Vans Music Night is an annual event in 26 countries worldwide, and debuted on South African shores this weekend at Cape Town’s legendary Assembly in Harrington Street. Huge brand. Huge line-up. Huge excitement.
Seeing that Vans is such a massive brand worldwide, I was expecting to see a lot of in-your-face advertising and merchandise selling… perhaps even a ramp with some skaters nailing some tricks. Not so. The brand itself was inconspicuously promoted, with only a few not-so-strategically placed stickers and Vans sneakers dangling from what were supposed to be telephone wires. This was surprising at first, but then it dawned on me that this night was not about the brand, but about the music. And who wants to be force fed a brand when there are some of South Africa’s hottest acts to enjoy?
Sabretooth warmed up the crowd with their own take on 80’s infused synth metal. I had never heard of them, but apparently I have been living under a rock because a lot of the crowd was singing along merrily. Next up were The Great Apes, whose frontman, with his maniacal onstage gesticulations, left the crowd, if not captivated, at least bemused. The Great Apes have been garnering a huge following in South Africa and it’s not difficult to see why.
The last band I managed to catch was Juggernaught who, without any onstage antics, managed to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Distortion driven hard rock riffs ensured mosh pit head banging mayhem.
If the intensity of the rock sonic onslaught became too much, there was a second dance area where electronic genres were pumped out by DJ Slideshow and Datarock, amongst others. It was a lot easier on the ears, but nowhere near as energetic as the rock set.
I’m sure a lot of people woke up the next morning with a terrific hangover, a stiff neck or ringing ears. Or very possibly all three. I don’t think anyone would’ve cared though. Let’s hope Vans brings this event back to our shores again next year. For now, I need a rest. My ears are still bleeding.
Vans Off the Wall was hosted at The Assembly in District Six on 4 December 2011.