On the weekend of the 23rd of June 2018 I attended 3 days of the Graspop Metal Meeting hosted in Dessel, Belgium. It was a great reason to see a new country and some of my favourite bands but I learnt a few lessons along the way to share with some fellow festival goers or people who are interested in going to a festival.
Overall it was a fantastic experience and one I won’t forget soon. What I’ve seen from this festival and seen by researching other festivals, European festivals offer the opportunity to see at a least a dozen of your favourite bands all in one venue.
Graspop 2018 allowed me to see:
- Avenged Sevenfold
- Iron Maiden
- Rise Against
- Arch Enemy
- Boston Manor
- Billy Talent
- Body Count Feat Ice-T
- Limp Bizkit
- Bullet for My Valentine
So for my lessons learnt, here’s what I found to make life a little easier:
You’ll want to bring along some anti-bacterial wipes. No jokes. Yes there are toilets, no they aren’t very clean, no they don’t have soap, YES you’ll be eating with your hands. Do you really want to put that in your mouth?
Got some extra cash?
Make sure you have some extra cash in the bank. They do have facilities to draw money for tokens but you’ll find that the tokens run out very quickly. Basically you buy tokens which you use to buy food and drinks. Which brings me to the next point.
Local foods and drinks!
Graspop is great because the Belgium beers and the food are great. You’ll want some tokens for that. The food is impressive with Belgium waffles, pancakes, burgers, pizzas, bratwurst, wraps, fries and the like. You’ll find yourself snacking quite a bit.
Say what now?
Take advantage of the free earplugs. You don’t want to go deaf in 20 years or be limiting your range of movement away from the speakers while at the festival, trying to avoid the discomfort of your eardrums rattling. Don’t do like me and get a tragus piercing that fails to heal after 1.5 years and prevents you from using earplugs. Be smart.
Hydrate! Nope, the beers are great but they don’t count here. Water. Drink a cold drink. In fact, do this in between bands if it’s a hot day. Yes, I come from Africa and now that I’ve moved to Ireland I’ve become a lily-livered version of myself when it comes to temperatures over 16 degrees and being in the sun. I got a bit hammered by the heat (fine… okay, it was only 20 degrees at the festival…) I found water, drinking a Coke or Red Bull helped.
Meet some people!
Chat to some people. One of the great things about festivals is meeting some interesting people. Also great is if they speak a different language to you it’s a real conversation starter to find out a bit about their country and what their country offers music, festival and travel wise.
Think of your feet!
Having some comfortable shoes is a must. Don’t think flip flops, pumps, your smart trainers or some nice shiny new Dr Martens are a good idea. Your feet will get messed up in flip flops, your pumps and smart trainers will be so dirty you will want to loose them along the way and your nice shiny new Dr Martens will punish your feet with aches, pains and blisters unless you’ve worn them in properly. So! The recommendation is to pack some scruffy yet comfortable trainers you don’t mind getting a bit ruined, or grab some trusty hiking boots or a worn in pair of Dr Martens. After walking nearly 15’000 steps each day, your feet will thank you.
What bands are playing again?
Investigate the schedule and plan out which bands you want to see. I saw some people with printed copies of the schedule with the bands they want to see highlighted. These are some organised people. Very helpful if you don’t want to miss out on your favourite bands.
If you aren’t keen on crawling into your tent after a long day/night, dealing with noise, dirt, uncomfortable beds and no nearby toilet, rather book into a nearby B&B. Nothing wrong with sleeping in a comfortable bed, sleeping well, showering and eating a power-up breakfast in the morning. No shame in that. You’re not a sissy, just old and like sleep. Like me. I was very grateful I went this route.
Are you going to (Graspop) Fair?
Take a look at the fair, you’ll find some great stuff. I managed to find a pair of black bone earrings which look awesome.