By Nicky-Jatin Sharma
A few years ago on my first trip to Europe, I went to Belgium on the invitation of a Belgian band whom I had promoted in some Asian countries. They surprised me by making me a part of one of the biggest metal and hard rock festivals in the world– Graspop Metal Meeting, which is a festival featuring more than 100 top notch bands from all over world. The festival draws a large number of international spectators with a total of approximately 1, 50,000 visitors, and soon after this incredible experience this has now become my most favorite music festival. Since this year’s lineup of this festival was so lucrative I decided to plan yet another trip to Europe to attend the festival and to explore a few of the neighboring countries such as France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland and of course to explore more music and just wander. So I decided to give myself a month to explore these places and landed in Paris a few weeks before the festival and after exploring and meeting old friends in Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Switzerland I started my journey to Belgium for the Graspop Metal Meeting festival. Attending these types of festivals give me a lot of opportunities to explore new talents and to meet like-minded people from across the globe. I think everyone should go to such festivals at least once in their lives. We can learn a lot from these festivals especially relating to punctuality, being disciplined while enjoying your life to the fullest and self consciousness about small things which can contribute to bigger changes in the moral and economical development of the country.
I was actually on a road trip through Western Europe where some of my friends from different parts of Europe joined me to show me different places around the continent. It was an incredible experience learning things and experiencing firsthand the things which no textbook can teach us.
This month long journey started from Paris-the city of love, after exploring the ins and outs of Paris and a few more villages in France some friends joined me up till Amsterdam -the city of bicycles, where life is very peaceful with very low crime rate. The city is very safe and you are allowed to do almost everything, a perfect place for happy people and the beauty of the villages with tulip gardens and wind mills would make anyone realize that the wallpapers seen in Microsoft windows computers and laptops are actually real places not Photoshop edits. After spending few days in the Netherlands, we travelled to Germany. I spent a few days in Munich with an old friend who was showing me many places in and around Munich and tried many German brews, some of the best beers in the world. It was very impressive to see the city, undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world, hard to believe it was just completely rebuilt after the heavy damages from World War II. Still some of our so called thousand year old cities cannot even get close to this 70 year old city, the Bavarian beauty.
Then we moved on to Switzerland with its incredible landscape and the beautiful Alps. The whole country is designed extraordinarily by nature and the people’s punctuality and close to perfection makes the country even more adorable. Then we went on to Belgium where there’s a saying, “Don’t let Belgium’s relatively small size fool you — this country probably has more to do per square mile than most places on earth.” And best of all for the traveller—it is comparatively an easy place to get around and English is widely spoken. I have been there before and already knew a lot of people so after and before the festival I had to spend time visiting some of my friends in their respective cities exploring more of their local traditions and parties. Exploring these beautiful places has increased my interest in photography and crafted brews. Europe is known for its beers and wines and the brewing heritage dates back to a few thousand years. The people here are so artistic and creatively in sync with the natural beauty. That is the reason why many of the world’s best artists, musicians and philosophers are from the continent.
The final destination of my trip to Western Europe was Dessel, where the Graspop Metal Meeting takes place. The festival is a dreamland for any true rock fan. Like minded people from all over world under the same roof watching their favorite musicians one after another continuously for 4 days with a wide variety of food, beer and the complete freedom to express yourself, what more do music lovers need. Meeting new people and becoming friends, hanging out with many of their favorite bands at the after party.
Although the place was very crowded with thousands of music lovers from all over the world, there was however not a single incidence of violence or unwanted chaos. The only motto everyone has there is to enjoy music and be crazy and happy. No discrimination of sex, religion, cast & nationality, it was a perfect world. I set up my tent (which was my home for 4 days during the festival) in between other thousands of tents belonging to people from various parts of the world in the camping area and placed our Indian flag above my tent to help me locate my tent at night after late night concerts and parties. On seeing the flag a lot of curious fellow music fans came asking about where I was from and they were so happy to see someone from India travelling all the way to Europe to be a part of this great music festival.
Name a band and you will find them there playing at the festival. Most of my favourite bands right from classic rock to new age metal bands were performing at the festival. It was not possible to watch all of them as different bands were playing simultaneously on four different stages right from 11 am till after midnight. And after about 1:30 am, the metal party starts where more than 10,000 people head-bang and dance while enjoying their drinks with DJs and a few female dancers on the stage till early morning. Apart from all this, there were many small group parties near the camp area. This festival is one of the highest beer consuming festivals in Belgium and yet it actually has zero violence!
About the Writer:
Nicky-Jatin Sharma is the Founder of Unseen Underground (International live Entertainment and Artist Management agency based in India. A home brewer of crafted beer (Nicks Brew), Nicky was born and brought up in Sivasagar (Assam). Current location: Chennai & roaming around!
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)