“At this rate, Ramfest is soon going to have to seek a new home…”
I was at the inaugural Ramfest back in 2007. It was a tiny party, hardly able to qualify for the ‘Fest’ aspect of its moniker but one could feel that something was taking root. Fast-forward to its fifth incarnation and we have a world-class production in our very own backyard. Ramfest V was a huge success. I believe over 8000 revellers turned up to thrash their heads, stamp their feet, shake their asses and damage their ears with wanton abandonment. Everyone just got stuck right into the vibe and pounded away the weekend at full-throttle. It was indeed almost heart-warming to witness the savage way the crowd, all smiles, descended into chaos.
At the first edition there was only one stage. Now Ramfest sports three main arenas and a couple of small supporting stages. None of them superfluous. The main stage saw a kaleidoscope of musical tastes mingle with the wind over the course of the event, some great, some regretfully forgettable.
Then there’s the Metal4Africa stage, pretty self-explanatory stuff and certainly living up to its name, delivering set after set of ferocious guitar theatrics and snarling demon-howling. Rounding up the main entertainment was the Electro Pyramid hosted by Griet – this was the place to be if you dig on synthetic dirt and head-crushing bass. Serving up mostly Dubstep and filthy electro beats and backed by the most impressive visual setup I’ve ever seen at a local festival, the Pyramid was consistently packed out with a gyrating throng.
Finally, there was a small tent hosted by Mercury Live – here, all manner of shenanigans played out to the thumping of classic rock tunes, its proximity to the main bar probably the primary influence in the debauched behaviour loosed by most of its inhabitants – and the Beach Party tent alongside the river which intermittently massaged, with soothing grooves, those seeking respite from the heat and the carnage. The site was well considered, everything was close at hand but yet none of the stages bled their noise enough to be fighting one another. The organisers clearly threw money at the sound and some class engineers – in fact, the mixes were simply stellar and props must be given to those involved as there is nothing quite as aggravating as a music festival where all that emerges from the 1000 000 watt system is mud and thud.
The calibre of bands was overall very impressive. Standout acts were Mr. Cat and the Jackal, Mind Assault, Juggernaut, Mr. Sakitumi, Ree-Burth and a woefully misplaced BLK JKS, whom I felt deserved a higher billing on the line-up and whose incredible set was seen by far too few at sunset on the Friday. Not My Dog, craftily sandwiched between the two inter-nationals, also showed up the imports for the flaccid old-hat acts they’ve clearly become by bashing out a monster set.
I was devastated to learn that the Deftones were originally secured as headline act but had to be replaced due to cost. I was personally unmoved by Alkaline Trio and Funeral for a Friend, but they nevertheless drew a capacity crowd. As for the DJs – blistering aural assaults were handed out by Tom Deluxx from France, Haezer and P.H.Fat. Dubstep has clearly taken over as the go-to electronic genre to get booty a-shakin’.
Finally, there’s Die Antwoord – even though I’m certainly not one of their darling Zeflings, I must admit they put on a mesmerizing show. It had that same unnerving pull that fatal car crashes have over a passer-by. The crowd lapped up every sif manoeuvre perpetrated by that strangeling Yo-Landi. Ninja never missed a beat; his rapping, despite its rather low-rent content, is master class.
At this rate, Ramfest is soon going to have to seek a new home as the festival site at Nekkies Resort, especially the campsite, is starting to look pressed for space.
Last thing – ‘Dear organisers – Deftones for next year?’
Written By : James Rose-Mathew
Photography By : Saskia Swanepoel