Groezrock 2012

author PP date 11/05/12

Over the past four years Groezrock has established itself as an elite genre-specific festival in Europe, bringing together the very best in punk rock and hardcore with each year seemingly eclipsing the year before in terms of band quality. They've probably been doing that for much longer considering the festival is now 21 years old, but we've only covered the festival since 2009. It speaks volumes about the sheer quality of names present when each year the scene-aware listener is posed with some very difficult choices of a) when to eat lunch or dinner and b) what awesome band to miss while doing so.

Many would go as far as to argue that it is the best festival in Europe, given how every new band announcement is usually met with drooling lips and highly positive feedback instead of the whining and complaining that surrounds many other festival announcements across Europe (and the world for that matter). When >90% of responders to each announcement are positive, you must be doing something right.

But it's not just the bands that make Groezrock the best festival in Europe in the minds of Rockfreaks.net staff. It's the overall organizational efficiency that uplifts the festival far above many of its contemporaries. Whether you need food or drinks, are queuing to the festival area or want to check out the merch tent, everything runs perfectly smooth and you are rarely faced with annoyances, and in the words of our trusty scribe TL, "everything is AWESOME".

This year's weather looked like doom-and-gloom only days before the festival, but fortunately the punk rock Gods protected teh festival from a massive rainfall, with only small amounts of water hitting the camping area during the weekend, and nearly all of it during nights when everyone was already asleep. Daytime, it was t-shirt weather almost all the way.

Overall, this year's festival was characterized by a number of disappointing performances of the old legends (hello, Alkaline Trio), but this was compensated by a breathtaking show by Refused and an almost equally great one by Rancid, and a wealth of fantastic displays by small- and medium-sized bands. PP

The entrance to the Camping Site prior to opening

CAMPING SITE

The camping site was opened slightly ahead of the 18:00 opening on Friday, April 27th probably in consideration to the Lifetime club show happening nearby, which was a first-come, first-serve type of event where no doubt many festival goers were planning to check out. This year, the festival introduced number of highly useful new additions, including a Camping Supermarket where you could buy the basic supplies needed for camping in case something broke and some small snacks, and Charge-It, a mobile phone charging station. The latter in particular was specifically well thought-out, as the price was set at €2 euros for 2 hours, which is enough to charge any mobile phone, and €1 euro for every additional hour to avoid people just leaving their phones there for the whole day and thus lengthy queues.

Another cool addition was the ability to get your air mattress pumped by an electric pump for a measley €0.5. Other than that, the breakfast at the camping area is still the best I've tasted on any European festival. Whether it's the sandwich you choose or the eggs & bacon, it tastes brilliant and cures any hangover to a reasonable degree.

Typical camp - here the 46-man Rockfreaks.net camp

Other than that, it's the usual pitch-up-your-tent and go to the festival area kind of festival, so aside from the first evening you weren't going to spend much time in your tents anyway. Understandably, the amenities of the camping site are thus limited to the basic toilets, wash basins, etc (although showers were added as a first this year), so not much more to report on this area. PP

FESTIVAL AREA

The festival area was largely unchanged from the previous year, so I won't go into much lengths about describing it in detail here. Check out last year's article for more info. But for what it's worth, the Groezrock festival area still features a great selection of food and drinks (on festival standards) at far cheaper prices than, say, at Roskilde Festival in Denmark. That the beer prices haven't risen in four years is testament to the festival's committment to keeping it affordable for the regular punk/hardcore fans: €70 euros is enough to kill a man and feed him as well for a day as tested by your trusty Rockfreaks.net writers, which is unbelievably cheap for 12-13 hours of drinking and eating at a festival.

Walking into the festival area

Getting through the festival gates to exchange your wristband was also a painless procedure, with the line never really seeming longer than 5-10 minutes, which is impressive for a festival that had sold probably around 15,000 tickets this year on a rough estimate.

As one of the new additions this year, smack down in the middle of the festival Monster Energy had set up a hard rock lounge, which included a tower where you could see the whole festival from above while hard rock hits in the vein of System of A Down, RATM, etc were blasted at the bottom floor. The Jägermeister booth where you could buy the trademark test tubes of Jäger shots was pretty cool, too, as it allowed people to mix their own Jägerbombs by purchasing a Monster at the same time. PP

View from Monster Energy lounge top floor

But most important new addition was the brand new acoustic stage in one corner of the festival. Perhaps inspired by the greatness of last year's acoustic Dashboard Confessional concert at main stage, the stage featured sets by bands that also played the festival in full band mode as well as ones by artists appearing exclusively as acoustic acts. In our humble opinion, this was an excellent idea, because it presented festival guests with some rare performances, should they ever want a break from the 12 hour punk-rock marathons offered by the festival's remaining stages. Of course, the stage was no more intimate than the Etnies stage, but this was firstly for the better due to the overwhelming amount of interest during some performances, and secondly it was counterbalanced by the clever stage setup, with a big chandelier and large column-shaped lamps cluttering the stage and making everything feel a little more refined than the ordinary sets played elsewhere. The worst to be said of this new initiative was that it offered even more first world problems for fans already challenged to choose from the banquet of good shows available at the same time. TL

We won't hold you any longer, it's time to check out the reviews.

LINEUP

RANCID - LAGWAGON - REFUSED - GOOD RIDDANCE - FACE TO FACE - YELLOWCARD - LIFETIME - HEIDEROOSJES - PARKWAY DRIVE - HAZEN STREET - SIMPLE PLAN - THRICE - ALKALINE TRIO - UNEARTH - GORILLA BISCUITS - TERROR - ANTI-FLAG

7 Seconds, Architects, Authority Zero, Banquets, B.E.A.R, Belvedere, Billy The Kill, The Bouncing Souls, The Bronx, Chixdiggit, Cobra Skulls, Confession, The Copyrights, Counterpunch, The Dangerous Summer, The Dillinger Escape Plan, DYS, Evergreen Terrace, For Today, Gallows, The Ghost Inside, Heaven Shall Burn, Hot Water Music, Junius, Make Do And Mend, The Menzingers, Miss May I, Motion City Soundtrack, MxPx All-Stars, None More Black, Off With Their Heads, The Old Firm Casuals, Paceshifters, Red City Radio, Reel Big Fish, Royal Republic, Set Your Goals, Slapshot, Such Gold, Sunpower, Trigger Effect, Verse, Versus The World, Vienna, We Are The In Crowd, Wolves Like Us, The Wonder Years, Your Demise, Zebrahead

Acoustic sets from: Anti-Flag, Bouncing Souls, Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music), Dave Hause (of The Loved Ones), Face Tomorrow, Garret Klahn (of Texas Is The Reason), Hostage Calm, Dustin Kensrue (of Thrice), Jonah Matranga (of Far), Kevin Seconds (of 7 Seconds), Mike Herrera (of MxPx), Tom Gabel (of Against Me!) & Yellowcard.

