Graspop Metal Meeting – 2009 (Festival)

FESTIVAL FACILITIES & TIPS

FOOD & DRINK – We all know how festivals whack the prices of food and drinks up for their maximal profits but this year’s prices were ridiculous! You weren’t only ripped off but you also had to buy tokens before hand. Not to mention the stupid rate of 4 tokens for €9 which was the minimal purchase. So if there’s three of you at a festival wanting chips at 1.5 tokens (€3.40), that adds up to 4.5 tokens (€10.20) which means you have to buy yet another 4 tokens at €9. As you can imagine we limited the amount of drinks we bought on the festival grounds, with soft drinks costing 1 token (€2.25) for 250ml. With the weather reaching nearly 30°C the whole weekend, it was hard to avoid buying drinks from the festival stands. Although prices were extortionate there was a wide variety of food available from asian to italian to simply chips, burgers, poffertjes and frikandellen. As for drinks, the choice was limited to water, coca cola & light, coffee and Jupiler beer, which was an improvement on the former years choice of beer – Maes.

TIP: Bring as much of your own food and drinks to the festival as you can rather than buying them there to save on money.

TOILETS – Toilets are the one thing that nobody looks forward to. However, toilets on the camping grounds were acceptable considering the amount of people using them 24/7. Normally you can smell the toilets as you approach them but this wasn’t the case here even on the last day but maybe we just got lucky from where we were camping. It might have been a completely different story at the opposite end of the campsite. As for the toilets on the festival grounds, that was a complete different story. At some points you’d be queueing for quite a while and if you weren’t quick enough at getting into the cubicle, someone else would beat you to it. At these points you can imagine that the clenliness wasn’t at it’s best. At least there were sinks available to wash your hands, and sometimes even soap.

TIP: If you’re worried about festival toilets, you can always take a bucket.

METAL MARKET – When there’s not much else to do, there’s always the Metal Market to browse. There are plenty of stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs from clothing to ornaments to CD’s to piercings, tattoos and jewelry. The only problem about the stalls there is that you can’t tell what is real and what is fake.

TIP: Avoid buying band/branded items from the metal market. Buy band T-shirts from the official Graspop Merch stands.

THURSDAY 25 JUNE 2009

From the previous year’s experience of camping at Graspop Metal Meeting, we decided to set out to camp a day earlier to avoid long walks from the tent to the festival grounds. The only problem with that was, about 20,000 other people had the same idea so in actual fact we were no better off than we were the previous year. The camping grounds were set out fine with easy routes from one end of the site to the other and reasonably spaced toilets. Showers however were quite a distance away depending on which section of the site you were pitched. Anything beyond C section was considered to be quite a hike for a shower so that by the time you got back to your tent, you’d need another shower.

With not much to do we were soon in bed as the night blackened, ready for a refreshing start in the morning. Or so we thought.

FRIDAY 26 JUNE 2009 – DAY 1

To our surprise it wasn’t the 24/7 party zombies that awoke us but instead the incredible heat!! At 28°C it was pretty hard to fall back to sleep even at 7:20 in the morning. After failed attempts at falling back to sleep we decided to get up and get some fresh air. We didn’t know which was hotter – the inside of the tent or the weather outside. With several hours to wait for the festival to start, there wasn’t much else to do but sit around in the blazing hot sun.

After the 6 hour wait and already burnt by the sun, we headed off to the festival grounds for the first band BUCKCHERRY. On the gay-o-meter they rank quite high at 8.5/10. Definitely not the kind of band the typical metal head would appreciate but would fit quite nicely on the Download Festival lineup (post 2007 years). The kind of person who is more into the new wave of rock & roll would most likely tap their foot to this band but otherwise, it’s a total miss for the likes of fans of real metal. With an open mind, entertainment wise for BUCKCHERRY fans, they score 6/10.

