"It's the final countdown ... " Europe's archaic lyrics drone monotonously over the airwaves as your aunt busts a move from the 80s. Then, at the stroke of midnight, you quaff champagne like a sommelier and bop around to Prince's 1999. If this sounds all too familiar, then perhaps you should have attended the Rock The River Festival, which took place over the New Year's weekend at the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch. The venue being a mere stone's throw from home, I decided to do exactly that.
I arrived at the concert venue in Philadelphia in the early hours of New Year's Eve. To my surprise, there was no sign of the Fresh Prince or his sidekick Carlton. I was safe - or at least that's what I thought. While en route to the campsite, my car got stuck in the sand. Fortunately, some good Samaritans came rushing to my aid and helped to push my car. As it turns out, I was the fifth person who they had helped that day. Eager to party, I made like Keanu Reeves in Speed and put foot, screeching my way over the sandy road. In the trail of dust that I left behind, I caught a glimpse of another car which was also stuck. I think it's safe to say that if you were driving a bakkie or a riding an ostrich you would have had no problem in getting to the venue. When I finally arrived at the campsite, I was relieved to find that my friends had set up camp next to the one and only tree in the vicinity. The shade from that tree helped enormously as it was insanely hot. A shot of sake and some vodkas later, and I was ready for the music and festivities.
Activities a highlight, comics awful
The activities at the festival were definitely one of the highlights. It wasn't too long before I found myself absorbed in the zorb. For those who don't know, the zorb is a large transparent plastic orb. Would-be daredevils strap themselves to a harness inside the zorb and gently roll down a hill. It seemed like heaps of fun; however realising that I had consumed way too many liquids by then, I decided to give it a miss. While a normal fest brawl will leave you with a concussion and some broken bones, this year's RTR offered a more civilised approach in the form of sumo wrestling. In exchange for a short wait in a queue, you and your opponent could settle matters once and for all by simply hopping into some sumo suits and wrestling it out. There was also a mechanical bull, which provided some good entertainment. Hoping that the fun would never end, I decided to pay a visit to the comedy stage. Unfortunately, the comedy stage proved to be a huge disappointment as all the comedians were terrible. I've honestly read better jokes in the Funny Money, which, as we all know, is not worth the paper it's printed on. A quick bathroom break revealed the grim reality of there being only 25 toilets and six showers catering for a crowd of over 4000 people. Things were about to get messy.
Epic Metallica cover
The rest of the night was spent hopping between the three music stages with friends. First up on the main stage were My Flawless Ending, who provided a perfect start to the evening. Thereafter, we headed to the metal stage where we caught the band Marching Dead. I'm not a huge metal head myself, but I have to give credit where it's due. The okes provided a truly rocking set and an epic Metallica cover. Their sound is reminiscent of metal legends Iron Maiden. Find them on MySpace. While you're there, listen to their song Know. That's a really tight track. You can also find them on Facebook.
At countdown, poi dancers from in and around the crowd provided a beautiful and intricate fire display, while Hog Hoggidy Hog welcomed us into the New Year with Auld Lang Syne, done in a classic rock variation.
The Curious Incident blew me away
I was starting to feel really weary by the time the last band came on stage, but I'm so glad that I stuck around for their set. The Curious Incident totally blew me away with their unique blend of rock, soul and tribal music. Their sound is proudly South African, drawing cues from top international acts. Feeling a tad bit curious? Find them at their website www.thecuriousincident.com on Facebook and on MySpace.
Feeling drunk and exhausted, I headed back to my tent, only to find that a twig had punctured my inflatable bed. I don't smaak camping, hey. In hindsight, I guess it reminds us of all the luxuries we have at home that we take for granted. If the Mayans were right, this year could be the last one we see. Let's hope they were wrong. Just to be on the safe side, I'm going to befriend John Cusack. Should all hell break loose, he will know what to do.
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