We flew over to Brussels from London and had a hotel located about 30 minutes drive from the festival site. The hotel and coach shuttles were organised via Argon Events so we just had to book the flight independently.
Day 1 Review
On arrival at Graspop on the Friday, it was very clear that there would be a big crowd as compared to my previous visit the site was significantly busier. Graspop had completely sold out about a month before-hand so it was no surprise to find big crowds this time. Although the festival was at capacity, I wouldn’t say that it was necessarily an issue and I didn’t find any need to queue long for anything or get good spots to watch bands.
My first band of the day was Wiegedood who I had never seen before and they were awesome. Straight away I had a candidate for my top bands of the day list. Combichrist also impressed me with their high energy metal and they had the crowd bouncing from front to back.
Later in the day Amon Amarth played the main stage and as always, delivered a very special set full of fire, smoke, stage props and battle enactments. The new material from ‘Berserker’ was very welcome and slotted well into a set of other established songs.
Having seen Within Temptation earlier in the year and experienced the poor sound quality that plagued their tour, I was apprehensive as to whether that would be repeated again. Thankfully not, the sound was spot on and they put on a magnificent show. Sharon Den Adel seemed much more relaxed than during the tour and vocally, she was on top form.
Day 2 Review
The weather was a fair bit warmer on Saturday but with a cool breeze which made it for perfect festival weather. Saturday was definitely a chance to take in some Power Metal with performances from Gloryhammer, Hammerfall and Demons & Wizards.
I managed to get right up the front for Behemoth who I knew would be one of my days highlights. They didn’t disappoint, however I do feel they would have had much more impact playing later in the day in darkness. I guess they have outgrown the indoor stages but are not quite high enough on the bill to make it to the evening slots yet.
Borknagar, Legion of the Damned, Ministry and Slipknot were my other band highlights of the day. I’m not a big fan of Slipknot but they do put on one hell of a show and with so much going on, they really do keep your attention.
Day 3 Review
Sunday was 34 degrees and so pretty hot. It was a day for sitting down on the grass with a cool beer and taking it all in. It’s a complete contrast to the festivals where you end up ankle deep in mud with aching legs as here, everyone is enjoying themselves, drinking, eating ice cream and having an all round good time.
Skalmold were my first band of the day. I’ve seen them before so knew what to expect but was still taken aback by how good they were. They pulled in a big crowd who by the end were all getting right into it and the Marquee was buoyant.
Equilibrium and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats were two bands I had never seen before and easily made my bands of the day list. Sabaton had a lot of support judging by the T-Shirts and camouflage being worn in the crowd. Everyone was really up for them and the festival site really rocked throughout their set. I can’t ever recall seeing so many crowd surfers. There was a constant wave. Being near the front my time was split between trying to enjoy the band while doing some heavy lifting.
After Sabaton I then managed to catch some of the awesome Hawkwind and finally watched a fair bit of Kiss from the back. Sometimes it’s not a disadvantage watching bands on the main stage from a distance as you can take in the full light show and get a panoramic view.
Graspop 2019 was an exceptional festival. Some really great bands, a big crowd who all seemed to be having a great time, and as usual, everything was well organised. I’m looking forward to next year.
Review by Mark Walsh