A Combined Effortby Max Barashenkov, images by Harry Boden / 02.12.2010
“You’re not on the list,” says the pig-fucker at the gate. You disagree, the pig-fucker rifles some papers and maintains. You ask his name, the number of his superior and take out a malicious-looking cellphone. The pig-fucker panics, twitches his tail and capitulates, issuing you a pass. Later, with the same asshole confidence, you get two other cars into Synergy Live, sparing your friends the excruciating walk from the general parking to the camping area. Sometimes pathetic organization works in your favour.
The first thing you realize as you set up your tent is that you’ve been lied to, you’ve been fooled. You’ve been promised a festival and instead you find yourself at a two-day Assembly party. The same neon-sticker-face-painted idiots that blow their Friday nights on cheap electro and even cheaper drugs, the same neo-bohemians with their we-don’t-give-a-fuck-but-check-how-good-we-look-on-we-are-awesome attitudes and affinity for processed indie-rock, the same disinterest at meeting new people and the same attachment to cliques. Maybe it’s because you’ve been to a few proper festivals, maybe it’s because you’re jaded and bitter (oh that lovely, misunderstood word), but you’ve come to expect something more from this kind of event – some sense of soul, some focal point that defines it. And very quickly it becomes apparent, that at Synergy Live, you will find neither.
It is filled with all the cliché tropes: some drunk dude puking over everyone at the Free Fall ride; some chick getting zonked on MDMA and waking up naked and screaming “rape”; the spaced-out, barely-maintaining bass-rap fiends on Saturday morning spewing rhymes along the lines of – “I fucked a puppy, it wasn’t a bitch, it was just unlucky”. It has some good bands – the ever-rejuvenating ska-punk of Hog Hoggidy Hog and the unexpectedly satisfying cute pop of Fire Through The Window. It has that sickening amazement at seeing the masses of illiterate cattle make Prime Circle feel like what they play is actually music. It has all the things a Festival should have, but fails to live up to that title.
You walk around, you drink, you do have a good time and then you step over to the electro stage and immediately get choked on the zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-P.H.Fat- zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-HEAZER-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-Three-DJs-Using-The-Same-Sample-One-After-The-Other-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-Please-Kill-Me-With-Repetition-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-zomph-you are barely able to disentangle yourself from this rave circus, which goes on, full-force, until the early hours of the morning, a forest of dubstep fellatio, more popular and pulsating than the main stage. You feel dirty, you feel fucked even though you’re sober, you feel, once again, cheated. It’s night-fall on Saturday and you realize the dire need for drugs to numb your bruised ears. This is when you make the first good decision of the weekend and wander into the LMG tent and —
— Hot Baby Jesus Fuck! The Great Mother Fucking Apes! Pandemonium! Sex Dripping Speakers Of Satan! From the clouds of smoke, with a beastial howl, Yusif Sayigh emerges like Godzilla, ready to rape the Tokyo of your being. Right there and then you want to elope with him, to procreate, to spawn a whole brood of frontmen, enough to populate all the wanna-be ‘rock’ acts in this country, to infect them with some real rock ‘n roll stage-insanity. The Apes don’t play their songs, they annihilate them. They make the shitty sound of the LMG set-up (the crusty quality of which hasn’t been heard since the Purple Turtle punk days) their bitch. The same crackling, crunching noise that laid waste to the otherwise beautiful We Set Sail set earlier that evening, now it’s screaming and wailing in tune to the Apes. You haven’t thrown out the Devil’s Horns in a long time, but now your two fingers are solidly in the air, saluting a band that takes the South African alternative music Olympus and drenches it in torrents of much deserved, dissonant shit. You hope that they will never go soft, never submit, never bow down, because as it stands now, they’ll be headlining by next year.
When you come back, your friends, those that didn’t go, ask you, “How was Synergy? How was it different from Rocking The Daisies?”
And you stand there, scratching your head and, at a loss, offer, “Um, it was near Franschhoek…?”
*All images © Harry Boden.