Groezrock 2016

author PP date 06/05/16

The last standing bastion of punk rock and hardcore in Europe is how we’re accustomed to thinking about Groezrock in the past eight years that Rockfreaks.net have been attending the festival in the idyllic town of Meerhout. With a staggering lineup of the best of the best within punk, emo/post-hardcore, and hardcore, the Belgian festival has typically bewildered audiences with its stacked lineup posters pre-festival, and with its impeccable, almost impossibly perfectionist organization that year after year has left us with almost no gripes to mention in the article. As such, the introductory sections to our yearly extensive reportage from Groezrock have begun to repeat themselves, because when everything is perfect and pretty much unchanged year-on-year, what more is there really to say?

This year is different.

Fueled by rumours of a conflict with a nearby landowner and the loss of a major sponsor due to Macbeth pulling out of Europe entirely, pretty much everything about the festival has changed in one short year to an extent that if it weren’t for the familiar colours of the festival tents, it would’ve felt the festival was arranged by someone else than Groezrock altogether.

These two factors had some very real material and immaterial consequences to this year’s Groezrock, the 25th-anniversary edition that was from its announcement immediately after last year’s festival marketed as a huge anniversary celebration that, by the sounds of it, would top everything the festival has done in the past. A tall order given the spectacular lineup posters and phenomenal festivals they have pulled off in the past, but entirely possible given what we know about the people behind the festival. Right?

Instead, what we got were half a day’s worth of bands less (albeit cheaper tickets) and a botched festival layout that created many problems that didn’t exist before, which we’ll discuss in detail shortly. For a 25th anniversary edition, however, it’s surprising that the small riverfront beach party Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia are able to overdo Groezrock in terms of lineup, and frightening that local upstarts Brakrock are able to put this much of a fight by claiming, for example, The Flatliners on exclusivity and posting many of the punk bands with new albums that should’ve been on the Groezrock lineup without question (Strung Out, Authority Zero, A Wilhelm Scream, Off With Their Heads, etc). Not to even mention the complete absence of the usual scoop names like Boysetsfire, Quicksand, Brand New which they’ve brought along exactly at the right time in previous years. I mean, Thrice, Alexisonfire, Coheed & Cambria, WEEZER ffs, Poison The Well, Leftöver Crack...in the past Groezrock never missed out on these types of names. Though you could argue that NUFAN was that scoop this year, Youth of Today and Dag Nasty are just your typical reunion bands and Dillinger Four is, in all honesty, a smaller name no matter how celebrated they are by the punks in the know. Is Sum 41 really a headliner caliber band? If so, things are worse in punk rock than I thought.

Nonetheless, apparently the festival sold far more tickets than last year, but there’s an argument to be made that Rancid playing “...And Out Come The Wolves" as the first announcement alongside all the 25th anniversary hype, a hell of a lot of tickets were sold in anticipation of a big lineup announcement at some point that was delayed...and then delayed some more...and delayed some more until the surprise announcement that there were only five bands like less than one month to the festival. What happened here?

But enough of that. We’ll tell you now how the festival has changed in terms of organization. If you prefer to skip that, feel free to scroll down to the reviews or even to the end where we have our classic ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly’ section summarizing our thoughts on the festival overall. PP

CAMPING AREA

This year, the festival had created a single, uniform entrance rather than one separate entrance for the camping area and one for the festival area. It’s a great idea coming into the festival as you funnel through one entrance to get both of your wristbands straight away, and an even better one when you consider its location because it cut the walking distance from camping to the festival area to less than a quarter of what it was in previous years.

The area itself is still very spacious and well organized. Arriving a day after the festival opening with a group of 47 people from Denmark, we found no issues finding a big space for our group to set up our tents. While being oriented differently from previous years, the camping area still presented the usual facilities we’ve grown to expect. A good amount of toilet (but no way to wash hands, kind of disgusting!), free showers, and a great camping shop with plenty of equipment should you have forgotten it’s freezing cold at night and your summer sleeping bag isn’t going to cut it. Ahem, yours truly finding that out the hard way. Better yet, the camping shop served warm food and an assortment of supermarket style snacks to serve your food needs before the festival area opened.

With the weather forecast being what it was, it would’ve been an idea to use woodchip on all of the main walkways to avoid all the mud that was generated, but especially around the toilet areas where you basically had no business going without a good pair of rain boots.

The breakfast tent serving bacon, eggs and toast in the mornings is still a huge hit. It’s affordable, tastes excellent, and packs the crowds every morning. So why is not open on Sundays when everyone is going home? There’s virtually nothing to eat near the festival so lots of people go home hungry. There’s business to be made here, Groezrock. At night, the tent transformed into punk rock themed Monster Energy camping parties where you could dance and drink the night away if watching shows all night long didn’t do it for you.

LINEUP

Despite housing a good lineup by anyone’s judgment, the fact of the matter is that the 25th-anniversary lineup was underwhelming compared to past Groezrock lineups. Someone found the 15th anniversary lineup and you could argue there are better names on it. What’s up with the almost complete lack of emo bands? Booking Saosin was a good choice, but with virtually no others like them on the lineup, it meant any emo show you’d go to was going to be an empty tent because the genre’s fans stayed home. More importantly, the absence of some key names that were pretty much expected given past track record was echoed vociferously in the Facebook comments section to the final announcement. Also, isn’t it about the time to book Weezer finally?

FESTIVAL AREA

The festival area is one that saw the most change from previous years. The entrance was now on the opposite site, and some tents had been moved around so that the area was a warped mirror image from previous experience. The grounds felt like they were separated into two independent areas: the Monster Energy main stage area with the outdoor Watch Out stage, and the other side which housed the Impericon Stage and the Back To Basics Stage. In between you’d have a weird connector zone crossing a road that essentially made the distances between the two areas almost double the size they were in previous years.

As for the stages, everything had been sized down significantly. The main stage now had three supporting poles rather than four, thus cutting some 25% of the stage length away, which made sense considering how recent years have failed to fill up the tent to its limits. But Impericon Stage probably saw the biggest change as it was now a replica of the Revenge stage last year. Reduced by around 30% from its original size, it was now a small stage-dive tent just like Back To Basics, standing next to it housing maybe only 10-15% more people in comparison to its smaller cousin.

In this area, you’d also find the festival market featuring an assortment of clothing and other punk/hardcore related purchase options, whereas the official merchandise tent had been moved all the way across to the other side of the festival site where the entrance was found previously.

Food wise, it felt like the quality of bite had gone down a bit for the carnivores, but that could just be me. Vegetarian options were still plentiful and the ‘vegan street’ offered some of the most delicious food options this year. More annoying was that due to the increased distances and the connector zone, it meant that it was more difficult to just pop over to the only 0.5L beer tent of the festival near the main stage. In previous years it was always possible to use a minute or two between sets to grab one of the big beers instead of one of the smaller ones, but this year it was a real issue if you were in the Back To Basics stage and your next show was going to be at Impericon Stage starting right after one another. Still, costing two drinks tickets or an equivalent of €5, a half a liter beer was still extremely affordable compared to most any other festivals out there.

This year being a rain year, it didn’t take long for the festival area to basically turn into a mud zone. It didn’t even rain very much, but all frequently walked on areas turned into wet areas where regular sneakers wouldn’t cut it. With serious rainfall the festival would’ve turned into a lake, so clearly more woodchop is needed.

There are some smaller observations in general, but for these, do scroll down to the bottom of the article for our traditional ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly’ section. For now, I won’t keep you any longer, here’s what we thought of the actual bands playing:

DAY 1 - FRIDAY

Less Than Jake - acoustic

Less Than Jake @ 15:30 - 15:50 on VIP Backstage Area

Only a few handful of fans were in the know about a secret Less Than Jake show in the backstage area prior to the beginning of the festival, to which you’d have access with a press wristband, a VIP ticket, or a special pre-order package of “Live From Astoria", which also included a green “GROEZROCK FUCK YEAH / LESS THAN JAKE" foam hand. After a 20 minute initial delay, we were escorted backstage where vocalists Roger Lima and Chris Demakes were waiting seated on a small scene armed with an acoustic guitar each. They took us through about five or six acoustic renditions of LTJ songs from all eras, focusing on those easy crowd pleasers rather than the fast material from “Losing Streak" and before. It was an intimate experience with plenty of chit-chat between the band and the crowd, where they at one point called out someone on a phone in the crowd looking uninterested in the set, describing this as a once in a lifetime chance and you’re on your phone, geez man, all in good humour of course. Still, I’d be lying if the absence of a horn section wouldn’t have removed a significant chunk from their sound. So while it was a cool €15 euro extra present for diehard fans, it was rather short and a little too safe for my liking. [6½] PP

Jesse Wagner of The Aggrolites

The Aggrolites @ 15:45 - 16:30 on Main Stage

To kick off the Main Stage it seems a weird decision to have The Aggrolites open up the main stage. The band is essentially a reggae band, differing from the usual bookings of ska/ska-punk and other inspired-by-reggae bands, but not flat out reggae. However, the mud is starting to show it’s ugly face as we are hit by a slight drizzle, so I hurry towards the Main Stage and I am met by the comforting, upbeat tunes of The Aggrolites, trying very determined to start a party. As you will later find in this article, the sound on this particular stage was horrendous at worst and decent at best. For The Aggrolites, luckily it’s the latter option as the sound is actually pretty good. However, the reggae vibes still don’t really get to warm up our mental weather, as most have spent a night in a tent and need a little more impactful convincing than what the band is able to deliver. [6½] HES

