...Well, everything I expected... and more!
Once again RAMfest took the youth of the country by the scrotum and swung 'em overhead for shits 'n' giggles. Wow! What an epic festival full of adventure, dust, sunburn, awesome music and truly memorable performances, and not all just from the stage.
It was also quite hot in Rawsonville this weekend. This facilitated the rather welcome shedding of clothing, adding to the visual spectacle. And the disturbing froth in the communal swimming pool...
So let's get to the bands. The first really pleasant surprise were Down On The First, kicking off proceedings on the Metal4Africa stage. I might add that the M4A stage, the supposed "second" stage, had a better vibe than the main stage, and very often superior sound as well.
Later on the Friday night, we were treated to a jaw-dropping show by Mind Assault that was nothing short of faith re-affirming. As creaking and ancient as I am, they even somehow managed to get me so excited about it all that I rushed headlong into the swirling moshpit and for a few brief moments actually managed to hold my own bouncing around. This was short lived as I found myself face down in the dust, having lost both my drink and my dignity. I escaped to enjoy the rest of their set from a safer distance, horns in the air.
The next day we were treated to Juggernaught. These Bourbon drenched rock behemoths stomped and snarled their way through a set that did their moniker justice. And I got a cd, which has been on heavy rotation since getting home.
Sabretooth stormed the stage next with their retro classic rock-metal and, as always, left the audience agape at the sheer virtuosity on display and begging for more. Loudly.
Off to the main stage to catch long time favourites The Sleepers perform their second last show with current vocalist, Simon Tamblyn. A little light out to appreciate the full range of sonic supernova that is this band, but a bittersweet and brilliant set, chock full of the sorcery these lads dish up every time they bestride a stage.
Somewhere between all of this we also managed to eat something and spend a lot of time heckling the passers by. There was also a lot of catching up with old friends and there may have been a libation or 2 consumed.
Enter A Walk With The Wicked. I had earlier predicted that they were going to own everyone's souls. I was spot on. It gives me gooseflesh seeing a performance of such magnitude as to win over even the most sceptical of curious bystanders, and this was one of those. They simply brutalised their way into the collective hearts and minds of all those in attendance. The lucky ones. The fortunate ones. The ones with the good taste and sense not to be too near the main stage, where all manner of arse was being spoon fed to the unwashed masses.
If A Walk With The Wicked owned souls and some of the other bands were a pleasant surprise or won over a few new fans, then I have just run out of words to describe what happened with Axxon. A relatively young and inexperienced Industrial band that closed proceedings on Saturday night was in the exalted opinion of many, many people, the highlight of the entire event. They overcame the initial technical glitches to put on a show that could overthrow a small government!
No words. Simply awe...
Overheard at Ramfest: "Jeesh the international bands were kak! And Die Antwoord were rubbish..." This in the bathroom, and not from some black tshirt wearing metal heads...
The most entertainment came form The Heavy, who had had a bit too much and slept through ALL the bands on Saturday night, eventually waking up at 3am and partying all night in the Trance/Dubstep area, only to return to the campsite at 10am. I can't tell you for fear of a libel case. That good!
Well done to the organisers and bands. I am sure RAMfest will keep on growing and growing.
So. Spread the love. Just not anywhere NEAR the Nekkies swimming pool...