Next up was DRAGONFORCE who really needed to concentrate more on their performance than running around the stage like olympic chickens. The vocals suffered quite a bit from the amount of running around that was taking place. It was hard to take them completely serious from the way they were acting upon stage but we’ll let it slide since guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li managed to pull off playing so fast while jumping and running around like hyperactive squirrels. Overall the performance was entertaining but if the set had been any longer than 50 minutes, it would have quickly become boring. 7/10.

After having found out about MICHAEL JACKSON’s death just hours ago, EXODUS entered the stage announcing the news to the entire audience in the most disrespectful and unprofessional way. Singer Rob Dukes said “The paedophile is dead, I’m glad he’s dead” and from that moment on, all respect for him had gone. The performance was no longer enjoyable because of his disrespect for another innocent being. Judging the overall performance of the rest of the band however, was top notch. Certainly what you’d expect from such a band and from the amount of people crammed into the tent, it’s safe to say that it was a satisfying show having played the common favourites such as “War Is My Shepherd” and closing with “Toxic Waltz”. 7.5/10.

Up next on the main stage was SOULFLY. The crowd was on fire from the moment they hit the stage right through until the end. The energy from the band and the audience was incredible. Max Cavalera was definitely respected by the thousands of fans who had turned up to watch him play, especially when the band broke out into SEPULTURA’s classic – “Refuse/Resist”. To keep the fire burning and the attention of the audience SOULFLY split their set up with a few riffs from SLAYER and METALLICA. On the whole it was a great act and scores 7/10.

Over at marquee two the industrial sounds of STATIC X were blasting out in the likes of “Push it” and “The Only”. Due to lineup clashes with BLIND GUARDIAN at marquee one, we couldn’t stay to watch the entire set of STATIC X but what we did see included many of the childhood favourites and alot of energy, but most importantly of all Wayne Static’s famous wind tunnel hair style and was definitely worth a 6.5/10.

As a result of the afore mentioned lineup clash we had to miss the start of BLIND GUARDIAN’s set which meant that we couldn’t even get into marquee one to even see the band because of their popularity. Even around the outsides of the marquees walls were crowded by people trying to push their way through to see the band play. We were fortunate enough to slightly see BLIND GUARDIAN’s performance from a pretty long distance, but at least we still got to hear them playing songs such as “Valhalla” and “Lord of The Rings”. The band played really well and singer Hansi Kürsch nailed the vocals no problem. 8/10 for German power metallers BLIND GUARDIAN.

The much anticipated wait had finally come to an end when metal legends HEAVEN AND HELL opened up on the main stage with “E5150” followed by the classic “The Mob Rules”. Dio’s constant words of praise for “one of the creators of metal” Tony Iommi saw the crowd roaring with respect. The communication from Dio to the crowd gave a sense of cosiness and appreciation for the fans. The bands performance was most definitely a highlight of the weekend and deserved a headliner slot instead of much less influential and respected bands like SLIPKNOT and MARILYN MANSON. The overall set consisted of a mixture of old and new songs, all of which were performed phenomenally. Just as you thought it was all over, the band returned to the stage for an encore of “Neon Knights” chosen by Tony Iommi, ending the set perfectly. 9.5/10 for HEAVEN AND HELL.

After a very long day in the 28°C sun and no interest in glam metal, we decided to give headliners MOTLEY CRUE a miss after the first song. We may have stayed a little longer had we been able to see the band or even watch the big screens if they hadn’t been used for random effects for the songs. Judging by the fact that the campsite was dead silent at the time MOTLEY CRUE were playing, I think it’s safe to say that just about everybody was gathered at the main stage for their performance and thus must have been an entertaining show.

SATURDAY 27 JUNE 2009 – DAY 2

Another early start to the day at 8:30am with 25°C heat! Typically not the kind of weather you want when staying in a tent for three days. At 2:00pm we made our way to marquee one for Canadian Death metallers KATAKLYSM. With the tent so packed temperatures reached 34°C resulting in festival staff spraying fellow fans with fire hoses. Even with epic temperatures the bands performance did not suffer; flooding the marquee with energy throughout the set. The audience’s response when the band broke out with “Crippled & Broken”, “Prevail”, “Blood In Heaven” and “Like Angels Weeping (The Dark)” was an energetic display of metal satisfaction. With only a 45 minute set, KATAKLYSM left the fans craving for more. 8/10.

