The 19th edition of Belgium’s premier metalfest has come and gone. The weather gods threatened to spoil the fun but with only mild showers we got off easy.
The new format with two main stages was a success and from a musical point of view, this 19th edition was all about rejuvenation. The Belgian metal day proved a big hit. Some 50,000 metalheads flocked to Dessel on the final Sunday alone.
But let’s start with the weather, a crucial ingredient for an open air festival. The forecasts had us treading water all weekend but all we got was the occasional trickle. That’s what they call a narrow escape! During Steel Panther’s set we were anxiously watching the heavens because the rainfall radar was predicting a real drencher. Apparently the clouds changed directions enough to miss the festival arena by the narrowest of margins. Granted, Slayer got the worst of it but even then it wasn’t enough to turn the arid Dessel plains to mud. On Sunday evening, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell even got out his sunglasses to enjoy a lovely sunset on stage. Conclusion: metal staves off the rain! Metal rules!
The experiment with two main stages also meant we had to sacrifice one marquee. The new format offers several advantages: the fans outside get to see more bands, and with more main stage slots available, the bands can reach a larger audience. But more than the double main stage, the Classic Rock Café or the Jupiler Stage, this 19th edition was about rejuvenation and renewal. With more than 100 bands from myriad subgenres and a few surprise headliners, we hosted one of our most varied lineups yet.
Our recycling initiative was yet another popular novelty because the festival arena was far less cluttered than previous years. Several prizes were on offer for those who felt like collecting plastic cups, including a ticket to the 3m high Sky Deck. An initiative by media partner Newsmonkey, the Sky Deck was an instant hit. "I don’t have the exact figures but the number of visitors doubled day after day” says Mick Van Loon, Newsmonkey’s editor-in-chief.
Belgian Thursday was absolutely unforgettable: the RedBull Bedroom Jam in Metal Dome and Belgian talent on the Jupiler Stage! There’s clearly no shortage of metal talent in our small country. Showing the Belgium – South Korea tie on a big screen in the Metal Dome proved to be a great move and watching the game with an all-metal crowd was truly unique.
On a musical level, the standard this year was nothing short of exceptional and that also goes for all the others who aren’t seen – the off-stage people! Our many volunteers and the sound, light & camera crews did an amazing job and they were instrumental in the success of our 19th edition. The lineup was extremely varied, the bands were fantastic and the fans were even better. A memorable edition of Graspop Metal Meeting!
See you next year for our 20th anniversary!