LIVE: Groezrock 2014 – Friday [02/05/14]

By Ben Tipple

Out in the far reaches of the Belgian countryside, surrounded by picturesque lakes, rivers and rickety bridges lies the little town of Meerhout. Characterised by its uniquely Belgian architecture – not one house looks the same as the next – it is the expansive purple tent poking up behind the buildings that is attracting the hordes of punters, donning their Mohawks and patched jackets.

Punktastic have been venturing to Groezrock for a few years now, although not quite the 22 years in which the festival has existed in some way, shape or form. Presumably unrecognisable from its early appearance, Groezrock has developed into the punk-rock mecca, attracting the biggest names in the genre and always impressing with its typically European diversity.

Astpai kick things off on the main stage, providing more than a glimpse of things to come. The Austrians throw enough energy into their performance to power the huge main stage tent, as the vocals rip through the increasingly busy space. It may be the opening set of the festival, but this may be one of the best performances of the weekend.

Over on the Etnies Stage which we have the pleasure of filming (keep your eyes on the site for exclusive footage), Astpai’s tour companions Restorations are offering something altogether more relaxed. Relaxed definitely doesn’t mean lacklustre though. The band don’t carry as much force as some of the punk heavyweights on the bill, but their performance is mesmerising. Their folk take on punk is a welcome addition to the line-up today, and is extremely well executed.

Providing evidence that Groezrock isn’t just about your more straightforward punk bands, Bayside manage to pull an impressive crowd into the Impericon Stage, a tent which houses some of the heavier and some of the more melodic bands of the weekend. Their melodic flare loses some of its impact – an issues which mars a handful of performances in this space – but it’s clear that the veterans are not only comfortable, but adept at what they do.

The Menzingers have been moving from strength-to-strength in recent months, particularly since the release of the well-received ‘Rented World’ LP. With more than a little pressure to perform well this weekend, it’s great to see them really come into their own. New tracks such as ‘I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore’ and ‘The Talk’ sound explosive on the main stage, but it’s set closer ‘The Obituaries’ that envelops the tent in a spine-tingling sing-along.


Interview: The Menzingers

There’s a definite divide between older and newer La Dispute material over at the Etnies Stage, even more so in a live environment than on record. Be it that the fans clearly know the older material better – entirely understandable considering the relatively recent release of ‘Rooms of the House’ – but the recent tracks fall a little flat in this setting. It seems that their transition in style lends itself more to enclosed, intimate venues, but the unique quality of their songs can’t be denied.


Having firmly built a reputation for being a bit hit-and-miss (they were incredible at Koko back in February), Taking Back Sunday fall foul to the wavering sound quality at the Impericon Stage. Jumping from their latest album to their debut in the first two tracks indicates a varied setlist, but ultimately Taking Back Sunday can do much better than today.


Interview: Taking Back Sunday

If anyone could show Taking Back Sunday how to deliver an explosive, heartfelt melodic performance it would be penultimate main stage band Brand New. Although ending their eleven song set with the regularly performed drawn-out and indulgent version of ‘You Won’t Know’, the predictable appearances of ‘Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades’ and ‘Okay I Believe You…’ pull the tent from a giant party to one of the most deafening moments of the weekend. The rare appearance of ‘The Archers Bows Have Broken’ and recent set stalwart ‘Seventy Times Seven’ provide the icing on the cake. Excellent.

Opting not to play ‘Punk In Drublic’ in order in favour of injecting other fan-favourites into the mix, NoFx close of the Friday in style. We, alongside most of the people at the festival, have had quite a bit of tasty Belgian beer by this point, and NoFx are providing the soundtrack to one of the weekend’s biggest parties. The extremely rare appearance of ‘Happy Guy’ and ‘Jeff Wears Birkenstocks’ is enough to keep any fan going, and it’s any punk-rockers wet dream to see Milo Aukerman of Descendants join Fat Mike on stage for ‘Quart in Session’, complete with a beer in his hand.


Peace out Friday, see you tomorrow!

Find out what we got up to on the Saturday…