The music festival: it happens only a few times a year. That’s when you’ll find the working class (usually in suits, lugging around briefcases) venturing into some bush to devolve with their pants around their ankles – joining the youth who, wear their pants around their ankles all the time. But in March there’s one festival that stands out. It’s a beautiful place where the internationally acclaimed (In Flames, AWOLNATION, Infected Mushroom and Netsky) join local legends (The Narrow, Pestroy, Niskerone and many, many others) to create an audio IV of hard-hitting riffs and skull-shattering bass lines. It’s RAMfest. And you’re all invited.
There are, of course, the usual expectations that come with every huge music festival. Firstly, the mould of dust that will form around your body throughout the weekend and could possibly be cracked open and kept as a souvenir. Secondly, the plastic box people call a toilet – but looks more like an abstract artistic endeavour. Thirdly, endless queues for survival necessities, like beer and vodka. Basically, all the things that turn a festival into an experience. But then there’s the line-up and you realise that this is going to be so much more than just an experience. This is going to be a reckoning.
First up are the metal heavyweights from Sweden, In Flames. During Metal Town 2010 in Gothenburg, the crowd set off the earthquake alarm for a nearby bridge because they went so mental on the pier the festival is held on during In Flames’ performance. Then there’s Israeli psychedelic trance group Infected Mushroom, who are releasing their new album Army of Mushrooms on 8 May. Perdeby got an exclusive interview with Infected Mushroom in anticipation of their tour to South Africa: “It’s is the edge of the world and South Africans really know how to boogie down – every time we come here we are amazed by how awesome the people and the parties are. And I (Amit Duvdevani) met my wife in South Africa many years ago – so I have a special place in my heart for the country.”
Unlike American band, AWOLNATION, whose trip to South Africa will be their first. “We are so excited to play in South Africa! We will be sure to bring the most energy possible to your country. We try our best to bring the spirit of the underground to our live show. Crowd participation is heavily encouraged – sing-alongs, stage dives, crowd surfing, et cetera.”
So the international bands are clearly eager and willing to rock some dirty, festival-going socks. But what about the local acts? “BIG BASS with some local treats is what you can expect from my set. If I told you anymore you would see the Ambush coming,” is what local drum-and-bass act, Ambush, had to say on the matter.
A few weeks ago an anonymous email described RAMfest as an occult, satanic festival – an accusation that allegedly left organisers searching for an alternative venue in Bloemfontien, although the University of the Free State claims it was due to incorrect protocol being followed. Luckily, Johannesburg remains unaffected by the hearsay and Riversands Farm is set to be the venue of Gauteng’s leg of this long-awaited festival on 10 March.
You have but one week. As Infected Mushroom put it, “Madness, insanity, energy, bass – an experience they won’t soon forget.”