“Hi, we’ve just arrived so um, where can I pick up my ticket?”
“Come meet us at the Nokia tent, we’ve managed to get you media accreditation, so you just need to head over to the tent and we’ll meet you there.”
“Ok, cool. But, um, how do I get in?”
“I mean, do they have my name at the gate or something?”
“No, your ticket was –“
“In the mail Olga sent me? Yeah, I printed it out but left it on my desk, total fuck-up.”
“Can we make some kind of plan?”
And BAM, there we were, 20 minutes later with Sarah slipping me a media band and me walking through the glass-Nazi security check-point and straight into Rocking The Daisies at around 12 midday on the sunniest Saturday you ever did see.
Thank you Nokia, seriously. You guys are the shit – bailing me out when I forgot to take my ticket with, fuck yeah. You guys made my festival possible.
As for the festival itself, fahk, where do I start? I was seriously impressed.
From the outset, I could see we were dealing with a different kind of festival, one where they take care of the details. It was everything from guys with wheelbarrows helping you lug your shit around, to the heavy emphasis on environmental friendliness and recycling and even something as simple as the exclusive loos (we never used any, but I’m sure they were a huge relief to people who didn’t want to face the possibility of opening a porta-loo door and finding… AN ANACONDA!).
We set up our tent in an area that soon became overrun with shirtless charnas, about 6 or 7 in total, who had the most hilarious collection of crusty old tents J-Rab and I had ever seen. They were actually pretty funny fuckers, but J-Rab and I didn’t really hang around much after we’d set up camp, it was like a sauna in our tent, the kind of day where the horizon shimmers and all you want to do is find a giant body of water and float in it with a bottle of cold beer.
We hopped from one island of shade to the next, people-watching and sipping on the waterbottle full of ice-cold vodka and lime we snuck into the main arena.
We caught a few New Holland tracks which I remember thinking sounded pretty cool, but we didn’t stay for long enough for me to give them a decent write-up. We were more focussed on beer at this stage, that and tracking down the Captain Morgan people who were filling up our now-empty “water-bottle” with free premixed Captain and coke.
I remember swimming in the dam.
I remember J-Rab and me heading back to our campsite, dragging our mattress out the tent and under the shade-cloth the charnas had set up, staring at a blue, blue sky. Giant love affair…
We drank a lot of beer just lying there and ended up napping in the sun before heading back to the mainstage later that evening to catch Boo! who played a killer set.
Chris Chameleon’s vocals were clear as a bell, and, dressed like the Wicked Witch of the West, he rocked out onstage with a mike headset while banging out the basslines to songs like “Lucky” and “Champion” and getting the crowd jumping and rocking out.
Ampie was his usual, clownish self, thanking everyone like a kid in a highschool who’s buddies have all showed up to the garage gig he’s hooked up because his parents are away.
Him and Chameleon still have the same, infectious chemistry they always did, but Ampie did seem to be struggling to hold some notes on the trumpet and looked a little flustered sometimes. They’re not the 20-something punks they were when they first started, but they did an impressive job of rocking out like they were.
As for the Nudies, it was an interesting set.
They played all the Nude Girls’ classics like “Blue Eyes”, “Giant Love Affair”, “What Would You Say?” and the ever-popular grunge / alternative rock anthem “Bubblegum On My Boots” and for the most part, they almost sounded like the ground-breaking, energetic and charismatic SA rock band they were back in the late nineties.
Theo rocked out like a metal stalwart. He looks meaner than I remember him, meatier, like a man who’s seen and done a lot because, well, he is.
Arno looks like an only slightly aged carbon copy of his younger self. He looks like he’s taken pretty good care of himself, must be the Top Billing-type lifestyle he’s been living for the last 8-odd years.
As for his vocals, they were hit and miss. The man’s got a great scream, he always has, and when he unleashes it the earth itself shakes and it’s still as spine-shivering now as it ever was.
But it sounded like he missed more than a couple of queues and at times was missing notes completely, but I think people forget, especially South African audiences, is when you pay to see a band play live, you pay to watch their mistakes as much as you pay to hear the moments when everything comes together, the band explodes with energy and the crowd absorbs that explosion, amplifies it and feeds it straight back.
MASSIVE FAIL for bringing Jeannie D onstage while the band sung “Jeanie” though, that was a gag-inducing moment if I ever saw one.
The dfnniest part was right at the end when they invited ‘Sailor Jim” to join them onstage.
“Sailor Jim” wore a sailing hat and some kind of brown coat (if I remember correctly…?) and was a podgey, happy-looking kind of chap.
“Who’s that?” I remember J-Rab asking.
“Why, I have no idea… but judging by the hat, I’d say this is Sailor Jim.”
It was only ten minutes later, when he took his hat off, that I realised it was Ard from Just Jinja.
If I could have done anything different, it would have been to stay for Taxi Violence after the Nudies, but in truth my skull felt like it was going to split open at that stage, and we had no painkillers.
We passed out listening to the drunken revelry of the campers around us and their hilarious stories about running into barbed wire fences and finding strangers passed out in their tents.
There’s a lesson here kids, if you’re rocking a music festival, take a LOCK.
The next day this apocalyptic wind was blowing the walls of our tent in and out like a sails. We poked our heads out to see hordes of people packing up their tents while the sky got blacker and blacker and the wind blew all their trash around.
We stayed to check out Checked Zebra who were really good. Imagine Chili Peppers meets Boo! meets a punk / ska band (maybe like Sublime) and you get Checked Zebra.
We would have rocked out to their whole set, but the wind was blowing so hard it felt like we were in a cyclone, so we eventually headed back to camp, packed up and headed home.
The best part of any festival is the first shower you have back at home and the afternoon nap that inevitably follows.
You drift off to sleep, thankful for the little things in life like clean linen and a comfortable bed, and don’t surface until you’ve nailed at least a solid 2 hours, warm and safe while the clouds gather and rain down on the roof above you and the wind whips tree branches and kicks up clouds of swirling dust devils outside.
Rocking The Daisies was an amazing festival. A special mention goes to the guys handling the AV for the main stage gigs on the Saturday night. The camera work and visuals were professionally executed and looked pretty fucking amazing.
Next year I’ll definitely try get their on the Friday though, it all went by too damn fast.
You gotta do the whole hog if you want to truly experience a festival, next time I’m taking the leave and doing shit right, going with a huge group of friends, packing a LOT of tequila and possibly even hanging out with the bands.
Sky’s the limit I tell ya