Woodstock 2000

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Heidelberg Kloof
South Africa
Late September

This originally named music festival, held annually since '99, showcases (most) of Southern Africa's musical talent. Held at the Heidelberg Kloof Aventura resort, a large open area in a shallow valley, festival-goers are treated to three days (four if you really want to stay, i.e. you're too hung-over to move, or even five if you want to get there early) of roughing it in crowded designated camping areas or equally crowed, technically unpermitted camping areas. You can bring food of your own, but there's a chance it'll grow legs, so why not get some of the widely available, cheap and, above all, good food available from the numerous food stalls.

And while you're bringing a little cash for food, bring a whole lot more. The flea market has all sorts of cool trinkets and clothes. Everything from heavy Metal t-shirts to hippie jewellery and Rasta accessories (pipes, incense, Bob Marley stuff,'other'). Then of course there's the booze. One beer tent manned by two guys (the same two all weekend!) somehow manages to cater for EVERYONE! Twenty thousand people all getting their drinks from two skinny guys. Not much selection, but they never seem to run out, even with only two little refrigerators. Clearly, these fridges are portals to the land of alcohol and the two guys are golems formed out of pure caffeine.

The sponsors include the largest local radio station, and their D.J.s obviously become the M.C.s at both the main stage and the new Punk stage. The less popular D.J.s get shoved onto the little Punk Stage (where, with the possible exception of Phil Wright's polar bear jokes, they ruled) while the big honcho of South African alternative gets sworn at up on the main stage.

Then, just as a little side-line, there's the music. The bands featured are mostly South African, but this year a Botswanan group called Metal Horizon (a powerful, well-polished act) paid us a visit. The best music was found on the Punk stage, although just about every act there had technical trouble. The main stage enjoyed such pretties as moving, colour-changing lights and smoke machines. A lot of good stuff went on at the main stage, but nearly all the bad stuff went there too. Ready D (a prick) and Brasse Vannie Kaap (a collection of pricks) spun their stylish tunes (or something) and everyone but the totally confused went up to the punk stage. The Springbok Nude Girls, probably South Africa's biggest group, put on a great show, although their lead singer strained his voice a little too much. Boo!, who started their own music genre (Monkey Funk), were spectacular to watch (Bassist/Vocalist Chris Chameleon, a great falsetto, capable of anything from a high soprano to nearly bass, wore his standard style of clothing - a see-through dress, high-heels and a gold bikini), however their act was very impersonal and the music became somewhat repetitive.

On the Punk stage, bands mixed and matched members a whole lot. Ethel My Love and a new band called Tweak were by far my favourites, both playing their music well, interacting with the audience (even the really pissed guy who kept mooning everything and trying to climb to stage). Manhole, a Heidelberg band, got a great response from all the locals and even put on a decent show. Humphrey the Tea Cup, with their new bassist (she is probably one of the best I've ever seen) made a lot of nice noise, even if they did come on stage a little pickled.

There was also, somewhere, about 5km from the entrance to the resort, where nobody would see it, some sort of rave trance/dance/prance/glance thingy. Anyone who went there missed the real party and the real music. Hopefully, next year, the Punk stage will be enlarged and the rave will disappear. Overall, Woodstock is a great place to be, not nearly as crowded as the American version (you can actually reach the stage and see the performers) and threats of the police bringing in sniffer dogs proved to be unfounded psychological warfare. After all, you can't reasonably try and sniff 20 000 people AND all their belongings.

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