SATURDAY 28 APRIL

Banquets @ 10:45-11:15 on Etnies Stage

At 10:45 on Saturday, Jersey quartet Banquets are the first to take any stage at all at this year's Groezrock, and considering the hour and that most people were drinking late into last night, it's probably not strange that the show has sort of a 'just got up' vibe to it. Neither the band nor the audience seem up for as wildly energetic behaviour as is to come later, the lead guitar is a bit low in the mix and the vocals drift off tune here and there, likely due to the monitors not being perfectly adjusted yet. Those hindrances aside though, Banquets still have the melodies and songs to gradually conjure up a good mood in the Etnies tent, and by the time their short set ends, they've managed what you'd normally expect from a warm up band at a gig, namely that they open your ears and prime you for more musical goodness to come. [7] TL

Chixdiggit @ 11:00-11:30 on Main Stage

Groezrock has a long history of having awesome opening bands on the Main Stage that set the tone for the rest of the festival, and this year was no expection. Chixdiggit have championed the simplest of simple no-frills punk rock for over two decades now, relying solely on a power chord obsessed, Ramones-influenced approach to the genre, which is great, but has a tendency of sounding a little same-y over a thirty minute period. That's why the band compensates by having a great stage personality in their vocalist KJ Jansen who has an impeccable ability to get the crowd going with hilarious and entertaining jokes, facial expressions and all the like. That's why he gets the crowd, albeit still small at this point in time, to sing along lyrics to "I Wanna Hump You" and especially this morning's best song, "Geocities Kitty" where he gets half of the crowd to scream "Geocities" in response to the "Kitty" chant from the other side. Great stuff and lots of laugh-out-loud moments from the band clad uniformly in red today. [8] PP

In the meantime PP caught a quick glimpse of Counterpunch playing on the Etnies Stage, but despite the band sounding promising on record, without knowing the songs and without any crowd interaction, the couple of songs sounded rather bland and forgettable, so I left to check out Authority Zero instead.

Authority Zero

Authority Zero @ 11:55-12:30 on Main Stage

If Chixdiggit woke up the main stage crowd early on, then Authority Zero were the wild card that surprised most with their performance that would go down as one of the best in this year's Groezrock despite sound issues in the vocal department. Even though Jason DeVore's vocals were far less clear than on record, the band played with an impressive amount of energy on stage, delivering one excellent and criminally underrated song after another, starting from the excellent "A Passage Of Time" through the old school Fat compilation classic "Revolution", which was sure to please all the old school fans in presence tonight, and "Brick In The Wave", which sounded just as Rise Against esque and great live as it does on record. So any murmurs about poor sound quality on the microphone were quickly erased by an array of great songs and solid stage performance, which aside from DeVore taking advantage of the whole stage also included an enormous wall of death in the middle all the way from the front to the sound tower almost 50 meters backwards.To top things off, DeVore threw himself into the crowd in the end, and while many singers do that, I've never seen one sing an entire verse perfectly while crowd surfing through the front on his back. A great show that underlines why they are said to be the next heir to the Rise Against throne in anthemic stadium punk rock. [8½] PP

The Menzingers

The Menzingers @ 12:55-13:30 on Main Stage

As everyone should know, The Menzingers are responsible for some of the finest American punk rock records of later years and indeed if you ask me, the best album of the year so far in "On The Impossible Past". So it's probably no surprise to anyone that I'm standing far in front, eyes glued to the stage, when the band comes on for their 35 minutes of Groezrock fame, nor should it be a surprise to anyone that from the word go, they kill it. Taking turns at the lead vocal duties, singer/guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May lead us through the cream of both "On The Impossible Past" and the similarly enticing "Chamberlain Waits", and especially the latter is putting on an exhibition on rocking out at centre stage, skipping from side to side while hammering the strings on his guitar. The sound is excellent, and while The Menzingers are not yet as revered as much of the punk rock royalty that's on parade on this festival, there's still a solid gang of fans present that do their part to send decent singalongs echoing around the large tent. The experience is one that should look and sound excellent to fans and promising to newcomers, and the only thing to complain about is that a) the set is too damn short, and b) these are songs that deserve much louder singalongs from a much more devoted audience.[8] TL

We Are The In Crowd @ 13:30-14:10 on Impericon Stage

After coming down from seeing The Menzingers, I quickly find my way to my visit the Impericon Stage where We Are The In Crowd have been holding court for a few minutes. When I join in, however, things aren't looking particularly good, with the band playing what sounds like filler type pop-rock through a muddy mix that will prove to plague most sets at the stage that seems to favour only the festival's heaviest bands. WATIC are not a heavy band though, and yet things fortunately improve gradually, as the band builds confidence and proceeds with numbers that showcase their classic pop-punk dynamics. The contrast between singer Tay Jardine's fine pop voice and the pseudo-heavy pop-punk breakdowns works its magic, and the charismatic singer surely wins a bit of respect when she recommends that everybody sees The Ghost Inside, adding "I may be a girl singing in a pop band, but that shit is awesome!" and then belting out a humouristic roar for our entertainment. It's still sort of a slow afternoon performance all things considered though, with most of the gathered audience only curiosly interested and with Jardine's singing not coming through the mix as the highlight of the bands sound that it is. [7] TL

None More Black @ 13:55-14:35 on Main Stage

Despite featuring the ex-Kid Dynamite singer Jason Shevchuk behind the microphone, None More Black have never really progressed past 'standard Fat Wreck roster punk', even though they integrate a considerable amount of rock'n'roll guitar playing into their intimate basement punk sound to deviate from other bands. As such, their stage performance quickly becomes tiring and trivial because the songs are so nondescript. Great bands rescue even average songs through dominant stage persona (see: Chixdiggit), wheras Shevchuk is content to just admitting the Main Stage is far too big stage for None More Black, promising the crowd "next time we come to Belgium, we'll play a smaller and more intimate stage" while signalling size with his hands. So when the band looks like this is just another day in the office for them, except they are wearing shoes a few sizes too large for the occasion, people start leaving in droves to check out other, potentially more interesting stuff long before their set is over. Check out this on-stage footage of the band, though. [6] PP

Hostage Calm @ 14:45-15:30 on Etnies Stage

Hostage Calm were a late addition to the Groezrock bill, having been brought in as replacements to I Am the Avalanche, whose cancellation undoubtedly left many a pop punk fan with a sour taste in his mouth. Though far less intricate and complex, it is fortunate that Hostage Calm found time in their schedule to be here, as their brand of raw, unpolished pop punk is the next best thing - a sizable crowd seems to agree. But while their music is of the sort that can instantly be recognized as good - solid, energetic songs and lots of underlined sing-songs - it is also of the sort that, in my book, will never break into mainstream success. There is an old school vibe and urgency to the music that is unlikely to please but the true punk fan, and when put to the test, the songs do seem to lack that extra knack to make them truly memorable. It says something that I meticulously count the minutes it would take me to walk over to the acoustic stage in time for Dustin Kensrue so as to miss the fewest songs possible of Hostage Calm's set, however, and so it only seems fair to award their performance with a good [7] AP

