A good festival brings out the animal in everyone. A great festival makes you feel like a god. A dirty, drunken, delirious god. But a brilliant festival brings sexy back. Even if it doesn’t wear the pants. By which I mean. Ramfest. February 2010. Boo!
Noja. Boo! is back. Or, at least, two thirds of it- awesome Ampi Omo and Chris Chameleon plus new drummer Riaan van Rensburg. The original monki-punk outfit with Leon Retief rocked the SA independent music scene and rolled the European and American independent music scenes until a sudden cessation in late 2004. How we howled at the last CT gig. How we screamed and boo!ed and danced as one and broke our feet while they broke our hearts. It was no use. Boo! tucked its tongue away. But not its spirit.
I’m often accused (quite rightly) of speaking in tongues, so allow me to spell something out a second. If a torrid past and a florid present have taught us anything, we’ve learnt well from our mother of a fatherland. Spirit is stronger than silence, (and from the holy streets of Hollywood and the narrow streets of Broadway we learnt that “the show must go on”. and from a Queen of sorts. Who then pegged.) Did we really think that was it when Chris went crooning off to capture new audiences? Perhaps we did. God knows we have issues with faith in this place. Suitably admonished and astonished, we’ve had no time to hang our heads in shame since the good news came, but we’re still scratching them. Who would’ve predicted Ramfest to herald the return of dandy-trashing, cross-dressing and wickedly wondrous popmosh melodies that made Boo! a subcult classic act? It’s obvious, considering Boo! and Ramfest share a penchant for passion, vision, insistence on quality and creativity. But difficult to imagine in what is perhaps a bit of a beleaguered 2009. It’s almost over, kitlings. And Summer has started…
We would have matched the two, of course, if we’d invested as much imagination in possibility as Ramfest has on manifesting your dream through blood, sweat, tequila and tears and the execution of resurrections.
The festival (the phenomenon) is raring with a daring that sets it apart on the circuit – it’s entirely independent, insists on quality line-ups, is responsive to the whims and wishes and wants of a consistently growing annual attendance. All told, Ramfest is the most fun you can have in the summer sun by a river with a tent. I promise you’ll be drowned in good sound. And there are no sharks. In the water. (negotiate the weed rate). The simple reason for this is that the Fourie Bros are hellbent on bringing you a festival that they’d want to go to. That’s their beginning, their brilliance and their bottom line.
But back to the future. One of their wily ways of ensuring this is to stir the soup of silence, and gooi mos a few choons we haven’t heard in a while. They understand recycling. They understand nostalgia and originality. They understand that there’s place for the past in a party – lots of it – and that music is timeless, too. Ironically, timing and pop culture have conspired to be on the side of the alternative festival of late. The current flux of all things bloody and vampish on big screen and flat screen makes the living dead a hot topic. Think True Blood (and watch it!), Twilight (and don’t watch it!), Let The Right One In (and let it in!12 dec. Labia on Orange). This synchronous timing is helping them make a name for themselves by raising the dead. As it were.
They’ve done it before. Of course, glytchy, tetchy cult heroes Lark hardly had a chance to bury themselves as a decomposing lullaby before they were brought back by the Ram. The result of this resurrection is that they have something to believe in and prefer to play Ramfest exclusively once a year (with a nationwide tour attached; lucky you).
And even if you’re not into timelines, actually, especially if you’re not, festivals are an amazing place to meet the music. Everyone is safe, happy and contained enough to go crazy in a neutral, shared space. Same goes for resurrections of disbanded/long-silent bands - they work wonderfully as a once-off and the exclusivity of authentic, original (in both senses) music has incredible appeal, but such treats rarely seem to signify any real return to the scene or gratify the frenzied fan. Though not everyone is a fan at a festival. In fact, we’re quite used to putting up with acts we don’t like - that’s part of party democracy. But what counts for just about anyone at a festival is the experience. In the moment, it’s less about whether a band is on sabbatical or has disbanded, and more about the fact that here is music you like (and maybe miss), madness that makes your day (and night), the chance to mosh and froth and clap and talk crap at the feet of the music makers. But at the same time, many festival fans are indeed dedicated music fans, and what counts to them is whether Boo!’s comeback will be a one night stand or the start of something beautiful (again).
For answers to this and other itchy, testy questions, read Chris Chameleon’s take on Boo!’s return, Ramfest 2010 (it’s got balls) and who wears the pants in Leopards, lizards and afterlives (and maybe a little on the side from Leon)