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Touching Heaven

by Max Barashenkov, images by Kevin Goss-Ross / 08.08.2010

Saturday, Day 2, written from Dante’s third circle:

In the beer queue, I’m suddenly a swallow under the wing of an Afrikaans hawk. The hawk is bearded, in web-development when sober and teaches me to be rude to strangers and to answer every question with a “fuck you buddy”. He tells me to remember him. I will, but there aren’t that many people to be rude about today, the line-up being much better than yesterday…

“I’m Captain Beer and I declare all of you fucked,” preaches the MC and with that, Facing the Gallows proceed to kick the shit out of the crowd. Face-melting breakdowns and racing screams. The only thing preventing them from being the best metal band in South Africa is their chosen genre – technical melodic deathcore is as dead and soulless as emo and metalcore.

At first I don’t understand Funafuji’s appeal, but at the electro stage everyone is stoned rather than animal fucked and I soon see why Evan Milton recommended this dub-dancehall-step British girl. She drops it as low as they go, and despite it being early in the day, people are grinding with hung-over dedication.

Big surprise, massive mind-blow, Gemma Ray is my new favourite female singer. I’m not sure about the slightly silly 50s housewife outfit, but she is a delicious modern minimalist bard, and when she loops her voice and does her own backing vocals… ahhhh – ravenous applause.

Damn you big stage, damn you awesome light show and sound rig, you make the most average band in SA look good. Prime Circle’s Americanized dad-rock is tight and polished, it’s the kind of music your old man puts on when he wants to show the old lady that he still has the fire. Add Viagra. Or three.

They tell me that it is always this way – Friday music sucks and Saturday rocks. At least some kind of trope holds up in this madhouse. There are plenty a of good bands on show today – from the infectious pop-punk-use-the-boep-as-a-drum of Rambling Bones to the filthy electro of Haezer and the imaginative multi-instrumentalism of Yesterday’s Pupil. The shit is still here, don’t worry – the simply embarrassing nu-metal of Rhutz, the complete nothingness of Radio Kalahari Orkes… but wait, I must be weary and watch my back, I hear the Triads are onto me. A future of being chained up in a sweat-shop awaits…

All images © Kevin Goss-Ross.

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