Yellowcard @ 15:00-15:40 on Acoustic Stage

Considering myself a pretty big Yellowcard fan, I've decided that seeing them twice in a day isn't a problem when one of their shows is also an opportunity to check out Groezrock's new Acoustic Stage concept. Here the band's chiefs of melodies - singer/guitarist Ryan Key and violinist/backing singer Sean Mackin - appear under a fancy looking chandelier, backed by two additional guitars, and lead the audience through a tightly played and orchestrated singalong-athon of the band's more well known songs. There are next to no surprises here, as Key and Mackin could probably do this with their eyes closed by now, and especially balladic songs like "Empty Apartment" benefit from the acoustic treatment, having nostalgic tweens like myself singing along devoutly. It is a rock solid display, and albeit never as magical as the acoustic set Chris Carabba put on at last year's festival, the only "real" complaint I have is that this would've been a good opportunity for the band to finally let me hear "Gifts And Curses" and yet the Spiderman soundtrack classic still doesn't get an airing. First world problems, huh? [8] TL

Belvedere @ 15:00-15:40 on Main Stage

Each year Groezrock has a couple reunion bands who haven't played together in years, but were always among the most influential and revered bands within their genre. Belvedere represented one such band this year having disbanded in 2005; their cult status among older skate punkers should not be underestimated. Songs like "Closed Doors" and "She Sells And Sand Sandwiches" received echoing sing alongs in a tent I expected to be full of curious onlookers who had merely heard of the band's reputation, that's all. But the sheer quality of these tunes answer the question of why there are still people who swear in the name of Belvedere when it comes to ranking the best skate punk bands in history. Indeed, if their set could be summed up with one sentence, I'd have to go with synchronized jumps and technical punk songs. I stopped counting the former at around 20 only a couple of songs in, and the latter, well, I don't think it gets any more technical in punk than Belvedere, as their vocalist so nicely put it during the show: "You might have noticed all the guitar solos in our songs. This one's no different". [7½] PP

On stage with Off With Their Heads

Off With Their Heads @ 15:55-16:40 on Etnies Stage

While Reel Big Fish tend to guarantee a good party, I've seen them a couple of times now and know what to expect, so why not stay at the Etnies stage instead, and check out what Off With Their Heads are like at stage bigger than the small scale Loppen venue back in Copenhagen? This thought process rewards me with the most crowd-surfed show I've seen to date. Okay, so it's going to be challenged later on by The Wonder Years, but for the moment, I gaze in awe as dozens of crowd members scale and then vault off the stage for each song OWTH plays through. The band themselves are rocking their usual 'rooted to the spot, yet positively humming with intensity' and their catchy choruses are invoking manic singalongs from various corners of the tent. The whole thing has the feeling of a God damn good show, and were we not at Groezrock, where the competition is ridiculously fierce, I would probably consider reaching for grades slightly higher. [8] TL

Reel Big Fish singer Aaron Barrett with Hawaiian look

Reel Big Fish @ 16:05-16:50 on Main Stage

Reel Big Fish was always going to be the fun concert at this year's Groezrock, a guaranteed party where the main stage would be packed to its limits by people who know all the lyrics to all the songs. As the band enters to the rhythm of "The Imperial March" from Star Wars with frontman Aaron Barrett dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses, anyone doubting whether the band still had it in them after the departure of second stage personality Scott Klopfenstein were convinced otherwise as the band runs through classics like "Beer", "Where Have You Been", "Sell Out", "Everything Sucks", and of course "Take On Me", where the massive sing along even follows the trombone melody, not to even mention the back chill inducing chorus lyrics...yeah, tell me about it. People are dancing and skanking every direction you look, as the band uses every trick in their bag to entertain the crowd from a trumpet/sax/trombone circle pit on stage to playing the same song in a ska, metal, square dance, etc version. It doesn't get much more euphoric than this at the main stage during the whole weekend. [8½] PP

Miss May I @ 16:50-17:35 on Impericon Stage

Miss May I are not a band that I have listened to a lot, and sandwiched as they are in the brief space between Off With Their Heads and The Wonder Years, I only have time to catch their two first songs or so. From what I see, however, everything you might have heard about them is likely true. For better or worse, the band looks and sounds like somebody served As I Lay Dying a potion of rejuvenation, and with slim jeans and long manes the young metalcore comets dish out frantic melodic riffs and suitably heavy breaks to cater to the audience normally found at the Impericon Stage at this hour. Like I said, I only saw a few songs, so I won't give an official grade based on that, but when I left the show I was thinking that it was worth at least around [7] TL

Soupy from The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years @ 17:05-17:50 on Etnies Stage

Given the love that's been shown the latest Wonder Years album, both by us and others, it's probably no surprise that yours truly finds himself in a throng of people all anxious and eager before the band takes the stage. When they do, things quickly turn into the kind of feverish celebration that robs everyone both on and off the stage of breath. In a matter of seconds, everybody is metres away from where they were at first, I've lost my trusty cap and on stage, vocalist Dan 'Soupy' Campbell is pacing the stage, trying to incite things. And while he does it with such commitment that he too is short of breath, it seems there's no need, because people are vaulting - even somersaulting - off the stage every few seconds with no need for encouragement. Okay, so Soupy and the gang hardly sound note for note perfect today, but then they've probably always been a band thats more satisfied as long as their shows are greeted with such reckless activity. People in the front are having tonnes of fun, and even if I can't guarantee the same for people in the back, it's worth questioning why you would ever come to see a band like this and then stand in the back? (Ed note: because you are old like me) [8] TL

The Bouncing Souls

In the meantime PP runs from Etnies Stage to the Main Stage as soon as The Wonder Years finish their set to catch the last ten minutes of The Bouncing Souls, who are just finishing their set with another momentous singalong of their own with "True Believers" and "Here We Go" resonating loud and clear across the tent in a show that looks like it was awesome. Shame it clashed with The Wonder Years.

The Ghost Inside

Straight after PP had a quick peak into The Ghost Inside show at the Impericon Stage, where the crowd is just preparing for a massive "WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR?" chant during "Between The Lines" which characterizes all shows by the band. And boy, do I feel bad about having to miss rest of their set because of Set Your Goals playing shortly after, because what I saw on stage and in the crowd looked like nothing short of phenomenal. I can't rate the show based on just 10 minutes, but it certainly looked like a 9 if I ever saw one.

