The SAMMA Chronicles 2017: Fanatic Fandom

SummerFest15 by Laura McCullagh
Metal fans at M4A: image courtesy of Laura McCullagh

Johannesburg, South Africa: What would the Metal Music industry be without fans? Nothing. Fans are the life blood of any performer, to go on stage and perform your heart out for the cheers, chants and adoration of the crowd is what it is all about for most bands.

Being a fan myself, I have noticed some obscure band-fan interactions however the best way to understand how fans react is to ask the bands themselves. From the usual norms to tales about inappropriate storage compartments, the South African Metal fan does not disappoint.

Cows, Camels and the Meat Selection

Sometimes location is everything, and a little proposal thrown in for good measure never hurt anyone.

“In Botswana, a giant of a man insisting I look at pictures of his cows in order to prove to me that he would make a good husband and that I should tell my father about his wonderful livestock.” ~ Robyn Ferguson (vocals/guitar, Adorned in Ash)

“A few years ago a friend of mine, while on holiday in Egypt, sent me a photo of a dude he spotted wearing a Deity’s Muse t-shirt riding a camel. That was pretty damn obscure!” ~ Wayne Boucher (vocals/guitar, Deity’s Muse)

“Walking around and seeing someone wearing our T-Shirt. Or being recognised by seemingly strange people. Jessy once was stopped at the Pick N Pay meat section and asked for his autograph. We also had a fan do some fan-art once, which was really cool.” ~ Raven Chaos (guitar, Deadline)

Hedonistic Quests?

Some of the fans leave little to the imagination from what we have heard.

“Being invited to another mans bed for a group cuddle session… we just weren’t ready for that level of commitment.” ~ Christopher Paterson (vocals/guitar, Monolith)

“You mean other than the girl in the front row licking her fingers and touching herself (very inappropriately) during Daniel’s solo while flashing a boob at Wimpie? Or the Botswana faithful humping a baby doll (brought to concert), while pouring beer in its mouth and playing Ring-a-Rosie in the heaviest bits of our set? Or having to dodge, mid-song, to avoid getting impaled by the half metre truck tow hook attached to a massive chain wielded by a small mountain beating down on the stage to the beat while we played? Not much, really, haha!” ~ Sven Borgstrom (bass, My Columbine)

“Hmmm…our fans are pretty chilled, but one gorgeous lady once asked us to sign her boobies…and who are we to turn her down? Kimmy mainly gets hit on by girls and men and stalked… she’s just super amazing and gorgeous. We have also had fans moshing to the extent that girls have had broken their ribs… kinda hectic.” ~ Kevin Kirkland (guitar, Nerve Zero)

“Our fans are mental. We toured to Gauteng in 2015. The last show we played was with Fokofpolisiekar. Now, as a Metal Band, we were concerned if we would translate to a Fokof crowd. But we played the show and the reaction was AMAZING. Fans started to really freak out. I mean, serious Boerie outjies would come up to us and be like ‘Ek verstaan nie wat jy sé nie, maar jirre dit was lekker.’ So at the bar, the female fan wanted an autograph, but alas we had no pen. Our guitarist gave her his guitar pick as a souvenir. She proceeded to put the pick in safekeeping in front of us. Let’s just say she didn’t have a purse…” ~ Thomas Theron (vocals, Megalodon)

SummerFest'15 image by Laura McCullagh
Megalodon live at M4A: image courtesy of Laura McCullagh

The Downright Obscure

There are times when the situation appears to escalate, leaving one to wonder where these interesting individuals have been hiding out.

“I had this one fan for a stage that would send me weekly naked pictures of his favourite pornstars and photos of whatever food he was cooking or braaiing while worshipping the band, lol.” ~ Van666 Alberts (guitar/vocals, BloodBeast)

“We had someone in Jeffrey’s Bay who was not into metal at all (more trance) come up to us after a show we played there to express how much they enjoyed our set, and they were really into it. Later on they were telling us, very seriously, about their abilities to be wrapped in plastic, hung upside down and breathe through a straw for a 30 min set without dying, the idea being they’re a “live” body bag on stage as a prop and then they break out of the body bag at the climax of the set. That was unusual, but we completely believed them.” ~ Derrick Leppan (bass, DevilSpeak)

Oh so tasty

Some food for thought and beverages for free, these fans partake in a little unintended nourishment.