Due to the decision of carrying out the acoustic shows at a stage tent smaller than the ones used at your average Danish garden party, when I try to catch some of the acoustic Frank Turner show. After a couple of stealth manoeuvres later I am so close that I can hear Turner’s beautiful voice, but with no chance of even seeing his face. I do however catch some cool tunes like “Tattoo" and my personal favourite “Glory Hallelujah" as the crowd joins in for the chorus lines "There is no God. So clap your hands together. There is no God. No heaven and no hell. There is no God. We're all in this together. There is no God. So ring that victory bell!". It really is a missed opportunity for the festival, that has had issues really scraping a decent program together, that this redeeming feature of an acoustic stage turns out to only hold the first 15 people that are willing to miss other shows to stand in line. I am pretty sure the crowd in the front had the time of their lives, but alas, I didn’t even hear/see enough to give a fair review.HES

Hellions vocalist Dre Faivre

Hellions @ 15:45 - 16:25 on Impericon Stage

Aussie hardcore outfit Hellions kicked off the festival at the Impericon Stage on the Friday afternoon, flaunting a style of bouncy hardcore that emulates the likes of Deez Nuts and Stray From The Path with their rap-like vocals. The early set had a fairly decent sized crowd, but it was mostly static apart from a few eager fans getting rowdy at the front moshing and running around. Aside from the bouncy riffs and beats, the Aussies unleashed their emotional side with some melodic hardcore and angst-ridden shouts which showed depth in Hellions sound, but it killed the fun vibe that the rappy hardcore produced early on. The groovy riffs were far more enjoyable with half-time beats than the atmospheric emotional hardcore. While it was a decent festival-opening set, I was left feeling Hellions should have stuck with the higher tempo hardcore to hype up the festival crowd and left the emotional material for their own shows. [6½] MAK

Coma Commander

Due to a longer than expected line for food and drinks tokens, an intended stop at the Coma Commander show at the Watch Out Stage became shorter than expected, so we only caught a couple of songs of their set, one of which was a Dear Landlord cover of “I Live In Hell" which sounded pretty awesome and had a guy on stage spraying a bag of wine into the crowd. They had a bearded punk logo behind them, and the sound wasn’t very good, plus it was raining, so it’d be unfair to rate them based on just a couple of tracks. Seemed decent but nothing special. PP

Luke Bentham proving that old school rock and punk is still very much alive.

The Dirty Nil @ 16:25 - 17:05 on Back to Basics Stage

The first band on my Friday schedule is also the one I’ve been looking forward to the most on this particular day: The Dirty Nil from Ontario, Canada. Their debut LP "Higher Power" is an excellent mix of muscular 70s rock and punk, so obviously I find myself rather close to the front of the stage as the trio enters the stage. However, as soon as the band begins to play, I and everyone around me notice that the sound is very wrong: It’s as if you can only hear the band’s own monitors, and this definitely takes off a lot of the edge and power normally found in the band’s music. The crowd is looking rather puzzled, and the tent is almost deprived of energy. The three members are doing great on their own terms, though: Drumming’s good, bassist David Nardi is mastodontic (especially when he takes over vocal duties on the more hardcore punk-inspired tracks), and Luke Bentham’s vocal range is excellent and it occasionally feels like he’s practically having sex with his guitar, displaying a showmanship most bands that are so young could only dream of. Ultimately, yes, the band is doing a great job and this show would’ve been so good if only the sound engineer would’ve done his job right. [7] MIN

Blessthefall in action

Blessthefall @ 17:00 - 17:45 on Impericon Stage

Considering that Blessthefall are approaching veteran status in the metalcore scene, it feels weird finding them already this early on the bill. It certainly doesn’t help the sound aspect of their performance, as mixing issues clearly haven’t been ironed out at Impericon yet, and the band thus sounds quite blurry, with frontman Beau Bokan’s clean vocals unsurprisingly coming through rather weakly. As such, concerns one might normally harbor against bands of Blessthefall’s type (that their cleans never sound great live) do seem somewhat warranted, but the Arizonans go some way towards mitigating this by showing themselves as exemplary showmen. Bokan meets the eyes of the fans at every turn, paces the width of the stage, lays his body into the movements of the music and sprays water from bottles and his mouth like a circus artist. This gives you the impression that Blessthefall want to make sure to host a good time, concerns of reception and sound issues be damned, and that kind of attitude rubs off and makes you want to enjoy the set for what it is. Of course, you can never truly justify a high grade for a concert where the sound is this far from the ideal, but this one is one you can leave with a smile regardless. [6½] TL

Four Year Strong’s Alan Day

Four Year Strong @ 17:05 - 17:50 on Main Stage

Diving into a lot of the bands pre-Groezrock, Four Year Strong quickly earned a little golden star in my itinerary of the festival. I primarily knew them from a Decaydence/Fall Out Boy mixtape called “CitizensFOB: Welcome To The New Administration" from 2008 where Four Year Strong’s "Bada Bing! Wit a Pipe!" appeared as one of the only full songs. Later the band disappeared from my radar, only to impress with a wast catalogue of super catchy songs. As we get ready in the pit nothing is smelling fishy, but already on the opener of the show “We All Float Down From Here" it is apparent that nothing but bass is leaving the massive sound system. The fans stare is disbelief as the band continues without noticing that neither Dan O'Connor’s beautiful guitar or vocals are leaving the stage nor are Alan Day’s. Realizing something is going wrong, but not knowing why, the band raise the gears, but are supported by a weak setlist (as far as I can guess from the waves of incomprehensible sounds), cutting amazing songs like “Abandon Ship" “Catastrophe" and “What’s In The Box", to make space for mediocre cheese-fests like “Stuck In The Middle" and “Go Down In History". But again, nothing is to be saved: Everything sounds like “doom-pop-punk" with a bass sucking all light out of the otherwise energetic guitar refrains and youthful voices. The first let-down of the festival hits hard as it keeps drizzling outside making everything muddy and heavy to walk in. [5] HES

Lande Hekt of Muncie Girls

Muncie Girls @ 17:45 - 18:25 on Back To Basics Stage

If you haven’t checked out Muncie Girl’s album “From Caplan To Belsize", you should go do it now. The indie-punkers have delivered one of my favourite albums thus far this year and have luckily impressed more than just me to garner themselves a spot here at Groezrock, and slowly also filling up Back To Basics, beginning with the anti-rape-culture anthem of “Respect". Lead singer Lande Hekt’s vocals are even more peculiar and frail live, constantly bordering the off-key but there is something extremely endearing and honest about it as well. But the real star of the show is obviously drummer Luke Ellis, that seems to have talent pulsing through every fiber in his body, constantly adding small details and energy enough to inspire waves of crowdsurfers to parttake - pretty much at the last show of the festival I would’ve expected to see crowd surfers. The way the audience is slowly won over completes a show that definitely proves that Muncie Girls are worth catching as they will be touring with Beach Slang and The Smith Street Band all over Europe this summer. [7½] HES

Despised Icon

Despised Icon @ 18:25 - 19:05 on Impericon Stage

Now, normally, deathcore (or what you want to call it) is not my thing. I’ve never really taken an interest in the genre because it’s never been a genre I’ve enjoyed. Therefore, I’m entering the Impericon Stage with an ounce of skepticism. But to be honest, all of my prejudice is laid to waste as the band starts playing heavy, unstoppable breakdowns with a surgeon’s precision. The only thing I find a bit odd in this scenario is the fact that the band has dual lead vocals: One doing regular growls, another doing pig squeals and deeper growls. Like a one-two hip-hop act aiding each other in keeping up the energy, they actually do a good job, but I can’t help but think that a band’s vocalist should be able to take on vocal duties by himself. Alas, this is a minor issue amidst the massive wall of neck-breaking death metal. The sound present in the large tent is the best I’ve heard on the festival so far, and the band members themselves seem really genuine and thankful for the rather large attendance. They talk about being honored that so many people would “show up to a death metal show" despite the fact that this is a punk rock festival – a speech that’s very well-received by the roaring audience. So although the band will never make me go home and listen to their discography, I can’t help but feel drawn in and stay for the entire set. Despised Icon were freaking great, and whether their music is your thing or not, I don’t think anyone can say that the band didn’t do an impressive job this Friday night. [7½] MIN

Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake @ 18:25 - 19:15 on Monster Energy Stage

For their main stage set, LTJ were far more equipped to make a memorable impression. Whether through stage antics like their trombonist Buddy Schaub shaking and spanking his antics at us or an explosion of confetti early on, their objective was simple: to kickstart a festive mood after a rainy and cold afternoon. With crowd favorites like “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts" and “How’s My Driving, Doug Hastings?" in the set, the sing-alongs and dance pits were a frequent sight in the crowd, however, with the weather throwing a curveball at us, they would’ve needed miracles to restore the atmosphere so quickly. Sure, they fired huge balloons off stage for “Overrated" - presumably to mask the pop-flavor of the song with a higher fun factor - and giving small anecdotes over how “The Science Of Selling Yourself Short" was their highest rated song in Belgium ever back in 2005 when it reached #43 on the national charts. We’re singing along the "I’ll sing along" parts in echoing fashion, and “Gainesville Rock City" closes the set in good style, but overall the setlist left a feeling that LTJ were on autopilot for most of the set. After all, we’ve seen them play so many awesome sets in the past that today felt like just another day in the office. [7½] PP

