Graspop 2010

Graspop Metal Meeting 2010

Held every year in Dessel, Belgium, usually the last weekend of June, the festival celebrated 15 years of existence in 2010. Big names such as Aerosmith, Soulfly and Kiss were brought for the celebration, even if along its history the festival was never cheap on big names. A list with these names can be fund here

The sun seems to have enjoyed the music and considered showing up for the entire weekend, making it almost unbearable in the small tents. Speaking of small tents, the amount of famous names playing here is so high that names like Sepultura and Nile only got a space in the smallest of the 3 tents. Organisation is even better than in 2010 in my opinion, but it’s probably demanded by an increased number of attendees. The distribution of the stages and food tents was different and I think it was a change for the better, making the area for the crowd a bit wider and easier to walk. On the list of annoying things comes the huge amount of dust given the fact that the grass is not the highest nor the greenest. Hence, we called the festival Dustpop among ourselves. Devin Townsend called it Graspoop.

The project of Floor Jansen, the former After Forever singer, together with keyboardist Joost van den Broek and guitarist Waldemar Sorychta, was the opener of the festival on the main stage. Floor showed us what a good voice she has and most of all how excited she was to be on stage with her new colleagues. Everyone looked like enjoying it to the max, thus making it a good opener for the concerts to come since it has set the right mood. They had a short show, but since they only have a self titled album, they didn’t need more.

Billy Talent
Next up on the main stage we saw the Canadians from Billy Talent. They play since 1993 and they have four albums, called Watoosh!, Billy Talent, Billy talent II and Billy Talent III. Depending on how one defines talent, you can agree or not with the band’s name, but all in all it was an enjoyable alternative/punk sound. It started quite intense and heavy but after a while it got more mellow making me lose interest.

In the Marquee I tent, the British musicians from Anathema got 50 minutes for their show, so besides regular songs like Empty, Fragile Dreams or Universal, they opened with a Led Zeppelin cover of Kashmir. It suits their style but I would have rather heard more Anathema songs. I was once again nicely impressed by the female voice and their guitars.

Same old good Slayer sound was delivered from the speakers on the main stage. It drove the crowd really crazy leading to moshpits in front of the stage. Yet, the bright daylight sort of ruined their show for me since it was rather weird to see the sun reflecting Kerry King’s skull. But despite the intense music, I ran to the Marquee I tent to catch a place in front for the next band, so I missed the ending with Raining Blood.

With a new line up that started performing together only few weeks ago, they delivered a set made of a mix of old and newer tunes. I can say they have four front vocalists now so there was so much to watch on stage because each and every one of them was fooling around and making their own mini show. Thomas Vikström, when he was standing quiet in the back, got easily bored so he filled his time by trying some Irish dance moves or just laughing at the crowd. Or Snowy Shaw asking the crowd if they want some Thai Food (before they played Typhoon). Their new guitarist, Christian Vidal is quite talented and did a hard job at learning the songs the way they were played by his predecessor. I am glad to see them in such a good mood for shows and looking forward for their album to come in September and the shows afterward.

Stone Temple Pilots
We took a break for some food while listening to their mellow music on the background, enough to hear the singer dedicating one of the songs to Paul Grey, his friend with whom he shared the same room at rehab when fighting heroin addiction. He said about Paul that he was smart and had a great great heart. Also the singer refused to take the pants off, as one of the signs in the crowd was demanding.

I saw her live before in a big hall and was impressed by her voice. Here, in one of the tents at Graspop, one can tell she has a very melodic voice but there was really no power in it. Her show started with some delay and after the whole band got on stage she let them wait for a while, coming 5 minutes or so later, dressed in a completely white outfit. The songs I heard were some of the new ones and really not convincing nor impressive in any way. The cool parts were when the cello came in.

I ran quickly to the other tent where there was another female performer, this time Doro. And there was also a powerful voice that was knocking down the small tent. It was completely packed so I only got to enjoy the audio without seeing anything on stage.

Due an interview I took during their show, I managed to catch the last 3 songs, including their ‘Ace of Spades’ that set the crowd on fire. The show had nothing impressive except the British trio performing the music with accuracy.

My dying bride
I was curious to see what their show would be like. I am not a big fan of their style of music. The show was a dramatic one, at least for the singer whose outfit matched the drama and he continuously raised his arms into the air, slowly lowering them, bending himself down to the floor, all to add up to the drama in their lyrics. Still, I don’t quite think their show is suitable for a small tent at a festival.