Next up over at the main stage was metal-core band – HATEBREED. Not a favourite of the dedicated metal fans but proved to be popular amongst the Nu-metal kids who eagerly awaited for KORN and SLIPKNOT. Having no particular interest in the band, it’s difficult to judge whether HATEBREED’s set was satisfying or not but having seen the amount of kids jumping around and hardcore dancing, I figure to the metal-core scene, the gig was a pure injection of adrenaline.

Next on the main stage should have been KILLSWITCH ENGAGE but unfortunately they couldn’t make it to the festival due to the passing of a close family member. Instead all of the bands moved up on the festival billing.

Dutch thrashers LEGION OF THE DAMNED were up next to enter the stage in marquee one. The outstanding performance was really reflected in the audiences energy, joining in at every opportune moment to scream out the lyrics especially when the band announced that the set was going to be recorded for an upcoming live DVD. The band played songs such as “Cult of The Dead”, “Diabolist” and “House of Possession” and if all that wasn’t enough, at the end of the set singer Maurice Swinkels threw several band T-shirts into the crowd. LEGION OF THE DAMNED really performed for the fans and not the fame. 8.5/10.

The time had come for bay area thrashers DEATH ANGEL to hit the stage in marquee one. By this time marquee one was possibly the hottest place in Belgium but this didn’t stop the fans nor the band from pulsating with energy. As the end of the set neared the audiences energy died down with exhaustion until singer Mark Osegueda thanked everyone for “turning up in the sauna like tent” and the band broke out closing the set with “The Ultra Violence” – giving the audience one last burst of energy. From the bands on Saturday’s lineup DEATH ANGEL was certainly one of the best. 8/10.

Having had to cancel their appearance at last years Graspop (2008) due to the death of Michael Poulsen’s father, VOLBEAT and the fans had looked forward to this moment for a long time. The performance of the band was astonishing and most definitely made up for last years cancellation. There wasn’t a moment that went by that the show became less energetic. The whole atmosphere from the minute the band entered the stage to the second they went off was extraordinary! Throughout the entire set the audience was singing along with as much effort as the band, to songs such as “Sad Man’s Tongue” which Poulsen dedicated to his late father, “Pool of Booze Booze Booze”, “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” and Misfits’ “AngelFuck”. VOLBEAT was definitely one of the most entertaining bands of the festival. 9/10.

For some kids, this was a moment that they had been longing for. It was SLIPKNOT’s turn to take the stage, entering with “Iowa” followed by “742617000027”, and some of the more popular songs – “Wait and Bleed”, “Before I Forget”, “Duality” and leaving the stage with “People = Shit”. There was no chant for an encore and for a moment it seemed there wasn’t going to be one. The crowd had already started to leave by the time SLIPKNOT had returned to the stage. After a couple of songs (“Surfacing” and “Spit it Out”), the band paid tribute to MICHAEL JACKSON by playing one of his number 1 hits – “Beat It”, which the entire audience sang along with. Overall the bands performance wasn’t all that entertaining but they did include their known songs which got a response from the audience. 6/10.

SUNDAY 28 JUNE 2009 – DAY 3

Yet another hot day in Dessel, Belgium and absolutely no sign of rain. First up on the main stage was UFO which we unfortunately missed so we headed over to marquee one where thrash metal band WARBRINGER was almost closing their set. Fortunately we were lucky enough to catch the last few songs which were pleasantly surprising. This band has got a lot of potential and will definitely be getting their name heard a lot more. From what we saw they definitely deserve 7.5/10.