Siberian Meat Grinder @ 19:05 - 19:45 on Back To Basics Stage

Siberian Meat Grinder’s set was one of two halves. The first half was somewhat tame. The Russian crossover act unleashed thrashy hardcore riffs and rough shouts shared between their two masked vocalists right from the start. Musically it was energetic but the crowd was only digging it to a degree, mildly rocking out, bobbing along and nodding heads. It wasn’t until Siberian Meat Grinder pulled out a new track and a clear fan favourite “Face The Clan" that any kind of great reaction came from the audience. Out of nowhere mid-song, the pits opened and carnage ensued. People were stage diving continuously until the end of the set, some spectacular, some were just hilariously failed attempts. The wild behaviour became more entertaining when an inflatable shark made its way into the crowd and people were either trying to throw it around or ride it on top of the crowd. Onlookers had smiles on their faces and laughed just watching the chaos. Siberian Meat Grinder finished their set with popular anthem “Hail To The Tsar", in which the crowd sang along to the “Heys" and the “Woahs" in the chorus. This was one of the most entertaining sets to watch all weekend. [8] MAK

En route from a reconnaissance trip at the merch to the looming Walls Of Jericho show, there’s time to check out Belgium’s own Tangled Horns while grabbing a bite to eat near the Watch Out stage. While the group is not one we’re overly familiar with, their proposition is a more riff-based rock & roll style that stands out at Groezrock. Based on our brief surveillance of the proceedings, however, it’s hard to make out what makes the band its own, and while the riffs and grooves are enjoyable at an expected level, the vocals seem on the average side. Perhaps it stems from having plenty of similar bands to choose from on our home front, such as I’ll Be Damned or Helhorse, but eventually Tangled Horns just give off the impression that they’re Belgium’s local version of those, and that their personal expression could be in need of some honing before they stand out and seize our attention more firmly. TL

Walls of Jericho’s Candace

Walls of Jericho @ 19:45 - 20:30 on Impericon Stage

For some, Walls of Jericho was a top hardcore booking for many reasons. One, they’re fronted by a female vocalist, the lack of whom has been a subject of debate in festival settings recently, and two, they actually wrote some pretty good hardcore/metalcore hybrid tracks during the height of the popularity of the genre. Tonight, they’re back with a brand new album after an eight-year break and it shows in their setlist, where more than half of all the tracks are from the new record. “No One Can Save You From Yourself", “Forever Militant", “Relentless", “Reign Supreme", and “Fight The Good Fight" all make the cut and join “The American Dream", “There’s No I In Fuck You" and a couple of other older tracks on the setlist. This year, Impericon has been changed to allow stage divers, so there are plenty of those, and Candace’s pacing back/forth on the scene is as high energy as it was before their hiatus. Unfortunately, the echoing chambers of Impericon means the sound is so bass heavy it’s difficult to hear the melodic undertones in their hardcore expression, leaving Candace’s vocals sounding like they’ve been heavily produced in a studio setting at the same time. There are mosh pits up front, she sends shout outs to Terror and Despised Icon, and asks us to lift our middle fingers in the air to sing what is apparently her favorite words, fuck you. But aside from the chaos on the stage for their last song where seemingly everyone joins her on stage from the crowd to sing the big woo ooh ooooh gang chant along, the bad sound ruins what could’ve been one of the better sets in the hardcore/metalcore lineup this year. [6½] PP

Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls @ 19:45 - 20:35 on Monster Energy Stage

It’s been no more than a week and a half since I saw Frank Turner at Lille Vega in Copenhagen, but I have no problem with catching another set with the beloved Englishman who’s known for not only putting on a great show, but also an impressive sing-along party. Although Turner’s last album "Positive Songs for Negative People" wasn’t as good as its predecessor, only a few songs from that album (the ones that actually matter) are played tonight during a 50 minute set that features no acoustics or ballads, just pure high-energetic folk-punk and rock n’ roll anthems like “Recovery", “I Still Believe", “Try This at Home" and several others.

During the first ten minutes of the show I’m standing relatively close to the stage, but as the bass is completely off in the sound mix (at one point it’s completely inaudible, at another it’s too loud) I decide to withdraw myself from the front and venture a little closer to the middle of the crowd. Luckily, from this new location, the sound is a lot better and I’m able to really enjoy the show. And damn, is the view great from here! The crowd is chanting and singing along, people are jumping and dancing, and Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls are playing their asses off. I’d lie if I said the show wasn’t just a little similar to the one in Copenhagen a little while ago, but it’s never an exact copy. Sure, the two sides of the stage are turned against each other in a contest and an audience member is being crowd-surfed from the stage to the right pole and then on to the left one, eventually leading him back to the stage, but it still feels organic and real. The show might have the same template, but the fill still seems to vary from set to set. Tonight might not have been the best Frank Turner show I’ve seen, but every night with him is still a lot of fun – and although the crowd never really burst at the seams, the energy is still vibrant enough to shake the mud off your boots. [7½] MIN

We’reWolves

I catch only a small part of the local band We'reWolves and their set in between other bands, but my interest is drawn as their dirty blend of hard rock, punk and thrash has drawn a big crowd that covers a huge part of the ground surrounding the small stage. As an unknown band to me, they come off as kind of anonymous to begin with but it's clear that they know what they're doing and their show abounds with energy. The fast songs prompt wild moshing and the band's vocalist soon joins in on the action in the pit while continuing to sing in his coarse voice. It seems an enjoyable performance but my priorities lie elsewhere as I leave to get ready for one of my must-see sets of the festival. LF

Terror @ 20:30 - 21:20 on Back To Basics Stage

"More stage dives", I hear Scott Vogel shouting while entering the Back To Basics tent moments after Terror start their set as if there aren’t enough happening right there and then. The crowd energy is already electric at this point, with a ridiculous amount of stage dives to follow suit for “Overcome". This is practically standard stuff at a Terror concert and shouldn’t really surprise anyone: Vogel is going to shout all sorts of stuff about energy, living life, feeling the moment, etc, while demonstrating a fist-pump fueled, bouncing all-over-the-place type of an energy on stage himself. So a high standard is to be expected and a high standard is also what we get. “Live By The Code" has people flying in virtually every direction from the stage. “Always The Hard Way" has the tent echoing from massive sing along. "GET UP…. GET UP… GET UP", Vogel shouts, not letting go even for a second, and look what happens: people overflow the stage to grab the mic from Vogel’s hands to scream along to the lyrics of “You’re Caught" shortly after. "This is your show. This is your stage. Get your stage dives out", he continues just before “Spit My Rage", giving credit to Hatebreed, Youth of Today, and Rancid in the process. “Return To Strength" and “Mind At War" are some of the last songs in a set which has seen an unbelievable crowd dynamic, mass sing-alongs, and the usual Terror spectacle of relentless energy and numerous short bursts of Vogel aggression on stage to get the crowd moving. This is what every single hardcore show should look and feel like, and rest assured, this set was talked about long afterwards amongst everyone who had a chance to catch a glimpse of it. Make sure to catch at least one full Terror set in your life before it’s too late. [8½] PP

Fist pumps from Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed

Hatebreed @ 21:15 - 22:15 on Monster Energy Stage

While there were some complaints about clashes of similar bands, Hatebreed directly following Terror with no wait time was possibly the best piece of organisation the festival did. Two incredibly similar bands in a row kept the “core" vibes flowing with more chaotic pits and roof-raising crowd shout-outs. You know what you get with Hatebreed, brutal intensity and high energy macho hardcore thrown right in your face with no punches pulled. Hatebreed opened up with new track “A.D." from their soon to be released album “The Concrete Confessional", and then continued to play all the hits everyone knows to get the best reactions possible, there were no surprises in the setlist at all. Voices echoed all around the Monster Tent for tracks like “Live For This" and “I Will Be Heard". This was a trademark relentless Hatebreed performance which received a phenomenal response, the pits were violent, fists were pumping with lots of “HEYS". In general, it was pure Hatebreed rowdiness and If you’ve ever seen the band before then you expect no less. [8] MAK

Saosin @ 21:15 - 22:05 on Impericon Stage

On paper, Saosin’s first and only appearance in mainland Europe ever is a big deal, and considering Groezrock’s usual representation of genres, this would be exactly the place for that show. In reality, however, they’re a lonely emo/post-hardcore band in a lineup that has fewer of those than previous years, rumoured to play material either brand new or harvested from an EP - albeit legendary - which came out over ten years ago and is mainly worshipped religiously by a segment of the music scene that has few followers on this continent. So while the California band’s reunion with Circa Survive singer Anthony Green has thus far featured them playing to packed out hordes of fans stateside that have waited years for them, an only moderately populated Impericon tent speaks of the somewhat more modest interest they gather from this year’s Groezrock guests. That being said, Green takes it in stride as he comes on stage, chanting "Come! Come! Coooome!" to draw people in before the show’s offset, and as stage divers and crowd surfers start to find their way on stage, he playfully grabs their heads, making noises like a dog chewing at their ears.

