought a cool bonus in the shape of a lovely full rainbow over tha main stage. We started the day by watching Mayan, a combined project with members of After forever and Epica. It was pretty catchy by the end, with beautiful combination of clean and growled vocals, backed up by intense female opera voices and a lot of instruments going crazy in all the range of progressive elements. I don’t know what the future will bring for Mayan and how easy or hard it is for them to go touring with so many people, but I’m sure happy to have seen them live. Covered in my poncho and armed with a dose of bravery I took a quick trip to the main stage to watch Sebastian Bach. I think the thingy that pulls up the backdrop was broken since it had stopped right behind the drummer and there was no band name anywhere. Sebastian Bach himself kept saying how much it sucks with all the rain (it was kinda empty in front of the stage, so maybe not the best sight for him) and both him and the band members stayed quite back since it must have been a danger of electrocuting with all the heavy rain falling in front of the stage. I want to take this opportunity to send my best regards to the idiots who bring umbrellas to festivals, when a rain poncho is way more convenient in leaving your hands free, not having to deal with the wind that messes up the umbrella in all directions. Plus, surprise, people behind you might have a chance to see the stage and not worry about their face being ripped off by the sharp parts of an umbrella.

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UGLY KID JOE @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)

Back to music, it was time for one of my childhood MTV memories to be witnessed live in one of the Marquees. Ugly Kid Joe. Who would have ever thought I get to see those guys few meters away from me. I think there was a lot of nostalgia in the tent at that concert and I personally cried a lot during ‘Cats in the cradle’. Besides the emotion brought by memories, the band was quite cool live, especially the woman behind the drums, and with a great mood to play. They even invited the Motörhead guitarist for one song and later on, Ugly Kid Joe’s singer joined Motörhead on stage. A cool moment of the concert was when the same singer wanted to climb the pillar on the side of the stage and got stopped by the guards, yet he apologised afterwards for being rude to them. Nice of him. One more run in the rain to the Metaldome in the hope I get to see Rival Sons live. When the band got on stage, something looked odd and then I saw on the side screens that it was actually Spoil Engine. I enjoyed the performance from the first row for a couple of songs of a music in the lines of Machine Head and a show that was on the right way to be explosive and intense, yet the crowd was rather little in that weather and at that hour. This gave me time to go back to the main stage and watch a bit of Europe. Besides being again impressed by older people who lived their dream in the rain and sung along, I found the show rather dull and lacking energy. So I stayed and sang a bit along the ‘Final Countdown’ then went back to the tents.

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GOTTHARD @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)

I joined one of my friends all the way in front to watch Gotthard. I never managed to listen much to them, but in front of the stage there was something electrifying about the music. The guys had a great presence, the crowd around me was enjoying at max by dancing and singing, I even ended up jumping for few songs while holding on to some strangers. Plus, the very emotional moment on an acoustic ballad ‘One life, one soul’ dedicated to the deceased band’s singer. I can’t put in words the intensity of that moment, both the sadness for the one(s) long gone, combined with the joy of being there at that moment and singing along the beautiful song. After this, I ran back to the Metaldome to finally see Rival Sons live. The Americans come on stage with a lot of modern yet old fashioned hard rock, spiced up with pretty blues parts, all sang with a voice that suits perfectly the mood of the late seventies-early eighties songs. Very cozy music for a Sunday afternoon, for which it’s really worth to miss the Killswitch Engage concert.

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JON OLIVA’S PAIN @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)

Another special moment in the Marquee was Jon Oliva’s pain. This time, my friend with knee problem took her wheel chair all the way to the front and was joined by another girl in the same state. It was nice to see the crowd staying nicely around us and understanding the situation. The concert had an awful side: it was way too loud. I am going in front at most concerts and usually can hear normally (with earplugs) but for this concert every sound of the base and drum toms was going through my body as if I was near a jet engine. Besides that, it was pretty special since Jon Oliva and his gang performed songs from ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ and ‘Doctor Butcher’, some of them never having had been played live before (‘The price you pay’ and I believe ‘White witch’). Jon Oliva is constantly making silly faces and acts every words of each lyrics with a lot of gestures, making it both dramatic and funny at the same time. His voice is impressive, especially when the sound guy makes it as loud as that afternoon.

