Graspop Metal Meeting takes place the small town of Dessel in the north of Belgium. The festival is primarily a dutch speaking festival, as it is both in the dutch area of Belgium and attracts many metal fans from the Netherlands. While the language barrier did get in the way a few times and definitely limited by social interactions with the rest of the crowd, it was fascinating to experience a metal festival in country with different language and culture. Graspop had the feeling of a true European metal festival with foreign languages, a festival location in the middle of nowhere, and a lineup stacked with all the Power Metal and Black Metal you'd expect in the European metal scene.
Going in I knew little about Graspop Metal Meeting, but the lineup this year was too good to pass up. Getting to the festival grounds took 4 trains, a shuttle bus, and a twenty minute walk. Unlike Download, which was right beside an international airport, GMM is truly a middle of nowhere metal campout. Once I finally arrived at the festival grounds I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that unlike Download, the campsite and main festival areas were right next to each other. You receive a micro-chipped wristband upon arrival that allows you to freely go wherever you'd like without needing to deal with security. I'd say this is a fairly representative characteristic of GMM, it feels like you are completely free, while there is still enough security to keep things from diving into chaos.
The tone for Graspop was clear before even arriving at the festival, this was a REAL metal festival. While I had loved the crowd at Download, it certainly wasn't the die hard metal fan base that were storming into Dessel for GMM. Black shirts, tattoos, piercings, and the type of people who would scare the shit out of middle class white collar workers. While I might not look the part of a typical metalhead, I've always loved the metal culture and there is no place better than a festival to experience it. I was surrounded by a language I didn't know a single word of, in a country I'd only just arrived in that morning, yet I felt right at home.
Next week I'll be reviewing the Day 1 bands,
Thanks for reading,
David, I'll see you at a distinct point in spacetime,