Rock the River New Years Eve 2010
Well, not having attended last year’s Rock The River 2009 New Years Eve Festival at the Breede River, we had few expectations of the 2010 sequel at the Berg River.
Would it be another sequence of radio hit wonders to herd the up-and-coming generation of young rock fans into a commercial slaughter house? Such as Rock the Bay 2005? This was so very far from that. This sterling line-up had something for everyone, exploring a range of rock genres, from blues, funk and metal to punk and Ska. It was an opportunity for lesser known bands to share a stage with local legends such as the Hogs & Rudimentals. It was said to be one of the best line-ups of all the South African festivals, and it was certainly one of the most exciting.
Located in an intimate setting right on the Berg River, this festival had all the ingredients for a hot New Year’s party. Friday Night (New Year’s Eve) was a complete blast. Although the Saturday morning rain shower posed challenges - a couple of bands pulled out and a few party goers packed up for home – Saturday & Sunday’s rollout turned out overall to be a blistering success. Camping and parking close to the grounds were provided, and the stage lay so close to the river that one could swim during band intervals without missing a thing.
Although intermittent rain and ongoing sound and changeover issues prevented a seamless rollout, with bikini mud fights, menacing mosh pits, Burlesque dancers, Spur burgers, cheap booze, Guitar Hero contests, and an intimate and social vibe throughout, nothing was left to be desired – other than maybe a coffee stand and an ATM.
Arrived 18:30 Friday 31st December 2010.
Our spacious & sturdy tent previously thought as packed was not after all. Troyden Wayneright’s kindly donated flaccid cock-like tent was the only one we brought. It had less chance of becoming erect than Walter Matthau & Jack Lemon’s mutually shared uni-penis.
We had arranged to be welcomed with full media access passes, but arrived to find only Anthony’s name scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere. Kind women at entrance grants us standard access wrist bands.
We travelled along a gravel path for not too long, plunged into a gaping hole in the road, tire miraculously undamaged. Walking up to the entrance of the building, it looked to us like a castle, with a leering bovine skull perched on a pedestal outside.
Inside, the floor was already populated by many, from the morbidly obese, to an equal portion of the wretchedly gaunt, not many examples of the in-between. Most were however scantily dressed, appropriate for the season. There was a high tattoo to bare skin ratio. Some were so inked up you couldn’t make out ethnic origin.
Cannon on stage. Announce next song as written by Van Morrison, Covered by Jim Morrison, then Cannon. Song is Gloria and they rock it like it should be rocked.
Some Airy Fairy rock comes on.
Ant talks briefly to the bassist for Cannon. Phil bellows at the guy, simply trying to establish where he’s from, but he has turned and walked at least one half meter in the perpendicular direction, thus too far.
Joshua Grierson & the Town Criers go up. Their sound is quite rocky, And I decide I quite like it, despite my overly demanding expectations. The stage is occupied by three dudes, frontman Josh adorned in a yellow waist coat and off-yellow corduroys and flourishing a fancy blue electric-acoustic.
Ant spots Jacques & Flapper of Mind Assault, accompanied by a polite looking Richard Gere impersonator.
A large man with no addition to his birthday suit on but for a pair of ugly underpants and pink fluffy bunny ears walked past. I called him sexy, which of all the available responses, inspired anger for some unknown reason.
Boombox Troopers goes on. So far they sound refreshingly funky, their resemblance to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (specifically the early years) not unnoticed by many. They did immediately draw an enthusiastic audience. Ant remarked off the bat that they should fire the guitarist because he is fat, even though he was not at all overweight.
The vocalist, in between rhythmic rapping rhymes, let out an overtly Chili’s ripped “aaaaah shit”. Our Photographer’s thought was of a verisimilitude with Flight of the concords. My opinion is that they do the somewhat still ‘untapped’ genre some serious justice. They just need to break out of the Chili Pepper zone a little more. I also muse that their missing factor, if any, is a guitar prodigy such as the one-in-a-trillion John Fruciante. As for the band’s performance as a whole: It takes a lot to be Red Hot, but really hats off to ya!