Saosin guitarist Beau Burchell

Apart from the new singles “The Silver String" and “Racing Toward A Red Light" we get “Bury Your Head", “I Can Tell" and “Mookie’s Last Christmas", as well as the legendary “Translating The Name EP". The sound at Impericon is improved from earlier, but still not perfect, sadly leaving the dazzling guitar leads that are half of the band’s allure a bit low in the mix. Meanwhile, Green’s voice has clearly changed over the years, and with the added fact that he obviously can’t sing two lines at once (the way he’s layered on record), songs sound altered to various degrees with bassist Chris Sorenson handling the lower clean refrains while Green screams higher, more piercing screams than he did back when he was first in the band. This makes “Mookie’s Last Christmas" very hard to recognise if it weren’t for the lyrics but otherwise brings across the other songs decently, with particularly “I Can Tell" and the new singles sounding pretty awesome. All things considered, though, even as you see sweat steaming off Green under the stage lights and sing along to “Seven Years" the way you never thought you would, the experience is not as religiously rewarding as one could have dreamed. You get the feeling that, although they handle the show in a relaxed manner, connecting well with the fans that showed excitement for them, Saosin have a challenge on the horizon in figuring out how to really dominate concert settings that aren’t already in awe of them just because they’ve reunited. [7½] TL

Youth Of Today @ 22:05 - 22:55 on Back To Basics Stage

From Judge to Gorilla Biscuits and Rival Schools, not to even mention Shelter and CIV, the membership sheet for Youth Of Today includes an all-star lineup of high influence members of the US hardcore scene from its late 80s glory days. Having released only three albums and an EP between 1985 and 1990, the band has entertained old school hardcore/punk fans with sporadic reunions here and there. Unsurprisingly, the tent is packed to its limits when vocalist Ray Cappo asks "Wanna make a difference in this world?", a question which will be answered in a multitude of ways throughout the set as the band often pause to tell us about the meaning of attitude and spirit in our lives, or about the $80 that their first record cost to make. These pauses diminish the set somewhat because they kill the energy - they ought to take a note off Terror’s handbook here - yet the songs that follow in-between are as classic as clean vocal hardcore cuts come. Together, they induce violent stage dives with one audience member even performing an insane backflip/scissor kick combo into the crowd. All of this is achieved without the crowd control that Scott Vogel and Jamey Jasta rely heavily on, so naturally the atmosphere is far more like how I imagine 80s old school hardcore shows to have been like back in the day. When the band plays, they pack an impressively intense amount of attitude into their short, clean vocal driven songs, and get hundreds of stage dives going, drawing parallels to how OFF! look like on stage. Still, for the undersigned, the pauses, where nothing is really happening on stage or in the crowd, kill the energy in what could’ve been a perfect closure for fans of old school hardcore. [7] PP

Double Veterans @ 22:05 - 22:55 on Watch Out Stage

Prior to our bus trip to the festival, I thought I’d check out the Belgian locals Double Veterans. I heard a few of their songs and decided for myself that this was a band I’d check out at the festival; maybe some psychedelic garage rock would be good amongst the huge selection of punk rock found in the lineup. Just minutes before the band goes on stage, the area in-front of it is packed, and the crowd actually goes on behind the sound engineer. I quickly realize that the band has lots of Belgian fans in attendance as they start talking in their mother tongue, but I’m not going to let that make me feel left out. Right from the get-go, the band plays with amazing intensity; the rhythm-section has an authentic and danceable drive, not unlike that of psychedelic rock band Hookworms, and the guitar is melodic and adventurous, showcasing everything from distorted riffs to feedback-driven soli. People are dancing and jumping around in the mud which is splashing everywhere, and when the band tells them to make a mosh-pit they instantly do so. Hell, they even make a wall of death – which is something I’ve never seen during a show of this genre. The band have us right where they want us, and as the show ends, I find myself in the middle of the mosh-pit up-front, longing for more (despite the fact that the band has actually prolonged their set by ten minutes). Double Veterans put on the best performance I’ve seen this Friday at Groezrock Festival 2016, and I’ll be keeping an eye on them in the future – as should you! [8½] MIN

No Fun At All

No Fun At All @ 22:45 - 23:35 on Impericon Stage

"Did anyone see us here in 1999?", No Fun At All asks at one point during their set, underlining just how long these Swedes have been around purveying their classic 90s skate punk sound. Last we saw them was at Groezrock a few years ago, where their main stage allocation was far too big for them. Not so tonight, where the Impericon tent is rammed. This is the perfect time slot for tightly played, upbeat skate punk because everyone is in their high spirits but it’s getting late, so we need some fast and melodic music to keep the party going. That is exactly what NFAA do and not much more than that. In one of the tightest played sets this year, they shred through some absolute classics in 90s skate punk, resulting in one sing-along after another, and a scene full of stage divers. The band itself doesn’t move much, but they don’t need to. The crowd takes care of this one for them, and their feel good sound is one of the highlights of this year’s Groezrock. “Mine My Mind" is just awesome, and “Wow And I Say Wow" is everything its title suggests. Great set that really came into its own at the smaller tent with a more engaged crowd than the afternoon one a couple of years ago. [8] PP

Rancid’s Tim Armstrong

Rancid playing “...And Out Come The Wolves" @ 23:30 - 00:45 on Monster Energy Stage

One of the most anticipated sets of Groezrock this year, punk-rock legends Rancid performed their most popular album “…And Out Come The Wolves" in its entirety. This alone was a reason many of the festival goers attended Groezrock in 2016. Wasting no time, Rancid broke into album opener track “Maxwell Murder" and from the beginning to the end the set was one big sing along. Tim Armstrong and co could have easily just left the vocal duties for the crowd as the whole tent was singing at the top of their voices and certain lyrics were sung with so much emotion from everyone that it made hairs stand on end, especially during “Olympia WA". Rancid performed several songs in a row before engaging the crowd, though it wasn’t for long as it was obvious the band were keen to just keep playing. Notable stops were for Lars explaining that “Junkie Man" was his all-time favourite Rancid song to play. Then to tell a story of when Rancid wrote “Avenues & Alleyways", shouting “OI OI OI" wasn’t cool, but Rancid never did follow trends and that Oi! and ska music was important for uniting people. This was another set of two halves. The “…And Out Come The Wolves" tracks had everyone in unison, you could say the performance and the reaction was 10/10, yet the encore tracks had a small drop in the overall vibe. Rancid played hits from various albums, some incredibly popular like “Fall Back Down" and “Radio" but the crowd wasn’t as loud at this point in the set. Maybe tiredness had kicked in, people were perhaps too drunk or not everyone knew all the songs. It was still highly enjoyable for the diehard fans who were dancing and singing until the very end. This was certainly one of the best sets of Groezrock 2016. [9] MAK

DAY 2 - SATURDAY

Not On Tour’s Sima Brami

Not on Tour @ 12:00 - 12:35 on Monster Energy Stage

The hard task of ruffling our tired asses out of the mud this Saturday morning is given to Not on Tour from Israel. Last year the band managed to stir up quite a pit in front of the Macbeth Stage in the hot sun, where especially vocalist Sima Brami managed to be in your face and highly energetic throughout the set. This morning, however, the people in front of the Monster Energy Stage are tired and hungover, and only a few of them submit themselves (partially) to the band. Furthermore, although Brami jumps across the stage and tries to break the invisible wall between stage and crowd, she lacks the energy that she’s showcased previously, and thus a proper chemistry is never established. The band is playing their rather generic, short and fast-paced punk songs with confidence and the guitarist occasionally takes on the microphone and says hello and thanks us for coming out, but after ten minutes the set grows tiring and monotonous. A curveball in the form of a Beatles-cover is convincingly thrown at us to much surprise (Paul McCartney’s stellar “Oh Darling!"), but unfortunately, it feels like 90 percent of the crowd doesn’t know what song’s being played, and the reception falls flat on the dusty ground. At one point during the concert, Sami Brami asks us “You’re doing fine, right?" to which I can only reply: Yes. Fine would be the keyword at this show which rarely transcends to more prominent adjectives. [6] MIN

Broken Teeth vocalist Dale Graham

Broken Teeth @ 12:00 - 12:35 on Impericon Stage

Manchester hardcore quintet Broken Teeth was left with the task to kick off The Saturday morning on the Impericon Stage. The tent was semi-packed with eager fans looking forward to losing their shit and to hear some new material from the soon to be released album “At Peace Amongst Chaos". Broken Teeth opened with new hit “Nothing On You" before breaking into popular track “My Law". Both songs triggered two-steps and moshing towards the front, there was a lot of space for movement and no barrier which plenty of fans utilised. It was easy to tell which were the new track based on how some of the crowd was reluctant to react to songs they haven’t heard before. There was a big difference and fans responded a lot stronger towards older songs from “The Seeker" EP, which ignited all kinds of chaos and stage dives onto fans at the side. Broken Teeth finished with one of their more violent tracks, “Soul Destroyer". The pit was filled with spin kicks and windmills reacting to the chuggy beatdowns. Towards the end, the fans rushed to the stage to grab the mic to shout the words “I TRY I TRY I TRY TO GIVE YOU EVERYTHING" before more pit carnage ensued. It was a solid start to the day and it is safe to say the adrenaline flowed early on. [7] MAK

Rozwell Kid @ 12:35-13:10 on Back To Basics

1) What if Weezer started making music again like, you know, back when Weezer was good? 2) What if some genius decided to throw in epic 80’s guitar refrains in there? 3) And all the songs were about hummus, playing computer games and getting birthday sombreros? Yeah. There’s a reason my one and only recommendations for my fellow travelers this year was Rozwell Kid.

