Held every year in Dessel, Belgium, usually the last weekend of June, the festival celebrated 15 years of existence in 2010. Big names such as Aerosmith, Soulfly and Kiss were brought for the celebration, even if along its history the festival was never cheap on big names. A list with these names can be fund here http://www.graspop.be/2010/en/extra/bandsdb.php
The sun seems to have enjoyed the music and considered showing up for the entire weekend, making it almost unbearable in the small tents. Speaking of small tents, the amount of famous names playing here is so high that names like Sepultura and Nile only got a space in the smallest of the 3 tents. Organisation is even better than in 2010 in my opinion, but it's probably demanded by an increased number of attendees. The distribution of the stages and food tents was different and I think it was a change for the better, making the area for the crowd a bit wider and easier to walk. On the list of annoying things comes the huge amount of dust given the fact that the grass is not the highest nor the greenest. Hence, we called the festival Dustpop among ourselves. Devin Townsend called it Graspoop.
The project of Floor Jansen, the former After Forever singer, together with keyboardist Joost van den Broek and guitarist Waldemar Sorychta, was the opener of the festival on the main stage. Floor showed us what a good voice she has and most of all how excited she was to be on stage with her new colleagues. Everyone looked like enjoying it to the max, thus making it a good opener for the concerts to come since it has set the right mood. They had a short show, but since they only have a self titled album, they didn't need more.
Next up on the main stage we saw the Canadians from Billy Talent. They play since 1993 and they have four albums, called Watoosh!, Billy Talent, Billy talent II and Billy Talent III. Depending on how one defines talent, you can agree or not with the band's name, but all in all it was an enjoyable alternative/punk sound. It started quite intense and heavy but after a while it got more mellow making me lose interest.
In the Marquee I tent, the British musicians from Anathema got 50 minutes for their show, so besides regular songs like Empty, Fragile Dreams or Universal, they opened with a Led Zeppelin cover of Kashmir. It suits their style but I would have rather heard more Anathema songs. I was once again nicely impressed by the female voice and their guitars.
Same old good Slayer sound was delivered from the speakers on the main stage. It drove the crowd really crazy leading to moshpits in front of the stage. Yet, the bright daylight sort of ruined their show for me since it was rather weird to see the sun reflecting Kerry King's skull. But despite the intense music, I ran to the Marquee I tent to catch a place in front for the next band, so I missed the ending with Raining Blood.
With a new line up that started performing together only few weeks ago, they delivered a set made of a mix of old and newer tunes. I can say they have four front vocalists now so there was so much to watch on stage because each and every one of them was fooling around and making their own mini show. Thomas Vikström, when he was standing quiet in the back, got easily bored so he filled his time by trying some Irish dance moves or just laughing at the crowd. Or Snowy Shaw asking the crowd if they want some Thai Food (before they played Typhoon). Their new guitarist, Christian Vidal is quite talented and did a hard job at learning the songs the way they were played by his predecessor. I am glad to see them in such a good mood for shows and looking forward for their album to come in September and the shows afterward.
Stone Temple Pilots
We took a break for some food while listening to their mellow music on the background, enough to hear the singer dedicating one of the songs to Paul Grey, his friend with whom he shared the same room at rehab when fighting heroin addiction. He said about Paul that he was smart and had a great great heart. Also the singer refused to take the pants off, as one of the signs in the crowd was demanding.
I saw her live before in a big hall and was impressed by her voice. Here, in one of the tents at Graspop, one can tell she has a very melodic voice but there was really no power in it. Her show started with some delay and after the whole band got on stage she let them wait for a while, coming 5 minutes or so later, dressed in a completely white outfit. The songs I heard were some of the new ones and really not convincing nor impressive in any way. The cool parts were when the cello came in.
I ran quickly to the other tent where there was another female performer, this time Doro. And there was also a powerful voice that was knocking down the small tent. It was completely packed so I only got to enjoy the audio without seeing anything on stage.
Due an interview I took during their show, I managed to catch the last 3 songs, including their 'Ace of Spades' that set the crowd on fire. The show had nothing impressive except the British trio performing the music with accuracy.
My dying bride
I was curious to see what their show would be like. I am not a big fan of their style of music. The show was a dramatic one, at least for the singer whose outfit matched the drama and he continuously raised his arms into the air, slowly lowering them, bending himself down to the floor, all to add up to the drama in their lyrics. Still, I don't quite think their show is suitable for a small tent at a festival.
The headliner of the day were the legends from Aerosmith led by a Steven Tyler with an awesome voice and a Joe Perry who did magic with his guitar. Before the concert, we listened to 'Ring of fire' by Johnny Cash and it was fun to hear most of the crowd singing along. And right before the concert, the song played had lyrics like 'everybody wants to get stoned'
The scarves around the microphone or other classical accessories were not missing. I got goose bumps on many of their ballads due the impressive singing skills. They didn't miss the blues songs that resembled more a jam session where everyone was putting out the craziest solos with their instruments. Joe Perry took of his belt at some point, threw the guitar on the floor and started smashing it with the belt.