Groezrock 2013 Review: Sunday

By Tom Aylott

With Punktastic favourites Masked Intruder and The Front Bottoms both playing before mid morning, it is regrettable that our late arrival results in us missing these excellent bands. You would be hard pushed to find a British festival that starts at 10:00AM on the Sunday!

The Flatliners take the main stage for an lunchtime injection of traditional punk-rock. Unfortunately with their short set time only allowing for five tracks it proves difficult to truly get to grips with the band. Each song is delivered well, yet the lack of energy in both the crowd and from the stage fails to engage. Should this band have been on a smaller stage or later on in the day the story may have been slightly different.

Conversely, Pure Love have enough energy to level the festival in one fell swoop. During their forty-five minute set they encourage more crowd surfers than the rest of the festival put together, even having time for an inflatable lilo race around the circumference of the Etnies tent. As with their recent show supporting Don Broco in London’s Koko they prove visually spectacular, bounding around the stage (and the crowd) with unprecedented ferocity. The juxtaposition between performance and sound remains ever-present, particularly when the lilo race results in an instrumental version of ‘Bury My Bones’ – a song which relies on Carter’s gruff rock and roll vocals. It becomes increasingly evident that Pure Love are about showmanship over music, and assuming that is the case, they are doing it exceedingly well.

Although initially playing in front of a small crowd, it is something of a testament to Rob Lynch’s songwriting and vocal capabilities that the audience swells a short time into the set. Performing songs from his self-titled EP alongside a number of tracks new and old, each tells an introspective story that simultaneously grips and audience and sounds refined in a live environment. Although not as well-known as artists on either side of his slot, judging on today’s performance this will not be Rob Lynch’s last time at Groezrock.

Something is lost in translation between Polar Bear Club’s recorded material and their live performance today. On record the subtle melody sitting behind Jimmy Stadt’s rough tones provides a refreshingly unique element to an otherwise everyday sound. Unfortunately during their set on the Etnies Back to Basics stage this characteristic is missing, instead seeing Polar Bear Club administer a middling performance.

Over on the main stage The Used are similarly fairing badly as Bert McCracken fails to hit a single note during their fifty minute set. With an already dubious crowd awaiting the biggest incongruity on the bill, the band miss the opportunity to alleviate any hostility aimed towards them. Despite renditions of ‘The Taste of Ink’ and ‘Buried Me Alive’, the lack of any musical expertise on display and the lacklustre energy on stage cement this as the worst set of the weekend so far.

With the recent release of ‘Sempiternal’ receiving rave reviews and their live show universally commended, Bring Me The Horizon complete a trio of consecutive disappointing performances. Although engaging the crowd, Oli Sykes’ demeanour is more reserved than in previous performances. Despite early appearances of favourites ‘Shadow Moses’ and ‘Chelsea Smile’, the quick succession of more subdued tracks ‘It Never Ends’, ‘Sleepwalking’ and ‘Blessed With A Curse’ limit the forceful energy synonymous with the band. ‘Antivist’ attempts to provide one final punch however does little too late. Although the performance is not bad, Bring Me The Horizon have certainly displayed more dominance in the past than they do tonight.

The twenty odd songs that follow opener ‘Past Is Dead’ show why Bad Religion are rightly considered one of the world’s best punk bands. As the likes of ‘21st Century (Digital Boy)’ and ‘American Jesus’ garner the biggest reaction, they sit comfortably side by side with tracks from this year’s ‘True North’. Greg Graffin effortlessly commands the stage as the band batter from track to track with quick succession. With the Sunday line-up boasting little in the way of straightforward punk on any of the stages, it provides an opportunity to immerse in these punchy three-way harmonies. As ‘Dept. Of False Hope’ – a controversial set closer – draws to a close, Bad Religion have delivered a tight and precise slice of punk. There are no gimmicks, just experience and strong songs – an excellent way to end the festival.