Graspop 2017: A Look back

By Rudi Marina Wauters

While our Editor in Chief was busy interviewing bands backstage at Graspop 2017, our reporter Rudi Marina Wauters was enjoying the festival from the field. Let's look back at a great party, through his eyes, with this lost review.

As usual this weekend start only on friday for us. Holidays are not that easy to get. So we can only start on friday. But as you all probably know, Belgium is the smallest land with the largest traffic jams.


So we left at 13u at our home , for a drive that normally takes about 1hour and 15 min. Due to traffic, we arrived at the holy metal grounds at 17u. So also on friday we had to miss a lot of performances.

The first band we saw was Sepultura. Not a bad start, although i wanted to see the earlier bands too. But sometimes you have to take things the way it is. We enjoyed Sepultura. Their music always seems to trigger me. The first party of GMM for us.


Next band we were really looking forward to. They were also here two years ago, and were listed on the same stage, being the Jupiler stage. We saw the band on tour with Lacuna Coil about three years ago. And i was wondering if there was a change since then.  First thing i noticed was a lot more crowd then at their performance two years ago. They gained popularity, and it's well deserved. The band acts more professional and they know how to entertain the crowd. They played a mixture of songs of their previous albums, but also some of the new one. The crowd went wild!! Really good performance by Motionless in White!!


Ofcourse GMM is about music, but it is very much more then that!!! It's also about friends, friends from all over the world. At GMM, the people come from everywhere. I met "old"  friends from France, England, The Netherlands, Germany etc..... But i also made new ones, even from Danmark!! Once again it proves that music connects people.
Next band we want to see is Epica. They are never a disappointment, and certainly not at GMM. Every time i saw them here, they were better then at any other place i saw them. As usual it took a bit untill the sound of Simone was  the way it is suposed to be. But once it was spot on, they were rocking the holy metal field.  Ofcourse people like Simone easily get the crowd on their hand. And so it was again a great gig.


From Simone, we go over to Tarja. She is the ultimate voice. At least that's my opinion. Again Tarja did a great show. Also a good lightshow, and because of the light i was reminded of my handicap....not having a photopass. I have to say that by the time the show was halfway, it all started to feel a bit like i already saw this. I missed a bit of energy. You know, it's like when you have to tell a rhyme, which you don't understand but learned by heart. It will be good, but there will be no feeling in it. Left the Marquee a bit confused. Still haven' t decided how to feel about this.


Now it is time for one of the bands that made a bit of my youth. Europe!! Expected a lot from this band, and got a good deal. Europe, ofcourse a bit older then i got to know them, still have the vibe. They're not a band that has only the old and famous songs, they play a lot of new stuff. Even stuff you never heared. Ofcourse when the known songs were being played, everybody knew them, and at certain times a friend of ours who lives about 10km from the venue, sent a message that she could hear the crowd sing. To me a satisfying performance. Felt a few years younger again, even if only for a few moments.


Yesterday, Thursday that was, there was a band that played at night. A collaboration of the choire Scala, with the singer of Zornik, Koen Buyse. I had lots of people tell me i needed to see them, and i was lucky. They played a second time, so i still had my chance. First thing that hits you is the amazing stage set-up of these people!! Just Wooow!! And then the superb music, in support of those epic voices..... I was convinced after the second song . Great performance!!! They need to go on with this collaboration, i bet they will get a lot of support.


And then ofcourse, for the first time at GMM.......Rammstein. Not doubt that because of this band, fridaytickets were sold out. The crowd, waiting for their heroes, and ready for the final party. Almost every hit was played.  And the crowd loved it!! The people were singing their hearts out.  The show these guys make is also very nice. Even a firerocket was send to the middle of the square and came back to the stage to explode. Simply amazing. At least for the people who saw Rammstein for the first time. Most of us already saw the show, so i guess Till Lindemann and his band know what to do. A new show, and a new album would be nice. Nevertheless, even those who saw the show before, still were entertained by it. A very nice ending our first day at GMM

Day 2

First band was the Swedish Avatar. Saw this band already a few times before, but it was never boring. So here we are again. A lot of crowd for the first band, i think Avatar has made quite a name for themselves. Johannes Eckerström , the vocalist of the band, has a good way to interact with the crowd. A crowd that was eager to party. Which it also did, and well at the first real hit they played" Hail the Apocalypse". The crowd started to move and didn't stop untill the last song was finished. And everytime they played another  hit, the crowd went more crazy. Ofcourse songs like "Bloody Angel" and "Let it Burn" was more fuel to the fire. Meanwhile Johannes kept throwing his legs and arms everywhere, and i'm still amazed after so many times about the guys tongue. Good lord, his tongue is even longer then my wife's.  Avatar was a very good start this early on saturday.
Devil Driver was the next band. Also this band gave it their best. This band is known to get the crowd going through the roof. Luckily this was open air, cause this roof would definitely have come of. I couldn't resist  the laughter after Dez Fafara shouted out to the people: "How are you Graspoep".Devil Driver never disappoints. The set was over before we ever realized!!


