I'm sitting here in post Ramfest afterglow. And not just from the thorough scrubbing I had to administer after 3 days of dust, heat, wind and hippies. And dicks. Jeeeesh, there were a lot of dicks. Some were even etched into car window dust. Let's not even go into how peoples' basic bathroom etiquette seems to abandon them as soon as they enter a plastic portaloo.
What a spectacularly successful event - again!
The Hot Girlfriend and I arrived, fresh-faced and ready for a long weekend of music and mayhem. Having one's camping area kept open in anticipation of your arrival is a thing of rare luxury indeed. We set up our tent and set about exploring the extensive campsite. Extensive... I mean EXTENSIVE! As one pithy punter put it afterwards "Screw your Argus updates. I covered way more than 100kms at Ramfest, on foot, in much more taxing circumstances".
Yes, the price we paid for our luxurious camping surroundings, under virtually permanent leafy shade and right by our cars, came with a price. The walk to and fro between tent and stage area was so long it required a good deal of preparation every time and almost ended in a divorce or four. It also coated all the weary travelers in enough dust to make even the most fastidious hygiene aficionado quickly let go of any pipe dream of staying relatively clean. But the great trek was worth it every single time...
Clearly Ramfest is designed to cater to as many tastes as possible. This is my way of saying that not all the acts on offer were my cup of tea. But the organisers are definitely doing something right. Every year attendance grows. Every year the acts brought in for our entertainment are more varied and more amazing. So I'm not going to dwell on those acts which I didn't enjoy. Fuck's sake, even walking past the electro tent left me a teeth grinding, bug eyed, homicidal maniac. Here, then, is a short list of my favourite highlights of the festival:
- Dead Lucky reclaimed their title as my absolute favourite local band of brigands with a surly, suitably brash performance that had the barricades rattling and the bodies bouncing in rambunctious reverie. The very definition of raucous rock was captured and I for one am hoping that their performance leads to bigger and better things.
- I caught the end of The Very Wicked and was very impressed. Very!
- We Are A Conduit fucking WAILED! They have a haunting intensity to their rampant, roguish rock that immediately endears them, and as entrancing a front person in the form of Natalie as you're ever likely to see. She writhes and howls and feels and lives every emotion in every tortured lyric she delivers.
- Despite being bumped from Main Stage to the Stellenbrau Stage due to international acts and their shitty scheduling, The Rayban sporting Flaming DeVilles delivered a consummately professional set and I can tell you with my hand on my heart that I have rarely seen a band enjoy themselves as much on a stage. They are clearly on top of their game and loving what they do - it's fucking infectious, as was evident in the crowd behind me.
- Gerald Clark is on another level. Seriously. I am blown away every time I have the profound privilege of seeing him deliver a set of devilishly dirty blues. You really are overwhelmed by the overpowering feeling that this genuine guitar genius with the golden voice made a deal with a very shady character in the deep, deep South...
- And then the boys from Infanteria went and showed everyone why they are the current darlings of the local metal scene. Before I start gushing, let me make one thing clear. I am not a huge fan of the current thrash metal revival, bullet belts, or the fact that Dave Mustaine is still allowed to draw breath. I am however, just as willing to lavish praise on that which deserves it as I am prone to dismiss that which doesn't. Their trip to Germany has obviously made a massive difference to their stagecraft. Their show was an incredible display of shredding metal and shaking earth, delivered with genuine authority. By the end of their set Ramfest in its entirety was involved, horns held proudly aloft in unison. Even their technical difficulties went unnoticed, due - I believe - to the great support of their stage hands (including Large Ulrich). Congratulations on an unbelievable show, gentlemen! The world is yours to conquer.
I have saved two particular performances for the end. Mainly because I am unsure how to dissect the latter without getting my hands dirty. My dear ol' Mum has always said "Honesty is the best policy" and despite not wanting to comment on the horrifying tragedy of some of the acts, I am going to single out 3 alleged comedians. I have no doubt that, like the necessary diversity described above, there is a niche for everyone, but my aching fuck! Rob van Vuuren! Really?!?! And Paul Snodgrass! Words fail me... The only thing more dire than these guys was another comedian whose name I was fortunate enough to miss.
So I'll end with my conundrum. The ever evolving Junkyard Lipstick. Gone are the days of screeching, plodding punk. They have embraced a rather more aggressive brand of speed thrash metal, and the people have spoken! They rocked the crap out of the Monster Stage, snarling, sneering and sending the crowd into headbanging hysteria. Honestly? I don't think their musical transformation, or even their journey to their best, is quite finished, but I can tell you one thing. With the support so clearly enjoyed by these femmes fatales, you will be hearing a lot more from this band. A lot!
And that brings me to the end of another wonderful Ramfest. Soaked on Sunday morning, but not dampened of spirit, the journey home was luckily not too bad, although the aftermath cleaning is ongoing. See you all next year!
NGDG: I think we've all now been disabused of our adolescent notion that rainy Seattle would be a cool place to live.
Spread The Love. No Shitting In The Shower, Please.