Fri 25 Jun – Graspop Metal Meeting 2010
This year marked the 15th anniversary of Graspop Metal Meeting, a festival of metal, rock and hardcore. For this particular occasion, the organization had promised to give ticketholders a run for their money by bringing out some amazing (and not so amazing) bands.Day 1
On the first day of the festival, I awoke after a night of pretty heavy drinking wherein I met some very interesting people from all over the world. I headed over to the metal dome to check out the opening band for the festival Oceans of Sadness
, an avant-garde metal band from Belgium. I had pretty high expectations as what I’d heard from their latest album was quite original. Unfortunately, this first band did not deliver at all, in my opinion. The bass player was nothing short of bad, the drummer was rather sloppy and I couldn’t hear the guitars in the mix, the only member that really stood out was the singer who pulled off some very powerful shrieks. The band was not tight and felt as though they were playing independently as opposed to playing as a band.
After this, I walked over to Marquee I to watch Ghost Brigade
, a band whose newest album, [album]Isolation Songs[/album] had blown me away. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the band was very tight live with all the members clearly demonstrating a great level of communication. The singer had a very powerful voice, the guitarists played very intricate sections and the drummer was very precise and played some interesting patterns. I could only notice one mistake from the drummer, aside from that, the music, the lighting and the stage presence was completely flawless.
I then ran over to the Metal Dome to watch Bleeding Through
, a band that I’ve been into for a while now. By the time I got there, the metal dome was already packed and I had to settle for a spot relatively far away from the stage. From what I could tell, the band was pretty good with the frontman singing decent clean vocals, however, the overall sound was pretty bad with the double pedal eating at the guitars throughout most of the songs.
I then went over to the mainstage to watch Billy Talent
, a punk rock band from Canada. I am not very familiar with the band’s music and did not really know what to expect from them. It turns out that the band is actually a very strong live act fronted by a singer with a voice unlike many I’ve heard before. They played their set without any noticeable mistakes and were able to entertain a crowd mainly comprised of metalheads which, for a punk rock band, is nothing short of amazing.
After Billy Talent was Anvil
in the Marquee II. I had watched Anvil’s documentary and was looking forward to seeing what the band had to offer live. I watched two songs and had to leave; I have rarely seen such a sloppy live band, the drummer couldn’t hold a rhythm straight, the guitarist was far from precise and the band’s stage presence was practically inexistent. I now understand why they never made it big.
Upon leaving Anvil early, I decided to go to Marquee I to get a good spot for Anathema
. This was by far my favourite show of the first day. The singer was absolutely flawless, the guitarists were precise, the drumming was clever, the lighting was atmospheric as ever and the band was dressed very formally. They were the only band I saw from the three days who were able to play an encore in a Marquee. My only regret is that they only had a 40 minute set to play.
After this, I took a break to go meet a couple of my friends who had just arrived on the festival grounds. On our way to the tent, I could hear Slayer
and as far as I could tell, it sounded like people were having a blast.
I then went to watchStone Temple Pilots
. I had heard a lot of good things about STP and was looking forward to the show. The band was pretty good, Scott Weiland sang well and the guitarist pulled off some nice solos but the band is still definitely not my style of music. As a result, I probably didn’t enjoy it quite as much as other people in the audience.
After this, I took a well-deserved break to go have some food and went to sit down near the mainstage in anticipation of Motörhead
. I had heard a lot of praise of Motörhead’s live shows and of Lemmy Kilmeister’s very charismatic personality. I was completely blown away by this show, Lemmy may be getting old but his voice is still intact, the band's guitarist showcased some of the better solos that I saw throughout the festival and midway through the set, the drummer stole the show with an amazing solo. The sound was very clear and the lighting was also very well done which all made for an insane set.
