April 29th and 30th marks the Twenty Fifth year of Belgium’s favourite punk rock music festival, GROEZROCK. 2016 looks to be a stellar year for the festival, not unlike the 24 years previous, with punk of all flavours present and correct: from ska-punk (Less Than Jake, Mad Caddies) to hardcore (Hatebreed, Sick Of It All, Youth of Today), emo (Dag Nasty, Soasin, The Movelife), pop-punk (Face to Face, Four Year Strong, Dillinger Four) and whatever genre Frank Turner now aligns himself with. But with so many incredible bands playing the small Belgian town of Meerhout at the end of April, how does one decide who is worth their time? Look no further, punk rock traveler: here are the 12 Must-See Bands at GROEZROCK 2016.
RANCID “Maxwell Murder”
Arguably the most anticipated act GROEZROCK have booked for their 25th Anniversary are the almighty RANCID. But both the festival and the band are celebrating: Last year was the twentieth anniversary of their classic …And Out Come The Wolves album, the LP that brought themselves, and mohawks, to MTV and the public consciousness. Having already played the album in full at a couple of festivals stateside, GROEZROCK will be the only time they are doing so in Europe. So to prep for this super exclusive get an earful of bass-heavy album opener “Maxwell Murder”.
LESS THAN JAKE “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”
Always bringing with them their own brand of Floridian sunshine-fueled ska, LESS THAN JAKE are back at GROEZROCK for the third time. 2016 marks twenty years since their iconic Losing Streak album, so no doubt we’ll get a suitably celebratory airing of rambunctious “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”.
SUM 41 “Summer”
After their greatly appreciated run of Kerrang!-sponsored UK shows at the start of the year, Sum 41 return to Europe with formerly-MIA guitarist Dave Baksh in tow to treat the Belgian festival to some much needed early 00s pop-punk nostalgia. While “Fat Lip” and “In Too Deep” are guaranteed to provoke chaos, the reaction to greet fellow All Killer No Filler track “Summer” will no doubt also be suitably warm.
FOUR YEAR STRONG “We All Float Down Here”
Fact: FOUR YEAR STRONG have produced their metal-flavoured pop-punk solidly for more than four years now, therefore outdoing their titular promise. Not only this but that band have collected a fist-full of tunes in 15 years of their existence, ranging from the mathy self-referential “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now”, the relentless summer anthem “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)” not to mention their first proper-banger “Bada Bing! Wit’ A Pipe”. Last year they released their incredibly strong self-titled album, lead track “We All Float Down Here” becoming a welcome addiction to their pogo-and-beatdown-friendly oeuvre.
MODERN BASEBALL “Everyday”
Introducing themselves riding the crest of the new wave of credible pop punk bands with Joyce Manor and The Front Bottoms, MODERN BASEBALL return this year with Holy Ghost, their first album proper since 2014’s instant-classic You’re Gonna Miss It All and after last year’s various EP releases. First track released from the album was “Everyday” so its likely that it’ll get an play, alongside a peppering of old favourites like “Your Graduation” and “Tears Before Beers”.
Fun Fact: PUP’s hyperkinetic “Reservoir” single can generate enough energy to power the Belgian town of Meerhout for two full days, ideal for the needs of the GROEZROCK festival. Do I have a source for this fact? Well no, but no one is going to question my claim. While ‘Reservoir’ is pretty fucking energetic, their new single “DVP” gives it a run for its money in sheer wattage. When they play either in a live setting, expect absolute carnage.
MUNCIE GIRLS “Respect”
From Patti Smith to Hop Along via The Slits and Sleater Kinney, women have always been called out for being punk. Genres have evolved around the gender, when in actuality: it’s all just music. Exeter’s MUNCIE GIRLS are arguably the most exciting punk band the British Isles has produced since Gallows. Their debut album From Caplan to Belsize is a breathless rush through modern life is rubbish sociology and gender politics, with standout single “Respect” criticising Nightclub Romeos in a manner more subtle but just as damning as Gallows’ “Orchestra of Wolves”.
SICK OF IT ALL “Step Down”
All hail the almighty SICK OF IT ALL, the New York hardcore band have been sounding out their rallying cry of “It’s Clobberin’ Time” for three whole decades now and are showing no signs of slowing down. Be sure to get your mosh on to the brutal “Step Down”, as well as the many other punishing anthems in their extensive inventory.
LETLIVE. “27 Club”
Current hardcore darlings (or baby Glassjaw, if you’re nasty) LETLIVE. burst onto the scene in 2011 with their seminal Fake History LP, unleashing their unique blend of genre-mashing invention and white-knuckle rage onto the unsuspecting rock populous. Live, the band are an exciting and ferocious proposition with frontman Jason Aalon Butler stalking the stage like a man-possessed. 2014’s The Blackest Beautiful monstrous closer “27 Club” is deemed to be the sweat-drenched pinnacle of any letlive. performance.
FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES “Fangs”
Since the unfortunate but ultimately inevitable implosion of Gallows proper, FRANK CARTER has been a busy bee; first with the, admittedly lukewarm, Purelove and now with his delightfully angry Rattlesnakes. While essentially more of a punkified blues band than a continuation of Gallows’ revolutionary blackened hardcore, “Fangs” crunch-and-grind riffing promises a raucous return to the energy of Carter’s former rabid stage persona.
DILLINGER FOUR “Mosh For Jesus”
Eternally under-appreciated and ripped-off pop-punk visionaries DILLINGER FOUR have reformed to play GROEZROCK. At the moment potential new material is still non-existent but they still have three classic albums of material to draw from, including their essential 1998 release Midwestern Songs Of The Americas, which features anthemic “Doublewhiskeynoice” (which Green Day later shamelessly rewrote as “American Idiot”) and the Bible-basher-smashing “Mosh For Jesus”.
THE MOVIELIFE “Walking on Glass”
Another reunion visit to GROEZROCK are the short-lived, now iconic pop-punk/emo band THE MOVIELIFE. The Long Island, New York band, contemporaries of early Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, will be playing for the first time in over a decade. While the band-members since have formed the bands I Am Avalanche, Set Your Goals and Nightmare of You, nothing since has compared to the infinitely singalong “Walking on Glass”. Altogether now: “Pretending to remember/Our last December…”
The full GROEZROCK 2016 playlist is available via Spotify.