LIVE: Groezrock 2012 part two: Sunday

By Tom Aylott


As the effects of heavy nights and interrupted sleep come into play, The Dangerous Summer [2.5/5] take to the Impericon Stage to sooth those weary heads. Their slow-paced melodic rock should be perfectly suited to the early afternoon crowd, but a lacklustre audience suggests that there may be more exciting performances elsewhere. For a band who deliver melody with a subtle punch on record, it appears that they may also be feeling the same effects as the crowd today. A reasonable performance which unfortunately fails to hit home.

Conversely, Motion City Soundtrack [4.5/5] are on hand to revitalise the masses on the main stage. The band’s punchy pop-punk melodies envelop the huge main stage tent, managing to ensure that not a single foot is motionless. The importance of this festival slot is entirely evident on the faces of all five band members, backed up by the incredible humility of frontman Josh Cain as he expresses his disbelief at the reaction. ‘Everything is Alright’ and ‘The Future Freaks Me Out’ sound towering, and the latter pulls one of the best performances at the festival to a close with a massive singalong.

Your Demise [3/5] have attracted a huge crowd to the Imperican Stage, as the audience fight for their positions as they begin. On a surface level, it is almost unfathomable to understand how a band just out of a medium sized venue tour  in the UK can attract such attention abroad, but when you look a bit closer, they’re actually exactly what the European audiences love to crazy too all year around – it also appears that the new record (‘The Golden Age’) must be doing something right despite the stick it’s received. It is therefore  disappointing that frontman Ed McRae struggles to translate the newer clean vocals from the record to a live environment, especially on a high profile slot such as this. Outside of these moments the hardcore mob sound as crisp and brutal as ever, delivering the heavier moments with outright savagery.

So far, a number of bands have failed to live up to the ethos sprawled across the back of the Etnies stage. So it is with much relief and excitement that Such Gold [4/5]  understand how to tear this shit up. From the outset, frontman Ben Kotin looks like a man possessed (and perhaps more importantly, a man who believes every word). Their modern garage punk perfectly suits the environment, and the band bounce off the increasing horde of stage invaders. Such Gold may never be huge, but if that would mean losing this intensity we wouldn’t want them to anyway.

Armed with tracks from forthcoming new album ‘Exister’ and old classics, Hot Water Music [4/5] make light work of delivering the goods on the main stage,  and it’s great to see them on such fine form. The setlist is meaty and they’re always a  welcome addition to the Groezrock lineup. As Chuck Ragan’s gruff vocal sails through the tent, there’s really no one else we’d rather be watching.

Back at the main stage, Alkaline Trio [2/5] unexcitedly plod through a setlist devoid of the majority of their major hits. Disregarding ‘Time to Waste’ and ‘This Addiction’, the band have settled for minor singles and album tracks in order to engage with the crowd. Needless to say, this decision is less than effective. Despite Matt Skiba’s apparent love for the audience (displayed through a number of heart shapes made using his thumbs and index fingers), there is little energy in their performance this afternoon. This is a simple gig-by-numbers for them, and certainly nothing to write home about.

For shame, we only managed to watch a little of Good Riddance, so we’re not going to give them a definitive score – but we enjoyed what we saw in the busiest part of the day, and we’re hoping for some UK shows soon to manage to catch an entire set!

From here, it should be noted that we managed to watch bits and pieces of 7 Seconds, Tom Gabel, DYS and Slapshot rather than big blocks because of the volume of great stuff happening across the festival, but all sounded excellent from what we saw, and we were gutted that we couldn’t give ourselves super speed for this section of the festival. Between recharging, rehydrating and reexamining just how many great bands were clashing, we had to make a few big calls, not all of which were the right decisions – especially as we managed to miss Architects and The Bronx entirely because of the afternoon’s interview schedule!

Every festival appears to have one standout band that is plagued by technical difficulties. This year that accolade falls on Thrice [4/5]. Fortunately, when the band are not battling with excessive feedback or broken guitar straps the sound they create is exceptional. They opt for a setlist made up of snippets from their entire back catalogue, including particularly heavy renditions of ‘Deadbolt’ and ‘Phoenix Ignition’. There is little crowd interaction and certainly no chemistry between various band members, yet what else can be expected from a band at the seeming end of their career? The haunting ‘Anthology’ pulls the set to a close and leaves everyone wondering why on earth they have to call it a day.

Simple Plan [3.5/5] are clearly a large anomaly on this year’s line-up, especially finding themselves as the main support for tonight’s headliners since the unfortunate cancellation from Billy Talent. Queue theatrics; stacks at the front of the stage, a prominent backdrop that the majority of the weekend’s bands have decided against, and a showman in the form of vocalist Pierre Bouvier. To all intents and purposes it should not work, yet it just does. The flamboyant showmanship makes a huge change from the rest of the weekend, and most importantly, the band clearly know how to work a festival. Delivering a medley of tracks from their debut ‘No Pads, No Helmet… Just Balls’ to accompany a selection of songs from across their back-catalogue, Simple Plan manage to quieten a few moans about why on earth they’re sat where they are on this line up.

Away from the pop-punk on the main stage, Gorilla Biscuits [4/5] are causing an almighty racket on the Etnies Stage before tonight’s “main event”. The tent is rammed so we barely get our heads inside, but there’s no doubt that it’s welcome return from the band, and one of the best sets of the weekend. One that any punk fan should be sad that they missed.

So, finally, what should be seen as the true homecoming set for punk legends was upon us. Many here (including every member of team Punktastic present) weren’t old enough first time around, and though the reformation raised many questions above motives, it all comes down to the quality of the live show. Dubious, worried and excited, an impatient crowd watches a stage obscuring banner drop, and what happened next was incredible.

After 13 years, Refused [5/5] deliver what can only be described as an unforgettable hour. Following a seemingly endless ominous droning sound ‘Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull’ kicks in, and every single moment in the next fourteen songs is absolutely flawless – every note, riff or vocal feels as powerful or atmospheric as was originally intended.

Throughout the setlist – consisting primarily of tracks from ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’ but delving into  ‘Everlasting’ and ‘Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent’ as well – the entire band are outwardly elated to be playing to this crowd. Frontman Dennis Lyxzén exclaims in a wholly trustworthy manner that they are in utter disbelief and thanks the audience for attending the largest show they have ever played. By the time the set crescendo’s steam cannons have died down, and the ringing has stopped from the encore of ‘New Noise’ and ‘Tannhäuser/Derivè’, there’s just no words left apart from “you should have been there”. A perfect closer to a fantastic weekend, and one that exceeded every expectation. If you weren’t there the first time around, be there this time. Truly staggering.