As we arrive it seems most people didn’t get my memo, for the tent is barely half-filled. But alas, the young guys take the stage and suddenly something magical starts happening as the band sets out with the winning trio of “Baby’s First Sideburns", “Weirdo" and “Sick Jackets", the latter making the whole band look like 90’s rock stars with a down-tempo chorus, rockabilly-drum sections and the stingingly awkward lyrics “And I don’t even care if they understood, it’s stupid if we missed because they should, at least I know we gave it all we could - at least we had sick jackets". And the three reclusive guys turn from norm-core Dungeons and Dragons players to rock stars. The least rockstar person of course still being the (I can’t believe this is his actual name) lead guitarist Adam L. Meisterhans, delivering one solid 80’s riff, tapping away but not interacting one bit with the audience in his stripey mom-bought-me-this sweater. But suddenly - the Meisterhans has awoken and climbs a speaker to the by-now pretty packed tent, to tap out an epic solo on .. I want to say “Kangaroo Pocket". Anyway. The whole pack of people I dragged here are impressed, my fellow fangirls are impressed and the whole tent seems kind of dazedly impressed - most of them probably just having been drawn in by the epicness of the sound, not even knowing the band. Mark my words: Rozwell Kid is a band to watch! Hummus on me! [8] HES

Teen Agers bringing the sun

Teen Agers @ 12:35-13:05/10 on Watch Out Stage

After the rain in the night, Teen Agers from Orlando, Florida seem to bring out the sun instantly as they open the smaller outdoor stage on this second day of the festival. Immediately, I feel my mind get filled with good vibes to last the day and indeed it seems their catchy choruses and big riffs spread energy and smiles all around the audience gathered here and people are dancing already, even though it is still early. Their songs are bouncy and heavily rhythmic but a few songs into the set they prove that they also have a more atmospheric side to their tunes which mixes the more standard pop punk formula up quite nicely. They have a good connection with the audience and get some approving nods for playing a couple of songs from their splits with Resolutions and Wolf-Face. From the start, the sound is good and there's only a tiny falling out in one of the songs through what I see of the show before I leave in good spirits to check out the last couple of songs from Rozwell Kid. [7] LF

Northlane @ 13:10 - 13:45 on Impericon Stage

Lately, I have fallen in love with metalcore again, especially because of bands like Northlane, that make me feel like the genre can be weird and playful again. However, the tired crowd is nothing like the beer-fueled brawlers I last enjoyed Northlane with in Copenhagen, and it’s pretty clear that the hangovers are still lingering just behind the dark, uptucked hoodies comprising the crowd.

New vocalist Marcus Bridge is doing what he is good at: jumping and dancing around the stage and providing seamless vocals switching from growls to clean vocals like a pro. But the close connection I saw between Bridge and rest of the band in Copenhagen is also on hiatus today. It doesn’t seem to help on the whole thing that the rest of the band members are wearing tribal makeup, weirdly creating a divide on stage, but also between them and the audience: Sadly this band is way happier to see their audience than their audience is to see them. And that is the heaviest rock around the neck of the band is still a completely dead audience.

What is this make up stunt?

Even as the band members venture into a great rendition of the “hit"-song “Rot", a song with an infectious melody and dynamic composition, only the people enjoying themselves in the pit right next to the stage seem to even recognize the track. Older tracks like “Quantum Flux" or “Dispossession" are receiving with the same indifference as a new song like “Obelisk". A semi-naked, long-haired Viking stands alone in the always half-way abandoned pit, looking for playmates. Very few people are joining him. I feel like the Rozwell Kid had just enticed in me in the tent next door is sucked out of me, even as the show ends early.[5] HES

PEARS @ 13:45 - 14:20 on Back To Basics Stage

For many punk rock enthusiasts constantly checking out up and coming bands in the hopes of finding the next great one, PEARS were one of the highlight bookings of the festival after two albums you could shove in anyone’s face claiming punk rock has stopped innovating. Characterized by adrenaline-driven bursts of short-but-sweet aggression, their songs shift seamlessly between different styles of punk as if the genre confines didn’t exist at all. It’s the kind of material that makes tiny clubs insane, but at a festival setting, even the smallest of stages is hopelessly too big for PEARS. The singer shows his best gorilla dancing moves on stage swinging the mic stand like a maniac, and the tent is packed with people even though it’s an early set, but the crowd is just not that into it and the rapid-fire shifts between genres aren’t exactly ideal for people not familiar with their records in the first place. As a result, the set is decent but nothing memorable, where only “Green Star" makes a lasting impression, not to even mention that their set is extremely short. [6½] PP

Packed out crowd for The Bennies

The Bennies @ 13:45 - 14:20 on Watch Out Stage

Aussie stoner ska band The Bennies performed out in the open on a fairly sunny Saturday afternoon. Known for having a party and liking to get high, the positives vibes were out in full force as The Bennies opened with anthemic dub-punk track “Legalise (But Don’t Tax)", the lyrics “take me higher" says it all as frontman Anty shared what certainly looked like a joint with crowd member. It was really chilled out for the opening part of the set as “Sensi-Mi" kept the anthemic sing along dub-punk flowing. The was a lot of banter between the crowd and the band throughout the set, lots of jokes and laughs had. The tempo picked up for older hit “My Bike" and the tone shifted again for a stoner rock edge, with their Sabbath-esque new track “Corruption" from their recently released album “Wisdom Machine". Once the atmosphere changed people started coming on stage to stage dive, someone even gave Anty an inflatable crocodile to crowd surf on. That was certainly one of the coolest things I saw all weekend. Other fans joined in on the crocodile crowd surfing for the remainder of the set, including during the cover of Operation Ivy classic “knowledge" and then for the final track, which is set to be a real party anthem for years to come, “Party Machine". One of the most fun sets to watch over the weekend, The Bennies know how to entertain. [8] MAK

Frank Carter

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes @ 14:20 - 15:00 on Impericon Stage

Is it too much to portray Frank Carter as an iconic figure on the British hardcore scene? After his violently chaotic live performances with Gallows, his ability to turn rock’n’roll fueled alternative rock into an equally rowdy show with Pure Love at Groezrock a couple of years back, and tonight’s show as the frontman for The Rattlesnakes, I struggle to argue otherwise. With a combo between hardcore and rock’n’roll, his new band has him at least partially in his original element, which shows in the wild stage antics we witness tonight. Aside from playing songs like “Trouble", “Juggernaut" and a new track “Snake Eyes" with passion on stage, we see Carter climb high up on one of the pillars and throw himself into the crowd shortly afterwards, incite a circle pit that extends way behind the pit barriers, piercing through crowds behind the mixer desk in what is arguably the biggest circle pit at the festival this year. Frank himself, of course, is found right in the middle of the pit screaming with his seemingly infinitely long mic cable far away from the stage. It’s feats like these that wake up the hangover Groezrock crowd tonight, and for last song “I Hate You", there are more people on stage carrying Frank on their shoulders than is possible to count from where we’re standing. What an impressive show that saw even one guy streaking across the stage despite the cool weather. [8] PP

Bad Cop / Bad Cop @ 15:00 - 15:40 on Watch Out Stage

After having just seen Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes concur and just about devour the Impericon Stage, I aim for the Watch Out Stage where hyped Fat Wreck-band Bad Cop / Bad Cop is playing. I make it in time to get relatively close to the stage where a lot of people have already shown up to catch the band. As BC/BC enter the stage, they’re all smiles; the crowd has grown even bigger, and the band is thrilled. Stacey Dee thanks everyone for coming out, and as soon as the band starts to play they quickly prove that they’re more than worthy of any hype they’ve received. Every note, both on guitars and the girls’ harmonies, sound amazing, and the rhythm section is tight albeit a little too loud in the sound mix. But although this is a minor issue, it never overshadows any of the nuances in the band’s music, and everything is flawlessly executed. The stage-divers are going crazy, and except for a few guys overstaying their welcome and another ignorantly kissing Jennie Cotterill, the atmosphere around us (in these few hours where the sun has decided to shine) is joyous and excitement’s in the air. The show has several sing-alongs and especially “Cheers", “Joey Lawrence" and “Nightmare" from the band’s debut LP "Not Sorry" are roared back at them. BC/BC want us to take them seriously, and they sure make it easy for us to do so: This is not their first rodeo (pun intended)! [8] MIN

Knockout Kid @ 15:00-15:40 on Back To Basics Stage

My second good pop punk experience today is provided by Knockout Kid from Chicago, Illinois. They waste no time getting going, bouncing around to rile us up from the start with the words "Let's fucking move this place!" kicking off their first song. To begin with, the sound is not great as the drums dominate with a big hollow sound but this is remedied in a few songs' time and the guitars start singing clearly through the tent. The vocals are dynamic and even though the cleans are a little screamy in certain places, it fits the music just fine and gives it a nice edge. There's a great energy going not just on stage but also among the audience that are bouncing their heads all around. The pit is also active throughout with the rest of us having to duck from random cups of beer being thrown overhead from time to time, and even a shoe comes flying a little later into the set. The band plays efficiently and they end their fun show already around 15:25 since their set overlaps with The Movielife and they want us to join them in seeing what their vocalist describes as one of the best bands ever made. This makes it a pretty short experience but nonetheless a solid one from a good band. [7½] LF

Vinnie Caruana of The Movielife

The Movielife @ 15:35-16:15 on Main Stage

I’ll have to admit that by now my legs are so sore and my shoes so muddy, that impressing me is probably not really a fair task. But I do get myself wedged into the Main Stage tent as the Movielife plays their show. This band comes off as a strange booking, but even stranger when observed in reality. The band disbanded in 2003 and is supposedly an influential pop punk band, but even though I spent a vast amount of time the 00’s on Myspace, I still never really had a relationship with the band.