The next band i wanted to see because at an interview with Thurisaz, they said this was the band the wanted to share the stage with. They talked about great lyrics and dito music. Time to discover if that is true.  I never heard them before, so when  Mr Townsend started to sing i was ashtonished. What a good voice that man has!!! The whole set was brilliant. Great lightshow too. Everything what a good performance needs. Glad i've seen them.

Because we stayed for the complete set of Devin Townsend, we only had a half show left of Gojira. Always a problem at GMM. Sometimes the bands you want to see play at the same hour, or overlap eachother. But hey, i guess that is a luxury problem. The part we saw of Gojira, was as expected pretty good. The progressive metal band from France always does very well at festivals. This time was no exception. The crowd was eagerly working with the band. Many times the see of hands, devils ears etc must have given the guys a great feeling. Very much enjoyed what i heared. Nex time it'll be a full set for me.


We needed a break, food and drinks are also important. And certainly in this warm weather a good fresh beer tasted wonderful. Besides we had to try and do everything we needed in the next hour, cause after this, we would be at the stages again for the next bands. Oh, about the beer, the half liter beers which you could get at the beerstand in the middle of the venue, were a lot colder then the ones from normal size!! Guess what was sold best. Good marketing trick!!


Alterbridge is a band you like, or you don't. It's not really metal these guys play, but more hard-rock.I guess this band is very lucky with a singer as Myles Kennedy. Not only this guy has a very good voice, he also is such an overwhelming charismatic personality.  Also this time it was not different, the band played their set, sounded good, and got lots of appreciation by the crowd. And ofcourse a lot of cheering ladies for Myles Kennedy. Good as always.


Five Finger Death Punch, was the band we didn't want to miss at all. Especially since Ivan Moody left the band temporarily, and is replaced by Tommy Vext. I wonder how he would do, having to jump in on such short notice. The band didn't hold back and played all their best songs. And i must say, mostly Tommy got away with most of the songs. But also...., some songs just missed out on some....yeah Moody! The band played a super set, and the crowd was very much alive with crowdsurfing, circlepits , moshpits and even a wall of death. So overall a good performance, although i think Tommy will grow into the songs and will get better.


When i was about 14, a long time ago, i already listened to this band. Getting to see them again at this festival, is something i look forward to. When i saw them come on stage, i suddenly realized this was 36 years ago!!!! What a difference!!! The band started slowly, and the crowd was enjoying the music, but you could feel they expected more. Which they got when the numerous hits were played. Sometimes the crowd was louder then the speakerset . Sure the bandmembers aged, and sure there are things they can't do anymore. But still they know how to entertain a large crowd!! Wish i was 14 again, just so i could hear them play " Child in Time" life. Enjoyed this very much.


As if al this before was not enough, we get to see In Flames as icing on the saturday cake.  The melodic deathmetal of this band has proven to work very well. It also did this time, from the beginning they got their energy floating over to the crowd. Sometimes it looked like one moving mass. The band played some songs of their new album, but also played hits from their earlier albums. Suddenly the crowd went silent when Anders Fridén talked about a friended couple he lost in an accident. It struck the people and you could feel the grief. It gave the song, "Here until Forever" so much more meaning. But after that, the band just went on with their usual stuff and gave the people what they came for......a party. And so this saturday came to an end. The wise words of  Anders Fridén to the people, turned back in my head, over and over. And so i hope they did in lots of the other people.  Cause," Enjoy life, be friendly to eachother, help the people, life is to short and can be over in a split second" are the same words i try to live by.

Sunday

On Sunday we are quite lucky with the traffic. First band i really wanted to see, because they were awesome the two other times, is The Charm The Fury. We were early so their was still time to meet the friends and have a drink. About half an hour before Caroline Westendorp appeared on stage we were waiting front row. When she came on stage our first meeting came to my mind.The energetic lady, headbanged so hard at Femme last year, she touched my camera with her hair!!!No, not the lense, the camera!! From the first song she took the crowd by the troth and never losened grip after. This band has grown a lot, and certainly deserves a place on this mainstage. Between every song, Caroline took time to fire up the people. From circlepits to wall of death, everything she asked was done. They were the first band on mainstage 2, but it was already really crowded. A pity that the wire of the microphone was not long enough, so she couldn't use the whole stage. Because of that the performance looked a little less energetic then i am used to. Still it was a great performance and the time went so fast, that when Caroline said they had one more song left, most of the crowd started shouting.  Not to believe it was already over. Certainly we'll see more of this band.