The headliner of the day were the legends from Aerosmith led by a Steven Tyler with an awesome voice and a Joe Perry who did magic with his guitar. Before the concert, we listened to ‘Ring of fire’ by Johnny Cash and it was fun to hear most of the crowd singing along. And right before the concert, the song played had lyrics like ‘everybody wants to get stoned’
The scarves around the microphone or other classical accessories were not missing. I got goose bumps on many of their ballads due the impressive singing skills. They didn’t miss the blues songs that resembled more a jam session where everyone was putting out the craziest solos with their instruments. Joe Perry took of his belt at some point, threw the guitar on the floor and started smashing it with the belt.

The Swedes whose main theme in the lyrics is historical wars opened the day for me on the main stage. They keep jumping around during their very energetic show and it’s quite a good wake up music. In between songs they talk t the crowd, spicing the dialogues up with jokes about the sound engineer and a blow job. The show ended literary on fire on the rhythm of Primo Victoria.

Dark Funeral
To wake up completely, I went to the Marquee I tent to check out more Swedes, this time on the black metal side. They came on stage with their faces painted, almost on the edge of silliness and with big pentagrams on their clothes. I think most of their songs are dedicated to one form or another of Satan or anything anti Christian. Good blasting from the drummer.

Bullet for my Valentine
A quick stop by the main stage brought me in front of this band and their heavy/metalcore music. It was full of fans of quite young ages and with weird outfits and many spiked haircuts and who did a lot of crowdsurfing and some pits in front of the stage.

Cannibal Corpse
I changed the musical style to Death Metal when going back to Marquee I tent. I felt like listening to a more brutal version of Six Feet Under but without the dynamic of their show. Actually, Cannibal Corpse had one of the most static shows I’ve seen. What was really impressive and I have to check it out at other concerts was the fact that the bass guitar seemed to only have 3 strings.

Walls of Jericho
In the other smaller Marquee tent, I could only resist for few songs since it was very crowded and hot. Candace Kucsulain’s voice was really powerful and she kept on using swear words when talking to the crowd. She invited the people to make the biggest circle pit and I can’t imagine how crazy that was in front of the small stage. This concert had a problem with the speakers that gave up for half of a song.

The British death metal band was a last minute replacement for Mastodon. They hardly tour these days since all members are busy with other projects, so the fans got really lucky to get the chance to see them live. They didn’t bring up all their projections but the crowd seemed happy with the songs performed and the quality of the music.

With a recently launched self titled album, the ex Guns’n’roses guitarist came on stage with his classical tall black hat and awesome guitar handling. His touring band is fronted by Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy, who, conveniently enough sounds like Axl (and even better according to some) and together with other members they delivered a cheesy playlist with a lot of old Guns’ songs. But they also felt fresh due the new musicians.

Paradise Lost
Once a big headliner for this festival, they only got a place in Marquee I this time and the tent was surprisingly empty. They didn’t inspire me their best concert mood, but since I enjoyed their music for quite a while, I was happy to get to see them. The singer admitted that their hit ‘As I die’ is an old song that they stole.

Before the concert, I went in the middle of the crowd while holding my camera and a nice guy there asked me ‘Are you sure you wanna stay here with this camera?’. I was explained it would get wild and I moved. And right he was. The folk metal band from Switzerland made the Metal Dome tent seem even smaller than it was. They had a big whiteish screen behind the drums that made the lights seem weird altogether. I really loved the sounds of the flutes, hurdy gurdy and violins and the folk rhythm totally made me understand why the crowd would go mad in front of the stage.

I complained that the tents were too small for many of the bands I saw there. But for Airbourne, 10 tents wouldn’t have been enough. The Americans know how to make a fantastic show for their hard rock tunes. Besides continuous movements, jumping, acting on stage, the singer did his classic stage climbing and played a small solo on top of the stage. For one of the songs, he said he wanted to see the biggest number of people on others’ shoulders. So the crowd got taller on average. Plus, he kept asking ‘how did you like this or that band’ that had already performed at the festival. I think I’d put their concert on a list of ‘never to miss’.