I then went to see My Dying Bride
, a band that has always intrigued me. Their live sound was very good, the band played their songs well, however, live doom metal is much too boring and drags on too much for my taste. I decided to leave after a couple of songs to get a good spot for the headlining band of the first day: Aerosmith
Aerosmith was, in my opinion, a great choice of headlining band. Steven Tyler’s voice has lost some of its power and the songs have aged a little but the energy of the band and their showmanship still made this last concert one hell of a show. Once again, the lighting and sound were top-notch which only helped to make this concert all the better.Day 2
The next day, I began with Sylosis
, a British metalcore band in the Marquee II. I was pleasantly surprised by the young band’s live performance. The frontman was able to play some very technical riffs while singing all of his sections flawlessly and also played some very fast and technical solos. They got a pretty good reaction from the crowd and were able to start some nice circle pits.
I then moved over to the mainstage to grab some lunch and watch Sabaton
from a distance. From what I could see, the band was very tight and had got a great response from the audience, a lot of whom wore Sabaton t-shirts.
Marquee II was my next destination, I went there to watch Death By Stereo
, a hardcore band from California. This was easily one of the best shows of the day. The gig started off pretty quietly with an audience who quite clearly wasn’t familiar with the band’s songs. However, as the band played, the lead singer’s energy rubbed off on the audience whose energy levels kept rising on and on. There came a point in the show when the singer actually jumped off the stage and went into the crowd to start moshing with all of us. At this point, the audience went apeshit and the rest of the show was just pure energy and fun.
I then returned to the mainstage to watch Bullet for My Valentine
, who used to be my favourite band back in 2005. Their performance wasn’t bad, however, I was disappointed to see that the Matt Tuck stopped doing screams altogether, leaving it all to the bass player. That being said, Matt Tuck’s vocals as well his guitar playing were pretty spot on throughout the gig. The one aspect of the show that left a bitter taste in my mouth was the drummer’s playing. I was wearing earplugs and therefore could hear his double pedal clearly. There is a point in the chorus of “Tears Don’t Fall” where the double pedal doubles in speed for a single bar; the drummer consistently failed to hit that part precisely during the whole song.
Then came Carcass
’ turn on the mainstage. Being with two friends who are really into death metal, they had really hyped up the band and given me high expectations. These expectations were definitely met thanks to the guitarists’ very tight playing, the drummer’s precision and the power of Jeff Walker’s vocals. Even though I’m not a huge fan of death metal, I really loved this show.
After this heavier show, I stuck around to wait for Slash
on the mainstage. Truth be told, I was just as excited to see Slash as I was to see Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge who is easily one of my favourite rock vocalists. Both parties delivered exactly what I’d expected playing songs from Slash’s solo album as well as some classic Guns N’ Roses songs. The most pleasing surprise of the show was when they played “Rise Today”, a song from Alter Bridge’s latest album. Being a huge Alter Bridge fan, that song made me a happy camper.
I then headed over to watch 5 or 6 songs by Sick of It All
on Marquee II. For the time I was there the band was hugely energetic with the singer bouncing all over the stage and the guitarist pulling off karate moves all throughout the set. The audience was completely digging the material and shit went wild when they got to the end of “Take The Night Off”. I left a little early to get a decent spot for Eluveitie.Eluveitie
was extremely impressive, they had a very good, clear sound, their playing was precise, the clean vocals were spot on and the flutes came out well in the overall mix. I was glad to hear them play a lot of songs from their newest album which I was most familiar with. I left halfway through the set to go get a good spot for the headlining band of the day; Soulfly
It has been three days since I saw Soulfly play, and at this point, I’m still questioning Graspop’s decision to choose them as the headlining band. Max Cavalera’s vocals were downright terrible and he clearly didn’t have the stamina to sing for long (try getting the audience to sing every single chorus of every single song). The drummer’s playing was not very tight and he very often slowed down and accelerated. What’s more is that I saw them last year at Graspop and this show was almost a carbon copy of last year’s (the percussion section of the set, getting his son to come and sing onstage etc.). You’d expect that being chosen as headlining band, they would’ve pulled a trick or too, but no. Around one hour and fifteen minutes into the set, I got tired of listen to Max screaming big words like “blood”, “war”, “sacrifice” and “prophecy” over and over and left to get some well-deserved rest. Definitely not a good way to end an otherwise flawless day of music.Day 3
The third day then came around beginning with my all-time favourite band Between the Buried and Me
. I got to the metal dome an hour early just to get a good spot. I am probably biased writing this, but this is my second time seeing them and once again they played an absolutely amazing set. Tommy Rogers’ vocals were completely spot-on, both screaming and singing, Blake Richardson once again provided a very strong foundation for the band’s sound and Paul Waggoner’s solos were all played with great dynamics and without any mistakes that I could hear. They got a very strong reaction from the audience who, for the most part, seemed to have never heard of the band.
