For us deprived South Africans, it’s on rare occasion that we get to indulge in a full day of musical madness, with some of the country’s hardest rock bands. That is why when an opportunity like Seasons Wither presents itself, the city of Joburg flocks to the Coca Cola Dome.
Over the last three years, the Seasons Wither Rock Festival has established itself in a league of its own. Making my way to Northgate on Saturday morning, I was quite sceptical to how the day would play out. Cramming 61 bands into one day seemed like a catastrophe in the waiting. Not to mention that the majority of acts lined up were driven by forces of heavy metal. Were there really enough alternative folks in Joburg to fill this scene to its capacity and spare its organisers the shame of total collapse?
Indeed there are! Setting foot into Seasons Wither territory, I was inspired by the array of guises that filled the premises. Sure, there was a dominance of your all black, fish-net, skinny-jeaned, chain bearing crowd. Actually I’m quite certain that a number of these guys have one outfit packed away in their closet, which they save specifically for occasions like these. But for the number of average joes that filled the place, it just goes to show that you cannot judge a persons musical preference by their attire.
Now it’s almost impossible for me to relay everything that went down at Seasons Wither, for some of you may have already stopped reading at this point and for those of you who are still with me, I’d like to keep it that way. In addition, with so much happening at the event, I could not bear witness to all. But here are some of my experiences.
The line-up settled into a practical pattern of progressive rock, alternative and metal performers, spread across four different stages. The main, rock, metal 1 and metal 2 stages served the platform for 61 bands to entertain the masses, with a set of 30 minutes each.
The metal stages which were set apart in a hub of its own was home to (believe it or not) the under 18’s. Due to new laws and regulations that prevent underage persons from being in an area that serves alcohol, and since Seasons Wither was always an all age’s gig, the organisers were forced to disconnect the kiddies from the main area. With this thought, I decided to spend most of my day at the main stage.
As a well-organised journalist, ready to rock, I wouldn’t dare show up without a printed copy of the schedule. But it happened and annoying it was, because it turned out the timeslots were changed. Jack Parow was pushed up and ended up playing two hours earlier. Moreover, according to rumour, its turns out he only played three songs. Not cool!
Fortunately, the performances to follow would prove to be off-the-charts. Although some were viewed as gap-fillers, the event played host to some of the most celebrated bands in South Africa. Thumbs up to Jean, Bianca and Louis!
On the main stage, Crash Car Burn spoiled the crowd with a teaser from their new album, set for release this week. Facing the Gallows brought an enthralling vigour with them on stage and encouraged an endless battle of crowd-surfers. Fuzigish released a shape shifting force that got the crowd soaring into blissful commotion, a demon that didn’t leave their spirits till the very end. With bands like Knave, The Narrow and Pestroy, the crowds kept flocking in.
What really made Seasons Wither unique and something they should pride themselves on, is the additional activities that kept the masses enthralled. Watching the MMA tournament that afternoon I was engrossed. Barricaded in a fighting arena, two fighters would challenge each other with mixed martial arts. I remember the girl next to me freaking out, saying “this is awful, they’re like animals”, while her boyfriend looks at her laughing. Hundreds of people cheering for more punches, kicks, and throws. Violence at a rock festival, whoever thought of this idea was brilliant.
The event also played host to the launch of Guitar Hero 5, as well as LT magazine. But I’m sure you’re thinking there’s one thing missing. Yip, that’s right, the eye candy came in the form of Circus Gothica. A group of alternative Burlesque Dancers teasing the crowd with their indiscreet sailor outfits. This is not your run-of-the-mill striptease; instead each routine is carefully planned out into a master of seduction, for your viewing pleasure.
So the day started off pretty slow, but by 6pm, the place was packed with an adrenalin-pumped (or whatever your energy source was driven from), pogo-jumping, sweat reeking audience cheering on the beasts of rock.
Now one would imagine an evening like this to entail a bunch of intoxicated sods loosing their minds, but on this particularly evening it appeared people were loosing their shoes, keys and friends. After each set, another shoe or set of keys would be found without its owner, and soon the girl scouts had lost their cohort. Oh, if anyone has seen Amber, please let us know.
Sure, I’d experienced a fair share of rock festivals in my youth, but for an indoor gig this one proved to be chart topper.
Crawling into bed, ears hard of hearing, wallet empty and chilli sauce in my hair (don’t ask), I’m all withered out.