Ant sees bassist Donovan of Mind Assault fame, and smacks his bum hard, in a firm gesture of affection.
A guy named Pierre with a mobile over-the-shoulder hubbly walks past. We establish that he is smoking cherry, not green.
Ant attempts to find a toilet. He rounds the building, find a queue, stands on some chicks foot. Eventually he stands cock-out against a tree to piss, almost hitting a nearby tent, but missing, and then fucks off toward safety.
Ant sees Boombox Troopers bassist Johnno carrying an Amp toward parking area, and prompts me to acquire an interview for later. I pursue & succeed, after introducing myself as Lambon the lumbering leviathan. Later, this interview would never take place due to a malfunctioning journalist curtailed in his tracks by an old nemesis.
Our immediate attention is temporarily distracted by a highly studded punk, chit chatting with DJ Aidan, and a collage of Windows Media Player animations on the dual view screens flanking the stage.
Nadine arbitrarily remarks that Rammstein belongs to a genre that should be called “kraut metal”.
I Scream and the Chocolate Stix comes on. One vocalist is very Kevin Bacon looking. There is also a jutting headed vocalist with dreadlocks.
The band seems to utter out a lot about Cape Town City, vuvuzela’s and twenty ten in their lyrics and stage performance. The audience digs it and responds. The main vocalist puts on a beanie and gets all rappy after a point. Mr Bean is on bass.
Some time had passed, and I stood aside the bar. I asked a nearby security marshal if I could bribe his bright bodice from him, at a cost to me of R20. His immediate and flippant counter offer was over the R300 mark thus I declined.
We discover that 4 days have been spent setting up the festival prior to NYE.
We move to the very front of the floor for the Mochines. Their drummer is also their vocalist. Their sound is fun and exciting while also just a wall of three chords, at a cost to originality. They proceed to throw out copies of their CD, and a micro-mosh ensues. My only wish in the moment is that they were heavier.
As I’m thinking that they scream a smidgen too much, a hot blonde girl photographs me. It’s about twenty past ten and the band throw out more copies of their album.
Random passer by Nic donated this piece of creative nonsense:
If you can successfully decipher it, let us know and we’ll send it to you gift wrapped and bow-tied.
When Karma Sleeps is on, they are clearly Evanescence inspired. I also detect hints of that band from the nineties that did the “you’re my butterfly, sugar, baby” track.
At this stage sheer drunkenness has lead to a distinct loss in our journalistic efficiency. Much more time is currently spent engaging in sweet nothing conversations with random band members and crowd folk, than with focused news reporting.
Ant goes backstage to photograph When Karma Sleeps from behind.
We run into guitarist Nicolai Roos of the Sleepers while backstage. We try to gather whatever coherence we have left and ask him how his night is going, and other hopefully relevant questions.
He tells us he is somewhat nervous because Sleepers are supposed to finish their set precisely before the New Year countdown. We learn that this is the third last Sleepers gig for vocalist Simon Tamblyn, surely a knock for the more fervent fans. On their rumoured and much anticipated opening for internationally acclaimed kraut metal band Rammstein, Nicolai cannot say for sure if it will happen, leaving us dangling in a shroud of suspense and mystery.
Intense inebriation ensues, and our following scribbled notes reflect something about the performance by The Sleepers and the band that follows them. The notes are not at all legible therefore cannot be strung into any kind of story.
THEN... COMPLETE & UTTER BLACKOUT.
Saturday, January 1st 2011
I awake face down in the dirt, under an orange gazebo of sorts, with no recollection of how I’d arrived at this location. I remain to this day uninformed of the night’s rampant eventfulness but for the loose descriptions offered by friends and colleges.
It’s raining, hard. My friend Angelique early on had to take leave her post as my only remaining company. Those friends she had arrived with, along with many others, had suddenly deemed the rain too much to bare and initiated the pack up and fuck off home sequence.
The only thing left for me under the blanket of falling water is an insatiable craving for food. I check my pockets and wallet to find only a ten Rand note – all that remains of my once flowing fountain of drink funds. I hover around the grounds among the early rising wanderers in hopes of discovering an affordable food stall. I find only a Spur burger stand, with the cheapest item well exceeding my budget, of course.
