Next year Groezrock, Belgium’s (and maybe Europe’s) biggest hardcore and punk rock festival, will celebrate their 25th anniversary on 29 and 30 April 2016. I’m not sure when I visited Groezrock for the first time but it must been somewhere around ’98, ’99 or ’00. Since then and only missed a few editions or days. Groezrock is just one of these yearly traditions.
During the Pennywise set I was getting a bit nostalgic with Tom from Old Style Music Nights, about how we have seen this festival grow from a one day/one tent event (during the high days of the Swedish punk rock) to the event it is now. For that I would like to give a big cheers and a high five to Hans Maes and Co. for making it all happen.
Now, about the 2015 edition, due to terrible time management from my part, I only could go to Groezrock on Friday, let me waste some of your precious time by giving you, in a Studio Brussels way, ‘5 things I learned about Groezrock’ on that Friday:
1. Groezrock still embraces independent partners.
Major business as Jägermeister, Impericon, Monster Energy, Macbeth … are by now well known Groezrock partners. You can hate Groezrock for that but it is hard to organize an event like Groezrock without some partnerships. Still Groezrock keep working with more independent partners as Death Shred, Punktastic, … and they even give the opportunity to organizations as Hardcore Help Foundation, Peta, Sea Shepherd, Just Like Your Mom, Bite Back, … to be visible at the festival site. You got to love Groezrock for that. If your punk heart has a problem with Monster Energy, just do as I do: look besides that, drink some coffee instead and eat some vegan food at Just Like Your Mom.
2. Belgium bands rule but we don’t want 46 of them in support of Social Distortion.
We, Belgians, do not specially go to Groezrock to see Belgium bands play. We mainly want to see the international superstars from Social Distortion, Lagwagon, Pennywise, … and our beloved foreign bands play, bands as Iron Reagan, Not On Tour, Cancer Bats, Broilers, … who seriously kick ass on Friday by the way. The Broilers played their first Belgium show and they certainly did a fine job. Love to see them again one day.
Does that mean that there is no room for Belgium bands on Groezrock? Sure there is room. I checked out Toxic Shock and Brutus at the Back 2 Basics stage and loved it. It was the first time I saw Brutus and this trio, with a female drummer/vocalist, has something unique going on in the Belgium hardcore scene. We Belgians love our bands and certainly wouldn’t mind to see more of them at Groezrock. It is a good opportunity for them to play for a broader, international audience. But let us be honest, we don’t really want 46 of them in support of Social Distortion.
3. Groezrock hangouts are the best.
Meeting with old friends, hanging out at the merch and distro tents, talking about music and buying records is what most of us like to do at groezrock besides (drinking and) watching bands play.
4. Their is still room for DIY press.
For the last 8 years or so I visit Groezrock as press and got the opportunity to talk to some of my favorite bands, meet some great people, doing interview and giving some attention to smaller bands, … As always, the Groezrock press team: Thomas, Stijn, Christophe, … delivered a good job. Thank you guys for taking care of us all.
For the last couple of years more mainstream media like Studio Brussels is at the festival and thats not bad. In a way I’m glad they pay some attention to Groezrock but I would love it if they would pay some more attention to hardcore and punkrock in general and give some of our own bands some airplay. Honestly I don’t think that Groezrock needs Studio Brussels but maybe Studio Brussels needs Groezrock?
5. The Groezrock formula still works but what will the future bring.
After all these years the Groezrock formula of combining major international bands, upcoming bands, reunion shows, … still works but what will the future bring? The Crowd attracting headliners will not play forever, who will fill their shoes … or will we be seeing reps for the years to come? And maybe more important which bunnies will they get out of their magic hat next year?