Now, in hindsight some of the songs of the show like “Hey" do remind me a bit of the way Yellowcard used to write songs, “Walking On Glass" is a pretty darn good pop-punk song, “Face Or Kneecaps" has this strange AFI-feel to it and “Jamestown" even has this by-now-again-semi-chic nu-metal edge. However, all of these are again rational observations for the same old reason: I do not feel nostalgic about this band. Vocalist Vinnie Caruana is working hard for his money, but it doesn’t appear to resonate with anyone but a hardcore segment of die-hard fans in the very front. For me, it’s a booking I could kind of foresee would end up like this, but maybe I underestimate this band’s importance to the genre? The show, however, did not win me over either. [6] HES

Flatcat frontman Dieter Meyns

While otherwise trying to conserve some strength for a demanding sequence of shows later in the day, there is time to at least sample a few songs by Belgium’s own Flatcat who hold serve at the Monster Stage in the early afternoon. They draw a crowd that’s pretty casually spread out through the tent, as is normal for this time of day, and perhaps not too surprising as they also focus on the locals, keeping their banter in Flemish. We don’t know about the quality of their jokes then, but the four mature and relatively neat looking guys perform with tightness, playing a fast-paced, no-frills kind of pop-punk that brings bands like The Ataris or Chixdiggit to mind. Being unable to understand the between-song banter, however, it’s hard to get a feel for what Flatcat have to offer to make them stand out from exactly the style of music there’s most of at Groezrock, so we allow ourselves to be lured elsewhere before long. TL

Modern Baseball @ 16:15 - 16:55 on Back To Basics Stage

If you’ve been wondering whether talksy slacker/emo rock could really be a new hip thing, you’d need to look no further than this afternoon’s densely packed Modern Baseball show to have confirmed that it is. The young Maryland group has gathered a numerous crowd of seemingly devoted followers, setting the stage for a Back To Basics set that holds true to the tent’s tradition for frequent stage invasions and crowd surfing. Bassist Ian Farmer initially smiles ear to ear from the reception, but soon has his hands full trying to dodge fans crossing the stage while he attempts to keep his parts on point. To his sides Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald alternate on lead vocal duties and the band routinely takes us through celebrated tracks of theirs, including “Tears Over Beers", “Fine, Great" and “Your Graduation", much to the appreciation of the audience who shout the quirky hooks back with arms shooting excitedly up into the air. It also helps that the band’s stripped down musical expression generally has a much easier time making it through the mix unscathed compared to the noisier bands at the festival. Ewald eventually levels a casual remark at a somewhat over-excited fan that his ‘mic stealing quota has been used for this show’, lining out that the band prefers to sing their lyrics themselves, but otherwise, the group takes the strong reception in stride and good times seem to be had from wall to wall throughout the tent, marking one of those Groezrock sets that turns out pretty much exactly as you hope and expect it to. [8] TL

Juliette Lewis fronting her band The Licks

Juliette & The Licks @ 16:50-17:35 on Monster Energy Stage

As a somewhat out of place booking, Juliette Lewis and her band The Licks do a pretty good job of bringing an injection of blues to the Groezrock main stage this late afternoon. Lewis, whom I mostly know as an American actress, is obviously a good performer and an enigmatic front figure as she prances about the stage with wild movements in a white jumpsuit resembling a kind of American uniform. Her songs are filled with heavy bass that hits us right in the gut as well as big riffs and guitar solos that channel a somewhat different rock 'n' roll sound compared to many of the other punk and hardcore bands here. While Lewis' voice is not hugely impressive or special on its own, she does sing very insistently and cuts right through the loud music with a brazen punk demeanor. She sings about sex and being a "hard lovin’ woman" and the set is certainly filled to the brim with attitude. They play some covers as well, notably Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and "Proud Mary" originally by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the latter starting out slow before turning into a not super convincing punk cover. Shaking her entire body in mad fits and spasms, Lewis is surely a sight to behold and the show is entertaining even though, as she also remarks on the stage, the songs might be a little cliché. [7] LF

Bury Your Dead

Bury Your Dead @ 16:50 - 17:35 on Impericon Stage

Boston metalcore outfit Bury Your Dead return to Groezrock for the first time since 2008, flaunting the waves of breakdowns and types of grooves that invite two-steps the quintet are known for. To be quite honest nothing really stood out in this set, it was straight forward and heavy, nicely mixing metalcore and hardcore in a similar way to The Ghost Inside. Mat Bruso’s vocals were as ferocious as ever, though his demands for more crowd reaction were met timidly. The frontman even made a jibe that he was surprised that there was no barrier and he still had a lot of room on stage. A few people took the initiative to stagedive and start pits but it was no way the same level other sets have shown it over the weekend. Bury Your Dead definitely threw in everything they had but it wasn't enough to make the set at all memorable.[6] MAK

The Falcon @ 17:35 - 18:20 on Back To Basics Stage

With only two albums to their name in ten years and limited touring, the punk supergroup The Falcon featuring members of The Loved Ones, The Lawrence Arms, and Alkaline Trio has never played in mainland Europe before tonight. With a sound heavy on the Midwestern punk influence that’s often been referred to as The Lawrence Arms-lite, the group faces the same problem as The Lawrence Arms in their live shows. Since the songs are depth-laden and consist of intricate melodies, it requires extensive knowledge of the songs before you can properly appreciate them in a live setting. This is largely due to their subtle nature, but also, because the band virtually never move on stage, resulting in a set that’s fairly boring to look at if you don’t know the songs beforehand. That appears to be the case for the vast majority of the crowd today. Ten-year-old songs from the debut album receive a good response, whereas this year’s new album - which dominates the setlist with nine out of fifteen songs - sees basically no reaction from the crowd. To the undersigned this is surprising considering how good songs like “You Dumb Dildos", “The Skeleton Dance", “War Of Colossus" and “Sailor’s Grave" are, but in the end the lack of response is understandable: the band kinda just stood around and played Midwestern punk with lackluster sound and no crowd dynamic to speak of. In a club setting, this would probably be awesome, but on a festival stage, it just doesn’t work as well. [6½] PP

Night Birds @ 17:35-18:20 on Watch Out Stage

One of the better performances this year we get from New Jersey's fast and gritty Night Birds that deliver a solid final set to their three-week European tour. To begin with, the hollow and loud sound doesn't bode well for the show and their vocalist's microphone soon dies completely for half a song. However, after this is fixed, the mix is already a lot better and when the guy shows up who has been crowd surfing all around in a big plastic trash can throughout the festival, everyone around seems to ease into a partying mode as well. The band's stage presence matches their music well with the vocalist staring paranoidly around with wild eyes, beating his own forehead with his hands or the microphone from time to time, also prompting the audience to run wild. The music is aggressive, hard-hitting and fast but also catchy in its own way, and sing-alongs and crowd-surfers abound for every song. The band's vocalist is not entirely impressed however and gives us a little speech about how in the US, it only counts if you pass at least three rows of people on your way when jumping out, and following this several audience members of course attempt to make up for it. With a performance this convincing, I stay as long as I can before I have to leave finally in time for the overlapping show with Letlive. [8] LF

letlive @ 18:10 - 18:55 on Impericon Stage

It’s been hard to know exactly what to expect from today’s letlive set. Crowned as revolutionaries of post-hardcore for their 2009 album “Fake History", the band has been relatively quiet since 2013’s “The Blackest Beautiful", and have parted ways with a guitarist. Are they still going to be as wild as they’re rumored to be? Will frontman Jason Butler be able to sing as well as he screams? Will Impericon’s sound be gentle? Two songs in and we know what kind of set this will be already, however, as by then Butler has been all over the stage, screamed like a banshee, pulled the backdrop down, wrapped himself in it and vaulted into the crowd, sharing the mic on a few opportunities as well. And apart from the sound guy having trouble keeping up with adjusting the mic volume when Butler spontaneously alters his scream/sing pattern, things sound wild and dirty to an extend that make the otherwise regulated and genre-conventional punk and hardcore bands of Groezrock feel timid by comparison. You feel it tugging at every fibre of the body while your eyes are glued to the stage, watchful of what Butler will do next. The mic is flying everywhere, water is being blown up in the air in clouds and Butler is rapping, screaming, singing, chanting and embracing stage invaders, gracefully sharing screamed hooks with them. It feels like watching Rage Against The Machine, Refused, Glassjaw and Michael Jackson all in one show and you barely have time to keep up with Butler, who’s soon hanging - shirtless and tattooed - from the top of the stage, still screaming and chanting wildly. So needless to say, letlive are still wild live and Jason Butler can sing his parts as well as he needs to - so well in fact, that you find yourself wishing for a change of pace perhaps, just to hear him more clearly. It’s one of the most exciting and refreshing sets of the weekend, and even more reason to look forward to the impending June release of the upcoming album “If I’m The Devil". [8½] TL

Mad Caddies

Mad Caddies @ 18:10 - 18:50 on Main Stage

Do you know the feeling when all of your friends leave to see letlive and you decided you wanted to go check out Mad Caddies instead? My life is not always dominated by the best decisions - but given I would see the other band at Roskilde Festival and being an old 3rd wave ska-head, I decided I wanted to go check out what this Mad Caddies-thing really was all about.

