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Uprising Festival: the Finale

2008-07-28 19:29
The lie of the land was a two stage split of stages surrounded by a free-all-day paradise of skateparks and wave machines. And the mix of stages has never worked so well. You could go from a bottom-heavy outdoor festival, to a smokey, sweaty, small club show in minutes – from dinge to singe, in 20 easy steps.

Durban roots reggae band, The Meditators, look like they got off the plane from Jamaica yesterday, and you couldn't have picked a better band to get things going on the massive-sounding main-stage – sunshine, cold beer, and reggae.

Every time I saw festival organisers Matt Wilson and Steve Jones they were on a new mission. If it wasn't carrying lights and serving vegetable curry, it was making sure that band members got picked up form the airport on time, and rushing off to nearby petrol stations for ice. Friends, family and bandmates helped out a lot, but in the end, it was all Matt and Steve. And when you think about how far they've come, and how much they've achieved, in such a short time, and at such a young age, it's quite mind-boggling.

The main-stage and rig was the same setup Seether used when they played Wave House, and it was great to see Durban bands like Sibling Rivalry, Crossingpoint, Sheep Down, and The City Bowl Mizers on such a monstrous setup. Crossingpoint's "my life has meaning" hardcore sounded larger and more powerful than ever. And Sibling Rivalry and The Mizers worked the newfound space like pros. Cape Town's 7th Son and Captain Stu kept the good times rolling as stage divers leapt from the stage with increasing regularity – I think 7th Son guitarist Jedd Kossew tore a new hole in Durban.

Meanwhile, across town, watching some of the best punk bands in the country destroy the so-called White Room, or indoor smaller stage, was a nostalgic reminder of the festival's punk beginnings. The Vendetta Cartel, Swivel Foot, and Japan and I represented "JHB punk". And rock 'n roll hardcore kids Go! Go! Bronco, sophisticated alternative rockers Habit To, and fast melodic punks Lowprofile sweated it out for Durban.
The Vendetta Cartel were raw, powerful, and full of spite – I loved their gutsy never-say-die-attitude. Swivel Foot played a punks-on-holiday set of gritty and passionate, Rancid-like JHB-punk. And all girl band Japan and I played with a confidence and level of technicality far superior than the last time I saw them. They were stompingly-good.

The indoor stage stopped around seven. And after that, all eyes were on the main-stage, with three of the best bands in the country still left to jam; The Rudimentals, New Academics, and Kidofdoom.

Cape Town's ska rudeboys, The Rudimentals know their way around a big stage like Oprah Winfrey knows her way around a donut, and they killed it – even the goblin-looking security guard on stage was skanking it up. Jo'burg-by-way-of-Cape Town funk rockers New Academics' music is contrastingly more cynical and angrier by nature, but just as potent and party conducive on a big stage.

New Academics' typically explosive set brought things to the "final hour" in truly-South African style. Pretoria's kidofdoom however, could have been from any country. Shit, they could have been from any planet. And their spacey-sounding instrumental rock, backed by hard and big-hitting, stadium drumming and an energetic live show ended the night with a cosmic jolt. kidofdoom were magnificent.

"We'll see you at the beer tent," said guitarist Ryk. But it was the beer that was never meant to be. As Wave House security suddenly got all antsy, switched off the lights, and ushered people out the nearest possible exits as soon as possible. One guy was practically pleading with me, "Please. I've been up since six o' clock. I got four hours sleep last night...", while Kidofdoom were still onstage packing away.

Regardless, the party continued late into the tequila hours at The Malibu Bar inside The Wave House, to the DJ soundtrack of No! No! No! and hEDMEKANIK and Mixin Vixin.

- Wayne Arnold

More information at: Uprising website.

[PREVIOUS: Wednesday's Willowvale Uprising] [page 4 of 4]

Uprisings 2008 was the biggest and best in the independent Durban festival's eight year history. The weather forecast was "the best weekend of the year". And looking out onto the main-stage, and the sea of around 2000 black t-shirts and spiky hairdos, it could have been The Warped Tour. It also didn't hurt that the lineup was an ironclad, band-after-band celebration of how good local music is – you couldn't even stop for a second.

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