Every May, over 32,000 punk and hardcore fans descend on Meerhout, Belgium for the annual two-day Groezrock bash. This year – their 24th, no less – sees the festival extend to a fifth stage. In the first of a two-part guide, here’s 10 bands you must see…
WHO: Gnarwolves WHERE: The Revenge Stage WHEN: Fri May 1 / 13:30-14:05 **WHY: **They’re the best new skate punk band on the block. After signing to Pure Noise Records (home of pedigree pop-punk bands Four Year Strong and Man Overboard) in 2014, the Brighton-based three-piece released their eponymous debut studio album last September, and they’ve been serving up bouncy, upfront blasts of raucous punk rock at assorted festivals and club shows ever since. They even played a few gigs last summer opening up for Blink 182. Not too shabby! **WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: **_Smoking Kills _
**WHO: **Masked Intruder **WHERE: **Monster Energy Stage **WHEN: Fri May 1 / **14:00-14:40 **WHY: **They’re the funniest band you’ll see all weekend. On record the saccharine pop-punk sounds of Wisconsin’s Masked Intruder might be a tad too sweet for hardcore punks, but on stage they’re an altogether different proposition; sharing more in common with eccentric American performance artist Andy Kaufman than their unadulterated pop-punk peers. Imagine The Queers, but even funnier live. **WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: **_Crime Spree _
**WHO: **THE HOTELIER **WHERE: **The Revenge Stage WHEN: Fri May 1 / 14:40-15:15 **WHY: **Home, Like NoPlace Is There is a modern emo classic. No amount of words can do last year’s release from Christian Holden and friends justice. It has to be heard to be believed, and it has to be seen to be truly understood. Their music is dark, brooding, fragile, complex, transformative and sublime in equal measures, and they’re on early enough that you can enjoy a moment of sober reflection with the band before the Groezrock party really gets going. **WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: **_Your Deep Rest _
**WHO: **Against Me! **WHERE: **Monster Energy Stage **WHEN: **Fri May 1 / 16:10-16:55 **WHY: **Transgender Dysphoria Blues transcends punk. Over the years Against Me! have been on the end of every manner of attack from the punk community. And Laura Jane Grace has never had any bones about confronting the naysayers with varying degrees of subtlety. But things got interesting on the band’s latest album when she looked inside and addressed her own deeply personal feelings of gender misalignment, braving up the courage not only to say ‘fuck you’, but also ‘fuck me’ too. Thanks to a truly transformative record Against Me! are finally getting the acknowledgement and respect they deserve, and frankly they’ve never sounded better. **WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: **_True Trans Soul Rebel _
**WHO: **Cancer Bats **WHERE: **Back To Basics Stage **WHEN: **Fri May 1 / 17:50-18:30 **WHY: **Because they’re the Cancer Bats. They rip. Simple as. Twitter might have blown up with videos of Slipknot and Korn on stage together covering Sabotage by the Beastie Boys during the Prepare For The Hell tour, but – no disrespect to those two legendary bands – the Bats did it first. They also do it better. And they do Black Sabbath. And did we also mention they’re the Cancer Bats? Well done, Canada. **WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: **Sabotage. Obviously.
**WHO: **The Hell **WHERE: **Macbeth/Blackstar Stage **WHEN: **Fri May 1 / 19:25-20:00 **WHY: **They even make Nickelback sound good. When the petty but hilarious crowdfunding campaign to keep Nickelback out of London reared its silly little head at the end of last year, the only band to respond with any fervour were The Hell. They released a typically Hellish cover of the Canadian crooners’ signature song How You Remind Me, which kick started an online ‘beef’ between the bands that sadly never evolved into fisticuffs, but was nevertheless entertaining to watch. As with everything The Hell do, you’re sure to be entertained by them at Groezrock. Especially if they bust out this classic… **WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: **How You Remind Me
**WHO: **Feed The Rhino WHERE: Macbeth/Blackstar Stage WHEN: Fri May 1 / 20:45-21:25 **WHY: **They’re the burliest band on the bill. …And frontman Lee Tobin is absolutely terrifying. He’s probably a lovely man behind the viking beard, menacing tattoos and the thousand-yard stare, but once he gets up on stage he transforms into a wild animal, and frankly that’s just how we like him. With three albums of blistering hardcore now in their awesome arsenal, the Kentish five-piece have enough ammunition to lay waste to even the mightiest of crowds. And with a prime time slot like this, they’re sure to put on a gut-busting show. **WATCH OUT FOR: **Tides
**WHO: **Lagwagon WHERE: Monster Energy Stage WHEN: Fri May 1 / 21:15-22:15 **WHY: **They’ve stayed true to the scene for 25 years. After the commercial success of fellow Californian punk bands Green Day, The Offspring, Rancid and even NOFX in the 1990s, several major labels came knocking at Lagwagon’s door. But they turned down every offer and stuck with indie label Fat Wreck Chords (owned and ran by NOFX’s Fat Mike) from the release of their debut album Duh in 1992 right up until their latest offering Hang, which came out at the start of this year and saw Lagwagon re-establish themselves as one of the best punk rock bands of the last two decades. After nine years away the boys are back, and you’d be a fool to miss them this weekend. **WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: **May 16
WHO: Pennywise WHERE: Monster Energy Stage WHEN: Fri May 1 / 22:45-23:45 WHY: They keep it old school. Even though they’re still making new music, Pennywise know when their fans come out to see them live they want to hear the classics. For whilst last year’s Yesterdays and _All Or Nothing _(with Zoli Teglas filling in for Jim Lindberg on vocals) from 2012 contained some decent material, the newer stuff just doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Fuck Authority, Perfect People and Society, which sound as rabble-rousing and pissed off today as when they first came out. As for Bro Hymn, the gang vocals (’woah’, basically) from that will be ringing throughout the campsite until it’s time to go home on Sunday. WATCH OUT FOR: Bro Hymn
**WHO: **Social Distortion **WHERE: **Monster Energy Stage **WHEN: **Fri May 1 / 00:15-01:30 **WHY: **Mike Ness is a legend. It’s a term that gets thrown around, and often the recipient is by no means worthy, but when it comes to the main man from Social D it definitely applies. The enduring LA punk band started out in the eighties when hardcore was the dominant force in punk rock. But they survived that scene and the ones that followed, as well as numerous line-up changes and Ness’s ongoing struggles with heroin addiction, to become the internationally iconic act they are today. They’re basically the punk rock Rolling Stones. Their songs of love, death, redemption, hard-liquor, jail and bar room brawls rank alongside the best tales of the beaten down and disaffected in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, making Mike Ness arguably the greatest outlaw songwriter since Johnny Cash. **WATCH OUT FOR: **Story Of My Life
For more information on Groezrock 2015, click here. Look out for part two on May 1.