Being drenched, alone and starving, I see no escape from the most rotten feeling of hung-over emptiness I’ve felt since my small eighteenth birthday get together with only a couple of really close friends and a bottle of tequila. I regard this personal vile state as the sign of a totally successful New Years Eve party. I overhear one random band member looking for someone involved in the organisation of the event, as he wants to announce his bands intention of cancelling their set. This gives body to my growing impression of a possible all out shut down of the event. At this point I pray that my colleges will awaken and decide to go home, a thought much cemented by an overall feeling of internal physical doom.
Some gormless dude asks me if I know where he might find an ATM, because he really needs “a schwarma braaa!”.
As I am cursing the fate bestowed upon me by gods and dreaming of golden fried onions, my esteemed colleges arrive. I learn that it had been my idea the previous night to take our shirts off and go crazy during the Half Price set.
A guy walks up to us and declares the approaching Guitar Hero contest. He hands us a demo CD. Independent photographer Alex claims that The Sleepers vocals pissed him off as they should have been turned up. Ant noticed Joshua Grierson Sitting by himself eating a lonely Spur burger.
With the rain since subsided and the weather largely agreeable, it must be said that DJ Aidan really brought the morning alive with “Rock n Roll” by Led Zeplin, some AC DC and other welcomed classics. The place, unlike my greatly destitute inner metabolism, was vibrant and alive, with many bikini-clad river splashers and swimmers in increasing numbers.
The first Band of the day attempts a bit of stage humour, and opens with a Jack Johnson sounding song that is dedicated to all the ladies. The drummer (who Ant deemed the Governor, a little earlier) is singing in a very standard pop-rock manner. The band seems to be imitating a whole range of styles. The next song is about “that cop that takes your weed, smokes it and then accepts a bribe for your freedom”. They push out a trashy riff, quite dark and cool, but then revert back to a moderate punky progression.
The aforementioned Governor
Nadine notices a minute Gareth Cliff looking character sipping a black label, which later is confirmed as a female. An old captain Haddock strolls past.
On a side note, our blow up mattress had been stolen from our campsite the night before, despite the many surrounding campers.
At some point the rain started again, and bands had to move their equipment upstairs for a short stint.
It’s about 16:10 and some vicious Slayer is being played on the sound system of a car parked in the crowd.
We move upstairs to bask in the sun, only to be rudely pestered by an old drunkard who calls himself “Serowina”. He calls us all stupid repeatedly, and claims a seat on our bench. Someone nearby has obviously experienced this mans imposing nature before and passes us a whispered remark as a warning. He calls me a lazy bastard and that “everything about me is null and void”. Ant untruthfully informs him that I’m on acid. He tells us disjointed stories of lost loves through his youth. We ask him in round about words to kindly vacate. He finds a young man named Matthew and makes him sit with us. Matthew expresses mumbling sounds of disappointment and politely leaves. Ant asks Serowina to do the trick where you stand behind a low wall and “walk down the stairs to the basement”. Listen to billy (500Kb)
The Inside Job goes up and attempts “beautiful day” by U2. It was ok but the following song (an original) was way better. One of few bands with a female drummer, the sound was sort of like a pop-rock Rage Against the Machine, very tight and professional. Next is a Nirvana Teen Spirit cover. The energy is altogether great but the voice doesn’t lend itself to the song exactly. My thought is that the band shouldn’t bother with covers much, but rather keep up the good work in their own song writing. The band is disciplined and clean and with a keen understanding of trends and demand, could really go far. Screw covers guys you’re better than that!
Nadine notices in the distance a woman with a pony tail that cascades all the way to the ground. A silly guy in the crowd is wearing “zap-sign” sunglasses.
DJ Aidan plays a Garbage track during the interlude.
30 From Ace begins setting up. First noticeable thing is the bassist with his weird neo-industrial sci-fi looking bass guitar.
Cut-away side thought: Why do bands always take forever to setup instruments, despite help from arbitrary crew? It seems a trend that everyone involved in setting up a stage always carry one of two expressions, either profound confusion, or dire stress.