Unfortunately, the band is bothered by some very low sound, which was also the case during the Frank Turner gig - it seems the sound men seems unable to handle anything that requires more than a standard rock mix. Vocalist Chuck Robertson, however, makes an energetic impression and the band seems to be having fun, which is honestly sometimes the best part of watching a show if you are inclined to enjoy it when other people are happy. The song collection of the night is definitely above average, including “Backyard", “Brand New Scar" and “Drinking For 11". But the show never really survives the low sound and is to some extend fighting the stigma as The Aggrolites earlier in the weekend: This is a punk festival, and 100 percent reggae and ska might be stretching it a bit? At least I heard several people around me take notice of it not being hard/strong/fast enough. [7] HES

Not a familiar band to me at all, I have opted to check out the older Canadian band SNFU because I have seen them mentioned as "indie punk". What I quickly discover upon my arrival, however, is that this is more in the vein of hardcore than what I was expecting and I am told that they have had a huge influence on skate punk. They play fast and have some good changes in tempo but while their music has lots of attitudes, the band members mostly stone face while playing their parts and swinging their long gray hair around. Being kind of bored, I stick around for a few songs before leaving for another band and it wouldn't be fair to grade them on that basis. LF

Much The Same @ 18:55 - 19:40 on Watch Out Stage

Considering the Watch Out stage has been marketed as a sort of an up-and-coming stage, skate punk veterans Much The Same are a bit of an oddity in its lineup having played at Groezrock ten years ago for the first time. They released an EP and two albums between 2001-2006 before going on hiatus, reuniting last year. Not exactly up-and-coming if you’ve been a band for 15 years and counting. Today, they gather a decent size crowd for their Millencolin and No Use For A Name-inspired, 90s style skate punk sound in the open air. They’re fast, they’re tight, and their set is characterized by upbeat melodies, but not much else is happening on stage. They suffer from a static performance combined with anonymity within the crowd were only a minor segment appearing to recognize the band at all. A new song “Strangers In Fiction" is performed, presumably from an upcoming album, but does little to change that sentiment. Technically, nothing wrong with their set but wholly unmemorable for the most part. [7] PP

Jay Bentley of Bad Religion filling in for Fat Mike on Bass (Me First & The Gimme Gimmes)

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes @ 19:30 - 20:20 on Monster Energy Stage

Everyone’s favourite punk covers act was back to give Groezrock a fun time and a joyous singalong The supergroup was made up of Joey Cape and Dave Raun of Lagwagon, Scott Shiflett of Face To Face who was filling in for his brother Chris who usually plays for the Gimmes. Scott was performing his first set out of three for the day with performances in Face To Face and No Use and Friends to come later. Jay Bentley of Bad Religion was filling in for Fat Mike on Bass again as he has been doing over the last couple of years. The Gimmes were no different to usual, pulling out fun and fast played versions of well-known songs. “Leaving On A Jetplane" originally done by John Denver had a real positive vibe to it as the Monster Stage crowd sang along in the masses. The chorus for the Dolly Parton hit “Jolene" also had a similar response. A stand out moment was when Spike Slawson grabbed a Ukelele to play Madonna’s “Crazy For You", all to promote the side project of Uke Hunt. The reaction of the crowd fluctuated depending on how popular the original song was. For instance “I Believe I Can Fly" had the best response by far with “Somewhere Over The Rainbow" coming pretty close, both tracks were sung by everyone in the tent. It then baffles me with a cover of classic hit “Karma Chameleon" on a Gimmes record, how that was not in the setlist. That would have had a phenomenal reaction. Alas, it was still a fun set for those who don’t take it all too seriously. The crowd certainly enjoy singing along. [7½] MAK

Iron Chic @ 20:20 - 21:10 on Back To Basics Stage

You know the kind of shows you go to and you know from the very first song, that the band has won this show before they even started playing? That’s the kind of show Long Island melodic punk rockers Iron Chic have tonight at Back To Basics. The tent is as packed as for Modern Baseball, if not more, and right from the first song, hands are shooting up in the air and hooks are being shouted back at the band, echoing across the tent as something people has been looking forward to for a while. And it makes sense because the band proves to cleverly emphasise their uplifting moods by having all the members join in for chorus harmonies, giving the tunes that extra sense of surge that sends ripples out into the audience. Needless to say, people are flooding the stage, and vaulting back off in waves, while more casual attendees potentially get an increased appreciation for the band’s material, hearing just how clearly Jason Lubrano’s lyrics come through tonight, arguably even a bit more so than on record. The only possible knock on the set is that Iron Chic’s approach is far from the most varied, and after a long day with aching feet, you might start to notice that down the stretch. Still, everything else about the set makes it feel like one you would wish for an isolated and expanded version of in a venue near you soon. [8½] TL

PUP @ 20:20 - 21:10 on Watch Out Stage

PUP from Toronto, Canada, received much praise for their self-titled debut album and they are constantly spitting out new great songs and music videos to further their hype, so when I enter the crowd in front of the stage, it’s hard not to be smitten by the sense of anticipation that’s drenched the air we breathe. Several people start chanting “PUP" and different lyrics before the band’s even entered the stage, so the cheer they’re actually met with when they finally enter is electric. The set’s kicked off with the excellent album-opener “Guilt Trip" which features that iconic guitar riff that most people wail along to. This may sound weird, but I’ve always thought the band’s guitar-playing was a little similar to that of Johnny Marr from The Smiths; it’s adventurous, playful and delicately executed. Mix all of these attributes with PUP’s infectious energy, and you have yourself some of the best punk rock around. And today, PUP prove that they’re fully capable of playing such intricate details live.

There is not a single moment where the crowd’s not going totally ballistic, and I have a feeling that nine out of ten people in the mosh-pit are either crowd-surfing or stage diving at one point. When I decide to step further back to look at the rest of the audience, people seem to be bouncing energetically along or banging their heads. From what I’m able to see, everyone’s having fun and most people are able to sing along to half of the songs. Really impressive for such a young band, I’d say. During the set, we’re treated to several new songs, including the three previously premiered singles from the band’s upcoming album "The Dream is Over", and all of them work really well. The entire band is having heaps of fun, feeding off the energy the crowd is giving them, and when the band plays the epic ending to their dragging and bombastic song “Yukon", the show feels like it’s going off the rails – in the best way possible! The set ends with frontman Stefan putting down his guitar and picking up the microphone, leading the band into an explosive performance of the Beastie Boys-classic “Sabotage". On several occasions, he lurches himself into the crowd and lets the audience sing along, because, obviously, everyone in attendance knows the lyrics. When the show is over after 50 intense minutes, there’s nothing left to do than stand there in the dry mud and stare blankly at the rest of the crowd who’s looking just as mesmerized as you. [9] MIN

Face To Face

Face To Face @ 20:55 - 21:45 on Monster Energy Stage

If there’s one thing Face To Face are good at doing, it’s getting people to sing woo-ah wooh type of melodies. Their songs are stacked with them and today’s notes on their main stage performance could basically just consist of those words altogether. With a setlist measuring tracks from all over their discography old and new, the scene should be set for a classic sing-along melodic punk performance. Instead, they run into the same problem as last time around at Groezrock - they’re just billed way too high on the roster and can’t draw even half of the tent to their show, leaving behind a lackluster impression and almost no crowd dynamic despite the sing-alongs. Some of their records are good - as is evident with songs like “Ordinary", “Double Crossed" and “A-OK" today - but otherwise the whole ordeal just feels like melodic punk on autopilot. Much like No Fun At All’s successful conversion from the main stage performance in a previous Groezrock edition to one of the smaller tents this year, Face To Face would benefit from the more intimate surroundings where their upbeat melodies would rise to new heights. Alas, I leave after about seven or eight songs into their set, disappointed that the punk veterans just aren’t better than this live. [6½] PP

Caliban vocalist Andreas Dörner

Having listened to Caliban from the safe distance of the camping site on a previous occasion when the band played Groezrock, and having noted on that occasion that the German metalcore group sounded quite powerful, it seemed only prudent to at least check them out tonight. And a lot of people apparently have similar feelings, as the Impericon stage is quite packed, relegating late comers from the Iron Chic show to positions so far back that the tent somehow magically feels like it hasn’t shrunk at all compared to prior years' bigger versions. Caliban are thus dots on a horizon made up of their huge banner, and though they sound good, they also sound a little too good, with the term ‘backtrack metal’ flashing inside the mind as their guitar riffs churn menacingly and mechanically. Perhaps it’s the time of day and our state of weariness, or perhaps it’s just that Caliban - with vocalist Andreas Dorner spouting the word ‘fucking’ in his every attitude-filled sentence - stand out like a sore thumb amidst the realness and down-to-earthiness of your average Groezrock performance. It’s likely that if we’d been saving strength throughout the day and harbored more accurate expectations of what the set would be like, our impression would be different, but as it is, a few songs give off a vibe of coldness and artificiality that doesn’t exactly inspire interest in staying for the full set. TL

