Hello, Graspop!

We set off later in the morning than we’d planned, after sorting luggage, ourselves and redownloading the Graspop tickets due to a cockup with their dreadful e-ticketing system. Our thanks to the nice man on reception who let us do this for nothing as the provided PCs wouldn’t allow us to view PDF files.

Postcards were despatched from the train station before we jumped onto the 10:44 for Antwerp with a handful of other people with long hair and black t-shirts. As we approached Antwerp a very kind businessman (who looked very out of place in the growing crowd) made sure we got off at the correct stop and got us to the right platform for the train to Mol. Our guide stood out as the only person not wearing a black t-shirt, leather or a corset. Unless there was something seriously weird going on under that starched shirt.

Platform 8 was mobbed with metalheads heading for Mol. Somehow we all managed to cram on board the train when it arrived, though it was standing room only. There were no complaints from the tannoy, guards, driver or other passengers. An hour later we were deposited at Mol where we decided to avoid the bus queue for the moment and go and find lunch elsewhere. A walk into town located a lovely bar with some cheap and filling pizza (and great beer). The schoolkids around us (I’d not put any of them older than 16 despite the, presumably legal, beers they were supping on) took one look at us and started talking about it being the Graspop time of year again. Which makes a change from “bloody tourists”, something I just don’t think Belgians are ever likely to say. They’re far too nice!

We then walked back to the station for the free bendy bus to Dessel and the festival itself. After a ridiculously long walk in the wrong direction to swap our e-ticket for a real one (round trip around 1.5km and utterly pointless if it was organised properly) we got into the camp site and found a spot conveniently near the beer tent, facilities and festival entry/exit. Before the rain got too heavy, we got the tent up and unpacked what we needed.

Some Belgian guys camped next to us insisted we have some beer. It would have been rude to refuse so we toasted out new neighbours. Jupiler seems to be the local version of Fosters or Special Brew. It’s what you drink if you want very cheap beer and to get drunk. Only it tasted far better than the British or Aussie equivalent.

Without much further ady we walked the short distance to the festival ground itself to catch Papa Roach, Jo Satriani and Aerosmith with a few others to fill in the gaps. We also had a walk into town to get a very good (and very cheap) burger rather than get ripped off at the festival tents.

Aerosmith were everything they were meant to be, though Steve Tyler seemed knackered right from the start. As a result he did better on the ballads than the rockier numbers where he was missing words all over the place. Still, a hell of a set with virtually every one a classic from opener Love in an Elevator to closer Walk this Way.

We slept well that night as we didn’t get back to the tent until after 2am. European festivals have a much later curfew (or none at all) compared to their British cousins.

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