Dustin Kensrue

Dustin Kensrue @ 18:00-18:40 on Fender Acoustic Stage

Though nowhere near as packed as this tent appeared to be during Yellowcard's acoustic performance earlier, it is evident that many a Thrice fan has found his or her way to Groezrock to witness the band's mainland swan song. So eager are these people, including myself, to see them off in style that when the band's vocalist steps on stage for his first acoustic solo show in Europe, the applause is as deafening as with any of the headliners here. In what is without a doubt one of the most intimate and emotional concert experiences of my life, I watch and sing along watery-eyed as Kensrue takes us through a selection of acoustic renditions of Thrice classics - “Come All You Weary”, “The Artist in the Ambulance”, “Stare at the Sun” and “Disarmed”; brilliant covers - “Mesa, AZ” by Bad Books, “Hospital Beds” by Cold War Kids, and “Down There by the Train” by Tom Waits; as well as a number of his own songs. One cannot but stand in silent awe at Kensrue's unbelievable singing and lyrics, and judging from the quietly sobbing crowd, I am not alone in experiencing this as a truly touching, unforgettable experience. So despite the fact that this is just one laid back dude sitting on a chair, strumming his guitar and pouring his heart out to us, Kensrue's performance today goes down as one of my favorite moments at the festival, and certainly one of the most memorable. [8½] AP

Set Your Goals @ 18:15-19:05 on Etnies Stage

What happened here? Even though this is a punk/hardcore festival, especially Jordan's vocals are inexcusably off-tune. For the entirety of the fifty minute set I'm stuffing my ear plugs deeper as the band's vocalists dual-handedly destroy every positive memory I have of Set Your Goals through singing that's beyond terrible and a completely deflated and uninspiring performance. It's real sad to witness the demise of such a great band: the set has its moments during the big songs, sure, but the vocalists don't seem to be that into it and the newer songs are just awful with nobody in the crowd liking them. What's worse, the older songs should be enough to draw an explosive reaction this far into their career, but instead we are treated to standard-sized sing alongs and an overwhelmingly meh experience overall. Even "Work In Progress" as the last song doesn't save the set from being a huge disappointment. Fix the vocals, look like you're giving 110% at the show, and then we'll talk. [6] PP

Evergreen Terrace

Evergreen Terrace @ 19:15-20:05 on Impericon Stage

The start of Evergreen Terrace's show at Impericon also marks the start of the worst clusterfuck of the schedule for me, as they are playing on top of Verse and Yellowcard (who in turn overlap Dillinger Escape Plan), all of which I really want to see. In the end, the compromise is that I watch a few ET songs and then bounce to Yellowcard, making note to catch Verse some other time. From what I do see of Terrace's set here at Impericon, they seem like they've come with the intention of imposing their will on the stage. Frontman Andrew Carey is bouncing about the stage with a sense of purpose, screaming and trying to instigate things, and the band is coming through the speakers loudly - so loudly in fact, that it does no favours to singer/guitarists Craig Chaney's cleans. Not a big deal I suppose, for the seasoned mosh warriors about, but more than enough reason for me to not feel too bad heading over to the main stage. TL

Verse @ 19:30-20:20 on Etnies Stage

Speaking of reunion bands, Verse is another one of them, a cult band from the hardcore scene drawing their sound from classic 90s hardcore, Bane style. Slow and epic with plenty of guitar melody allowed, Verse underline in the space of 50 minutes why modern hardcore bands often feel generic and like fake carbon copies of Verse with their power messages and endless breakdowns. This band virtually invented the power message trend in hardcore, which is probably why they feel so honest and real on stage tonight. A feeling of humble and down-to-earth surrounds their entire set, even in classic hardcore moments such as their vocalist collapsing on stage into the crowd when screaming an important lyric, or during the many moments he offers his microphone to the eager people at the front who scream back every lyric at the band. That's why there's such a great and passionate dynamic between the band and the crowd; standing in the tent feels almost like we're praying at the altar of hardcore with a magnifying glass on the community and family part of the genre. Moments like "Story Of A Free Man" demonstrate visibly why Verse are such a brilliant and revered band. Remember TL talking about seeing many people vault off the stage? Well, I think I saw pretty much the entire population of earth throw themselves off the stage during this show. Holy shit. [8] PP

Yellowcard violinist

Yellowcard @ 19:40-20:30 on Main Stage

Approaching main stage for my second Yellowcard show of the day, I'm expecting this to be the logical step up from their appearance at the acoustic stage earlier. As the show progresses, however, it soon becomes apparent that these seasoned veterans - although hardly prone to slack off or make mistakes - have trouble squeezing their headline type set into the length of just 50 minutes. Despite their trying to be as charismatic and forthcoming as always, front figures Key and Mackin look a bit stressed, especially towards the end of the show, when it becomes clear that the three last songs planned are going to exceed the assigned time slot. Still, the sound is pretty good, and a good portion of the audience is too excited and maybe already too drunk to notice the hurried band on stage, so when the music is playing it is still a decent time, with solid singalongs. Yet knowing what magic Yellowcard can conjure at the top of their game, it was just a little bit underwhelming. [7½] TL

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ 20:30-21:30 on Impericon Stage

Despite the fact that another fantastic performance is taking place simultaneously on the Etnies Stage, courtesy of the iconic Lifetime, my previous experience with the Dillinger Escape Plan has taught me that their performances are not to be missed under any circumstances. But perhaps it is time to re-evaluate this position. This mob of madness is an unstoppable force in a club venue, but it seems that when put on a large festival stage, a lot of the destructive power is lost, to the detriment of the band's performance. No one in their right mind could call it lackluster, as the band appear as hostile and crazed as ever, throwing their instruments around in violent swings, climbing on anything in the periphery, and throwing monitor cabinets into the crowd; and the clearly audible bass is a welcome addition to the typically chaotic sound mix as well. But at the same time, there is something almost robotic about the way the band conducts itself tonight, as though they are operating on autopilot. We are taken through a great selection of songs, including my personal favorites “Room Full of Eyes” and “Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants”, but even during the manic bursts of energy that are “Panasonic Youth”, “Good Neighbor” and “Fix Your Face” the band appears oddly tame and non-confrontational. It is not until the grand finale “Farewell, Mona Lisa” that something clicks in vocalist Greg Puciato's brain, and he proceeds to systematically destroy the drumkit by first throwing another monitor case into it and then proceeding to smash it apart with his bare hands - mind you, while Billy Rymer is still playing the song with it. This is the kind of insanity I have learned to expect from the Dillinger Escape Plan, but given its late manifestation in the set tonight, I feel it would be unjust to base my entire assessment of the band on the merits of such a display. This must therefore go down as the least engaging Dillinger Escape Plan show I have seen yet; though by no means can it be described as bad. [7½] AP

