CokeZeroFest 2009 – Review

COKE ZERO FEST 2009 PHOTOS AND VIDEOS HERE!

Having survived the nightmarish drive out of the otherwise stunning Lourensford Wine Estate and the 60km back to Cape Town late yesterday evening, I feel I am now in a position to let you know if the 2009 CokeZeroFest was a hit or a miss.
And I’m going “hit”.

From the time we drove into the venue, surrounded on three sides by mountains, with sweeping views down to False Bay on the fourth, it was obvious that this was going to be a chilled day in the sun with some (hopefully) decent music to listen to while we were at it. And we didn’t have long to wait – diving from the beer tent through into the Golden Circle to see Die Heuwels Fantasties, and their unique brand of Afrikaans rock. I’m not a great Afrikaans speaker, but the music was pretty good – and made last year’s Van Coke Kartel look as amateurish as a first round Idols failure.
They were followed up by more Afrikaans rock in the shape of Foto na Dans, who have a lead singer bearing a worrying resemblance to Leo Sayer. That concern aside though, choral tones over the heavy nu-metal background made for an interesting and (perhaps surprisingly) functional combination. Great stuff and certainly worth a listen.
It should be noted that this genre of music is supported by a fanatical following and they were out in force up front for the first two acts.

Time for some English now though, please and Cassette obliged after a slightly shaky start with the bearded Jon Savage striding around the stage and giving us his no-holds-barred opinions of the last minute cancellations. Pushing their new album Who do You Trust?with the title track accompanied by a cartoon of Jacob Zuma on the big screens was topical and popular. The Boomtown Rats’ Tell me why (I don’t like Mondays) cover was a big hit, as was Useless Confusion.

Now, my most eagerly anticipated act: Zebra & Giraffe. Widely tipped to be the next “big” SA band, they blew me away with their New Order vs The Cure mildly melancholic electronica. It amazes me that there are some bands that are still able to find a niche in the music market which no-one has previously exploited. While others are producing decent, enjoyable but somewhat “samey” tracks, Z&G are novel, refreshing and exciting. And eminently listenable. The performance was tight and professional, the audience interaction not too full-on, but enough to let us know they knew we were there. Very impressive and definitely the best SA band of the day. Questions do need to be asked about Greg Carlin’s choice of shirt, however.

Cape Town’s Dirty Skirts were up next and provided us with a decent, if unspectacular, set – probably their best offering being Daddy Don’t Disco. There was no huge audience connection though, which rather let them down. I have to admit to being a little disappointed. I’ve missed a couple of gigs and was told I was missing out, but it just didn’t click. That said, I like their stuff enough to give them another chance. Soon.
And there was more disappointment on the way with aKING. I’ve heard a fair amount of their stuff and I think they are hugely over-rated and their lukewarm performance did nothing to change my opinion. It was heavy, stodgy, dull. The crowd was enthusiastic though, despite the rather bland set. Time for a burger and (another) beer.

And then, the international acts, led by Panic at the Disco, who were friendly, funny and fun. Once again, an overseas act seemed bemused by a less-than-eager South African crowd, but they got through their hits and there was fun and rather too much audience participation to be had as they rounded off their set with a cover of Lulu’s enduring hit Shout. Energetic it was, and a really tight, well-rehearsed set. Impressive, if not unexpected.

Snow Patrol were next up and (for me) stole the show. They had the crowd eating out of their hands before they even came on stage with their “All of these places feel like home” display on the big screen. The power of words is incredible (if you have several thousand drunk teenagers in front of you).

It’s obvious that Gary Lightbody loves performing and loves to see his songs being enjoyed. And it was an emotional set, with the powerful Run and Chasing Cars thrown in between faster harder numbers like Eyes Open and Take Back the City. Gary couldn’t help but enthuse over the beautiful scenery, gorgeous people and wonderful country. But it was spontaneous and from the heart. You could just see that he was loving every minute of where he was and what he was doing. You can’t fake that sort of honesty.

And then, the finale: Oasis. They look old not just because of the drink and the drugs, but because they are old. But boy – they’ve still got it. Liam strutted around like he owned the place, barking orders at the sound desk and striking a bully-boy pose between lyrics. Attitude personified.

Noel looked older still, wandering around sloth-like and seemingly confused. But when it came to that voice… Wow. Every note, perfect; every chord, perfect. The brothers are well known for their “don’t give a toss” attitude, but it works so well on stage and it was a remarkable experience to see them live at long last. Love them or hate them, you have to admire their longevity against all the odds, and dare I say that their new stuff is sounding like it will stand alongside the classics like Wonderwall and Slide Away.
For me, Noel’s performance of Don’t Look Back in Anger was arguably the most spectacular moment of the entire day. And when you remember that it was up against those powerful modern classics from Snow Patrol, that’s saying something.

All in all, money well spent and an utterly superb day out.
Wonderful venue, great organisation, nice beer, great crowd, good music, perfect weather.

See you next year. And don’t forget those photos and videos!

6 thoughts on “CokeZeroFest 2009 – Review

  1. That sounds Awesome 6K! I do wish I had gone but I would have had to kidnap someone – none of my friends are into rock music much, which is sad 🙁

  2. Diva > I almost had the same problem. Had almost given up, but got chatting with a friend a week before the day and she convinced me to go (didn’t take much).
    So glad I did. Great day out.

  3. Great blog dude. I’m glad that you actually picked up on the whole Oasis experience. I’m still in shock from the concert even though it was almost an entire week ago! I was listening to their new album yesterday and actually, I tend to agree with you about it being as great as their older stuff 😉

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