Second headliner of the festival had nothing of the glam of the other two headliners. Yet, they came up with their fast, heavy grooves all spiced with South American rhythms. Cavalera’s voice sounded as good and harsh as I was used to and he played most of the times with his guitar having the Brazilian flag on it. I liked how he kept saying that he wants to see the hands in the sky (instead f the classical in the air). The drum solo after the first few songs was absolutely incredible and it ended up with every member of the band having a drum next to them and supporting the main beats of the drummer. For a son from the Roots album, Cavalera has invited his brother, Igor, to play the drums. And for ‘Unleash’, they invited Ritchie Cavalera to sing the growled parts.
The crowd was invited to make two walls of death on each side of the stage and the amount of crowdsurfers and participants at pits was insane. Good tunes to have in my head on my way back to the tent.

The American metalcore band whose name is inspired by the character in the fantasy movie ‘The Nevereneding Story’ opened the last day on the main stage. While the members got on stage they had a Queen’s song on the background. The music is quite intense, with lots of screaming and the guitar solo almost resemble power/speed metal.

This is a band that I have recently discovered and fell in love with. And another personal interest in watching them was to see how the ex Therion bassist, Johan Niemann integrated into the progressive band. He seemed confident with his playing and was a cool surprise to see him doing backing vocals as well. The singer, Tom, joked that they would play fast since they want to run and see Katatonia. They had a good performance, but I think the sun must have been a killer for each of them since it was shinning right above the stage.

Mucky Pup
I went to the small stage for a bit of shadow and of fun with the Americans who have been around for 23 years now. To celebrate this, they came up with a new tshirt, which gave the opportunity to the singer to throw his other tshirt to the crowd. And also because of the celebration they didn’t play any new song. The lyrics of the band are extremely funny and after the song ‘Little pigs’, the singer joked that his mum never believed him when he said this song is going to be famous outside Europe. But now she’s going to believe it when she sees the recording they made. This concert gets the title of the funniest of the festival.

Jon Oliva’s Pain
A band that’s getting heavier and heavier yet, the voice stays as pleasant as many years ago. Jon Oliva came on stage with his piano and while getting soaked in the really hot sun, he performed most of their biggest hits, getting the crowd of all ages to sing along and cheer. He dedicated the song ‘Believe’ to Dio because he was a big hero and support for him as he toured with Dio for the first time. He also told us that they had some technical problems due something that happened in the plane. All in all it was a cozy concert for a Sunday afternoon.

After a long break in the shadow and watching some football (Germany – UK) along with the metalheads in the artists/press area I finally decided to walk through the sun to see Bloodbath in the Marquee I tent. Oh, what a great choice I made. We were informed that this was the 6th concert of the band so that felt like a big honor to be there. The death metal delivered by the Swedes (a mix of Opeth and Katatonia members) was of excellent quality, but most of the show was made by Mikael Åkerfeldt and his long minutes of talking to the crowd. He told us that he was drunk, that the band is not very religious, that he doesn’t know wtf the song X is about, that another song is for stupid people like us and him, etc. They had a good selection of songs which made the crowd really happy to be there and see them live.

For a new portion of folk metal, again, in the small Metal Dome. The Finns started the show with the tune ‘Vodka’ and set the mood for another of the most awesome moments of the festival. They had horns decorating most of the stage and the microphone. The violin was filling the air with good mood and joy and I can only regret that I left the concert in an attempt to go and see the panda metal from Immortal. It was too full at the entrance to bother swimming through the crowd. And unfortunately it was the same later on at Finntroll, so I had to miss their performance as well.

I knew they are a band with incredible show, but what I got to see there on Sunday evening was way above my expectations. Kiss played 2 years ago at Graspop, but being the last concert of the European leg of their tour, the band did each and every of their tricks and actually exceeded the allocated time by 40 minutes. They came on stage from above, they fired a bazooka, flew over the crowd, fired their guitars, smashed a guitar. And many man others. The scene was packed with smaller or bigger monitors, each showing different images. The clothing were exactly as we see in all KISS photos, the makeup as well and the tongue of Gene Simmons performed its own show. The drums went up in the air a couple f times, lifted by steam. The band had a come back of 40 minutes or so. They played all their hits and everyone was singing along. They got the crowd to scream, either right or left side or all together and got the loudest cheer in order to do the flight over the stage. I saw other musicians and of course, people in the crowd, with their faces painted. And it was really funny to take a trip at the toilet and hear at least two guys singing as high pitched as possible along with the band. It was a mad concert and definitely the number 1 one show of all the concerts I’ve ever been to. Perfect end for a great festival.


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