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Slipknot, Volbeat, Korn, Monster Magnet, Journey, Hatebreed, Legion Of The Damned @ Graspop Metal Meeting, Dessel (BEL)

in Saturday, 27 June 2009 at Graspop Metal Meeting
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos

Day 2
Well, the next day of the festival welcomed a really humid and hot weather. The previous day's fatigue had not gone away 100% but this is the way to go on long in time duration festivals. The key point to make it through the day is to feel your stomach with high protein food and drink a lot of fluids. But wait a minute, you are not reading this for diet hints so, let me start 'talking' about the second 'Graspop Metal Meeting' day. While entering the festival area MASTODON were on the Main Stage but they did not appeal to us since we share the same thought about them; they are overrated and cannot deliver much on-stage. So, off to Marquee 1 for some live action.

The first band we caught on stage that day was LEGION OF THE DAMNED. Their latest album Cult Of The Dead was literally a Thrash explosion in the vein of SLAYER with a great deal of headbanging tunes. So, I was more than anxious to see how this hard hitting album would transcend on the stage. The band entered the stage while the intro Sermon of Sacrilege was coming from the speakers. Then came Cult of the Dead leaving everyone with their mouths wide open. The band was solid as granite with an overwhelming stage attitude. As the band's singer informed us, there were filming their performance for a future DVD release and thus everything was prepared to perfection. The good thing was that the audience was into LEGION OF THE DAMNED's music and so one hearty mosh-pit was formed underlining the band's power. The sound was crystal clear and loud as it should be for a DVD shooting but this was not all; the band was looking great on stage backed-up with impressive light show that topped everything off. It is always nice to watch the band members moving around the stage while keeping the sense of visual symmetry without looking way too rehearsed. To cut a long story short LEGION OF THE DAMNED were an excellent opener for our festival program and made all the neck stiffness go away (and return next day…) I definitely want to see this act as a headliner in a smaller club.

We made our way to the Main Stage to see that HATEBREED were already hitting hard with their jumping-up-and-down mainly Metalcore sound. Judging by the strong attendance it was obvious that HATEBREED are in a top form but way too mainstream for our old ears. So, the timetable was generous enough to 'let us' visit the nice 'Metal Market' located near the open air bazaar. The fact that we had to give one 'festival coin' (equal to 1.25 Euros) was at first a turn off. But after some additional thinking I realized that it was a smart move. The 'Metal Market' was about vinyl records, CDs and some other Metal related stuff and it was literally stuffed. So, if there was a free entrance then there would too many people inside the indoor market making it impossible to invest your money. The only downside on this visit was that there were too many vinyl records and little time to look around. So, we bought a decent number of vinyl records, left them in a known seller to us and with our hands free of Euros we made our way to the Main Stage to catch JOURNEY.

Things have changed in the Metal scene and bands like JOURNEY do not attract the younger metalheads who are always in search for a reason to form a mosh-pit. This justified the fact that in the front rows we found ourselves surrounded by people of our age (and some older than us) but strangely, this enhanced the Hard Rock / AOR atmosphere we enjoyed to the max. The hot and humid air made the wait kind of difficult but the promoters had two security guys handling two water hoses giving the metalheads a refreshing 'shower.' Things followed the timetable and JOURNEY hit the stage with Separate Ways (Worlds Apart). This was a surprise, since this all-time hit usually shows up somewhere near the end of the setlist. On the other hand, the addictive melody made us to forget the heat and jump up and down following Pineda's lead. This was my first time with JOURNEY and I only knew the singer from their latest album and the re-recorded classic songs featured in the US CD edition. So, I was aware of his high skilled singing but I had no idea about his 'alive' presence on-stage. The addition of Pineda's to the band literally breath fresh air and gave them a genuine boost in their live performances. This guys was relentless; he has running and jumping up and down and was in perfect harmony with the crowd without losing an inch of his clear and powerful singing. Wheel In The Sky, Faithfully, Don't Stop Believing and the up-tempo Anyway You Want It were some of the songs / moments that I enjoyed with my heart and this was mainly the singer's 'fault.' Ok, the rest of the band was looking solid but could not much his energy that simply carried everyone away. One thing that I have to complain about is the setlist; I had the feeling that they added all their hits in the first half of their song selection resulting in a dropping the mood somewhere in the middle but you cannot have everything can you?

We had five minutes to move from the Main Stage to get to Marquee 2 where MONSTER MAGNET would appear. I was never a fan of their music and I admit that I learned their name through their most successful album Powertrip and their supporting appearance to METALLICA's concert in Greece back in 1999. Their Stoner based music sounds pretty much the same to my untrained ears but I could not say 'no' to my lovely company despite the fact that DEATH ANGEL were also on-stage. Dave Wyndorf entered the stage but I knew that it was him only because he walked towards the mic and simply screamed Graspop!. The additional pounds have gravely changed his looks but fortunately his voice pretty much sounded the same (at least in the beginning). The first song we got was the groovy-as-hell Crop Circle. The crowd reacted immediately and fired up the place producing additional liters of sweat. To my delight the band played more songs from Powertrip like Space Lord as well as the homonymous track where everybody was singing. In fact, only during those tracks the audience was participating in the on-stage happenings. I have the feeling that MONSTER MAGNET have been on a downhill the last five years (maybe more). So, the end of this gig found me bored looking towards the Main Stage were KORN would perform…

After the weak (at least for me) MONSTER MAGNET performance we found a good spot to lie down and have something to eat (it was like a picnic). KORN is one of those bands that I cannot understand. Ok, they have built a certain vibe around their name but their music simply tells nothing to me. So, I chose to mainly lie down and enjoy the nice evening breeze and let aside the kilts that were 'dancing' on Graspop's stage. The covers of We Will Rock You and Another Brick In The Wall did not manage to lift me up putting an end to my first and last KORN gig.

