After a month since to our visit to Graspop Metal Meeting 2019 it’s about time for a little throwback. We had three great days of screaming guitars and wrist-fracturing drumbeats… felt like heaven on earth!
Just to make things clear. I don’t see my event blog posts as reviews. I would describe them more as some kind of journal (diary-like post), in which I write about my actions, thoughts and feelings. Now you might picture me as a teen girl, laying on her bed with her feet waving lazily through the air and writing about her crush in her diary. But, what the hell… that’s fine by me.
Enough small talk! Let’s go back to our visit to one of the best metal festivals of Europe. For those who don’t know, Graspop Metal Meeting (often shortened to ‘Graspop’ or ‘GMM’) is a Belgian (three-days) heavy metal festival held in Dessel each year since 1996. It’s known the world over for putting on a very very very nice display of iconic metal acts, attracting thousands of international fans.
This years edition was completely sold out! But, the festival field “Stenehei” in Dessel, Belgium, offers Graspop’s approximately 200.000 visitors plenty of room to enjoy and dance on your favorite music in the sun. Or, like we did, to just sit, relax and enjoy the music.
Graspop offers plenty refreshments to take care of the inner metalhead. You can buy cold beer, soft drinks and a variety of snacks (read: junk food) at the stalls around the festival area. For those who are not eating animal meat, human or alien meat, there are also many vegetarian options. My personal favorites are churros and pancakes. But, don’t expect high food quality!
Why I love Graspop so much? Well, definitely not because of the food. It’s because of the unique atmosphere. For three days, thousands of metal fans communed in an atmosphere of friendship, understanding, tolerance and an unwavering love of heavy music. Numerous of visitors from different countries are partying together in peace.
Again, it was one hell of a festival, with multiple highlights and, of course, some disappointments as well. It was also a weekend of goodbyes. A number of bands will bid farewell to the stage with the end of the 2019 (festival) season and performed at Graspop Metal Meeting as a part of their ‘final tour’.
With five stages (Main Stage 1 & 2, Marquee, Metal Dome, Jupiler Stage and Classic Rock Café) and so many bands performing, it’s almost impossible to see every single show, but here’s a short summary of what we did see:
Lynyrd Skynyrd (Friday, Main Stage 1, 19:15)
Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd is in the midst of what they’re calling the Last of the ‘Street Survivors Farewell Tour’. It is intended to be the final tour conducted by the band. It was my first time, and also last time, seeing this band perform live, and I have to say it was quite a good show.
Slayer (Friday, Main Stage 1, 23:30)
After the slightly disappointing show by the Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation, it was time for Slayer, which was definitely the main headliner of this festival Friday. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the American thrash metal heroes are calling it a day in 2019. They played their final Benelux show, which is part of their ‘Final World Tour’, at Graspop. And what a great show it was!
Amon Amarth (Friday, Main Stage 2, 20:40)
One of the bands that I really wanted to see. Amon Amarth is probably one of, if not the most famous viking themed band in the metal genre… and for good reason. And, they are definitely part of my top 10 favorite bands. Their show was really spectacular, filled with fireworks, viking battles and implacable guitar violence. Vocalist Johan Hegg definitely knows how to control a crowd and make them part of the show.
By the way, I recently bought tickets to the Amon Amarth concert next december in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’m so excited!!
HammerFall (Saturday, Main Stage 2, 13:50)
Another one of those pleasant Graspop surprises. This was my first acquaintance the Swedish band and I have to say I liked what I heard. Perhaps because some of the band members are also involved in other projects I like (Niklas Sundin & Mikael Stanne, both Dark Tranquillity). HammerFall is definitely a name to remember for the near future.
KISS (Sunday, Main Stage 1, 23:00)
Another band which is about ready to “throw the towel”. After a stellar career spanning four and a half decades, Detroit rockers KISS are calling it quits, but not before treating their millions of loyal fans to one last scintillating tour aptly called ‘End of the Road’. To be honest, KISS is not one of my all-time-favorite bands and the music hasn’t changed much over the years, but this was one of the last opportunities to see this the legendary hard rock band perform. And I must confess, it’s impressive to see these guys perform at their age.
In addition to the above, we also saw great shows of a.o. Halestorm, Trivium, Disturbed, Godsmack, Slipknot, Whitesnake, Rob Zombie, Def Leppard and Sabaton.
After three days partying in sunny Dessel I was quite exhausted but satisfied. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end and so, and so it was time to pack up and go home with nothing but great memories… and a mild sunburn. Note to self: never wear fishnet stockings on a hot summer day!
⊗ Was it worth the visit? Hell yeah!
⊗ Did we get to hear some great music? Hell yeah!
⊗ Do we want to visit next year’s edition? Once more, hell yeah!