Groezrock: A weekend in Meerhout (Part 1)

Posted: May 23, 2014 in Liveage

Groezrock is a punk, hardcore, metalcore, emo festival with some other stuff included, it’s held in April every year in the small village of Meerhout in Belgium. This was the first time I went to the festival, mainly because four of my favorite bands were playing from four different eras of my life. The Descendents which I discovered when I was 14 and Cool to be you was in my CD-player for almost all of the summer of 2004. NOFX, whom I sort of started listening to when I was 13, but which I really got into and basically obsessed with at 15 and who still holds a special place in my punk rock heart. Screeching weasel, which was the band that made being seventeen somewhat bearable! And Alkaline Trio which I had listened to a bit since I was 12, but when I became 18 I went nuts and got From Here to Infirmary” followed by Goddamnit and started getting into all the others as I waited for “Agony and irony” and couldn’t believe all the good tunes I had missed. Of all these bands Screeching Weasel was of course the band which I was looking forward to the most, with a discography that in few years had shaped my life almost as much as Blink-182 had done in my earlier teens. The festival was packed with other bands too, but these bands sure seems most important to me.

Of course there was also The Offspring that I had an ambivalent relationship with in my childhood. “Why don’t you get a job?” always made me wonder why this dude hated the beach so much and what that had to do with him having a girlfriend and “Pretty fly (for a white guy)” made a guy who basically hated the radio, sing along to a nr 1 hit. The album Conspiracy of One freaked me out and I was afraid to put it in the CD-player because it had a skull on it and of course the CD-player broke after the first song, but I thought the album was surprisingly good, even though everyone else liked it and I was more into parody boy bands and the Beatles. What I really hated at the time were energy drinks and when they had energy drinks in their video for “Want You Bad” even if I loved the song, I couldn’t like that band anymore and I knew they stood for exactly all I hated! I would later as I got into punk rock get into them more and in 2004 Ixnay on the Hombre would often replace Cool to be you in the CD-player for a while. And of course there’s New Found Glory, who I thought sounded like a boy band playing way too loud punk music when I was younger, but couldn’t help getting into them and one of my favorite albums by them no Catalyst had to be put down at the record shop when I saw Cool to be you and found out how amazing it was. I of course got Catalyst a few weeks later, see it’s all connected? So I don’t know if this counts as a review, as I am probably way too biased for that, so this will be more of a mix of storytelling, reviewing and sharing my experience.

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Day 1

The first day was hectic and a late arrival at the festival due to not finding the hotel made me miss bands like Bodyjar, Saves the day and Lawrence arms (which I had already seen before, so that wasn’t that much of a big deal) So the first band which I would see were Alkaline trio, which were weirdly placed at quarter to eight and played for fifty minutes even though they are the only band except for the Offspring and New Found glory whose had Billboard top twenty albums. They started off as usual with their classic from Good mourning; “This could be love” which made the crowd sing along, and so did I. They played a lot of their classics like “Stupid kid” and “Private eye” and “Sadie” and ended with another sing along; “Radio”. There were however a bunch of numbers that seemed kind of stale, especially Dan’s considering how many great songs he sings like “Message to Kathleen”, “Love love love, kiss kiss” and “I’m dying tomorrow” or “Only love” from My shame is true, but still sang songs that were just OK.

All in all it was a great show, speaking of All, the next band up were the Descendents, before the show I went and got a Descendents hoodie to keep my stuff in. This wasn’t the best idea. When the Descendents started I was in the middle of the pit, they started the set with “Everything Sux” and I decided to go wild in da pit! Afterwards I was gonna check my phone and realized it wasn’t there and laughed to myself “imagine losing my phone at a Descendents show?” I then realized it was a fact, I had indeed lost my phone in the pit during the first song. After that I got sort of frustrated and held on to my belongings while I got my frustration out while singing along to the Descendents classics. For a few moments I forgot that I was in deep shit. The setlist was pretty cool. However, I think it’s the same setlist they played last time they were at Groezrock, except in a different order (according to setlist.fm). Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are so many great songs they could’ve played like “In Love This Way” or “Cheer” or “Christmas Vacation” or “Anchor Grill” or “Cool to Be You”. Hell, even “Cameage” would be cool to hear! But still this show had all the classics like “Silly girl”, “Get the Time”, “Suburban Home”, “Descendents” (which ended the show) and it was great hearing the crowd sing along to “Nothing With You” which was the first Descendents song I heard and the song that made me buy Cool to be you and one of my favorite songs of all time. It was also pretty cool how they brought the tablet of stone with the “all-o-gistics” when they played the song. And the performance was pretty sweet through and through! After the show I was rather bummed out that I had lost my phone and felt like the whole trip might be ruined.

About an hour before NOFX went on stage a couple of dudes from the Netherlands had found my phone and taken bunch of pictures of themselves on it (even one where they were mooning). I was quite happy my phone had ended in the hands of such nice and funny people. I felt such a relief and it was the greatest feeling I had felt in a long time, it’s true what they say, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and you don’t appreciate happiness until you find something you’ve lost. This made me really stoked for the NOFX show. They had promised to play Punk in Drublic in its entirety, which they had done before while dropping a few songs, so I figured this would be the deal here. They started up with “60%” their proclamation of always playing a bit over half-assed, but still having fun. Funnily enough, this song was their first false start (which there would be a lot of during their set) they then went into play some more recent classics and Milo from the Descendents came in and did the vocals on “Quart in Session”(he also did “Champs Elysées” with them) and Bill Stevenson also stopped by. And after “Seeing Double at the Triple Rock” Fat Mike announced that it was time to do Punk in Drublic and that they might miss a few songs and they were not gonna do it in order(because apparently Eric Melvin didn’t want to). There were lots of songs they hadn’t done much and hadn’t practiced, and there were lots of false starts, which to me made the band, seem more authentic instead of just being a robot band. However, Fat Mike’s vocals were perfect, and so were El Hefe’s (as usual, I guess). They spat out hit after hit and I and all the other motherfuckers sang along and the pit never stopped moving, the pit also equaled the entire area, basically. Fat Mike also said they had never played it before when they went into “Dig”, which was wrong as they had played it at Punk rock bowling 2012 (just being a fucking nerd here), but “Happy Guy” they played live for the first time and they played it great and at that moment I went absolutely nuts, for a moment I was right up with the stage and looked Fat Mike right in the eyes and probably freaked him out. They ended the set with their cover of “The Shortest Pier” by Tony Sly as a tribute to him. When the show was over I thought it was the greatest show I had ever seen and wondered “How could something possibly top this?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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