On stage with Lifetime

Lifetime @ 20:45-21:35 on Etnies Stage

Having witnessed Lifetime play one of the best shows I've ever seen the day before in a tiny club a few kilometres from the festival, I expected nothing but sheer perfection tonight given the size of the crowd and the expected intensity levels the Etnies Tent was about to bring. Not so tonight, it was nothing like their club show, and in fact surprisingly few people knew the legendary songs from "Jersey's Best Dancers", "Hello Bastards" and "Lifetime". Not even "Hey Katrina", their most sing-alongable classic, didn't receive much of a response from the crowd, and as a result, there were moments where I just wasn't sure if Katz & co were disinterested or the crowd was just terrible. The intensity and release of energy that I was expecting wasn't there, and coupled with the occasionally questionable sound quality, I can't say I left satisfied from the reunion show of a band that hasn't really played shows since, well, 1997 or so? Basically, the crowd failed to read up on the punk rock history chapters for the festival, it seems. [7] PP

Heaven Shall Burn @ 22:00-23:00 on Impericon Stage

Here's a show I ventured into by accident, fully intending to check out Hazen Street while waiting for Lagwagon but intrigued based on the brooding melodies that reached my ears as I walked by. Turns out I made the right choice: Heaven Shall Burn demonstrate in the 30 minutes that I watched them to be the best metalcore band I know in Germany, and probably the most metal band on the Groezrock bill this year. Yeah, we're talking about hair swirling, head banging, and evil looking dudes on stage, but yet they produce a group of surprisingly strong songs, some of which turn out to incite enormous sing alongs in the tent alongside some insane light effects. Quality wise, these Germans deliver far better songs than, for example, Parkway Drive's generic drivel, and based on this show alone, they should enjoy a much more celebrated status within the metalcore crowd. [8] PP

Lagwagon

Lagwagon @ 22:30-23:30 on Main Stage

Ah, Lagwagon. One of the classic punk bands that any respectable fan of the genre will quote when asked about the most influential bands in the 90s and beyond. To expect an hour's worth of sing along was in order, however, that wasn't in the plans tonight. They played a show earlier on the same day at Duisburg, Germany, so perhaps they were a little tired from the travel and having to play two shows on the same day, but the chatter and entertaining in-between song banter that's so characteristic of Lagwagon shows and has given me some of my favorite live moments isn't anywhere near as funny and plentiful as usual. Also, the band elects to play a for-the-fans type of setlist with lots of random songs from their discography instead of the hit parade we were expecting, so I have a feeling I wasn't the only one leaving the show slightly disappointed. Yes, we did hear "Violins", "Sleep", "May 16" and "Mr Coffee", but what about "Bombs Away"? "Know It All"? These are some songs that a band of Lagwagon's caliber can't get away with of not playing. And though "Brown Eyed Girl" finished the set into a sing along, I can't help but think that I've seen Joey Cape & co perform much better on so many previous occasions...tonight just felt like the band played their songs and not much else, which is still good of course given that it's Lagwagon, after all. [7]

Gallows @ 23:15-00:05 on Etnies Stage

My first time seeing Gallows without their enigmatic vocalist Frank Carter who parted ways with the band last year due to differences in musical direction, so it was a huge questionmark how well Wade MacNeil (ex-Alexisonfire) would be able to fill his shoes as a vocalist. At first, it looks like he might be up to the job after an explosive opening with "Misery", but it doesn't take long before it quickly becomes evident that without Carter, Gallows are just a hardcore band without the unique London/UK touch that he added. The band knows this too: before playing one of their classics "In The Belly Of A Shark", MacNeil takes a moment to address the crowd in an angry rant, shouting "a lot of people said Gallows were dead. Well I know you are all in this tent tonight because we've got your support, or maybe you just came here to see us fail. But either way you're here, and we're not fucking going anywhere" in a defiant manner. Too bad he's wrong. Not only does Wade look completely out-of-place with his mohawk singing "London Is The Reason", but ultimately his performance in the uniquely Frank Carter track "Orchestra Of Wolves" seals the deal for me: Gallows just aren't that interesting without the flair of a Londoner. Their album "Grey Britain" is a gloomy hardcore album that'll eventually be considered a timeless classic in British hardcore history precisely because of how British it sounds (as does its predecessor), and with MacNeil behind the microphone tonight, that feeling of British rebellion is exchanged with ordinary hardcore feeling, and that's not what Gallows were ever about. So even though "Mondo Chaos" sounds pretty good, I'm leaving the set disappointed and halfway feeling like my perception of Gallows has been butchered tonight. Luckily they end their set 15 minutes early - probably to catch Rancid - to avoid further embarrassment. [6½] PP

Rancid

Rancid @ 00:00-01:20 on Main Stage

You can't blame Gallows for wanting to end their set early to catch Rancid, because they haven't played in Europe in practically forever, so the Groezrock audience were overdue for a massive sing a long fest of epic proportions. Really, pretty much the first 10 songs straight had enormous sing alongs echoing in the tent - check on YouTube yourself if you don't believe me - and ones that followed tracks like "Olympia" and especially "Timebomb" and "Ruby Soho" later on were easily the biggest ones Groezrock has heard in the last couple of years. For 31 tracks and almost 90 minutes, Rancid reminded us why they are living legends in punk rock circles and among the best the genre has ever seen, and they did this with minimal interaction with the crowd aside form the occasional shout out to some of their friends who were also playing at the festival. It's a double-edged sword, because while it ensured that the relaxed ska/reggae tempo kept going, the crowd (at least right in the middle of the 10,000 strong audience - all completely drunk by the way) felt a little tired in the middle. Then there's of course the fact that Rancid are quite old now, so their stage performance never matched the quality of their songs. They're basically too old to really move around like in the old days, so they are content at just rocking out in their respective positions on stage with little other movement or additional perks to their set. Not that it matters that much, because when your setlist consists of songs like "Radio", "Roots Radicals", "East Bay Night", "Listed M.I.A", "The Wars End", and "Fall Back Down" among many others, you can play on autopilot and still play a great show. As I look back at the show I remember a reaaaaaalllly loooooong middle part without much happening in the crowd. Whether that's because everyone was tired or because the Rancid setlist turned to the more unknown songs for a bit, I'm not sure. But in the end, Rancid played so many amazing songs and classics of the kind most bands can only dream about writing, so there's not much to complain. [8] PP


SUNDAY 29 APRIL

Versus The World @ 10:30-11:00 on Etnies Stage

Waking up to a dull grey sky and a slight drizzle, I'm up early to catch this much hyped outfit opening the day's proceedings on the main stage with well sung punk infused post-hardcore melancholia. It befits the weather and hungover moods well, and although only a small handful of early birds have found the strength to watch this quartet, they seem to be in high spirits. Chris Flippin - who stood on this very stage much later and longer with Lagwagon the day before, is particularly joyous, sporting a casually rocking demeanor and providing just the right amount of technical work to rescue Versus the World from sounding too derivative. But just as with None More Black the day before, I am not convinced that Versus the World are in possession of sufficiently strong song material, as while most of the songs are easy to get into and bob one's head along to, they are of a rather predictable nature and essentially bring nothing new to either of the genres being fused here. [6½] AP