“So many stories to choose from… There is one real goodie but you’ll have to ask Roy to share that one, it’s his tale to tell. The most recent one that I can think of where we had a good chuckle about it was at good ol’ Sundowners. Now we love giving out free stuff at shows and that night we had some of our own bottled Moonshine as well as a bottle of The High Street Beard Oil who we have an endorsement with. So the bottles of Moonshine are given out to those most deserving of course and we continue to play the gig. Two songs later Roy spots a guy with a really great mane of a beard and decides he’s our guy for the night to receive the beard oil. So Roy passes him the bottle and while complimenting him on the beard and how this oil will make his life better, this guy cracks open the bottle, squeezes the dropper till its full, and instead of putting it on his beard, which we all thought he was about to do, squirts the entire thing into his mouth! Can’t imagine it tasted too great as he then began to spit it up onto the floor as we checked if he was alright, explained again that it was beard oil and what he must use it for. After the gig we had a good laugh about and thinking about it now still cracks me up.” ~ Allan Lancaster (guitar, Dirty Moonshine)

“We haven’t had too many obscure experiences so far but at one gig I had beers on stage to hand out to the crowd and this drunk dude just casually grabbed one for himself and started drinking it, at least he was having a good time! We’ve also been compared to famous musicians by some fans – Matt gets compared to Dave Mustaine; lots of people say that Jay’s vocal range is reminiscent of Rob Halford and strangely, for a bassist, Ash gets told that he looks a lot like Kirk Hammett.” ~ Nick Muller (guitar, Disarmageddon)

SummerFest'15 image by Laura McCullagh
Wall Of Death at M4A: image courtesy of Laura McCullagh

No medical attention needed here

Here is one that I have seen in person many times, and our resident super fan, LordBoo, even has the photo album collection to prove it. Inevitably there will always be a few casualties when the Metal takes over.

“Obscure, ha-ha, no nothing for us is obscure at all… guess fans passing out at a show and getting right back up and killing in the pits…” ~ Dominic Vorster (drums, Bleeding Spawn)

“Funnily enough, my favourite fan tale was about Bob’s partner Robbyn. She decided to expectantly give birth to his daughter two days before we were billed to play ‘We came to Build’ in a hospital directly across from the venue. She wasn’t going to let anyone tell her to put her feet up and recover, and instead wandered over the road in her pyjamas, hospital patient band and slippers, and powered through the obvious pain and discomfort to rock out during our set. More Metal than all of us put together that woman.” ~ Ric Shields (guitar/vocals, Last One Alive)

“There has been many… Haha! But one that stands out was when this one fan busted his head open on the stage, got a concussion and stitches and was back in time for Bile of Mans set. this happened in Maputo Mozambique.” ~ Wouter Botha (guitar, Maximum Carnage)

“There have indeed been some very strange and funny occurrences over the years but one that we are still known to laugh about happened a few years ago at a gig in Grahamstown. An overzealous and slightly inebriated fan attempted to get onto the stage with us and grab one of the mics, in doing so he proceeded to fall over and pass out across one of the pedal boards during a pretty tricky section in a song. While sprawled out across the stage, and without thought, during the heat of the moment and in deep concentration, the first instinct led to gently stamping on his back in the approximate position to flick between effects which obviously didn’t work… Mezzanine Floor would like to publicly and officially apologise for trampling a fan in 2012, hahaha! Thankfully, nobody was injured.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe (guitar/backing vocals, Mezzanine Floor)

“Where to begin… We’ve had a fan split his head open from headbanging into the stage (We’re good friends now). A woman bit Gordon’s beard and took some hairs out with her teeth as a souvenir. Someone else almost swallowed Gareth’s face. A girl once came up to Jade and bit him. A guy pretended to be Roushan to hit on a close friend of ours. Roushan also got locked in a bathroom by another woman and was offered a tablet that looked suspiciously like date rape and a bad time but wasn’t allowed out until she pretended to take it. Some good times there.” ~ Spokesperson (Riddlebreak)

“Once at MotherFudd a very drugged up girl just pitched at our camp site and sat down. We gave her somewhere to sleep, got her some medical attention and after a day or two arranged a ride home for her. She kept telling us what a cool band we were, but she had never watched us perform.” ~ Dave Dippenaar (drums, PSordid)

