Saturday, the 6th of March, saw the citizens of the concrete jungle substitute sports attire with summer garb as a much awaited RAMfest made its northern debut at the picturesque Emmarentia Dam. The thatch roof stage played host to a diverse array of acts with genres ranging from Wrestlerish’s introspective folk rock to Lark’s alternative take on the same thing. Wrapping up the miscellany was internationals Pendulum with their stupefying DJ set.
The eagerly anticipated event was off to a slow start as outfits Wrestlerish, The Sick Leaves and Isochronous fiercely fought potential heatstroke and festival enthusiasts filled the sloped setting. Following the beloved locals were the renowned Bellville boys. aKing’s set could be best described as an indication of what a “Greatest Hits” album would offer. (Somewhat) notorious Afrikaans rapper Jack Parow entertained attendees with rou beats off his new EP and by 5pm gave way to electro trio Die Heuwels Fantasties… who, once again, disappointed me with their uninteresting performance and vocal incompetence. However sad the unravelling, their lacklustre act presented me with plenty opportunity to assess the other aspects of the festival.
Nestled between the City of Gold’s suburbs, Emmarentia Dam provided a scenic and intimate venue, but goddamn it was hot! Nature’s calm oddly contrasted with the alternative aspect associated with this particular festival. This was emphasized by the fact that the afternoon’s festivities were set to finish at 10 pm. I expected an unfamiliar raucousness but instead found more of the same. It was hard to readjust my attitude and I couldn’t help questioning how the festival was positioned.
Overhearing my critique a local approached me, eagerly sharing his insights. “It doesn’t matter how they marketed Ramfest. Emmarentia gigs always have the same vibe. Chilled. It’s considered general knowledge among Joburgers,” he stated. “Oh,” I replied in my non-Joburger way sipping on a dry red in the little shade provided. I sipped and listened, and sipped some more as he continued and before my glass hinted at a refill my mind was made up. I felt betrayed.
The crowd was as varied as they were colourful and opinionated. Sadly, sunblock smiles were spoiled by another grievance, when queuing for refreshments became a 45 minute dilemma, causing ticket holders to miss performances. Irrespective of the latter the pace picked up as the sun set over the cityscape. The Narrow took to the stage and reminded us what we’ve been missing while they’ve taken a leave of absence. “Lonely Sunday Morning” had die-hard fans vigorously jumping about creating an ambience ripe for the picking.
The trio from BOO! surprised the young’ns with their edgy take on monkipunk and engaging antics. Lark followed. The experimental act made their way to the stage just after 8pm and had me captivated for the entire set. Awestruck, the crowd swung to and fro, absorbing Inge Beckmann’s spellbinding performance. Kudos to whoever-was-responsible-for-the-lighting. Astonishing! Pendulum continued the energy surge by providing attendees with an enticing show of talent a la ambient house beats and spectacular laser display.
As I walked to the car it became apparent why I spent my Saturday in the sun at Emmarentia rather than at Vredefest (which incidentally took place on the same day, a mere half an hour away). It was in the hopes that ‘our’ serving of the successful music fest would consist of a generous ration of unpredictability. It didn’t. Then again – it’s nearly impossible to compare an awkward one night stand with the deep seated love of a 4 year strong relationship…
*All images © Kevin Goss-Ross
RAMfest, an awkward one-night stand