Next up is Alestorm. Experience tells me not to go stand in the front with this band. You spend more time helping crowdsurfers then watching the show. We wisely took a stand somewhere near the disabled people's stage. Strong start of the band, and early in the set they played Keelhauled, and from that moment on the holy metal ground was on fire. As always, this band makes the crowd have fun. Songs like Drink and Shipwrecked were loudly sung by the large crowd. The sometimes funny talks between the songs and the nice weather did something extra. This is not really metal to me, but it sure is fun!

Because it was to hot to stay in the middle of the field, we went to search some shadow. Although their was a lot of places to shelter from the sun, everything was completely full. But at the entrance there was a foodcorner, and their we found a little shade. Close to food and drinks, so we took profit to feed and have a cold cup of beer. The sun was really burning, so we needed to drink lots. And since beer is made of about 97% water, it must be healthy (lol) Besides we needed to cool down, because the next band would be Steel Panther.

Everybody who knows Steel Panther, knows what to expect of this glammetal band. The lyrics of the songs are all about sex, the talks in between songs are all about sex, and hey....if you are lucky you get to see boobs. Still everybody, including myself likes to see this band. The show they put on, the wordgames, it all gives you a joly feeling.  Some of the songlyrics were adjusted to time, and even Donald Trump got sweeped. Though this is not the best metal at all, it's still great to see this band. Not only because of the female beauty you get to see, but also because of the show and the kitch, which go so well with this band. I must admit that being around friends added up the fun. We sang and laughed so hard, we got thirsty again.

We couldn't stay to long to drink, cause some of our best friend were frontstage, and keeping a spot for us. I wanted to see Amy from up close. And not only Amy, i'm a big fan of Jen Majura. I got lucky, cause Jen was standing our side of the stage. Though we had a good and clear view from here, we didn't want to stay. We were in front of the bass-speakers in the front, and because of that we could barely hear Amy. Since we are here without a camera, which i'm still sorry for, we don't need to stay in the front for pictures. So by the start of the third song, we were already at the hight of the flydeck. The sound was so much better here. Amy was very strong vocally, and every song was spot on. When she played the piano and sang My Immortal, shivers went down my spine. By the end of the song, our friendgroup, about ten people, me included, had tears in our eyes. Simply magnificent. It was a long time ago since Evanescence was in Belgium, but this was so much worth the long wait. The awesome musicians, guitarsolo's of Jen, and ofcourse the beautiful voice of Amy, just awesome. Now let's hope it doesn' t take so long until she comes back for more.

Opeth, a Swedish progressive metalband plays at the Marquee. This band has a beautiful mixture of the beautiful instrumental parts and the heavy grunts. It's kind of unique.No wonder the Marquee was completely full. The lightshow was also very nice, but without the good music it aint worth nothing. Opeth played a really nice set in which Sorceress was not forgotten. Really one of the best performances i've seen by Opeth.

My friends wanted me to see the band Sum 41. I never heared of the band before, so i wanted to give it a try. The band certainly has a lot of fans, cause this is the first time i see this many people at the Jupiler stage. It was completely full, even the area in front of the Metal Dome. When the band started to play, i immediately knew why. This band is a rockband and is very entertaining to the crowd. Not really high musical standards, but very nice entertainment.
And then it's again time, to have some old but still rocking dudes on stage. Scorpions are up next. This band goes a long way, even stopped a million of times, or at least said they

would stop. But here they are again, and again with a good show. Weather you're fan of the band or not, these guys still know how to rock the stage. They still put fire in their audience, although it maybe a little less then long ago. But hey, i don't see many of todays bands go such a long way. So respect to these man.

The last band of this festival, is Sabaton. Saw this band already a few times, but since last time they changed their show. Sabaton is always a big party, with smoke, fire, simply the works. It was no different this time. From the first song, the crowd was singing along and joining the party. I guess for a performer that's all you want. Sabaton has lots of hits, and all were on the playlist. The crowd went nuts at In The Army Now and Primo Victoria. Again from miles away, you could hear the people singing? One of the hightlights was Diary of an unknow Soldier. It was a poem to honour the unknown soldiers that died during the war.Scoring points here Sabaton!!!  Amazing cool lightshow too. A perfect ending to a magnificent weekend. On top of that a huge firework was lit to celebrate this superb weekend. Thank you Graspop, and hopefully Metal on Loud is allowed with photopass next year.

Rudi Marina Wauters