Ra Ra Ramfest!

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 7 April 2011

Ramfest was almost a month ago. How time flies. In the time that has passed we have had some other noteworthy music festivals, such as the Big Blues Festival and the Flamjangled Tea Party (which I am so going to next year). But in all fairness, considering I have only just put my tent away and my liver is still recovering, it feels like it happened yesterday.

So, this time last week (sorry, a few weeks ago) I was hauling out the tent, packing the the sunblock and charging my camera. I was also searching for my leather wristbands and liquid eyeliner in order to look the part for the heavy metal rock festival of the year. As a newbie to this festival I figured I had to look the part so I could blend in with the metalheads and the emo’s. It then took me almost three hours to get to Nekkies (that does not include the time it took me to pack up the car and go to the booze shop), it should have taken about an hour. Thanks to an accident just outside Paarl, I was made to sit in my car for almost an hour, without air conditioning. I decided to pull over and do what I do best – text people randomly. I was so engrossed that eventually a towtruck came to ask me if I needed towing. In Rawsonville I got pulled over by the police. I hadn’t even got there yet and I was being seen as either being in trouble or just plain trouble.

But eventually, there I was, happily surrounded by good friends with a cold beverage in hand. The tent was up, the sun was setting and the view of mountains was breathtaking. Then the faint sounds of ‘doef doef doef” started. What?! Surely I should be hearing screeching guitars, pounding drums and the roar of doooooooom. Panic set in for a second. Were we at the right festival? Had I been hoodwinked into going to a Vortex? Then I realised that the girl that just walked past was actually a dude, with eyeliner. Ahhh, phew. Emo’s. I was definitely at Ramfest.

The rest of the weekend was a rocking affair, where I managed to fight with the backstage bouncers yet again, saw some great bands, discovered some new bands, drank copius amounts of vodka in the heat and performed an impromptu strip show in the pool. For my first Ramfest I had an awesome time, although I wasn’t entirely sure about the presence of a electronic pyramid that seemed to be more popular than the metal stage. Would I recommend it? Definitely. Will I go back next year? Hell yeah!

Camping facilities
The camping area at this festival is massive. It seems especially massive at 2am in the morning when you are trying to find your tent. There was ample space for all and they even have a shop, Nekkies Kafee, which sells all those things you run out of on weekends like these. Namely: cigarettes, crisps, biscuits, milk, soft drinks and other important little goodies, like ice. They were also kind enough to let people use their plug point to blow up inflatable mattresses. The ablution block was one of the best I have ever used at a festival. It was huge, with lots of showers and loos and more importantly, it was kept clean at all times.

Making a splash
The swimming pool at Ramfest is the most popular place to be in the heat of the day. I would just suggest you keep your mouth closed. Diving is prohibited, and I found out why. You may surface with half your swimming attire around your waist. There is also a river, but I never made it there. It was quite far from our camping spot and it was just too hot. But I did hear good reports and perhaps next year I will remember to take a parasol and go check it out. In my mind, a giant foefie slide to the the river would be a major plus.

Food and booze (the important stuff)
Festivals as a whole have really come a long way. There is no reason to pack up the cooler box with anything other than cold beers. You could even leave the beers behind and just take a wad of cash. The bars were well run and well stocked. The drinks were always cold too which is admirable considering the heavy demand and 40 °C heat. There were also overhead sprays in the bar areas to cool everyone down which was appreciated. Food wise, every need was catered for and everything was reasonably priced. You could get coffee in the morning along with full breakfasts. We ate wraps for breakfast, stir fries for lunch, had vodka slushies for tea and devoured burgers at 3am in the morning. There were pizzas, falafels, schwarmas, samoosa’s, boerewors rolls and even potjie kos. Leave the braai tongs at home, you really don’t need them at Ramfest. Unless you want to poke a metalhead in the bum and steal his Black Label.

The bands (just as important)
I was never inclined to go to Ramfest because I am not a metalhead. More of a rock and alternative kind of girl. Turns out Ramfest caters for everyone on the music front as well. I particularly enjoyed Zebra & Giraffe, Desmond and the Tutu’s, Van Coke Kartel, and I saw Die Antwoord live for the first time. Even my old favourite, Jack Parow, made an appearance. I was introduced to the very entertaining Mr Cat & The Jackal, the hillbilly rockers, Juggernaut, and rocked out to Not My Dog. I knew none of the international acts (must be getting old), but everyone else did, judging by the screaming women, the sweaty moshpits and the countless arms in the air. I was also somewhat amused to see that the Electronic Tent was the most popular and was the place to be in the wee hours. Metal festival indeed!

The people
Everyone seems to shed their outer skin at a festival, as anything goes. Some people got glammed up, others slummed it and some dressed up. Apart from the proverbial metalheads sporting long hair and Metallica shirts, I saw policewomen, hippies, the odd lad with eyeliner, girls in heels and hotpants, cowboy boots, flip flops, Axl Rose wannabes, rave bunnies and the occassional goth. This was no ‘metalheads only’ festival, it was a festival with many flavours and all were welcome to be who they wanted to be. Everyone was friendly and fun and there to have a rocking time.

Memorable/Flashback moments:

  • Asking for directions to the bar and being told, ‘It’s over there, just follow the light.’
  • Camping right next to Nekkies Kafee. What a great spot – unlimited supply of ice and cigarettes right on my canvas doorstep.
  • Seeing Die Antwoord perform live for the first time and with special guest appearance by my old favourite, Jack Parow. I have never seen so much overpaid white trash on a stage in one go.
  • Having vodka and granadilla juice for breakfast. They say fruit juice is good for breakfast.
  • Getting my friends to teach me to roar ‘dooooooooooooooooommmmm’. Apparently the more you have to drink, the better you get at it. I practically had no voice by Sunday.
  • Demanding to be allowed on the stage to take photos because I had the coveted photographer’s pass. Turns out I was effectively trying to get backstage (again). The photographer’s entrance was on the other side of the stage.
  • Taking photos of the people at Ramfest. Everyone was there, from policewomen to Axl Rose to drug dealers, and me.
  • Doing a impromptu boob flash in the pool. There is apparently a reason why they have ‘no diving’ signs.
  • Water sprayers in the bar tent. Pure heaven. I want some for my garden.
  • Discovering the raised platform/bar in front of the stage. The best place to be. Cold beers, water sprayers and a great view of the main stage.
  • Taking a full bag of clothing and cosmetics. I wore my retro white-trash outfit for almost the entire the festival and didn’t shower once.
  • Finding out that inside every rocker is a secret raver.

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