Whilst our homegrown festivals are all very well, with their fancy line-ups tailored to British tastes and their horrendously overpriced everything, just across the Channel sits Graspop – Belgium’s answer to Download. But why should you, metal-loving public, go all the way to Mol (nope, me neither) just to see a few bands?
The clues start in the line-up, and the big hitter for me at least is Black Sabbath – considering Ozzy’s somewhat hectic lifestyle, the opportunities to see Sabbath in the flesh are decreasing with each passing day, so you should already be putting thought to the idea. Plus, they’re an incredible band to see live in their own right, cocaine abuse or not. Also in the line-up are Death (minus Chuck Schuldiner, but still definitely worth seeing before the band dissolves permanently), Meshuggah playing their 25th anniversary performance, and major festival players like Slayer, Megadeth, Gojira and Sepultura.
For those of a very heavy persuasion, Graspop has you covered too, playing host to Napalm Death, Watain, Neurosis, Satyricon and Behemoth amongst many, many others. Unlike British metal festivals, Graspop has taken time to accommodate more death, black and extreme metal styles, which could be a clincher for those currently considering Sonisphere or Download. Modern metal has also been taken care of, thanks to Architects, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Nails, so there genuinely is something for everyone (as long as you like metal. If not, I’m impressed you read this far). Despite the unfortunate presence of Avenged Sevenfold and Alter Bridge on the main stage, it’s unlikely you’ll be bored during Graspop – there’s much more than just the bands.
In terms of setup, Graspop ticks all the boxes; the walk from tent to arena is under 10 minutes (I know, I went last year) and there’s a free bus that will take you back to Mol to buy even more cheap Belgian beer, as well as a free return train ticket to Mol from anywhere in Belgium. The organisers have also introduced an electronic gate system to help get you from sleeping bag to headbang even faster – just swipe your festival wristband on the gate and you’re through, instead of hour-long queues. The food and beer is plentiful and definitely cheaper than a British festival of the same price, there’s a metal club that goes until 5am every night, and the toilets are approaching nearly semi-sanitary.
I can’t think of a reason to not attend Graspop this year – the line-up is probably even better than last year’s, and you’re guaranteed of a great time if metal is your style. And the best part? It *probably* won’t even rain.
Graspop takes place from 27th-29th June, with tickets available here.