Wolves Like Us @ 11:00-11:35 on Impericon Stage

Originally it had not been my plan to watch Wolves Like Us, as their performance in support of Kvelertak in Copenhagen last year left me somewhat unimpressed. But because most of the Rockfreaks.net encampment is still rubbing sleep from their eyes in the camping area, there is little else to do than give them another shot. As the set begins with the familiar legato melody of "Burns Like a Paper Rose", my low expectations are immediately swept aside, because standing on this much larger stage this Norwegian quartet is truly a convincing proposition, adding an element of darkness, noise and grandeur to a line-up otherwise dominated by light-hearted punk bands - and, as Make Do and Mend's James Carroll puts it afterward, sounding absolutely monstrous. Those familiar with the band will know that they deal in music not too distant from the likes of Quicksand and Glassjaw, but given the impressive amplification and imposing presence of the four musicians on stage, it is their extreme metal roots that shine through with the greatest clarity this morning. It might simply be that Wolves Like Us stand in such stark contrast with the rest of the line-up and so manage to make a proper impact, but there is nonetheless no denying that what they muster up here is a pretty stirring sight. [7½] AP

Red City Radio draws emotional response

Red City Radio @ 11:40-12:15 on Etnies Stage

It's pretty early, and I'm fearing that this might not bode well for Red City Radio's appearance at the Etnies Stage, given that they are still a reasonably small band after all. I hadn't needed to worry, because from the first chord the band sends throught the sound system, arms stretch up from all over the tent and people start singing lyrics needing no help from the guys on stage. Admittedly the stage diving never gets as crazy as it was during some of the afternoon sets of yesterday, but there are still surprisingly many both dancing and singing for this time of day, and considering how these guys recently played to less than 40 people at Huset in Copenhagen, it maybe isn't so weird to hear them exclaim underway that this is the best show their band has ever played. Shows that start before noon rarely get as good as this. [8] TL

Make Do And Mend

Make Do And Mend @ 12:00-12:35 on Impericon Stage

As one of my absolute must-sees at this year's festival, Make Do and Mend have a lot to prove this afternoon. Fortunately they cash in on these expectations more or less, delivering a solid set of passionate punk rock consisting of near equal parts old and brand new material, including a convincing hit parade in "Unknowingly Strong", "Transparent Seas" and "Oak Square" - the best three songs off "End Measured Mile" according to my judgment. But most interestingly it is the opportunity to experience a selection of new songs from the upcoming "Everything You Ever Loved" album, all of which see the band strengthen their grip on the two most essential elements in their music: pop melodies and hardcore aggression. As a result these songs are both the softest thing Make Do and Mend have ever written and the heaviest, foreshadowing a brilliant album this summer. Music aside, the four musicians, though visibly drowsy at first, kick up a passionate and, on guitarist Mike O'Toole's part in particular, energetic performance which sees the crowd loudly reciting each lyric - albeit that they too, seem a little tired still from the previous night's shenanigans. It is not the fantastic performance I had in mind, but it is still more than enough to convince me that Make Do and Mend are one of the most promising acts in the punk rock scene right now. [7½] AP

Zebrahead @ 12:25-13:00 on Main Stage

It's just past noon on Sunday and everyone who was at the Rancid show last night til 1:20am is guaranteed to be hungover as fuck (read: 10,000+ people or at least 50% of the festival). That's why it's good to have a band as outrageous as Zebrahead play early as the party starters of the festival. As if it wasn't enough to enter the stage to the tune of AMERICA, FUCK YEAH from Team America: World Police, the band had constructed a small tiki bar AND a small swimming pool on the stage, alongside the obligatory palm trees to complete the Hawaiian theme. "You might have noticed we have a tiki bar on stage", proclaims their singer, before proceeding to select some girls and guys from the crowd to the stage to enjoy cocktails and hang out in the pool set up on both sides of the stage. Oh, and they brought along a small lifeboat as well which one of their crew members 'captained' all the way from the stage to the mixer tower far into the crowd at one stage (see video here). And toilet paper. Masses and masses of toilet paper which they unleashed into the crowd towards the end of their set. And then there were was a Slipknot inspired "take 3 steps back, sit down, jump" type of crowd control, a huge wall of death, and of course getting everyone in the crowd to sing "FUCK" and flip the bird at the band during every chorus of "Playmate Of The Year". Yeah, the musical quality of Zebrahead is questionable, but man do they know how to party. I haven't experienced as upbeat fun entertainment in years as Zebrahead delivered during their early afternoon slot. Hangover? Gone. Ready for another day's worth of beer? Check. [8] PP

The Dangerous Summer

The Dangerous Summer @ 13:00-13:40 on Impericon Stage

The Dangerous Summer was one of my most anticipated sets at Groezrock, yet it turned out to be one of the most disappointing ones, mostly because its serious and progressive emotional tone stood in such stark contrast to the mindless fun Zebrahead offered literally minutes before their set, but also because the Impericon Stage wasn't going to give them any favors in terms of sound quality. Once again the stage proves itself more suitable for the heavier bands as its sound quality makes the softer and more contemplative songs sound hollow and empty, as was the case for The Dangerous Summer as well. Coupled with a static stage performance, even the band's great songs didn't do enough to convince the listeners. It was simply a case of wrong stage, and far too early to be properly enjoyable. [5] PP

Mxpx All Stars

Mxpx All Stars @ 13:25-14:05 on Main Stage

Mxpx, too, felt the effect of Zebrahead on the Main Stage straight after. Despite playing a polished and distinctly up tempo pop punk mix, it lacked the same light-heartedness that got the crowd going early on during Zebreahead. Granted, it had its moments during songs like "Responsibility", "Heard That Sound", "Aces Up" and of course the sing along song "Punk Rawk Show", but the presence of Cancer as the backing band for Mike Herrera instead of his usual buddies meant that the band was lacking the energy and vibe they usually have when playing as only Mxpx. The highlight of the show? Probably when Nick from The Swellers took over on bass instead of Mike so he could go crazy on stage. A decent show, which almost certainly would've benefitted from a later timeslot. [7] PP

Motion City Soundtrack vocalist Pierre

Motion City Soundtrack @ 14:30-15:10 on Main Stage

When we saw Motion City Soundtrack on the Groezrock line-up, we were almost certain it would mean a full tent of crazy loud sing alongs, but as it turns out during their afternoon slot, there aren't actually all too many MCS fans among the punks of Europe. Add to this that the mix is not doing anything good for singer Justin Pierre - whose singing and lyrics are undeniably among the band's strongest assets - and delivering on our lofty expectations certainly is an uphill battle for them. It's fortunate for the band that they have so many good songs that the mere cheerful performance of them is more than enough to emit a good mood through 40 short minutes, and the few faithful are likely more than satisfied, having gotten to croon along to the likes of "L. G. FUAD", "The Future Freaks Me Out", "Everything Is Alright" and "Disappear". Still, considering the strength of those very songs, this deserved to be a much better show than it was. [7½] TL

After Motion City Soundtrack, PP ventured briefly into the Your Demise set at the Impericon Tent, where the band seemed full of energy and received decent-sized sing alongs to some of their best songs in a packed tent. Based on a few songs, it looked like a 7½ show going on in the tent, but I didn't see enough to warrant giving it a proper rating.

