Each year since we began this project in 2006, we’ve seen a lot of comings and goings. This year of 2011 was no different, and we can already see into 2012, there being some interesting twists in the tale of the local metal scene. Admittedly, I’ve been hearing a lot of people offering a very bleak perspective on how they view the current state of things, and I have to admit that I cannot really relate to what they are feeling. Having come from the days where we metalheads had literally nothing, I have been keenly observing the development of the local scene over the last decade. It has had its ebbs and flows like anything else out there, but generally it appears to me to be doing quite well; especially considering where it has come from over the last ten years.
One thing that I do feel has shown huge decline since before we started the M4A project back in 2006 is within the actual bands – their managerial creativity. In the days when there were absolutely no venues that regularly catered for metal, we witnessed a lot of creative thinking and the scene had this amazing underground vibe with gigs taking place in some of the most obscure places. When you went to the gigs which were so few and far between, you would always see people you had never seen before. It was an adventure! With the occurrence of venues opening their doors to metal, that changed a lot. You suddenly had more localized scenes, and often that tends to lead to a sense of stagnation. Stagnation in the social worth of those local scenes, and stagnation in the way bands tend to do things – which is usually very repetitive as they simply role with the “easy” method of playing a show. Hence, came the rise in popularity of festival-styled events. Although this kind of event does not always (or hardly ever) favor the bands, it has definitely created something of a “buyers market” for the metalheads entertainment options in general terms. Whiplash has always been a date of significance on the Cape Town metal calendar. Today, I believe Whiplash is quite possibly the countries longest running annual feature. Although it has only begun to take on a more “festival” approach as of more recent years, it has been running since 2002. In 2007 we bore witness to two more annual features which have prioritized themselves on just about every average Joe-Metal’s calendar: the bi-annual SummerFest / WinterFest concept, and the annual RAMfest. Amongst metalheads, and probably more specifically amongst the legion of bands that have emerged over the last few years, these events have become the most hallowed of the local community. It would do everyone’s sense of metal-morale great harm if we were to lose any of these from our annual planning.
Yet there looms a widening feeling of threatened demise. There are metalheads aplenty who speak of abandoning RAMfest for a number of reasons – most of which I personally find to be ill-founded; many speak of doom and gloom, that there is a reduction in the scene. It is true that RAMfest is not a metal festival. Nor will it ever be. Those who set out to create the festival never had Wacken Open Air on their minds when they began. Yet, as some of them were avid metal fans themselves (along with enjoying a plethora of other genres as well,) they incorporated a metal component into the first festival in 2007 and have continued to do so right up into the announcement of In Flames as their headline act for 2012. The RAMfest organizers liaise closely with us at M4A to bounce ideas and gather opinions. They turn to us because of our accomplishments with our own SummerFest and WinterFest shows, and they trust our judgment on many matters. In return, we offer them our loyalty and services in recognition of the great work that they are doing in parallel with that which we are doing. Although we’ve enjoyed having our own M4A Stage at RAMfest in 2010 and 2011, our two visions have never been to create conflicting or competing events. We have our vision, and RAMfest have theirs, and both have a role to play in our local community. At this juncture there is something of an outcry that RAMfest is now offering only a one-day “Coke-Fest” styled event. We at www.metal4africa.com ask for calm. Do not turn your backs on this great event because you think you are being robbed of something! Rather, see it as the opportunity that it is and hold onto the trust that all has been discussed in great detail and care taken before any decisions were made. Let’s focus on what is changing on the 2012 calendar that is actually giving more to the community – including what has become of this coming years RAMfest.
– RAMfest: Now endeavors to provide the international entertainment that others have failed to provide. It means the loss of a weekend camp-out in March, but not without alternatives.
– Rock The River: 2012 says good bye to one weekend camp-out festival, yet it says hello to a brand new one. Rock The River over New Years is as of this year hosting a metal stage with full weekend camping. This has taken a lot of dedication from a popular live venue’s owner, none other than Antonio Manuel of ROAR. He has also been in touch with M4A in leading up to this.
– Metal4Africa: Don’t forget that with SummerFest’12 (28 January 2012) and WinterFest’12 (28 July 2012), it is still very much business as usual.
Therefore, the state of metal in Cape Town in 2012 is looking pretty good! You’re getting way more than you’ve bargained for, and this is only just the beginning. I’d like to hear a very big round of “FUCK YEAH” with horns lifted in the air! For those of you who have felt the pressures of uncertainty, I hope that these revelations put some bounce back into your step and some spring into your neck as you’re gonna need it in the pit! For those of you in bands who are bummed that you might not get to play RAMfest, all of your submissions are presently in consideration for other events. There is no threat of demise in 2012 – only the promise of opportunity.
Connect with the author Darkfiend on Google+