I then ran with my friends to Marquee II to get a good spot for Job for a Cowboy
. I was very impressed with John Rice’s drumming, however because the overall sound mix wasn’t very good, his double pedal was pretty much all I could hear. Overall the band was still very good and had a lot of energy that carried through to the audience.
I then took a break and went to Marquee I to get a good spot for Katatonia
. Seeing as I’m a big fan of the band’s music and that it was their first participation in Graspop, I was expecting great things from this gig. Unfortunately, the band did not live up to these at all, the singer was very very pitchy compared to what he was like on the album and the guitarist who was singing harmonies was not doing anything to help either. The only musician that really stood out was the drummer whose work I had already been impressed by on the studio albums. I decided to leave early and get in early for The Faceless
I’ve been a big fan of The Faceless for quite a while now and was really anticipating this show. My first reaction upon seeing them was “holy shit these guys are young”. The technicality of the band’s music would not make one think that its musicians are somewhere between 20 and 25 years of age. My second reaction was that I couldn’t believe that they were actually pulling off their songs live flawlessly, there were only a couple of mistakes here and there but they weren’t anything big and nothing unexpected for such a technical band. Between The Buried And Me’s Dan Briggs was watching the band from backstage and quite obviously was impressed, which says something.
After The Faceless it was time for another run to Marquee II in order to get upfront for As I Lay Dying
. I used to be a huge fan of the band a couple of years ago and so was looking forward to seeing them. I have no doubt that the band are very proficient live, unfortunately the set was just WAY too loud killing out most of the guitar riffs and replacing them with Jordan Mancino’s deadly double pedal assault. It was unfortunate that this should happen to a band that a lot of people came to see, but hey, things like that happen.
I then chilled around listening to 36 Crazyfists’s set from a distance while waiting for A Day to Remember
to come on. I went to the stage early as I’d seen a lot of ADTR shirts throughout the day and knew there would be a lot of people there. I was still really surprised to see the amount of people that actually turned up at that show even though we were in a metal festival. The set was amazing, the entire audience was participating, jumping around, moshing, singing like there was no tomorrow. In certain parts of the songs, I couldn’t even tell you if Jeremy McKinnon was singing well because the crowd was singing so loud. It was truly a magical set where everyone was united under the same tent because of their love for the same band.
I then took a break watching Killswitch Engage
’s set from a distance on the mainstage. From what I could tell, they were pretty good, although it sounded like Howard Jones had been in better shape. After this necessary break, I walked over to Marquee II to see Unearth
, one of the first metal bands I’ve ever listened to. I hadn’t listened to their stuff in over three years, but as soon as they played songs from “The Oncoming Storm”, it all came back to me. They had amazing energy and Buz McGrath played some insane solos while still going wild onstage. They managed to get the crowd (including me) pretty wild which is nothing short of a feat on the evening of the third day of a metal festival.
After this, it was time to check out Amon Amarth
under the Marquee I. I didn’t stay too long but from what I saw, the band had a great sound, were very together and quite obviously had a strong following of fans who knew all the lyrics (I had one growling behind me the whole time).
I left Amon Amarth early to get a decent spot for the final headlining band of the festival: Kiss
. I was expecting great things from the band, but I was miles away from imagining the show they would pull off. Fireworks, flames, giant screens, elevating platforms, flying guitars, pulleys, they were all there. As you’d expect from Kiss, the music was pretty basic, but it was played flawlessly throughout the show. Paul Stanley was consistently involving the audience and it was a really fun, more chilled out show that perfectly closed this 15th edition of Graspop Metal Meeting.