Well actually the graffiti written on the dust coated windshield read: “Wish this car was as dirty as my wife,” but you get my drift. Ramfest was one dirry (sic) festival.
Ramfest had it all. As well as the main rock stage there was an electro trance area, a beach party and a heavy metal stage. But the real gem of the festival was the Mercury tent or, as I came to think of it, The Place where Inhibitions went to Die. When I first walked passed it on the Friday I sniggered at the two people bouncing around. Come Saturday night and I was in there, line dancing in a line for one, along with seven others in their own respective lines. I left only reluctantly, partly because I ran out of moves and partly because I understood deep down that if I did not leave then I never would. The tent that had been shunned at first was packed. In the end no one is too cool for 80’s music and dancey rock pop tunes.
Some bands flourish in the festival environment. A few weeks ago I was rather underwhelmed by Isochronous’ mechanical performance at a Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert. I hardly recognised the Ramfest version of this band. They were no longer the boys from Pretoria playing rock band in the garden: they were owning the place. And they did an excellent job at ushering in the evening programme of the two international acts, Alkaline Trio and Funeral for a Friend.
Francois van Coke was all over the show – collaborating on Die Antwoord’s Doos Dronk Friday evening and again on Saturday with Not My Dog. Die Antwoord also got a little help from fellow “zef” artist Jack Parow. Yolandi Vi$$er looked twelve and mooned the audience twice. So no surprises there.
In between organising a range of musicians to satisfy an eclectic mix of festival-goers the organisers found the time to plan the logistics of a few thousand people living in a relatively small area. At first I thought there would be way too few toilets for the amount of people, especially in the campsite. Yet I hardly ever saw queues, and these were definitely toilets to queue for – clean, well maintained and well-stocked. The level of security was thorough to the point of annoyance: we were asked for our tickets four times when we returned to the festival area after a quick excursion. But that’s a little unfair of me – given the potential for madness when combining a lot of people in a confined space with loud music, flowing booze and relentless heat, the sense that it was all controlled and secure was reassuring. The only thing that could be improved on next year would be to have more litter bins in the camping area.
There was a gypsy carnival atmosphere in the air, helped on by festival-goers dressed up in costumes, girls in body paint, fire dancers and stilt walkers. Amongst the crowds soaking it up I spotted a few members of bands which were not performing, including George from Taxi Violence and some of the guys from New Holland and Straatligkinders’ Bouwer Bosch. Ramfest was one party that no one wanted to miss.
Then all of a sudden it was Sunday. I beat the odds and found a spot on the Hunters deck overlooking the main stage with a cool mist spraying on me from the roof and a perfect view of mellow rockers Wrestlerish to end off my Ramfest V weekend. I’ll be back… but next time with wet wipes.
By Jana van Heerden