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Billabong Pro Music Festival

Rock Hard Weekend

by Luke Mason, images Jared Aufrichtig / 19.07.2011

The udders of winter’s cash cow swell and lactate, business owners pull up a bucket and a stool. The surf only arriving at the end of the waiting period is the best possible thing that could have happened for the town, after last years’ contest flashed by in 3 days, leaving J-Bay bewildered and feeling slightly dirty. At this stage far more beers have been drunk then waves ridden. Pockets and livers alike continue to haemorrhage and vomit yellow bile. Day 5 of 11 sees J-Bay emerging bleary eyed from the nocturnal gauntlet of the weekend. Round 2 false-starting in fickle 2-3 foot surf.

The hideously named Jolly Dolphin pumped deep into the depravity of the morning for the third time in a row last night, as the Billabong Pro Music Festival came to a successful conclusion. It’s been a heavy weekend: a couple great acts, lots of free beers and the strong possibility of a couple teenage pregnancies. My liver on strike and my guts decomposing, I breathe a sigh of boozy relief.

Billabong Pro Music Festival

The air here has been thick with the salt of lady-lust. I have seldom seen anything like it on South African soil. Overcome by the mojo of surf magic and music, girls own the night, partying hard, yowling at the moon, calling the shots. Friday night had its foot hard on the accelerator from the get go and La Vi pulled everyone front and centre. By the time Rambling Bones came on, the pit was full of lubricated youths, backpackers and contest affiliates grinding and moving. aKing aKinged to their usual mass of screaming 18 year old girls. Sex was in the air. Holiday Murray were a bit loose by witching hour, they pulled out the plug and the droves drained drunkenly homeward.

Saturday kicked off really nicely with a performance by Meri Kaniz, a beautiful dreadie with a silky voice and an interesting acoustic sound. She fitted the scene perfectly, hippy to the max, guitar in hand, a projector trained on a screen above her head teasing the wave starved crowd with images of the Billabong team getting barrelled off their heads at Chopes. The night went through a bit of a flat spell with Don’t Panic’s kak punk rock Lady Gaga covers. City Bowl Mizers, ever drunk, ever solid, offered the ear some relief and brought the sound back onto the level. Their new drummer Steve Jones, formerly of Sibling Rivalry, sporting a bloodied eye and on the scout, is still adapting to the new sound but they’re already sounding good together. They paid their sweat equity. At some point (it’s all a bit hazy) Revolver from Cape Town played some decent indie music. With no possibility of having to surf in the morning some of the competitors ventured out. Women cling to them. They cling to the free beer tap in the VIP area. Jeremy Flores clings to his usually impeccable centre of balance. Then came P.H.Fat with their contribution to white rap and the whole electro trend. Mike was so fucked I’m surprised the first words that came out of his mouth weren’t made of vomit. The crowd had a wonderful time repeating lines like “suck my dick” and so on, but ja, same old ego-infested rap shit. DJ Narch gave the people what they wanted and the evening finished strong.

Billabong Pro Music Festival

By Sunday I’m a fokkin zombie. By the scheduled start there are exactly 2 people in the jol. I thought the fest had finally broken the crowd, that after 2 huge nights everyone would be asleep, depressed or nursing a cold. When J-Bay’s own Hot Wasabi began to play it made a bit more sense. Not that the music wasn’t of a good quality, because it was, an old rock sound guided by an excellent lead guitar, listening to it just made me feel decrepit, like years where being stolen from my life. The old feeling continued with Ard Matthews, but was redirected into more of a nostalgic warmth. A good performance to a crowd that is still very much behind him.

Billabong Pro Music Festival

Then, out of nowhere this hipster kid with a feather in his hat came out and blew the fucking roof off the place. By far the stand out act of the festival, Jeremy Loops brought something fresh to the table. Very cool loops layered over each other, a good grasp of a range of instruments, loads of energy, loads of funk. The crowd went completely nuts. Kid doesn’t even have a CD but look out!
Someone else played after that.

There weren’t enough strobe lights in the whole of J-Bay to pull off what the DJ that came after what’s-his-name was playing. We stumbled out of the Dolphin in the wee hours and straight into the darkside. The Mexican. Trance music blaring, a dance floor of neon eyeballs charging into the night. It was time to call it quits. Hats off to the organisers on too much of a good thing all round.

Billabong Pro Music Festival

Billabong Pro Music Festival

Billabong Pro Music Festival

*All images © Jared Aufrichtig.

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