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Bloem Rocks, Jaws Drop

by Ruan Scott / 27.07.2010

Kids will be kids will be kids. Their naivety will shine through and even more so when they consume too much alcohol and before long, in some cases even before the show, they are sprawled out on the bathroom floor between mom’s lunch and the remnants of a half a bottle of Vodka. Emitting the stench of vomit and radiating that child-like innocence. This was the scenario for some underage punks at the annual Fracture Fest in Bloemfontein on Saturday July 24.

In it’s fourth year in 2010, the festival runs from around lunch to midnight. Hosted in the Andre Hugenoot Theatre inside the Sand Du Plessis Theatre, the venue and rig is nothing short of impressive. Speakers protruding from the sky high ceiling had me gazing up, for a moment hoping for them to transform into Optimus Prime. The sound blasted at full volume loud and clear like mountain streams on a summers day. One could hear the bass guitar thumping through the venue with every slap while the mic was as sharp as a hunting knife. As with all ups the likelihood of a downside is inevitable. The venue turned out to be no smoking inside and the bar was the epoch of daylight robbery. R33 for a DB&C at your local rock show is exploitation of our country’s favourite pastime.

The line up for this year is very much in a different form, a lighter one if I may, compared to previous Fractures. With a name like Fracture Fest one would expect to see, well, some fractures. Not a single stage dive filled the air on this day and there was something that resembled a mosh pit but nothing like the first Fracture Fest I remember. None the less, a new sound for a new generation, I suppose. That or maybe the kids were all passed out around the building. Honestly, at any given moment you could at least count two passed out underage kids around the show.

This years line up was unique to me and, eager like a movie connoisseur to watch the latest release, I was amped on catching some bands I have never seen perform on stage. With no expectations except for local band Apeklap – who everyone knows and knows exactly what to expect. Tubby LLB and Optometry students rocking an Afrikaans rock band in their spare time. A sense of humour that drips from the frontman’s lips will have you laughing out loud as they talk kak between songs while at the same time you gasp for air in disbelief that the vocalist just took off his pants and informed the crowd that having sex before you are married really isn’t that bad. These guys play kief catchy tunes that are more intelligent than stupid and do two of the most original cover songs I have heard in a while. The theme song from the much loved or hated cartoon character in the early 90’s Moomin, which is played faster and louder with a few added ideas and swear words to it. Die Antwoords’ Ninja is the other, playing it all ska and ragga like, actually pulling it off pretty well.

Audio Nebula were on stage prior to Apeklap. Not much to say than four school chaps playing Afrikaans rock. They seem to be doing pretty well. Competing in Rockspaaider, video on MK, teeny boppers with “tingling ginies” in the front row. What more could they want. They are pretty good musicians though, especially the bass player. There is this energetic mystery that surrounds him. On stage he lets out some tripping riffs that are disturbingly good. And off stage he is this silent character lurking in the shadows while the girls gawk over his cute looks. He stood in for Sworn To Silence later that evening as their bassist had recently quit the HC scene. Also residing in Bloem, Sworn To Silence are a violently loud and hard band. Their vocalist is staunch, lurks from underneath his baseball cap, always wearing shorts, buff as fuck and will probably win every fight he is ever in. 

MURDERFACE, another Bloem four piece, and the only other hard band on the bill, besides Sworn To silence and The Human Meat Blocks, is a gem of a hardcore-swear-at-the-crowd-scream-your-heart-out-from-start-to-finish band if there ever was one. Fronted by three of the barman from the infamous Mystic Boer Bar, pleasant and friendly behind the counter, brutal on stage.

It was evident that most of the show was dedicated to the genre of scream like a pig the one moment and sing like a girl (and look like one) the next. Or trying to, I guess. Freedom For Your Life, Dear Martyr, Wake To wonder, All Will Fall, The Frail are cut from this cloth. Fringes, 10mm fleshies, skinny jeans, sweet melodic singing with some heavy breakdowns. All pretty good in their own right. I could never fluctuate my voice like an economy in crisis the way they do. It’s all just a bit generic for my palate I think. Then again maybe I have no taste. All Will Fall actually played one of the best sets I have seen them play. Solid and tight and with a guest vocalist at one point, they sounded promising.

Straatligkinders played, but I didn’t watch. I could hear them all too well in the seating area were I was reclining enjoying a beer: “Whêk wil mwêt jou Dwans….” or something like that. Nice guys but not my cup of tea. The kids – well the sober ones seemed to enjoy Kaptein. No harm in that I suppose?

A band that really stole the show in my biased opinion was We Shall Embrace. I had never seen or heard them but when I saw them I was transfixed and not only the lovely looking vocalist – an actual girl singing like a girl and pulling it off better than some the boy-girls. Their music is generally faster with a bit of punk rock ambiance while they guitarists play weighty and technical riffs that really sound good. One can see the connection between these guys and their instruments. The bass was phat and loud and when the second guitarist, who played for the now disbanded Jhb HC band Kill The Messenger and the bassist, who plays for Wrestlerish, rocked in unison, not only did it sound first class but it looked top notch. 

As I mentioned earlier The Human Meatblocks are an ex-Bloem, ex-Vaal band that technically don’t exist anymore. They reformed for the show as a reunion gig. All I can say grindcore is alive in these men’s hearts and they will most likely give elderly people a cardiac arrest.

As the night drew to an end and the vast expanse of the venue grew bigger, the kids huddled in the cold wind wondering “waar die fokken paartie is” waiting for folks to come collect the war victims. I could only stand there thinking that we too were school kids drinking skelm in the car park at the shows and how I actually missed that naive notion than we back then refused to admit we had.

All images © Ruan Scott.

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