Welcome To The Metal Dome

Belgium’s Graspop Metal Meeting has already confirmed Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, Slayer, and Velvet Revolver, and that’s before it even starts booking the 15 acts that’ll be playing its 3-year-old Metal Dome stage.

It’s a moot point whether this year’s June 22-24 gathering will be the event’s 23rd birthday or the second time its celebrated its 13th.

It began in ’86 but after a disastrous 1995 edition, when festival overkill was blamed for Joe Cocker and Simple Minds heading a bill that attracted the event’s worst ever crowd, organizer Peter Van Geel was close to giving up on it.

However, the intervention of (now) Live Nation promoter Herman Schueremans persuaded him to merge it with Bob "Biebob" Schoenmaekers’ The Midsummer Metal Meeting at Vosselaar, a rapidly expanding indoor that was bursting at the seams.

Since ’96, the festival has kept the Graspop name and the Deboeretang park site near Dessel – about 30 miles from Antwerp – but the switch to heavier music has led to continued expansion.

From pulling 10,000 a decade ago, Graspop has grown to attracting regular crowds of around 30,000 and had to up its site capacity to 40,000.

Along with Sweden Rock, Holland’s Arrow Rock and Germany’s Wacken Open Air, it’s among Europe’s top bashes dedicated to metal.

Others on the June 22-24 bill near the Dutch border at Dessel include Less Than Jake, Papa Roach, Stone Sour, Within Temptation, and Children Of Bodom.