Jonah Matranga @ 15:00-15:40 on Acoustic Stage

Admittedly I have no past familiarity with Jonah Matranga other than listening to Far's "At Night We Live" and "Water & Solutions", but I've seen the man's name in enough different places to know that he has a legend to him, and hence I decide to go and check out his performance at the acoustic stage. And man am I glad that I did, because here on stage is a man that clearly lives and breathes music with an immediacy you will hardly ever see. With a veteran's understanding for how to make the most of his simple acoustic chords, Matranga rocks back and forth, delivering songs old and new with vocals he seamlessly shifts from breathy whispers over ringing cleans, crisp falsetto and scratched croons, but that's only partly what's magical about him. What really strikes the ear of every man and woman in the tent, is just how sincere the performance is. So when I leave, I leave having flashbacks to last year's miraculous Dashboard Confessional show, and feeling guilty that I don't know more Jonah Matranga songs. [8½] TL

Hot Water Music

Hot Water Music @ 15:35-16:20 on Main Stage

Another band that should've played way later for maximum impact was Hot Water Music, whose role in shaping the punk and post-hardcore scene can not be overstated. Opener "Remedy" instantly reminds us of how good of a record "Caution" really is, and in an instant the band receive the opposite reaction than Motion City Soundtrack did with big sing alongs to songs like "Trusty Chords" (which featured Dave Hause on stage), "Paper Thin" and of course the woo-ah-hoo chorus of "Wayfarer". Despite their age, the band plays a tight and convincing set where especially Ragan's coarse vocals are like fine wine - they get better and more smoke-y as the years pass by. Perhaps that's why the three new songs the band air today sound so promising that my fingers are itching for the pre-ordered copy of "Exister" that'll be released in a couple of weeks' time. I've waited for almost 10 years to hear "Trusty Chords" live so I may be biased, but Hot Water Music still show that they have it in them today. [8] PP

Straight after Hot Water Music, PP pays a visit to the Such Gold show that's just about to finish with "Sycamore" piling up about 50% of the Etnies Crowd on stage for a mass group hug/sing along. Set looked amazing based on the last song - sucks that it clashed with HWM.

Architects singer Sam Carter

Architects @ 16:20-17:05 on Impericon Stage

While the main stage undergoes its changeover between Hot Water Music and Alkaline Trio I've planned a brief visit to Impericon to check out a bit of Architects' set. Problem is that when I get there, it looks near impossible to get into the tent with how crammed it is. Clearly, Architects are having a better day here than they were when I last saw them at Hevy, making the absolute most of Impericon's punishingly high volumes, giving Groezrock's more metal-inclined fans a chance to feel at home. It's hard to see a lot of what's going on, both on stage and in the crowd standing outside the tent, so after a song or two I decide to withdraw my expedition. It doesn't look like I'm needed to ensure things are going alright over here anyway. TL

Alkaline Trio just standing still

Alkaline Trio @ 16:45-17:30 on Main Stage

I've now seen Alkaline Trio six times since 2005, and they've always sucked live. Like, really, really sucked. I was kinda hoping that Groezrock, the punk and hardcore mecca for any band but especially those with an arsenal of so many amazing songs as Alkaline Trio, would be the place where they would finally redeem themselves as an excelelnt live band full of energy and passion for playing live. What I don't get is how you can just stand still without emotion - looking much like The Offspring - when you play songs like "Nose Over Tail", "Cringe", or "Time To Waste" which belong to the absolute classics in melodic punk rock. The tent is full of people who love your songs and you play like you don't care, which is why the tent is so quiet and most people are just standing still as a reflection of the band. What's worse, why do you choose pretty much the worst possible setlist you can play as a band at a festival where, if you played your 'best of' hit parade for 10 songs and moved along, you could play the most memorable and eclectic set of the whoole festival? Even the Red City Radio guy joining on stage to sing a song didn't help. Alkaline Trio are an amazing studio band, but after six times on three different continents, I've given up on them as a live band. The passion, the fire, the conviction, the immediacy of their songs is NEVER there when they play live, and tonight might be the worst show of them all because you have 6-7,000 people in a tent who love your songs to bit. Disgraceful. [5] PP

Good Riddance

Good Riddance @ 17:55-18:45 on Main Stage

In contrast to Alkaline Trio, Good Riddance almost feel like the second coming of Jesus Christ with their tight, aggressive, and melodic approach to high-octane punk rock. They're one of the reunion bands on display here, and as such receive a great crowd response in the beginning as they haven't been gone for that long. They play some absolutely fantastic songs during their set which all of us have heard at one point or another (probably on a Fat compilation back in the day), but in general it's difficult to see the hype. Part of this can be attributed to their stage show, which doesn't actually differ that much from Alkaline Trio in that the singer doesn't move with as much energy as their fast-paced songs should otherwise warrant. That's why the crowd quickly deflates, and halfway during the set he is reduced to hollering "by the end of our set, I want everyone moving. I know everybody says that but we really mean it" halfway through. Granted, they play 22 songs, but for the most part the crowd is dead and the band doesn't do enough to justify why they should be revered as one of the most important punk rock bands of the 2000s, which their records sometimes are hailed to be. In the end, it might be because Good Riddance was always an intimate club band with solid club shows, so they look a little out of place on the main stage arena of Groezrock today. [7] PP

Anti-Flag not giving a fuck as usual

Anti-Flag @ 18:45-19:35 on Impericon Stage

One of the biggest schedule clashes of the weekend was most certainly Anti-Flag, who always put on a brilliant live show, with Thrice, who had announced this was to be their last ever European show. Understandably, most people elected to watch Anti-Flag for the first seven songs of their set or so before heading to Thrice, so it's not fair to give them a grade based on seeing only about half of their show. But what I can tell you is this: Anti-Flag receive some of the biggest woo-hoo sing alongs of the whole festival to songs like "Die For Your Government", "One Trillion Dollar$", "Broken Bones" and many others, while delivering their trademark scissor jumps on stage and engaging the crowd as much as possible. We left before this happened, but YouTube tells me the band placed the drumset into the crowd for the set-ending "Power To The Peaceful" with Pat Thetic finishing off the song right in the midst of Anti-Flag fans. Impressive. PP

