Teenage Bloodbathby Bianca Fernandes, images by Paul Ward / 24.12.2010
Imagine the chick from that Jack Parow video “Cooler as Ekke” rawling in the dirt with that chick from Disney’s High School Musical on a wine farm outside Cape Town. That’s kind of how Sonic Summer went down. After a 15 minute drive deep into the fields of the Backsberg Wine Estate, we still hadn’t seen the stage. Over the last two months, unless you have no connection to any form of media, you’d have heard about The Sonic Summer Festival, after it was heavily punted on tv, radio and the internet. Impossible to ignore. The line up consisted of three of the biggest South African pop acts of 2010. The boy band pop of Locnville, the globo-zef-gangster-rap of Die Antwoord, the proto-dance-pop-jazz-house noodling of Goldfish and the jackhammer MK-pop of Jax Panik. This was an event planners wet dream. But the actual coming together of a crowd so diverse, and let’s face it, unrelated, cast a weird Twilight Zone atmosphere over that field under the Stellenbosch Mountains.
The different tribes were immediately recognisable. Everyone ubiquitous in their summer wear but sporting different versions of band T-shirts, trucker caps and tank tops. The term “zeflings” is fast becoming a synonym for “ageing urban hip hopster”. These alternative kaaps-gangster-wannabes in “Poes Cool” shirts, baggy pants and “zef so fress” style ran slap bang into suburban post-matric glamour girls in bright blue locnville hats, short skirts, noses in the air, pink drinks going straight to their heads. And lots of glitter. It should have been a bloodbath. Alas it was not to be. Turns out mixing two diametrically opposed social scenes is not that dangerous. Unless you’re allergic to awkward.
To the music. The opening act DJ Waxxy might as well just have been streaming 5FM. But it kind of worked with the overall theme of the jol. Most of which sounded as overplayed and outdated as a 2010 hit radio radio playlist. Locnville. Oh Locnville! Where ever you go your young adolescent, pre- sluts will follow. South Africa’s answer to Justin Bieber, tailor made for screaming, shaking young suburban ladies, and lady-boys, wearing more lumo than a trance tent. If you like that sort of ersatz hip pop thing, then I guess the Sonic Summer may have gone down as your “ultimate best gig ever”.
Jax Panik gave the audience something else to talk about besides those ‘hottie’ Chaplin boys. The set was marred by the fact that none of his songs sounded the same as his album and that the Locnville helicopter occasionally flying above was of much more interest to the crowd than watching a jumping jack with a weird psycho mask on.
The sun went down and Goldfish brought a few more people to the stage. By then I noticed that I hadn’t seen one drunk person staggering around. Normally they’d be unavoidable at this type of show. Perhaps it was because the bar only sold beer, brutal fruit and bottles of wine. Or maybe it was the omnipresent “where the fuck am I?” vibe that just wasn’t allowing a buzz to occur. Another point proven, if you don’t like a band on the radio, they rarely sound any better live. Especially if they play a 90 minute set right before a much more popular, much more exciting band. I know they weren’t headlining, but it would have made more sense to the party, had Goldfish played the final set.
But that wouldn’t have washed with the global-zef superstars and super-sized egos. Dum Dum Duh, Die Antwoord! After Goldfish they made us wait even longer, after a day that seemed to never end. The thought running through my mind, “will they be worth it?” Maybe. Once they took to the stage most of the pop-loving kids trickled away, collected by parents and carpools, whisked back to the burbs or the next matric rage jol. One can only imagine their parents catching a glimpse of Die Antwoord and fearing for the next generation. A look of disgust painted on their faces as they drag their picnic baskets and children away from the blasting zef beats and poes-laden lyrics. But the good old zeflings make for an entertaining show, but their new band might excite you more. Closing with “Doos Dronk” was the biggest anti-climax of the day, as it was quite obvious that hardly anyone was drunk.
All images © Paul Ward.