The next band to play on the main stage that morning was LAMB OF GOD who thought it would be a great idea to wake up the audience with circle pits and walls of death. It would seem that singer – David Blythe’s vocabulary stretched no further than the word fuck or mother fucker. It was pretty difficult to take him seriously with the way he was acting upon stage. The performance of the band was nothing memorable with “Ruin” and “Laid to Rest” being the highlights of the set. Previous performances from LAMB OF GOD at Graspop were considerably better than this time and so they score only 7/10.

Next we headed over to marquee one for Swedish metallers SCAR SYMMETRY. Their performance was nothing different to any other band but their lineup was somewhat unique; having two on-stage singers – both of which were fronting the band. This became quite confusing at points. Other than that, the overall show was good but if they went on for longer than the hour set they had, we probably wouldn’t have stayed for the whole show. 6.5/10.

After having seen the amount of coverage that brand new band – CHICKENFOOT have had recently in the news, we were really curious to find out what all the fuss was about, being well accustom with the likes of JOE SATRIANI and VAN HALEN. It didn’t take that long for us to realize that CHICKENFOOT had been overrated. Individually each musician is well capable but their sounds together sounded no better than a jamming session. Not to mention the song “Down the Drain” which was literally an unpolished jamming session and the very intellectual lyrics of the song “Oh Yeah” which drew the final curtain on our opinions. Overall CHICKENFOOT is overrated wallpaper music, better suited in elevators than metal festivals. 5/10.

Back over at marquee two Californian thrashers DEVILDRIVER, opened their set with “Clouds Over California” followed by the all time favourites, “Die(and die now)”, “I Could Care Less”, “These Fighting Words”, “Hold Back The Day” and closed their set with “End of The Line”. The entire show was dynamic and was over before you knew it. They were certainly one of the few bands that deserved a longer slot and would have been much more appreciated on the main stage at such a world famous metal festival than Nu-metal band DISTURBED. DEVILDRIVER was unquestionably one of the highlights of the day. 8.5/10.

Next up on the main stage was DISTURBED – a band which would have been more appreciated by the Nu-metal kids who held day tickets for Saturday’s lineup. The setlist consisted mostly of the known songs such as “The Game”, “Ten Thousand Fists”, “Down With The Sickness”, “Stupify” and “Voices” but failed to include fan favourite “Conflict” from their first and possibly most successful album “The Sickness”. Their performance was what you would expect but nothing more, although singer David Draiman put a lot of effort into communicating with the audience by involving them with the show which many other bands failed to do. 7/10 for DISTURBED.

After a failed attempt to see ANTHRAX in marquee two due to Graspop’s miss-calculation of their popularity, we and many other festival goers headed back towards the main stage for the next band – NIGHTWISH. The band opened their set with the song “7 Days To The Wolves” from their latest album “Dark Passion Play” followed by some of the more popular songs “Dead To The World”, “Wishmaster”, “Dead Boy’s Poem” and abruptly closing with “Wish I Had An Angel” due to an unknown set cut. Having already seen NIGHTWISH before with new singer Anette Olzon I knew what to expect but since the last time I saw them, Olzon’s effort in singing both TARJA TURUNEN’s songs and her own had decreased dramatically. The pre-2006 songs were not even sang in the same tune as originally when Tarja sang them and her frontwomaning skills needed significantly improving as she didn’t seem to know how to communicate with the crowd. Other than that, the rest of the bands performance was as good as ever and thus was still an entertaining band to see. 7.5/10.

As we had no interest in seeing headliner MARILYN MANSON, the last band we saw at GMM 2009 was CHILDREN OF BODOM in marquee one. The band entered the stage with “Needled 24/7” and continued the set with songs such as “Bodom Beach Terror”, “Hate Me!”, “Living Dead Beat”, “Blooddrunk” and “Angels Don’t Kill”. The fans really gave their last bit of energy to CHILDREN OF BODOM throughout the entire set. For us CHILDREN OF BODOM was the closing band of the festival, which ended the weekend on a high especially when the band closed with the song “Downfall”. 8/10.

About Nikita

Co-founder of PlanetMosh. Official cookie and cake baker at PM Towers.
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