It was about time to wake up! VOLBEAT were about to conquer Belgium. This band made a hell of an impression to me with Rock The Rebel / Metal The Devil with their METALLICA meets Elvis Metal. We found a nice spot looking at the center of the stage and waited as more metalheads were coming to watch this Dannish treat on-stage. There was a party feeling all around (and too much weed) by many VOLBEAT fans making this gig looking as the headlining act. I am more than happy to say that VOLBEAT exceeded my expectations. Their show was a blast! The crowd was looking as one and was singing almost all the lyrics and especially the chorus lines. There was a lot of dancing, screaming and crowd surfing making this performance as the highlight of the festival (along with JON OLIVA'S PAIN). Sad Man's Tongue, Radio Girl, Mr. & Mrs. Ness and the new ones Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood, Hallelujah Goat and We made us forget about the heat and bang your head against these mighty groove. The band threw one more surprise and did Angelfuck from the mighty MISFITS that literally blew me away. VOLBEAT is the kind of band that sounds way better live than in the CD (or vinyl). Their energy and relentless motion on stage can not but drive you in this Rock 'N' Roll-meets-Metal rollercoaster. As you can probably guess the 70 minutes setlist went by extremely fast leaving all of us crying for more. But the timetable was strict and everything was almost ready for SLIPKNOT. Thank you VOLBEAT and I hope to catch you in a club for a headlining show!

The night eventually had come, bringing along a refreshing breeze that in some degree made us forget the accumulated fatigue. The time has come for us to watch our first SLIPKNOT concert. It is no secret that we are not big SLIPKNOT supporters since the Metalcore scene is too young and mainstream for our taste. Nevertheless, All Hope Is Gone did manage to touch me since I found it more Thrash oriented with additional guitar work and a Corey Taylor who decided to sing and not just scream his lungs out. This album was a strong boost for SLIPKNOT giving them the headlining position in many summer festivals bring along the heavy responsibility to meet all these expectations.

As we were approaching the Main Stage it became clear that the US band had brought all their stage props. But we were not totally 'new' to their show since we had the chance to watch their performance at 'Download' festival thanks to the web-streaming. The lights went out, the crowd went totally nuts and the 742617000027 intro brought Corey on-stage were he just stood with overwhelming looks raising even more the enthusiasm. Things blew off with (sic) that literally raised hell in the front rows. The sound was impressively loud and solid giving us the goosebumps with all the effects that go on with SLIPKNOT's music. The moment the band appeared on-stage I realized that this music is only meant to be played live. There is no use listening their albums in your home! You need all the lights, the fires and the festivities that happened by the seven band members. They have rehearsed almost everything that is happening on-stage (you have to watch two shows to realize that) but this seems honest and 100% powerful. Without pause Eyeless hit us even harder leading us to the catchy (and I dare to say personal favorite) Wait And Bleed. In this, Taylor used his more melodic voice making the track sound way better than the original album version. This 'better' approach was also found in Duality where the sound of Clown's hitting the beer barrels was simply overwhelming! The whole show was impressively served; from the sound, the light show, the flames and the explosions in the back (I found myself singing the chorus of Before I Forget) to the crowd's reaction. Whether we like it or not this summer SLIPKNOT is the best live act! Wherever they appeared as headliners they attracted massive crowds and served them a heart and most powerful shows. Ok, maybe Corey's cliche speech was too predictable but he sweated his ass out to satisfy all their fans to the maximum. Sid Wilson (or number zero) did his physical stuff by running up and down and jumping to Clown's customized looking-like-drums while the guitarists, the drummer and bass player did all the work by playing music.

After the groovy and full of aggression People = Shit the band left the stage to return under the screams of their fans with Spit It Out. Of course, it was time to 'jump the fuck up' and so the 'Graspop' audience did. Under Taylor's instructions (ok here he talked too much) almost everyone sat down and waited for the right moment. It was impressive to watch this and I bet you can a find a video in Youtube to better understand my saying! And that marked the end of SLIPKNOT impressive live appearance. Even though, I just watched the show and sometimes musically I got bored I have to acknowledge the band's momentum that I bet has broaden its fan base even more.

SLIPKNOT setlist:

01. 742617000027
02. (sic)
03. Eyeless
04. Wait And Bleed
05. Get This
06. Before I Forget
07. Sulfur
08. The Blister Exists
09. Dead Memories
10. Left Behind
11. Disasterpiece
12. Psychosocial
13. Duality
14. People = Shit
15. Surfacing
16. Spit It Out

While we were making our way out Michael Jackson's Beat It was coming from the stage's speakers. It was funny to watch some almost wasted metalheads trying to throw a couple of Jackson's trademark moves before hitting the ground! I am sure you can also find Youtube videos with this…

(photos? what photos? where is Erika?)

Promoter: Graspop.De
Ticket Price: 130€


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