LIVE: Groezrock 2015 [Friday]

By Ben Tipple

Meerhout seems an unlikely place for two days of loud music and heavy drinking. Deep in countryside of eastern Belgium, on the surface this quaint and serene town seems blissfully unaware of the what is about to happen, but given that the prestigious Groezrock festival has been a staple part of the town’s lineage for 24 years now it’s hardly surprising that this is normal to the townsfolk.

With surprisingly good weather for our annual pilgrimage to Groezrock, we donned our sunglasses, consumed plenty of alcohol, and enjoyed one of the best festival line-ups that mainland Europe had to offer. Whether it was bands coming over to this part of the world for the first time, several unsung heroes of yesteryear reuniting, or seasoned veterans out to maintain their legacy, the 2015 event provided another year of memorable moments.

Being the first band on at any festival is never an easy task, but Joyce Manor breeze through it almost effortlessly. They draw a huge crowd considering how early they are on, and tear into live favourites such as ‘Beach Community’ and ‘Heart Tattoo’. The inclusion of a cover of Weezer’s ‘You Gave Your Love To Me Softly’ provides a perfect festival sing-along, kicking Groezrock 2015 off in style. [GB]

It’s down to Philadelphia’s Beach Slang to keep the momentum going, which they do without reservation. Being their first time in Europe, this proves to be the first impression for many of today’s onlookers, and it serves the indie inspired punks well. With some already proclaiming Beach Slang to be the potential highlight of the weekend, it’s an early contender for the most unashamedly excited, and in turn exciting, bands at Groezrock. [BT]


In a bittersweet twist, The Swellers find themselves playing to one of their biggest crowds at this, their final ever show. Opting against any substantial sentimentality, vocalist and guitarist Nick Diener addresses the crowd on only a few occasions – instead using the time to power through twelve tracks from across their catalogue. The main stage does little to encourage the crowd participation this type of upbeat punk would incite, yet by the time ‘The Best I Ever Had’ concludes there are considerable emotions running throughout the vast tent. The Swellers do it again, for one last time. [BT]

Another first for Belgium, The Hotelier bring their melody driven emo vibes to the Revenge stage. Tracks from their 2011 EP (under The Hotel Year moniker), ‘It Never Goes Out’ garner the biggest reaction, yet all their material sounds fittingly emotive, even haunting, inside the tent. With their mid-afternoon slot and down-tempo compositions the atmosphere takes a while to get started, yet fans are more than willing to sing back every word at an equally enchanted and apprehensive band. [BT]

Launching into ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’, punk veterans Against Me! continue their longstanding upwards trajectory at Groezrock. Despite the vast expanse of the main stage tent, Laura Jane Grace holds the crowd together with her experience-laden stage presence and the band’s expert collection of hard-hitting yet upbeat punk rock. The setlist consists primarily of tracks from their most recent ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’, with ‘Black Me Out’ providing a fittingly venomous crowd singalong. With the sun shining, it is however ‘Thrash Unreal’ that sets up one of the most euphoric atmospheres of the weekend. [BT]
Wherever Cold World goes, there is sure to be absolute chaos and their afternoon slot on the Back To Basics stage is no exception. Even being two members light, and having half of close friends Title Fight filling in for them, they are still a well oiled machine. ‘Low Places’ brings forth a charge of stage dives, and the crowd is sent into a frenzy when they are joined by Title Fight vocalist Ned Russin for a thunderous version of ‘Blind’. [GB]
With one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, the reformed Knapsack show the current wave of alternative rock bands how it really should be done. Their first ever European performance is faultless, with’ Thursday Side Of The Street’, ‘Cellophane’, and ‘Hummingbirds’ providing more than just nostalgia. Lets hope this isn’t the only time Knapsack venture to this part of the world. [GB]


As Ceremony take to the stage with their sombre new track ‘You Life In France’, they are greeted with several perplexed faces. This is all but brief though, as when they launch into the cacophonic ‘Kersed’ the stage becomes a sea of bodies. From here on the set is a spread across the bands back catalogue, and even though there is a clear divide between their old and new material their set is still thrilling. Not many bands could pull off such a diverse sound, but it’s a walk in the park for Ceremony. [GB]

Showcasing Groezrock’s ever-eclectic bill, Texan emo outfit Mineral bring a truly mesmerising atmosphere to the Revenge Stage. Built around emotive soundscapes that envelop the half-full tent, the band manage to drown out all surrounding noise. Seemingly creating a retreat from the hectic, busy rush elsewhere on site, Mineral prove enthralling and unique. Having reformed in 2014 following seventeen years apart, Mineral deliver nine songs of pure beauty that elevate them to one of the unexpected highlights of the weekend. [BT]

Always finding themselves in front of adoring fans, Title Fight’s faithful crammed their way into The Revenge stage for the Kingston quartet’s headline performance. Newer tracks ‘Murder Your Memory’ and ‘Chlorine’ provide a more wistful mood than the band are usually known for, but that doesn’t stop their staple anthem ‘27’ bringing the house down. The band carefully dodges wayward stage divers during ‘Like A Ritual’, before leaving a cloud of dust in the wake of a storming rendition of ‘Secret Society’. [GB]

Despite speaking of his jet-lag earlier in the day, Defeater frontman Derek Archambault displays no signs of fatigue as he delves head-first into ‘Brother’. Mobbed by a relentless stream of stage divers, the band pull out all the stops to the joy of densely packed and extremely excitable onlookers. Recent turbulence is all-but forgotten today as Archambault and co. demonstrate a reinvigorated force. As we strap a GoPro to one of our team members and send him off into the crowd, it becomes clear that Defeater are well and truly back in the game. [BT]
Given that Social Distortion have been part of punk rock’s lineage for well over 30 years, they fit right at home in their main stage headline slot. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their self-titled album by playing it in full, all the classic’s are aired, with the album’s highlight ‘Story Of My Life’ still having as much heart as it did all those years ago. The added bonus of newer material ‘Machine Gun Blues’ and ‘I Won’t Run No More’ towards the end shows how Social Distortion have managed to stay important just by playing honest punk rock like only they know how. [GB]