In this case the band stands around while the crew are at work. The weird bass guitar doesn’t work at first, but just gives out an annoying buzz.
What appears like a veteran rock chick dressed in a backless orange garment revealing a large back tattoo struts up to the stage with a half watermelon presumably filled with booze, and offers DJ Squeek a big gulp, who takes two gratefully.
30 From Ace kick off their round. So far so good, the music shows talent and careful structure, and is nice and rocky. As the bizarre bass guitar technically fucks out a little, the bassist at first appears to take care in the art of looking stylish on his instrument, but later relaxes and expresses thorough enjoyment.
There is a half naked “Will Smith” on stage, real name Vinnie, occupying the rhythm guitar/second vocals position. He has no limit in exercising his right to goof around on stage. From song to song the Will Smith switches vocal responsibilities with main vocalist who is a long ponytailed dude with a cool temperament and a disarming smile, called Danny. “Will Vinnie Smith” finds it appropriate to show up looking like a pot bellied wife beating drunk. He can sort of be described as a comical chimp. His cool police-style sunnies and funky personality redeem him fully from the bergie image the rest of his current appearance gives off. However, I will later find him looking extremely smartly dressed in a Facebook profile.
As for the music this quintet generate, they are very good. It’s a dynamic and vibrant sound. Not boring like local rock can be, to grossly generalise.
Danny announces a song as “Golden Snow”, as in, you can’t eat it. These guys have quite a unique talk-sing vocal style laid against innovative instrumental progressions. Music is simple, thoughtfully arranged and refreshing I thought.
The bands at this festival have a distinctly non-commercial, relaxed, fun, non-plastic feel.
Out of nowhere, Billy (formerly Serowina), performs a stunt of great daring that looks like he wants to commit suicide off the balcony area. Instead of jumping from the barrier wall though, he raises a bar chair above his head and waves it about.
There is not a cloud in the sky by now.
DJ Aidan caps off the good vibes and happy feelings with Stairway to Heaven by Zep. I imagined that the notable contentedness I now felt was merely in contrast to the black plague of a hangover I’d earlier endured, but it was a contentedness I’m sure the general populace shared with me.
Stonecollar look hardcore in a very clean-cut well groomed way. The setup crew looked far less confused this time around. Into the set, their sound kinda reminds me of KISS, and I’m not sure I’m so into it at first, as skilful as their technique clearly is. I don’t like their smart casual image, but punch my teeth and call me Murphey I think I’m warming up fast to these dudes. I’d have moshed violently at this point had my previous night’s high-living left me with any gas in the tank.
Ant points out to me that the weird-Jacques-Kallis-faced, gesturing old young child man prodigy lead guitarist is very adept at the art of shredding. He turns out to be right on the money with that statement. This tight v-neck t-shirt wearing guy named Sean Tate can really make a wild winding shred look effortless. I’m very impressed.
Despite their Markhams summer evening mall wear appearance, this hard hitting group went Metallica-esque for a while as it became clear that the skilled drummer had at least some Lars Ulrich influence. With a powerful, melodic and well controlled vocal, these guys had the crowd (including broken me) banging heads every which way. This was a damn energetic, and exemplary, show.
Silent Side gets up, and more bewildered fidgeting on stage begins. The bassist slaps out a funky lick, this looks promising.
One of our project consultants for the day, Andrew Byers remarked to me how the poor cunts that formed this morning’s mass exodus (due to rain) are really missing out now, due to their sickeningly poor judgement.
Silent Side briefly introduce themselves and launch straight into a funky song. It’s a powerful sound. Next, they begin a newly produced song called “perfectly flawed”. It’s very good. Bonita’s vocals remind me a bit of Alanis Morrisette and / or the Cranberries, but a bit heavier. Paul the guitarist pulls the old “can someone in the audience please give me a sip of their drink” routine.
The next song is equally as good as the first two. Unlike Stonecollar who are quite the unbroken wall of sound, this song is divided up into slower and faster parts, making it interesting. They do a cover of Cranberries Zombie. The verisimilitude is clear; it is a near perfect rendition. Paul the lead guitarist shows off a bit with some ripping up of the frets.
