“Holy shit this is heavy”, I hear some attractive girl say as Unearth steamroll into their fourth or fifth song while I steamroll my last-to-be rum and raspberry. And I couldn’t agree more. With crushing guitar riffs and jack hammer like drums they were the perfect band to close off a very successful event. It was kind of poetic how the day unfolded considering that just 13 hours prior to Unearth I was stranded in the parking lot of Sundowners.
I woke up with the hot Alberton sun beating down on my face through the rear passenger window of my baby blue 1989 Uno. I attended the VIP/Media event the night before where you could meet Protest the Hero and Unearth and watch them sound check.
Last rounds were called at 10 because this wasn’t the party. The real party would start in about 15 or 16 hours. My car was fucked. Some fuel pump problem. I couldn’t leave so I slept in the backseat and that’s where I awoke.
Alberton is a funny place to be stranded. It looks completely arid and far away from any civilization yet you know in a few hours hundreds and hundreds of people would be pouring through the gates and liters upon liters of alcohol will be flowing freely. The new day also brought a strong wind along with it. Blowing dust everywhere and umbrellas over. Giving an almost Oppikoppi like feel to it.
Trucks eventually started arriving to set up the last few things including the Jagermeister stage and the food stands. Spencer (Owner of Sundowners), being the nice guy he is, eventually stopped by to hear if everything was okay with me and if I needed help while I stood in front of my car, bonnet open, not having a clue what I was looking at.
Eventually the gates opened. I brushed my teeth and pulled a new t-shirt over my torso and entered the world of Krank’d Up Fest 2014. First things first, I needed to get some fluids back into my system. So off to the bar I went to get a beer and quickly learned that they worked on the tried and trusted R5 a cup system. You couldn’t take cans or bottles out so they would poor your drink into a plastic cup and the cup costs R5. If you lose the cup then you’ll have to pay R5 again. This encourages people not to litter and to re-use. Also it makes sure that there won’t be broken glass in the mosh pit or something.
At that time there was already a steady stream of attendees flowing into the venue and it was already clear that the inside bar would become overcrowded very quickly. They had a bar outside as well but it wasn’t fully stocked. So next year a second fully stocked bar and a third dedicated bar for beer and ciders will address the situation. Because waiting a long time for a drink is never fun.
As this was my first Krank’d Up Fest, I really liked the lay out of the event. When you walk out of the pub towards the Main stage it looked almost Oppikoppi-esque. As I have mentioned, as though we were in the middle of nowhere and can rock out as hard as we want. A musical and festival lover Utopia. Outside could have done with more benches and shade as the sun was unforgiving as ever. But as the music started playing and the alcohol started flowing, the might of the sun started to fade away till it eventually made way for the dark. It genuinely feels like it should be a multi-day festival though. I don’t know how they’ll be able to achieve it but one day just isn’t enough to take everything in. Maybe they can take a page out of Wolmerfest’s handbook and make the parking a camping area as well. I don’t know, but everything just screams two days of music. The turning Tricks Entertainment and Sundowners crew complement each other so fucking well. Everything just felt so professional. From an outsider’s point of view everything went down as smooth as a bottle of whiskey. The sound and lighting of the main stage was phenomenal to say the least. Really state of the art and could easily compete with what Ramfest and Oppikoppi have to offer. They really pulled out all the stops.
But if you walked from the stage toward the pub and the Jagermeister stage, it feels like a small intimate basement or club gig. Like our own little CBGB’s. A few fans or some air conditioning in there could really have helped because it was extremely hot and claustrophobic at times but that one verse from La Dispute’s ‘Nine’ kept popping up in my head. ‘I remember in a basement sharing sweat with all these stranger boys and girls, “We’ll change the world!” We sang, “We’ll change the world!”
I must say, I do not have any complaints with any of the bands. Every single one of them played their hearts out and put up a great show. There are just too many to mention. From emotional rollercoaster performances from the likes of Facing the Gallows who had a farewell show for departing guitarist Rick to exciting album and EP launches from Reason To Live and Poverty Of Ideals to surprises like Freedom For Your Life taking the stage without vocalist Dave Van Vuuren. Just as we have gotten used to him being back again, it seems that they have parted ways, once again. And I would prefer it to stay that way because not only did Bradley Morrison fill Dave’s shoes, he adds his own flavour to their music. And most importantly, he actually wants to be a part of their musical journey. But all in all I would just have changed the running order a bit. But you can’t satisfy everyone. No matter how hard you try.
I think who impressed me the most were the two bands that had to battle for a spot on the line up to open up the two stages. Riddlebreak and The T’s & C’s. Not only did they have a point to prove, but their music also mixed it up a bit. Couldn’t have asked for better opening acts and I believe we’ll see them perform a lot more at later timeslots.
But I just have to mention Protest the Hero.
As a not-so-big Protest the Hero fan, I stood there watching in total awe of how good they were live. Their performance and the technicality of their music live without missing a single beat definitely won me over and I now proudly consider myself a Protest the Hero fan.
But overall I would give Krank’d Up fest a solid 8/10. There are still some growing pains for a festival in only its third year but they are already busy planning next year’s event. With a team of music lovers, Turning Tricks Entertainment and Sundowners, Krank’d Up Fest can only get bigger and better and that any problems encountered at this year’s event will be ironed out next year. The staff were friendly, the music loud, and the booze cheap. The event had a great turn out, and everyone had loads of fun.
But I wonder how many people would have attended Krank’d Up Fest if there weren’t any international acts…