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What Happens in Joburg

by Angela Weickl / Images by Mack Michael Magagane / 14.02.2012

What happens in Joburg stays in Joburg and if you put in enough effort you probably won’t remember most of it anyway…

The days preceding Jozifest are consumed by the controversy of Die Antwoord pulling out – after being invited to the David Letterman Show – and HAEZER pulling out due to a commitment to the Paul Van Dyk event in Cape Town and the lack of Red Eye flights to jet him up to Joburg afterwards. With two of the major draw cards removed from the line up, the legitimacy of the entire event is put into question. The Facebook page is filled with comments from enraged ticket holders threatening to boycott the party.

From a Cape Town perspective, Newtown is Joburg’s answer to Woodstock, they even have a market on a Saturday morning that easily rivals the Old Biscuit Mill’s. However, just like it’s counterpart, the minute the sun sets there is a good chance you’ll get murdered if you stray too far from the pack. What draws the masses to the city’s nether regions is the The Woods and Town Hall, these venues regularly host some of Joburg’s hottest parties.

The Woods, Town Hall and Carfax have been combined into one large venue with an extensive outside area running the length of the alley. There are four independent stages, catering for EDM, hip hop heads and metal kids.


I’m not the biggest drum ‘n bass fan, I do appreciate a couple of great tracks that I’ve heard but tonight is outrageous. From the minute the doors open until the turntable needle grinds to a halt, drum ‘n bass can be heard in one style or another. On the Monster Stage Hyphen warms up the crowd with an intelligent set never attempting to steal the thunder from the proceeding international acts. The progression from UK acts Heist, to Sub Zero and finally Grooverider feels repetitive. Grooverider is a hulking figure poised inanimately behind the decks. This is mostly due to the fact that he is blazed to high heaven, a sizeable bag of chronic is seen being passed amongst the DJs and I contributed more than a few rolling papers to their plight.

One thing I have noticed is that attaching the word “fest” to this event has made the kids rage and take drugs like its an outdoor party. Kids on pills and Monster energy drink are beyond disturbing.

Although the turn out is pretty decent, there just isn’t enough of a body count to satisfy each stage. The Carfax stage, where all the hip hop is going down, never accumulates more than a 50 strong mass and Eligh & Scarub (USA) lay down some dangerous tracks to a fortunate few.


Making my way between the stages forces me to pass the food stalls repeatedly until I finally submit to the temptation. I wolf down a double frankfurter hotdog, probably the safest item on the menu after seeing a few mates filled with regret after consuming the “chicken” burgers.

I’ve never missed a Pestroy set within my reach and tonight I make sure I keep my record perfect. Pestroy are one of the most underrated bands this country has spawned. But somehow I think that they like it that way. They can pull a crowd of 500 people into the tiniest tent on the metal stage at a music festival without blinking. Some might call them neglected, but they have a cult status that is perhaps more satisfying than being the flavour of the week.

Amidst my sensory overload I stumble into Town Hall just in time for Damage Inc, this Cape Town duo are responsible for the most evil tunes I heard the entire weekend. I have to take periodic breaks from the dance floor due to the physical pain of raging so hard.

The serious failure to provide a sufficient amount of toilets for the capacity of the party means I stand in the queue for the duration of Musical Chairs’ set, I’ve never wished I was a dude so much in my entire life. I race back in time for Double Adapter and their table climbing, neck breaking antics and a heaving dance floor of sweaty bitches and bros.

The night ends with drunken banter in the back of a soccer mom car, McDonald’s in my face and the most amazing bed I’ve ever slept in.

Saturday morning, I hate you. But it’s nothing a huge plate of bacon can’t fix.


Heading back to Newtown I’m consumed by flashbacks and experience a moment of dread for what lies ahead. It’s early afternoon, a small queue has formed outside the venue and a substantial amount of people are already inside watching Wrestlerish.

The most noticeable difference from last night is the brand vomit that is now covering the venue. Monster, Vodacom, Blackberry , Dunhill and Axe have covered almost every inch of free space. It’s like they woke up late and thought “Jozifest, ACTIVATE!” If you pass out drunk there is a good chance you could lose ownership of your forehead to one of them. The Blackberry people have their own sound system and a DJ who plays every song you just don’t want to hear. At one point they have a dance off to win a phone. The Axe installation has guys standing in a queue to get spanked by girls in stilettos and miniskirts, your prize – a GQ Calendar and a semi that takes you 5 minutes to walk off.

A new stage, the KillCool Stage, has been set up underneath the bridge at the far end of the venue, the concrete enhances the bass to perfection and the easy access bar creates the perfect combination of great tunes and cold beer. A lot of people have been moaning about the R20 beers, but I’d gladly pay that because at no point have I waited more than 5 minutes to be served at any bar.

On the Monster Stage edgy Joburg darlings The Frown have the massive crowd mesmerized. Eve Rakow is enchanting, with a killer set of pipes but the nonchalant, “I’m hardly playing my instrument” look of her band (aside from the drummer) makes me wanna slap them in the face and can someone give the emaciated dude a sandwich, or maybe cut off his heroin supply?

Tasha Baxter’s band manages to clear two thirds of the crowd, why she ever picked up a guitar I don’t know. She is an amazing vocalist on EDM tracks but I’m so bored watching her that I find a random queue to stand in, with no idea what awaits me at the front.


aKing and 340ml are faultless while Foto Na Dans play their last Joburg show ever. I get chills knowing it’s the last time I’ll ever hear that Pendulum cover live and as they aptly end their set with ‘Vergeet Van My’ I know it’ll be a long time before I do forget about this phenomenal band.

At the KillCool stage the majority of Liver’s set is hindered by technical problems, but like a true professional he pulls the crowd in and holds their attention to a full recovery. The gremlins are out with a vengeance as Greg Reve is forced to pull out due to irreparable technical difficulties. The night is saved by Kennedy, who ends up owning the crowd for 2 hours. Definitely the sickest DJ set of the weekend. In a rare venture outside the realm of The Assembly, Pierre Coetzee and I had the displeasure of witnessing a drunken lout dry humping unsuspecting men with his homo-erotic flashing light sabre, perhaps clinging to the hope that one of his victims has serious daddy issues.

The triple threat culmination of the night, sees Lark, Taxi Violence and Fokofpolisiekar draw almost the entire Jozifest crowd to the Monster Stage. The bodies seem infinite and the energy is tangible. The crowd pretty much sings Fokof’s set for them and by the time they play their namesake anthem people are ready to break shit. Jozifest ends with Francois singing “soet slaap sonder sonde”. It’s unlikely anyone will be sleeping sinless tonight, more likely passing out in a pool of sweat and vomit.

Jozifest has a lot to work on in terms of organisation but the one thing I will give them is that, no matter how out of control things got behind the scenes, the party goers were none the wiser. As far as the kids are concerned, they had a sick weekend.


*All images © Mack Michael Magagane / THIIS

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