Anyway, these guys pull off a nice well written set of songs in a 90’s influenced, very listenable style.
The much anticipated Rudimentals are coming next. The excitement on the floor is building and young people abound flock to the foot of the stage. There is a very long wait for this band as despite sheer vigour and focus from the set up crew, there appear to be just too many little issues with a big diverse range of complex instruments and equipment than can be sorted out swiftly. While the quiet fiddling carries on, one big long-dreadlocked Barry White of a bassist test out his fingers on the bass guitar. As I detect what smells like some green being toked nearby, a few more musicians arrive on stage and join in the preparations. These include a trombonist, a trumpeter, a saxophonist, a keyboard player, and a crazy looking guitarist that I was sure was a 1955 Doc Brown from popular cult movie trilogy, Back to the Future.
Finally, after much passed time and the decision to leave aside one keyboard due to technical difficulty, the smiling singer walked on stage. The crowd were now all assembled with an almost electric buzz in the air. The singer plunged straight into an on-the-spot “Rock the River” ad lib. They immediately had the crowd singing along to the chorus and swaying arms side to side. The crowd eats this shit right up, and rightfully so. It’s brilliant. The brass instruments add such a spark to the sound that it’s like nothing I’ve heard.
These guys all have huge stage presence, like anyone who’s previously caught one of their shows around town would know. The band clearly loves what they do, as they appear to be having babies up there. The only downside to this outfit is that the saxophonist looks like he belongs on Carte Blanch as a young up and coming presenter. None the less the upflung crowd dart around like marbles in a vacuum cleaner. The jubilant frontman announces the last song as “we will be partying tonight”. It’s pretty epic. They blatantly pack up shop while the crowd chant “we want more!” I thought it somewhat rude to leave us all hanging like that, but that was the end of that.
Some bikini clad young ladies chase each other around the ground, I think nothing of it at first, but Nadine arrives moments later and tells me there’s a mud fight going on right behind me. I turn to find three gorgeous young things engaged in a full wrestle, nothing as weapons but their own muscular strength, fighting wit and puddles of sludge around them. Nothing on their curvy frames but really skimpy bikinis. I watch attentively right to the glorious end, doing my duty to get the story of course. One girl dances triumphantly to the cheer of the gawking mob.
The next act is Alive at Midnight. It may not yet be midnight, but these furious musicians bring the gig to life. The guitarist has a pleasant afro and a pro-satan t-shirt. He also wields some wicked guitar talent. Conrad spews out a few snappy little bass licks. They seem to draw an army of die-hard fans of their art into a killer mosh pit. There is more human carnage on the floor than a zombie outbreak at a MENSA meeting. In between songs, there is a barrage of cock, tits and ass talk from dramatic frontman Grumble. It’s most humourous and only serves to whip the already berserk crowd into a cataclysmic frenzy. I really admire the whole engaging with the audience thing, it’s pretty rare in local outfits and provides bonus entertainment to an already massive performance.
Gigantic local old-time favourite and now internationally seasoned punk rock ska band Hog hoggidy hog appear suddenly after another long wait during the stage setup. One disgruntled onlooker shouts from the floor: “less sound checks, more music faggots!” Hog being popular, pull up a large and excited audience. There is some story about singer George Bacon nursing cracked ribs during the show, but that doesn’t stop him from showing the fans why they dig the band in the first place.
The Bassist, loud shirt-wearing Corporal snout shows that he’s full of kak as he asks around between each song if anyone one has lost a kettle plug, and holds up said lead. Surprisingly, it doesn’t really get old. The set is crazy as they bounce back and forth across the stage. Amos Keeto (funny name if you say it out loud) handles the only guitar position in the band with total competence. His decade with Hog has his speed and simultaneous control as something admirable. Really fun show okes, shot for pulling by!
What The Bands Had To Say
The Inside Job
Well, here is a few things that happened, hehe.
Got stuck in the mud, tried to find a ATM in Gouda (no luck). Stopped @ a stop street in front of a guy on a bicycle who’s head was on another planet, then he drove into our bumper with his back wheel high in the air, then we got thrown by a invisible stone by this idiot while the bottle of Coke in his hand was bubbling away & then LJ got electrocuted by a microphone on stage @ Rock the River. All this on the 1st of 2011 at the festival and we loved every moment of it!