Dustin Kensrue of Thrice

Thrice @ 19:10-20:00 on Main Stage

After emoting like a teenage girl during Dustin Kensrue's solo performance the day before, I fear the worst with regard to my behavior as the time comes to say goodbye to Thrice, for now. And it would be an understatement to call it anything other than a brilliant send-off, the band taking us through their entire discography as best they can, given the time restrictions bestowed upon them by Groezrock's strict set lengths. There is a fine balance of old and new in the setlist, with particularly “Image of the Invisible”, “The Artist in the Ambulance”, “The Weight”, “Deadbolt”, “Stare at the Sun” and “The Earth Will Shake” providing chilling reminders of why Thrice should forever be revered as one of the most important rock bands of our generation. This may sound like a gross overstatement to any non-fan of the band given the wealth of candidates for such a title, but when Thrice climb into one of their noisy crescendos, it is not merely a band that stands before us, but a true collective of individuals with a shared passion and vision. This, to me, is a special trait not often seen in the modern scene, and the reason why Thrice will always rank as one of my absolute favorite bands. Though the farewell is slightly shorter than I would have liked - “Beggars”, “Silhouette” and “Music Box” are particularly missed on my part - it is still a much needed opportunity to see Thrice for the first and last time in a context where they are not supporting another band. Here's hoping that one day the band will feel the need to re-unite and grace our shores with their presence one more time. Goodbye. [8] AP

After Thrice, PP chose to pay a brief visit to the Terror show at the Impericon Tent, who among other things spent a long while ranting about why they don't support Refused as a band who goes away, comes back, expects you to care again all of a sudden and then makes the big bucks, that's not hardcore. Of course the crowd response with a thunderous roar, given it consists almost exclusively of shorts-wearing die-hard hardcore fans. Other than that, their two-step hardcore induced a circle pit around BOTH poles at the tent (biggest I've seen there all festival), and lots and lots of moshing around. Seemed like a 7½ show to me, but didn't see enough to properly rate it.

Refused

Refused @ 22:00-23:00 on Main Stage

To many people, Refused is the first hardcore band they ever listened to. To just as many people, Refused were also the last hardcore band they ever listened to before they moved on. And to the hardcore fans - other than those in the Terror camp of course - seeing Refused live is like entering seventh heaven, such is their importance and influence in the hardcore world. The electronica tinged "The Shape Of Punk To Come" was decades ahead of its time when it came out in 1998. Listening to it in 2012, it still feels like it's a decade ahead of its time, simply because no other band has been able to reproduce its chaotic and unpredictable bursts of hardcore energy, its intellectual socio-political criticism, or its unadulterated and raw passion in the same manner. So just before the clock strikes 10pm there's an electrified sense of anticipation and excitement in the air that's shared by the whole crowd. There isn't much chatter, just chilling eagerness of the reunited legends soon appearing in front of us like mortals.

An enormous black curtain with REFUSED written on it conceals the stage from the audience while we wait. Then the guitar feedback starts revolving around the main stage until it pauses for the spoken-word sample of "Worms Of The Senses / Faculties Of The Skull" and a thunderous roar from the crowd, and the moment Refused vocalist Dennis Lyxzén screams the first lyrics, the curtain falls and off we go. The band hits at the audience like a wave, moving back and forth with explosive movement that only intensifies as the show progresses. It sounds precisely like it does on record, speaking volumes about the lack of autotune or protools on their albums, and the whole set starts to become a blur of stop-start sequences of energy, standing still, and dancing, each element contrasting each other properly to create the perfect atmosphere for a Refused show. It's intense at times, then there's lingering electronic ambience during the many instrumental sections, but it all feels nearly perfect, as if to taunt Terror's earlier rant about how we shouldn't support Refused for various reasons. Dennis engages in a rant, too, about the lack of women on stage for a hardcore/punk festival and how next year at Groezrock he wants to see many, many more of them in bands and as a part of the crews for the bands.

Dennis, the vocalist of Refused

There's a moment in which Dennis makes his way beyond the barrier to stand and scream on people's hands, demonstrating that he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, or in other words, he hasn't forgotten his hardcore roots and the intimate club shows of the mid 90s even though they almost exclusively play arenas in 2012.

During the encore people are disoriented from the jumping, the moshing, and the ecstatic feeling of having just witnessed so many amazing, timeless classics in a row including "Liberation Frequency", "Summerholidays Vs. Punkroutine", "Refused Are Fucking Dead" and of course "The Shape Of Punk To Come", that the explosive finale of "New Noise" almost comes as a surprise. This, my friends, gave me flashbacks all the way back to 2008 when the reunited Rage Against The Machine returned to Europe at Rock Am Ring festival after almost a decade-long absence. The mosh pit that ensued after the enormous "CAN I SCREAM?" holler from the crowd was triumphed over any I've seen at Groezrock to date; it engulfed the entirety of the main stage from the front to well beyond the mixer towers. People jumping and crashing into each other in unison, flying in all directions, with friends losing each other in the chaos... that was some crazy shit. I remember AP just vaulting in some direction and I didn't seem him again until much later when back at the camp. And even though the repeat screams of "the new beat...the new beat" at the end of the track could've been the perfect finalé to the show, "Tannhäuser / Derivé" that follows works too because it provides closure to the people to the most intense, most real, most exhilirating show of Groezrock 2012, maybe even of all four Groezrock's I've been to since 2009. Refused played so many incredible songs, still sound undeniably unique, and are still one of the best live bands known to man. This is the defining moment of Groezrock 2012, the one that you'll look back on and when your friends ask so how was Groezrock, you immediately rescind to this moment, one that you can safely call one of those 'I WAS THERE' moments for years to come. [9] PP

Final Words

Congratulations if you've read this far. It sure is a wall of text, but don't blame us. All thanks go to Groezrock for booking so many amazing bands, like they do every year. This is the part where we'll say goodbye for now, and look forward to the next year's festival, with a few closing comments about what we thought about the experience overall.

This year's festival was perhaps the best Groezrock to date, both in terms of the organizational matters as well as lineup-wise. It's rare to see a festival that's as efficient as Groezrock; everything works exactly like it should for the public, there are rarely any queues (with the exception of a long queue to the camping area if you arrived during the evening on Friday), and the pricing of food, drinks, etc is reasonable. They've pretty much nailed it, if you ask me.

Together with an ever-impressive number of giant headliner bands consisting of a combination of old legends and newcomers, the festival offered an incredible small- and medium-sized bands lineup. I remember telling people before the festival that you could pretty much choose blind between all the bands and you'd be guaranteed to see a band considered at least solid from their recorded output. Thankfully, the horrible scene music (Asking Alexandria, Impending Doom, etc) was excluded this year in favor of bands who value quality of songwriting over horrid one-chord breakdowns for the entirety of their set, and as such, the musical experience was out-of-this world this festival. Many other festivals should take note here.

In summary, Groezrock holds my vote for the best festival in Europe for the third year in a row now. All that's left to say now is: SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!

PP

Photos by our trusty Rockfreaks.net photographers:

Lykke Nielsen

Julie Weitmann Decome

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