About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

22 March 2008

My Coke Fest 2008

In more ways than one, this year's Coke Fest was a different experience than previous years (2006, 2007). The obvious - I went to the Johannesburg concert and not the Cape Town concert. And unlike previous years, when I bought the tickets very early (December/Eary January), this year, I bought the tickets just a few days before. Golden circle tickets were sold out by the time I got back from South America, but I managed to find tickets on sale on Bid or Buy, and had to pay a hefty premium (R1000 instead of the R600 list price). And unlike previous years, where I knew the music of most of the international bands, this year, I could only really claim to know music of one of the bands.

Coke Fest this year was massive - apparently there were 46 000 people who bought tickets. And while, there seemed to be enough food and drink, I think the organisation and facilities could have been much better. For starters, the toilet facilities were grossly inadequate, and clearly not meant to cater for that many people. And while there seemed to be enough food and drink, all of it was at the edge of venue perimeter. And the control of the numbers in the golden circle seemed lax - people could buy "an upgrade" ticket from the organisers (which worked out to almost the same cost as my ticket) and I over heard quite a few people boasting about how they sneaked in. Golden circle was packed - and I think that there should have been bar and food facilities attached to the golden circle.

Was golden circle worth it - absolutely; from the general admission, the stage was hardly visible. And the concert was definitely worth the money! A review of all the bands, in the order of appearance can be found below.

Lonehill Estate

In my opinion, this was the best South African band on show, and I would really like to go see them play at a smaller, more intimate, venue. For a rock band, they had an amazing variety - from the standard rock anthems, to a fusion of jazz and rock, including a Sophiatown mix, with electric guitar riffs coupled with a flute/penny whistle. I think, with the right exposure (and luck) they could be the next big South African band!

Crash Car Burn

They are a more standard rock band, and although their music was great, there was nothing really special - nothing extra that sets them apart from the other rock bands. Good music, good songs - just not as interesting.


A well established band, their performance showed why they have lasted so long. They played a number of their hits from the years, and got the crowd going. Although, I have hear their music a lot over the years, this was my first time seeing them live, and I really enjoyed the performance.

Prime Circle

Another well established South African band (and seemingly a regular at Coke Fest), and they gave a great performance once again. Although I enjoy listening to their music, I cannot really say, I am a big fan of the band. Great performance though, and a good warm up for the international acts.

30 Seconds To Mars

Like Hoobastank last year, there seemed to be a massive following of the band from the female fans - especially for the lead singer, Jared Leto. In fact, one girl had a placard stating "Jared, I want your sperm". And like Hoobastank, the band members had an awesome stage presence. In fact, it bordered somewhat around crazy.

Jared walked out into the crowd, to the back of the golden circle crowd, and sang a bit from the top of the fence separating the golden circle and the general admission area. And for the last song, he scaled the scaffolding of the stage and sang to the crowd - he apparently wanted to see the crowd better. Musically, it was a god show, and they performed songs from both their albums.

Kaiser Chiefs

Kaiser Chiefs was the main reason I wanted to go to this year's concert - I like their music, and I really wanted to see them perform live. Unsurprisingly, they were introduced by Lucas Radebe, and they played a brilliant set. Like 30 Seconds To Mars, the lead singer, Ricky Wilson, was also very active on stage - and also sang in the middle of the crowd - although he did not brave stepping outside of the stage area. Their performance was amazing, although considering the lineup, their music genre was a bit out of step - a bit like Lonehill Estate I suppose

Good Charlotte

I first heard this band through my friend Ronald, quite a long while back. Like 30 Seconds to Mars, they are also quite a pop-rock band. But unlike 30 Seconds to Mars, their on stage performance was a lot more sedate, and less energetic. I think their music was a lot better though!

Chris Cornell

Before Coke Fest, I must confess that I had not really heard of Chris Cornell. Yes, I have heard his music, but could not associate his name with the music. Similar to Staind last year, Chirs Cornell definitely had the best songs (lyrically) of the concert. And like Staind, their on stage performance was rather sedate.


If Chris Cornell had the best songs, Muse definitely had the best music of the concert. Muse did not really interact much with the crowd - there was no "I love you" and "We will be back very soon" - it was very much a case of letting their performance speak for itself. And their music was absolutely brilliant, featuring some amazing combination of classical, jazz and rock music. Their performance was definitely the major highlight of the concert.


