The 6000 miles My CokeFest 2008 review

Snappy title, eh?

Once again, I was blown away by the differences between UK and South African concerts. People here are so conservative. To be honest, I’m glad I did things this way around. I’d be bloody terrified if I found myself down at the front at Glastonbury if I’d only ever done SA gigs before. There’d be other people around for starters. Within touching distance and everything.

So yes – things started a little quietly, despite the promised 100,000 watts of music power.

First up, local boys Shy Guevaras. Great start. If you’re looking for a good example of their work, try Little Suzie, which you can download for free – gratis! – here. And I advise that you do exactly that.

Next: Van Coke Kartel. Bloody dreadful. High point of their shouty, amateur performance was some pelicans flying overhead. Never seen that at a rock concert before.

Thankfully, Prime Circle reaffirmed our faith in South African bands. Given the honour of being to only SA band to perform at both MCF gigs, they did a tidy, if unspectacular, run through of all their favourites, finishing with a big performance of Live This Life.

And then the much vaunted international acts. Starting with Jared Leto and 30 Seconds to Mars. Now here, I had a bit of an issue. I’m not a huge fan of the music and I am not a huge fan of the hype surrounding Mr Leto.
I so wanted to hate them.
But I was actually very impressed. Sickeningly impressed. Grr.

Without a doubt, 30STM (or more particularly, Jared) took the award for Best Showmanship of the Day. There were more F-words than in Chapter 6 of the Oxford English Dictionary, plenty of utterly outrageous posturing, heaps of repeated praise for “this beautiful country” and even a climb to the stage roof about 25 metres up.

30 Seconds to Mars      Up there! Stage left!
30 Seconds to Mars. Can you spot monkey boy in the second pic?

With my first unforeseen highlight still sinking in, on came Kaiser Chiefs. I was very concerned that they would bomb completely – when you look at the the line up, they stuck out like a pale face in Uganda.
But maybe the heavy rockers needed a break. A bit of fun. Some choons. Maybe their infectious energy spilled out over the crowd, still a little overwhelmed from being called “Mutha******s” eleven times in a single sentence. Whatever the reason, Ricky Wilson soon had them won over and, despite almost killing himself with an impromptu race around the Golden Circle, he came a close second to Leto for sheer audacity.

Ricky Wilson      Sing!
Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson having it large – ambidextrously

Look, I’m not going to lie to you here. We watched Good Charlotte and Chris Cornell from a distance. I was in need of food, the wife suddenly remembered that she was 5 months pregnant and needed a break and Good Charlotte are not only gruellingly commercial to listen to, but are also pretty unpleasant to look at as well. Especially if, like me, you have a mild aversion to tattoos.

Chris Cornell played at dusk and was all atmospheric, polite, steady and professional. He did his Bond theme, he did some Audioslave stuff, he did Black Hole Sun. There was a distinct lack of excitement though, but hey, the guy is 43 years old. Bless.

And then. Muse. Had I built them up too much?  I almost did that with REM. But no. They were everything I expected and a whole lot heavier on top. It was an hour long set and it went by in 5 minutes. That’s how good it was.
And the crowd went wild. For a band that get very limited airplay over here, they certainly have a big following.

Muse      Matt Bellamy 
Muse. Wow.

Musically, it was impressive too. I don’t want to come over all knowledgeable like some sort of sycophantic expert muso (geddit?!?) or anything, but jislaaik! Matt Bellamy knows what he’s doing with a guitar. And a piano. Awesome.

And then we left the gig with several thousand others (I did warn you that would happen) and listened to Korn from the house. Which was still a bit too close really.

All in all, a great experience. Some disappointing bits, but with 9 bands on the bill, you’re going to be lucky to like them all. 5/9 was a pretty acceptable result and the 5 in question were particularly impressive.

Photos are on flickr, as I hinted earlier and as several hundred people have already worked out. Enjoy.