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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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
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!
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.