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The STRAB experience

2008-06-20 16:07
There's this remote little road just past the Kosi Bay border post - sandy and uphill most of the time, snaking towards the horizon for a handful of kilometres until you reach Ponta Malongane. Every year (since 2003) a kick-ass rock festival occurs in that little town. It's called Strab (The Subterranean Rhythm and Blues Experience) and once you've been there, chances are you'll be compelled do make Strab your annual music mecca. Yes, you can't get there without a sturdy 4x4 (with a diff-lock). Yes, you need loads of anti-mozzie-muti after sunset. No, you don't have to belong to a diving club to attend the festival. Yes, it's bloody far - you will drive for about 8 hours (the last 10 km being riddled with potholes the size of lunar craters) and you will need a valid passport to be allowed into Mozambique.

Yes, only about 800 festivalgoers are allowed at this festival, so that Ponta doesn't get too crowded, and the stunningly beautiful surroundings remain untouched. And yes, you should try to go next year. You owe it to yourself to forget about the city and its rat race for a bit. You need to go chill out on the beach by day, sipping your ice cold 2M-Moz beer, feeling the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. You need to sip a sundowner on the high deck bar overlooking the Indian Ocean. And yes, you need to experience some of South Africa's best blues, rock and folk music - expertly jammed by non-conformist artists such as Bed On Bricks, Tidal Waves, Fake Leather Blues Band, Ménage à Trois, Valiant Swart, NuL, Delta Blue, Andra and Dan Patlansky.

Believe you me - if you love good original music, and you understand the sea when she speaks to you - you need to experience Strab.

Best 10 moments Swigging an ice-cold Jägermeister after an insane session of headbanging during Pretoria industrial rockers NuL's blistering set.
- Watching a flat-bellied mozzie dive-bombing towards me at killer speed, then doing a mid-air swerve because of the anti-mozzie wristband.
- Becoming all goosebumped while the Namibian-born singer Andra and her blue guitar sing her powerful "Broken Spanish".
- Munching hungrily on big grilled black mushrooms with garlic and melted mozarella cheese, tidbits the restaurant prepared for me, the only crazy vegetarian at the entire festival.
- Seeing an entire crowd bounce up and down like a giant multicoloured amoeba while Valiant Swart belts it out: "En ek is seker dis 'n sonde, maar ek kan nie help nie, DIT WAS DIE VLOEK VAN DIE KITAAR!"
- Early morning - wiggling my toes in the wet sea sand. City-dwellers don't get to do that very often.
- Hearing the Indian Ocean lovingly wash her white beach at two o' clock in the morning while the tentflaps flap-flap in the breeze.
- Watching blind folk singer Bacchus Nel do a swaggering waltz with singer Riku Lätti for the entire 4 minutes of NuL’s eerie song “Jerome Jimbovsky”.
- Checking a bee take a sip of singer Andries Bezuidenhout’s Jägermeister-shooter, then promptly flopping over onto its back, going all barfly on us with wiggling legs and sticky wings.
- Vrooming over the sandy road on a huge curry-yellow dropside truck en route back to the border, ducking thorny roadside branches and bouncing luggage, passengers, sleeping bags, discarded flip-flops, empty beercans and other post-camping paraphernalia.
- Carina Laubscher

Been to a festival lately? Write up your review and send it to and get published on MyChannel24.
Every year a kick-ass rock festival occurs in the little town Ponta Malongane near Kosi Bay. Reader Carina Laubscher recounts her experience.
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