Live Review: Groezrock 2019

We enjoyed the return of one of Belgium’s biggest punk rock festivals, featuring Not On Tour, A Wilhelm Scream, Millencolin, Snuff, Jawbreaker and more.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Gresle Photography.

Years ago, Groezrock was as much a draw for British punk rockers as Download or Reading. For many of us it was our first festival outside of the UK. After a fallow year, Groezrock has evolved and become more refined, but it still boasts an exceptional line-up and an excellent atmosphere.

I travelled over to the sprawling festival site in sleepy Meerhout in the company of Goodbye Blue Monday, who were playing the smaller Cockpit stage on Saturday. We were keen to get a Jupiler down our necks as soon as we arrived, which fortunately coincided with Pkew Pkew Pkew getting things started. Continue reading “Live Review: Groezrock 2019”

Koji: Activism, Community & Collaboration [Interview]

We spoke to America singer-songwriter and political activist Koji ahead of his upcoming European tour.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Andrew ‘KOJI’ Shiraki is an American singer-songwriter know for his political activism, plaintive songwriting and his collaborations with bands like La Dispute, Into It Over It, Title Fight and Balance and Composure.

He’s embarking on an extensive tour of Europe in January and February, beignning with a run of UK dates with Such Gold and Ducking Punches before a series of headline solo shows on the mainland.

KOJI has been quiet over the last few years, after spending his 20s on the road. Rested and revitalised, he’s aiming to return to music with renewed energy in 2019. We were keen to speak to him ahead of his UK tour.

Thanks so much for talking to us! You’re embarking a major tour around Europe right now, sharing quite a few dates with Such Gold and Ducking Punches in the UK. What are you most excited for?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been over to the UK or toured anywhere for that matter. My one and only tour last year was with the Movielife in Japan and it’s awesome to now experience the culture here in the UK on the back of that experience. Such Gold and I toured here in 2011, so this is such a cool reunion.

You’ve been to the UK quite a few times before. What keeps bringing you back?

The UK music community is amazing. There are so many friends I’ve made here that continue to enrich my life. I’ve always felt inspired by the people, music, and landscape. When I’m in the UK, it really feels like I’m playing music and not just going through the motions. In life, you have to trust the places where you feel joy. Continue reading “Koji: Activism, Community & Collaboration [Interview]”

The Road to Pouzza Fest

Read Joelle’s insightful journal about her trip to Montreal’s Pouzza Fest – a both heartwarming and heartbreaking account of travelling thousands of miles for the love of punk rock.

Article by Joelle Laes. Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

Monday – May 14th

5AM

I wake up as if I’ve just been given the biggest fright of the century. Turns out it’s only my alarm.

I feel confused. Anxious. Almost in a state of panic. I need to rush and get to the airport.

After spending the weekend at El Topo Goes Loco and being home for two hours to pack before heading off to another gig to catch The Affect Heuristic again on Sunday, I had a slight panic when my Airbnb host failed to reply in a timely manner (according to my standards). I had a bit of a meltdown once back home and turned to the only people I know to keep me sane no matter what: the Punk Rock Women’s group. Lots of love and reassurance later, I finally managed to fall asleep. This morning: still no reply. No time to call him, as I run for the train.

7.30 AM

“You could be stuck an office with a guy wearing a tie telling you what to do. You are living the fucking dream,” Richie Cooper (Eat Dirt.) comments on my obligatory Facebook airport-check in.

Am I? Living the dream? I can’t tell as I’m stood queueing at Brussels Airport, stressed out to fuck. I haven’t had a proper sleep in weeks (too many festivals and work); I still feel a bit fragile after the boozy blinding madness that was El Topo Goes Loco.

El Topo w The Affect Heuristic.jpg
Shout Louder vs. The Affect Heuristic antics at El Topo Goes Loco

I could use a cuddle to be fair. Or a straight jacket. That might feel like I’m being hugged too? I don’t know. I feel like I might cry.

I am tired, stressed out and alone. Why do I do this to myself? The pity party continues on and I contemplate sitting in a bathroom stall to have a cry. Could I still be hungover from the weekend? Or is this another case of post-trip-depression?

Whilst I make my way through border control, my phone buzzes. It’s my Airbnb host. He confirms the booking and tells me where to find the keys. The tight feeling in my chest loosens a little bit. At least I won’t be sleeping outside in a fort made of pizza boxes. I can breathe a little again.

Moments later I get a PM off a good friend: “Lovely to see you this weekend, don’t have too much fun in Canada x” I sense a stupid grin appearing on my face. I feel my muscles relax as I think of where I’m headed and why I’m heading there.

I’m about to embark on an adventure some can only dream of, about to spend money I don’t have on things that most adults consider irresponsible. Sometimes I think, should I be spending this much money on punk rock? Is It worth all the stress and anxiety?

Does my Mom worry? Absolutely. After all, if you are somewhere on your own, the only person you can rely on is yourself. But it is worth every ounce of stress it gives me. Like me, my Mom’s come to accept that this is the only way I can make myself happy.

Never have I forged more genuine bonds with people as when I’m singing along to bands, surrounded by people who love them just as much as me. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live around the corner from each other, there is a connection there that some people will never understand. Looking into other people’s eyes, seeing that moment of pure joy when they hear their favourite song. Watching bands pour their heart out on stage; these moments mean everything to me. In these moments I am truly happy. Continue reading “The Road to Pouzza Fest”