For a headline act, they played a surprisingly short set (of just over an hour). The music however did live up to the band's reputation, and there was a lot of serious head banging. That said, the mosh pit was a lot smaller than I expected - a lot smaller than previous years (especially given the numbers) and nothing compared to the Way of Darkness Festival (the standard by which I will judge all mosh pits I think). Considering the headline acts of the past concerts however, I think they were not in par with either Metallica or Evanescence. That said, it was still a very good set.

20 March 2008

Sport and Race

It finally had to happen - an in form "player of colour (POC)" (the official term from the department of sports, honest) is selected ahead of another in form player of colour, one is upset and not being selected, the other is upset in being selected as a quota player, and both decide not to accept selection!

The problem with quotas, especially when they are set in stone, is that they become stupidly rigid. I remember, when I was part of the Western Province Badminton Association executive, we had an interesting problem in selecting a junior team - the requirement was that each team needed to have 2 POCs (one boy, one girl). There were two junior teams, and 3 girls who would be classified as POCs. But, all three girls were selected, on merit, to the A team, and there were no girls, who could be part of the B team, and were classified as a POC. I don't remember how it was resolved - but this is a similar situation.

The fact is, Langeveld is good enough to be part of the Proteas. And so in Nel. And on Zondeki's (the replacement) recent form in the domestic series - he should also be there on merit - but he will always be regarded as the quota player. That is sad, and just plain wrong.

Cricket SA could have handled this a lot better - and more importantly, could have picked a 15 man squad instead of a 14 man squad.

19 March 2008

In support of the Eskom price increase

In all honesty, I did not think I would end up writing a post defending Eskom. But a recent conversation with Phathu, and Eskom's recent projected price hike has got me thinking.

South Africa's power crisis has two facets. The obvious is that there is the crumbling infrastructure, where the government did not take the advice given to them by Eskom, to invest and improve to meet the demands of the future. But the second is that, our utilisation of energy, especially electricity, is not very efficient. We use more electricity, and thus we have problems providing power - but are we utilising our electricity resources correctly.

Take geysers - how many South Africans switch them off when not particularly useful - say during most of summer? Even after load shedding started - how many people regularly switch them off? In fact, switching them off is not much of an issue - all that is required is to install a simple timer, costing about R600 (including installation when I last checked). And geysers themselves are a bit overspec'ed - the bachelor flat I am staying in right now (for this month) has a 150l geyser - how does one person possibly use that much hot water? In Brazil, and much of Peru, geysers were rare. Instead, many showers had an "instant" heater installed in the bathroom, and that would provide hot water. But I do not see that succeeding in South Africa - and anyway, the cost of replacing the plumbing will be too much of a deterrence.

In the capitalism theory, everything has a price. Under this theory, Eskom raising electricity prices is probably the best possible outcome. Instead of wasting energy, we will be forced to adapt - forced to switch off appliances when they are not being used, because otherwise we cannot simply afford to pay for the electricity. And off course the rich will still have no problems paying the higher price - but the rich do not stay rich by wasting away their money.

Ultimately, we need more electricity generation, and we need better electricity utilisation. Maybe, the price increase is the only realistic way to force people to use electricity better.

16 March 2008

Traffic and Development

For the most part, Gauteng has a good road network. But the road system really lacks a congestion control mechanism. For example, on the outer ring roads that surround Washington DC, there is a third set of lanes that is only open during peak times, and open in the direction of where the major traffic goes. But it is not only a lack of capacity on the freeways - the bottlenecks really occur at the off ramps from the freeway.

There has been a lot of development in Gauteng - every corner is either a new shopping mall or housing complex, either being built or been built recently. Old charm - forget it. But with the new development, the surrounding infrastructure has not been developed with it. The roads have not been upgraded to handle the new influx of people. And, off course there is the electricity supply problem.

I have been stuck in traffic a few time already - but not going to and from work, because I live close enough to walk (and I do, most of the time). My new place, where I will move to once this month is over, is also fairly close to work. I see no reason to drive to work. But I don't see the traffic situation improving, even with the Gautrain - South Africans love their cars, and even the high petrol price does not seem to be much of a deterrence.