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MACHINE HEAD @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)

Machine Head is yet another band I saw pretty often recently, but due the awesomeness of their latest release, the show is far by being boring. Robb Flynn’s vocals are incredibly cool. Even the sun must have enjoyed the concert since it decided to finally show up for that afternoon. I enjoyed a lot the speech when Flynn said how beautiful the crowd in front of the stage is and how much energy the band receives back from all the people singing and going wild. He received very loud applauses for that and for the fact that he encouraged people to have some beers, saying that ‘the more you drink, the less we stink’ and from that moment on, I think the mosh pits grew a bit in intensity.

Back in the tent it was time for a dark black metal show by the Polish from Behemoth. While I am aware that black metal somehow ‘demands’ a certain attitude and way of seeing things, I found myself all of a sudden surrounded by somehow colder folks. I didn’t get that impression at Dimmu Borgir for example, but now it was something different. People would cheer and headbang in the same way though, so maybe it was just me being tired and in the right mood for the music on stage. When I realised that there’s gonna be some pyro stuff, I left from the front rows as it was already too warm there anyway. So I ended up watching Gojira actually since the images of the wilderness in the crowd were more entertaining than the burned crosses. And here I have to add another complaint. Across the ‘road’ from the second Marquee, there was a Coca Cola tent. Where there were various activities with hot chicks. All good with that, but it was the most annoying thing when you were outside the tent trying to watch the concert on the screen and listen to it, since the Coca Cola staff had the techno music so loud as it would almost cover the sound from the tent.

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GOJIRA @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)

As I inherited the camping chair from my friends who decided to leave for the day, I installed it somewhere close to the main stage to watch Motörhead. It’s a band with history and cool music, but one of the most boring shows, especially after you have already seen them X amount of times. Almost nothing new happens, except that this time they had the Ugly Kid Joe singer as guest. So actually I decided to start walking with my camera on and filming the crowd who was singing and dancing. That made the show more fun. Leaving earlier, I ended up with a good spot to watch Hatebreed. Until the moment I saw the letters COB on the backdrop, making me realise I was in the wrong tent. Meh. I still found a decent place to watch Hatebreed (close to the sound board), but I still feel stupid for waiting few minutes in the other tent where Children of Bodom were supposed to start. I even caught a bit of ‘Everytime I die’ on my way to the toilet and I noticed with surprise that they had a car front on the stage. Anyways, Hatebreed was another concert with enormous force and intensity. All the way to the back people were singing and screaming and jumping and headbanging. The vocalist encouraged bigger and bigger moshpits but he made sure to tell clearly that we all are there to have fun, so if anyone falls down you stop and lift their asses up. That’s exactly the spirit.

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GUNS ‘N ROSES @ Graspop 2012 (Photo: Frank Wijers)

On the way back to the toilet, while watching the screen above the tent’s entrance, I noticed fireworks on the main stage. There were like twenty five minutes earlier than the Guns’n’roses concert was supposed to start and everyone was actually afraid they’d start at least one hour later. Yet, the screens started to show images of Axl singing so the few who noticed what happened started going towards the front. Luckily for me it was kinda empty so I got pretty close to get a good look at Axl and his musicians. He actually came on stage with three guitarists, one of them having a double necked bass/guitar. It’s hard to make up my mind on the words I can use to describe the experience. First, it was again the emotion of seeing a band that I grew up with. Even if it was the leftovers of it. I was looking forward to hear the tunes that filled the late hours at MTV for years, yet, when Axl was trying to go too high or hold a note for too long, something was wrong. Also his looks, it’s totally wrong to play such a music with a mustache and beard. And I don’t mean to be mean, it just looked odd in the context. The instrumental parts were pretty long, we caught a drum and bass solo, some of the classic tunes, but unfortunately decided to leave before the famous ballads were played. We heard that GNR came prepared to play a three hours set and by what we saw the next day, they actually did play three hours. I am happy that they actually treated the crowd with so much music, I hope Axl’s voice didn’t get even worse by the end and I have small regrets for not staying longer. But honestly, after three days of festival, the thought of a soft pillow is too damn tempting.

That’s how Graspop 2012 ended for me, on the tunes of ‘You could be mine’ and with a bunch of crazy, silly, funny moments together with my lovely friends and with the happy thought that there’s still plenty of good music out there, music that brings people together from all over the world and puts a smile on their face. If the chance comes by for you to go to Graspop, I’d say don’t hesitate and give it a try. And buy yourself some warm waffles and rosé beer.