We also took our 7 week old puppy "sausage dog mascot" with, and made a lot of friends via our mascot called "Pepe le Pew" ;)
It was raining, but it made it just even more unforgettable!
Can’t wait to play at the next one!
Miggs from 7th Son
First impressions of the venue were good . Weather was great on Friday . We arrived around 2pm , set up camp , and hit the river , beers in hand .
Good to have our drinking buddies Half Price and Alive at Midnight in shouting distance from our camp site .
We were scheduled to play after the countdown but only got on at 1am - think the stage manager was to blame for that , not sure how he got the job but he did inform us that he was qualified because he’d once picked up a guitar some time in the 60’s .
Acid , although experimental , was good in the 60’s.
That being said , we had a good show from our point of view , despite the bass amp being blown up by one of the opening bands .
Crowd was responsive and everyone seemed to be enjoying the New Year .
The last thing i remember about Friday night or Saturday morning was lots of white underwear .
Saturday it rained till about 3 and then RTR gave birth to the best festival drinking game ever - FLUNKYBALL = a mixture between cricket , ten pin bowling and a frat party
The boys from Germany (State Of Martial Law ) showed us how it was done and then we kicked their asses at it .
It involves a lot of running and downing of beers .
Saturday night saw the arrival of the Rudies and the Hogs , but things get slightly blurry around that time and half way through Rudies set the last thing i remember is watching Nic Gaud throwing away the R40 Vodka and Redbull i’d just bought him into the crowd . NEVER AGAIN NIC !
Sunday i finally found the Shwarma stand and R1 beers for sale - AMAZING .
All in all thought it was a cool festival - nice location - cheap booze - big river - good looking Capetonians .
Look forward to bigger and better next year .
Bryan from StoneCollar
Firstly, we at STONECOLLAR loved the gig and the time we had at RTR. We played on the 1st. It would’ve been awesome to have played the day before as a lot of people seemed to leave once the rain came bucketing down. The rain also played havoc with the band line-ups but that was nobody’s fault and it worked out fine in the end. There was still a great vibe on the 1st with more than enough people left to make a noise. When we started playing - in the evening - everyone was sitting down and kinds ambling around the stage.We were pretty pleased to see them standing and making some noise by the time we were done.
We felt that RTR provided a great opportunity for some of the lesser known bands in CT (like us) to play at a festival, out on an open stage to a large crowd - a larger crowd than you’d get in a CT club or bar. There was a cool, chilled vibe during the day, no drama or anything like that. Everyone was
pretty chilled and happy. And as it got progressively darker, things got progressively rowdier and the energy levels rose.
It was hot - which is great - so the river was awesome. The fact that the river is so close to the stage and where all the action was happening was great too! You could go for a dip and not miss a beat.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to sit/stand in one place and hear a lot of cool local bands that we’d not seen or played with before. There are some cool local bands out there with some awesome grooves. It is a more intimate setting than some of the larger festivals, so you get pretty close to the stage and can take it all in.
All in all it was a great experience and I can only imagine it going from the strength to strength. Hopefully there are many more to come.
Daniel from The Mochines
Just to add a few words, all in all Rock The River was a great way to bring in the new year.
Although we had some sound problems during our show, the crowd’s response and the support from our gang of liquored friends ensured we had a rockin’ time! Considering the heat, it was great to bring in the new year with cheap, cold beer, the Berg River on your doorstep, good music and even better company. Joshua Grierson definitely deserves a shout out, really great songwriting and sound!
Amid the chaos and extreme and indecisive weather, Rock The River turned out to be really cool.
We were very lucky to play when we did, having the count down in the middle of our set. We’re not really a party band but the crowd responded really well, which was awesome. I just wish we’d known we’d be going on so much later cos we would have prepared something more appropriate to play after the count down. And if it weren’t for the members of Black Moscow to massage us after the show we probably wouldn’t have calmed down.
Pity about the rain the next day. I would have loved to see the other bands who were scheduled.