“This one time at a show a few years back, a very drunk girl decided it would be a good idea to climb on stage during our performance and dance next to me. The thing is, our music is not the easiest to dance to, and once she came to that realisation, she decided it’s time to bail on that bad decision. So she stumbles to the front of the stage to obviously jump off, but the poor woman tripped on a monitor and fell flat on her face in front of the whole crowd, and I mean really hard on her face. We were in the middle of a very loud song and you could still here the long ‘Oooooohhhhh’ from the crowd in reaction to her terrible fall. I felt so bad for her then but it’s a damn good laugh now!” ~ Doug Jenkinson (guitar, Raptorbaby)

African Metal by Linda Evermore for M4A at Witchfest 2015
Fans at Witchfest 2015: image courtesy of Linda Evermore

And Everything else in between

From random fan conversations to pure adoration, fans take every opportunity to engage with their favourite bands, even if they don’t know they are actually talking to the band in some cases.

“It’s always rad being recognised randomly when out of town, but this one time in Pietermaritzburg this dude recognised us in a pizza place before a gig, he then pretty much sucked our d@#$s off about how awesome we are, we then asked him if he’s coming to the show, he said ‘nah, probably just gonna stay at home and get high, this place sucks’, well then.” ~ Jovan Tutunovic (guitar/back vocals, Juggernaught)

“I’m a teacher, and I often have my pupils asking me about my music and such, or liking the LOA fan page on Facebook. However, one of my pupils in particular goes through patches of ‘liking’ every post we’ve ever made, resulting in a long string of notifications on the page. Which we all think is pretty funny.” ~ Joel Dickson (vocals, Last One Alive)

“My daughter loves our music… she was dancing to it before she was born while I was mixing the EP at home.” ~ Bob Addison (guitar, Last One Alive)

“We haven’t had many ‘obscure’ things happen, but one really cool thing is having people ask us for tabs of songs we wrote. That’s something that we found to be genuinely rewarding.” ~ Dill Jones (guitar, All We’ve Known)

“Beer. Beards. Boobs. Plated Chips. Guitar in hand mosh pits. Heckling with glorious returns. We have incredible fans with some larger than life fun in their personas. Every fan experience ever, from now to infinity, is intrinsically obscure. We haven’t released an EP or album yet and (we) are already lurking as a ringtone.” ~ Sam MacKintosh (vocals, Aimed at You)

“We have absolutely amazing fans, probably the most humbling thing for us is hearing from our fans that our music has inspired them and helped them through dark times. We’ve been told some amazing personal stories by fans and even had a couple of fans drive around 500 kilometres just to watch one of our shows. We haven’t had too many crazy fan experiences, but we have been chased by some very aggressive prostitutes in Germany, they might not have been fans of our band, but it was pretty crazy!” ~ Greg Van Kerkhof (bass/vocals, Red Helen)

“What happens on the road stays there. I will tell you one thing though, our fans are loyal and that’s what younger bands in ZA should strive for.” ~ Sammy Simegi (guitar, SacriFist)

“She told us she knew all the words to all of our songs and then started reciting the lyrics to One Direction’s ‘Story of My Life’. Also, once in Stellenbosch, I got told by a serious metalhead that said Set For The Sky was the worst band in the world, but that my band’s performance was amazing – he didn’t know it was Set For The Sky. Classic!” ~ James Roberts (Set for the Sky)

“Having to kick off a very tipsy friend off the stage for trying to do a duet with our vocalist.” ~ Shelby Green (keyboard, Spectral Realm)

“We have had quite a few! Haha! This is a bit of an anti-climax: a guy once asked us to carve our names into his torso but we couldn’t find a knife so a permanent marker had to do. Brutal as f@#$!” ~ Lilitu Caprinae (vocals, Theatre Runs Red)

For all the obscure fan tales we have heard, there are probably plenty more to come. The South African Metal fan aims to please, and possibly amuse and confuse. In the end though, it is all for the love of Metal.

Be there when it happens!

Catch the SAMMA official awarding ceremony on 1 July 2017 at Rumours Rock City starting at 16:00 to see who takes the highest honour for each category. To see all final nominees in each category following the public participation polls, visit this article.

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