Hi babes! I’m finally over my festival blues and ready to bring you my second highlight of the year. Or third? It could be fourth or fifth. I’ve lost track, and who cares anymore. As many of you have noticed from my Instagram and our Dying Scene’s Instagram, I’ve been in Belgium to visit the highly recommended festival, Brakrock. The festival took place on August 4th and ended the following day. Yes, a totally sad face from my side. But you know, sometimes we must go home and regroup for next year’s festival season.
Anywho, let’s get on with it. Because Day 1 is already going to be longer than… Something. My brain didn’t survive Brakrock. So how was it? What happened? Did it blow my mind? All these questions will be answered. But first, here’s a sweet picture of our wine and water—something you’ll need to get through this post.
So, Brakrock! That happened, and we started with me getting a few bracelets. Fine, fine.
I entered a different entrance and hit right when Public Serpents did soundcheck. I had to race to my friends because I had our locker combo, and I had to return for Public Serpents to go on stage. But FIRST, let’s do a Brakrock 101.
At Brakrock, you don’t pay with a card – Actually, that’s a lie – you can pay with a card or cash for merch. But if you want wine or beer or food. That’s tokens, my friends. 10 tokens cost you about 30 euros. Yup. But it’s whatever. It works? I was actually not convinced until I tried it myself.
If you want a locker – please, reserve it prior to the festival. It sucks waiting 20 minutes in line to scan a bloody QR-code. Or actually, Brakrock, make sure there’s maybe three screens for the lockers? Idea.
Beer or Wine? Wine. Always wine. Belgium beer is amazing, but it does fill you up fast. Switch things up. But honestly Brakrock, I actually missed my cider.
But everything else worked. Clean toilets, barely any queue for drinks and food. Nice people. There were three stages; Riverstage, Ruinstage and Woodstage. They weren’t more than three minutes apart, so you can tell it was actually a nice and intimate compared to many of the other festivals I’ve covered this summer. I loved it. I could find my friends, easily. I could find merch and there were bars at every stage. What more could a girl ask for?!
So let’s get to my job. Which is reviewing bands and hopefully not pissing anyone off with this review. Oh and due to miscommunication, we actually didn’t know we were press until we were there and therefore all pictures and videos from day 1, are from my telephone.
I will be honest; I love ska. I do. And I like Public Serpents; they are the fine mix between ska, and there’s some screaming, some hardcore in there. You know what? I suggest you get your asses out to a show if they are around you.
They started us off with ‘Hated by a Nation’ – probably one of the most popular songs that helped put them on the map. People were getting ready to mosh, and the crowd gathered fine around my friends and meme. It’s important to state here; Public Serpents are far from unknown here in Europe. And the name that they’ve worked incredibly hard for has only benefited them. I saw young people bring beach floats to the show to throw around and start a wild mosh pit where I needed to excuse myself. I wasn’t prepared for that at all. But damn, that show was one of the best I’ve seen that day.
They would have had me going immediately if I hadn’t been in the mood to dance before their set. Another thing, their set went by in a flash of the eye. I was surprised how well everyone in the band was to interact with the audience and keep the mood high. I’m excited to see them again.
After a show like Public Serpents that has the adrenaline rushing, it’s time for some nice, slow third-wave ska and chill. That’s right; it’s time for me to experience The Slackers for the first time. I fell in love with their album, and I had heard their previous material in passing, but not where I could tell you the name of many of the golden oldies they played. I will say they played the songs that I know and hold dear. “Shameboy”, “Wasted Days”, and “Married Girl,” and they did a cover of Misfits’ “Attitude,” and that was even better than Misfits’ own version. Yeah, I said it; it was awesome! Words can’t describe how much I’ve fallen in love with The Slackers after this. They were even the best-dressed band the entire weekend. I could have spent another hour listening to them. They sounded outstanding and respect to the audience for feeling the music as much as the rest of us.
Ah, yes. I forgot about this clash, and honestly, that was my first annoyance (we will get to the rest). I had never seen either band live. I have been a fan of The Dickies since childhood, so this felt obvious. But I wanted to check out the hype about Wonk Unit to see if they were all talk or the fact that they deliver. So, fair is fair sometimes; you decide to leave halfway through a set to see the end of the other band’s set. I’ll start with Wonk Unit because they were the first of the two bands we decided to see.
Wonk Unit is punk. It’s unique and super underrated. It reminds me… Of some 90s punk but updated, the whole band is just firecrackers. I had a considerable part, and so did my friends. I lost Annette; she entered the crowd while Bjarke (from The 20 Belows) hung out on the side and took it in. They don’t care if you know the songs or if you do know each lyric in the music. They want you to dance, and dance was something we did! Shit, everyone should book them.
