Coke Zero Fest: Tonight I'm a rock n roll star

2009-04-11 15:26
 
Coke Zero Fest 2009
 

So, when Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Bullet For My Valentine cancelled at the last minute, cries of pain could be heard emanating from poster clad bedroom walls around South Africa. Emo tears were shed, and cutters cut. But even though it hit some hard, most were still satisfied with the other bands.

The change of venue from the waterlogged Glastonbury vibe of last years New Market Race Course was a welcome hurrah. Now set on a pretty grassy hilled tree land, Coke Zero fest has never been this clean. Trying to get in is always a nightmare, however. With only one single lane to accommodate the 19 000 strong car line of fans, patience is a virtue. Or rather, a cooler box filled with beer, is a virtue. Starting as early as 10 am – the Coke Fest is a 12 hour day of music, music, music.

Local bands on the bill included Foto Na Dans, The Dirty Skirts, Cassette, aKing, Evolver, and the hugely popular Zebra and Giraffe. No Longer the secondary highlight to the festival, today local bands seem to be winning the fans as well. The Dirty Skirts are entertaining, but the sound is muffled, flat, and energy-less. Not what a Dirty Skirts gig is usually all about. Cassette next, always a band with a fire cracker up their sleeves, and a mad passion that sends them hurtling around the stage like rabbits. Lead singer Jon riles the crowd up: "Those international bands who didn’t make it today. Let's videotape a message to them from their South African fans." He holds up a video camera and pushes record. "Now tell them what we really think of them and post it on all of their blogs and fan pages." The entire crowd hold up their middle finger in a unison 'F' you.

Brilliant. As the day slowly starts to get cooler, and the beer starts to saturate the front of your jeans, the international bands start their trip to the main stage. Being a journalist and trying to get in to take photos is proving to be a nightmare. Even though I was wearing a different colour arm band for each day of the week, the confused bouncers give you the hard ass grin, and the 'No Entry' sign. So you have to fight, and manipulate and if you're lucky someone who knows what they are doing comes to the rescue. The frustrations of a concert are many. Like the network logged cell phone issues. If you get lost in the crowd, boy and girls, you better make sure you make a comfy time of it, cos you’re alone from then on out.

Panic At The Disco are the first international of the day. And they are emo in every turn of the word. Lead singer Brendon has a smile that could turn Martina Navratilova straight. His endearing good looks and boyish dance brings the crowd to its knees. Playing a selection of stuff from Pretty.Odd and A Fever You can't Sweat Out – they’re the light soufflé foam on the concert, and whip up a bed wetting frenzy. Although Brendon stumbles and forgets some of the lyrics to one of his songs in the middle of the set, the audience forgives him with a maddening applause. "Ok, thanks everybody," he shouts as he leaves the stage. "I’m about to go and throw up."

The highlight of the evening for me, and for most I think, was Snow Patrol. Sounding exactly like they do on their CDs, the Joburg audience is weak at the knees and singing on the top of their shattered lungs. Gary Lightbody is a shy, sensitive soul whose vocals are like warm eucalyptus on an aching body. He has the audience eating out of his hands, and playing songs like "Run", "Chasing Cars", "Crack the Shutters" and more, the sore feet, the pushy crowd and the sunburnt head are all worth it. As the crowd sings the words back to him, he smiles with a content and satisfied smile.

Headliners of the evening are the infamous Gallagher brothers and their band, Oasis. Liam Gallagher walks onto stage wearing a parka (probably from his new line of clothing Pretty Green) and is cocky, arrogant and full of s.h.i.t. As I leave the photographers pit I hear someone say: "That's the kind of guy I'd give a klap to if I saw him on the street". Lovely. This is what people are saying about one of the bands who have made it to a semi-legendary state in rock, and who'll probably be one of the last to do so for a while.

The main man behind the band, Noel hides quietly behind his guitar and plays himself down. Ex- Ride man Andy Bell looks about as excited as a mouse trapped in a pythons jaw. Liam jokes with audience – "So the world cup is coming here next year. Do you think your team is going to get in?" he laughs. There's was a polished set and an amazing experience for every single person at the show. Coke Zero Fest 2009 was a pleasure, a rock n roll odyssey of music, and a real reason to believe in it again.


Trying to get a line up together that suits everybody is no easy feat. The young rockers want metal. The older rockers want names. And as they say, you can’t be all bands to all people.

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