My first ever proper gig was a music festival – the Big Day Out at the Milton Keynes. And I’ve been taking them on ever since. But this year was the first year I’ve taken one on that’s outside the UK.
Groezrock came highly recommended by my festival going compadres, who’ve been taking it on for a few years. A quick look at the punk as hell line up, and I was in.
In truth, my moment of the festival happened before the festival had even started. The opportunity of seeing Refused play was worth the entrance fee (and the travelling costs) alone. Little did I know, but I’d be seeing one of the most important punk bands of the last twenty years play a school hall with about a hundred other people, finishing with a tumultuous version of ‘New Noise‘. They were nearly as good when I saw them with a few thousand people a couple of days later.
But probably the most punk moment of the festival came when Against Me! played the main stage on the Friday, the first time I’d seen Laura Jane Grace front the band as a woman. There was no show of vulnerability whatsoever, and the crowd were incredible – there were no jibes and no abuse. My mate said she’d received more abuse for quitting anarchism than for becoming a woman. Enough to make you realise that the world isn’t as bad as we sometimes think.
Social Distortion headlined the Friday, and it’s fair to say it was a Marmite selection. I’m a big fan, and hearing ‘Don’t Drag Me Down‘ was enough to persuade me that their booking was a piece of genius. There were few Psychobilly bands on the bill though, and consequently few people came to see their set. There were noticeable gaps at the front, but if it affected the band, they didn’t show it.
One of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing was As Friends Rust, who I’d never seen before. It was a great live performance, but they were the only victims of poor sound in the whole festival. ‘Perfect Stranglers‘ was as awesome as I remember it, but I wish I could have heard it in all it’s glory.
I could go on and on, with notable sets from Gnarwolves (who represented our shores with aplomb), The Early November (one of the few emo bands on the bill, but punk rock in attitude), and The Hotelier (whose melody and conviction make them well worth checking out when they play Cardiff tonight).
I’ll be honest, the festival could have been anywhere. It didn’t feel particularly continental apart from the quality beers. But if you fancy taking on one of the best punk festivals there is, I strongly recommend Groezrock.