The Dickies! Dream comes true to the smallest ones of us. Okay, I’m pretty tall, but still! I fangirled throughout the last fifteen minutes of their show. And when we arrived, who would happen to come and join The Dickies on stage? None other than one of my favorite bassists, Randy Bradbury from Pennywise. I was full after that show. I felt I had seen everything, yet I wanted more of The Dickies. Call me greedy. It was fun, and the sound was good. I was standing nicely on the grandstand. The view was good, and probably one of my new favorite spots for Riverstage. It worked out well. Let’s get The Dickies back for next year?
They might have a tough name, but Satanic Surfers are still to date some of the sweetest guys I’ve met on my journey as a music reviewer. This is my second time seeing them, which blew me away. Now, the setlist was full of the bangers “The Usurper”, “… And the Cheese Fell Down”, “Don’t Skate on My Ramp”, and my all-time favorite song, which they aced and closed their concert off with “Head Under Water”. Rico still goes hard on the drums, and Andy steals the show as usual with his outgoing personality on bass. Max and Magnus throwing themselves around on stage. But the sound, compared to the last time I saw them was much more rehearsed, much more intact, and they delivered. I had my own party on the side.
Are we going to pretend for a minute that I would skip Good Riddance? Not today, Satan. Apart from the annoying smoke machine, I have little to contribute to their show. Russ was feeling the crowd, and the crowd was feeling the energy that Russ was delivering and the rest of the band. Mosh pits found their way to the front, and I witnessed a few crowd surfers. Honestly, Good Riddance has been around longer than I’ve been on this planet. And last year, when I saw them in Copenhagen, they had an off day. But on Riverstage, it was the complete opposite. They had room to move; they had room to perform. This has to go down as one of the best concerts from Brakrock’s day 1.
… I got stuck in the mosh pit and experienced my first human sandwich in the worst possible way ever. One from the back and one from the front at the same time. But it was AWESOME. It’s not exactly how I imagined my first Cigar concert but damn. Can we talk about how fantastic Cigar is? It’s flawless. They started with an oldie from the album they released back in 1999. And I set the playlist up in perfect order. In between the old stuff, they played “We Used To”, “Classic You” (one that I’ve always said is a stand-out on the album), “Legacy of the 7 Piles”, and “Gone Wrong” from the new album. Rami has terrific vocals, and they are equally impressive live. Jon Sortland made me tired watching his powerful drumming; I’m terrified of him.
If Cigar is in a town near you, check them out.
It’s been eight months since I last saw Pennywise. It’s been eight months since the venue in Copenhagen killed my first time seeing Pennywise. I still haven’t forgiven the venue. BUT how can you stay mad at a band that helped shape you? Or, in fact, a band that has such a massive impact on your own kid’s life? You can’t.
As it is Pennywise, and everyone was there, you couldn’t not expect some minor appearances from different bands. We got some NOFX covers from Pennywise and Russ from Good Riddance to sing a Minor Threat cover; we had Steve Caballero from Urethane on guitar during “Bro Hymn”. And Brakrock also had a pleasant taste of Dying Scene’s very own favorite ginger, ME, on stage for Bro Hymn. We had kids singing and showing us why Pennywise are where they are. Randy Bradbury, on bass, was on fire once again. I have yet to witness a better bass game from anyone but Randy, which is why he is my favorite bassist. Fletcher and his unforgiving humor got the already rowdy crowd going.
I didn’t care about anything else. I was taken aback because I had been waiting for this in January. I got to experience it and became an even bigger Pennywise fan. #sorrynotsorryfriends
They delivered an incredible show and continue to amaze after decades on the scene. People commented that this may have been the best Pennywise show they’ve seen post-covid. So, I am not alone. Pennywise, we love ya.
Hey Diesel Boy, I know I’ve reviewed your new album, interviewed you, and now I’m reviewing half your gig for the first time. I’m counting my lucky stars. Okay, so it’s been years since Diesel Boy has been on stage, and it’s their first time at Brakrock – What a catch for Brakrock. What a catch for me.
After Pennywise, I need a drink, and I want to see what Diesel Boy can deliver since the hype around them has been so huge. I come in time for “Lime Green” from their ’96 album Cock Rock, Diesel Dave, the vocalist, does know how to sing. I’ll give him that much. So, sipping my beer, I noticed how the band seemed energized even though they were closing the festival with The Meffs playing on Riverstage.
They played well together; my beer was excellent, and they continued to play their golden oldies. To be nice here, that is why most of us were there. Listen to the old stuff and hold out hope for some new stuff. But either way, after five songs, it’s time to go home because there’s a new day, Saturday, and it’s as heavy as Friday.
I actually might need to see Diesel Boy once again to give a proper, and decent review.