Dillinger Four @ 21:45 - 22:35 on Back To Basics Stage

One of the most hyped performances this year was the EU exclusive of Dillinger Four, one of the most cherished punk rock bands of the modern times. They’re known for basically never playing concerts, and it’s been eight years since they’ve last released a full-length record. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s tough to play a good, tight punk show when you virtually never rehearse for it. Tonight, compared to my previous experience of them at FEST a couple years ago, they look much better and well-rounded on stage as they kick off with “A Jingle For The Product", followed by the much more sloppy-sounding “Super Powers Enable Me To Blend In With Machinery". The first sing along arrives for the Fat compilation classic “¡¡NOBLE STABBINGS!!" during its "broken glass and razor wire" passage, the second notable one for “Minimum Wage Is A Gateway Drug" for its "This American Me" segment, but overall the set is characterized by an underwhelming atmosphere overall. The older songs don’t quite live up to “C I V I L W A R" material in a live environment aside from a couple of (great) exceptions, and while people are going crazy up front, the rest of us are watching on with puzzling thoughts along the lines of "how can such a hyped punk rock band sound so rough and unpolished - exactly how you want your Midwestern punk - but have absolutely nothing happening on stage while doing so". It’s very much a for-the-fans set considering material is played from all of their records fairly evenly, but compared to many other, much better performances this year, it’s both frustrating and disappointing to watch Dillinger Four play their songs in such inanimate manner despite throwing in friendly chatter to the crowd in between songs. [6½] PP

Since the Britons of Moose Blood are coming by Copenhagen after the Summer, I had decided beforehand to skip them here to make space for crossing Dillinger Four off my list instead. As it happens, I can't help but check in with them anyway before moving on to the Back to Basics tent and I only move on with my plan a little later because of the cold outside and a vague sense of obligation. The band benefits from good sound and in the cold and dark evening, their passionate melancholic indie/emo songs are soothing and a welcome listen. In slight contrast to the atmosphere of the music, the band seems in a great mood, smiling and laughing at the crowd surfers and other drunks that visit them shortly on stage. The last I hear is the band’s new song, “Honey", and as I walk away to the sound of that, I am really looking forward to catching an entire show with them in September. LF

No Use For A Name

No Use For A Name & Friends @ 22:20 - 23:20 on Monster Energy Stage

Tony Sly was not just one of the greatest songwriters within punk rock, but one of the most well-liked and friendliest figures in the scene, forging lasting friendships with the majority of the Fat Wreck roster. His untimely passing came as a shock to the punk rock world and resulted in numerous tribute albums and lengthy eulogies by prominent singers within punk rock, but hardly anyone expected No Use For A Name to ever play again. Yet rumour has it that when the NUFAN members called up a few friends about making one final tribute to Tony Sly, Joey Cape of Lagwagon signed up instantly and volunteered to help out in whatever way possible. Acting as the primary singer throughout the No Use For A Name & Friends collaboration tonight, it’s clearly an emotional moment for him as it is for the rest of the band and a wealth of guest vocalists who volunteer for the various No Use songs - all but one of the fifteen found on the best-of compilation “All The Best Songs" from 2007 - to commemorate the skate punk legends in what is widely considered to be the very last time No Use For A Name will appear live - at least for the time being. Not On Tour’s vocalist Sima sings “Chasing Rainbows", Spike Slawson (ex-Swingin’ Utters) takes over “Coming Too Close", Trever Keith of Face To Face sings “Invincible", and Stacey Dee from Bad Cop/Bad Cop joins Joey Cape during “On The Outside", but the main attention is for Joey Cape who handles the majority of the songs by himself.

(pic not of NUFAN)

It’s an emotional moment for all of us - fans, band members and guest vocalists alike - so I was hoping for some more lengthy eulogies or anecdotes about his life and what he meant to the punk rock scene and others around him. But playing as many songs as possible works too - especially because most songs have echoing sing-alongs where particularly “For Fiona", “On The Outside" and “Straight From The Jacket" have the entire tent screaming by the sounds of it. It’s the last chance for us to hear some of the absolute classics of punk rock so everyone are singing their hearts out, but you can tell that the band are the most passionate of them all. It’s just unfortunate that Joey Cape has such an indistinguishable voice because for most of the set it feels like listening to a Lagwagon album rather than the No Use songs in their original form. The collaborative set is a great idea, but I am left wondering if it wouldn’t have been better if the band had gone out to search for the most Tony Sly sounding singer to replace him just for this one time. These are minor gripes but they do drag the show’s rating down a notch for me personally, as does the fact that despite a Tony Sly, Tony Sly, Tony Sly chant, in the end, the band doesn’t come back for a final encore. Either way, a good, but not great commemoration of a late legend. [7½] PP

Dag Nasty @ 23:10 - 00:00 on Back to Basics Stage

The end of this year’s edition of Groezrock Festival is coming closer, but before I enter the Monster Energy Stage to watch Sum 41, I leave my party to check out the classic hardcore punk band Dag Nasty featuring Brian Baker, the guitarist from pioneering HC and straight edge band Minor Threat. For once the sound in the Back to Basics tent is actually decent, but unfortunately, the band hasn’t been able to lure in a very big crowd. Those who are present, however, seem to really enjoy the band and their message, but honestly, it’s a little hard to feel them when you’re not a part of the fanbase. There’s a lot going on up front and the band’s vocalist is good at engaging people, but he doesn’t get further past the crowd than the first four meters or so. From where I’m standing, things sound good despite the fact that most of the songs are pretty similar, and the band members and the small dedicated group of people in attendance are enjoying each other, but the set never really manages to truly engage me. After twenty minutes I tell myself that the show probably won’t progress from this point, but that the band’s actually done a good job. A for effort. [6½] MIN

Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley looked almost back to full health

Sum 41 @ 00:00 - 01:10 on Monster Energy Stage

The Saturday night headliners was a set that people were talking about in the days building up to Groezrock, the question was how is Deryck Whibley going to look? How well is he going to be able to perform after the state he was in after mass partying and alcoholism. The answer is that the frontman was almost back to his old self and looking a lot healthier. Sum 41 hit the stage with three off the original members, seeing the return of Dave “Brown Sound" though Steve “Stevo 32" Jocz had been replaced by Frank Zummo. The Canadians opened up with “Over My Head" and a flood of nostalgia hit every fan inside the Monster Stage tent. A wave of classics from Sum 41’s back catalogue flowed, hits like “Motivation" and “The Hell Song" kept all sorts of vibes and emotions at a very high level. This was without a doubt a greatest hits kind of set. The noticeable thing about Sum 41’s performance was that it was set to Deryck’s pace. The frontman had mastered the art of dragging songs out when he needed and he fronted it to look like he was building up more hype. It got tiresome after a while, though based on the Bizzy D’s recovery status, it wasn’t surprising that the frontman might have needed to slow things down. That aside, this was Sum 41 doing what Sum 41 do best, throw out party anthems and happy vibes as if they are still part of the pop-punk elite. Their sound was solid and the reaction was sublime. This was the Sum 41 I fell in love with in the early 2000s. The highlight, of course, was when the Canadians performed their most popular tracks “In Too Deep" and “Fat Lip", the scenes towards the front was electric with everybody jumping up and down and losing their voices. Oddly enough they were played before the encore, which ended up being “My Direction" and “Summer", interesting tracks to end the festival on but the “Woah" chants in “Summer" sung by thousands of fans was amazing to witness. [8½] MAK

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Reviews of 54 bands, which covers almost all bands playing at the festival except those that clashed horrendously that none of our staff of eight writers wanted to miss, or others, that simply didn’t appear that interesting to us based on our research. We hope you’ve enjoyed the reviews and we appreciate to hear your thoughts and your own opinions on the different performances in the comments. Now, let’s summarize what was good about the festival, what was bad, and what definitely needs to be improved next year. PP

The Good

  • The walk between festival and camping area was greatly reduced
  • Camping shop was great
  • Rancid playing “...And Out Come The Wolves" was exactly as good as we knew it would be
  • Drink tickets system is still fantastic
  • Beer price is still low - €5 for a 0.5L is an excellent price

The Bad

  • 0.5L beer bar location: not possible to reach it from all stages quickly as before
  • Outdoor scene is not as good as the indoor tents
  • There were fewer drink/food ticket stands, which caused queues in the beginning
  • Acoustic stage was way too small for the interest it generated
  • Classic 90s emo missing altogether from the lineup.
  • No cider available for the non-beer drinkers
  • Sound issues still on main stage: Four Year Strong was pointless as a result

The Ugly

  • No water by toilets to wash hands? Ugh.
  • Schedule in official program was useless - impossible to see timeline/clashes quickly
  • App was terrible compared to last year - the schedule was badly designed. We relied on Clashfinder instead, which says a lot
  • The schedule, in general, was awful. Why are the bands not cascading like last time? Sick Of It All and NUFAN at the same time come on. Many other ridiculous clashes.

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXVII Rockfreaks.net.