Endless Daze 2017: review by a metalhead

Endless Sunset: image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography
Endless Sunset: image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography

“We’ve gotta get there by 8pm, guys. We’ve gotta see The Valley.”

I had hustled my friends all week, knowing that when Friday afternoon rolled around, problems were bound to emerge. One had a late meeting. A few were insistent that we had to eat something before we left Cape Town. I just knew I had to be through the gates of Endless Daze 2017 before 8pm Friday night.

Once we hit the road, I relaxed a bit. The West Coast road is beautiful in the evenings, and Friday’s drive to Silwerstroom Resort was no exception. We scooched in with about half an hour to spare – all my worrying was for nothing. I got a drink and planted my feet firmly back and center of the growing crowd.

Enter The Valley

Having seen The Valley at last year’s Endless Daze, and again at the League of Doom’s event Beneath the Mountains of Madness, I knew that The Valley has been putting in the hard yards and is developing quickly as a live act.

The band’s set on the big stage did not disappoint, with huge drums driving an infectiously groovy sound. A guest appearance by blues rocker Sannie Fox added a new element to an already diverse blend of desert rock, psych and doom. The pace of The Valley‘s set was good as well, starting slow and majestic as the light faded, before steadily lifting the pace to finish fast, loud, and heavy and leaving the crowd wanting more.

The Valley: image courtesy of Laura McCullagh & Texx and the City

By chance I ran into bassist Le Roux Hofmeyr a few hours later, in the (impressively clean) bathrooms. We had a quick chat on the fence outside, and he said they’ve been working hard and trying to play with different groups around Cape Town.

“We have a lot of different elements to our music, which means that we’re able to play with different scenes. After Endless Daze last year, we decided to choose our shows carefully. We thought about how playing a show would benefit us”. ~ Le Roux Hofmeyer (bass guitar, The Valley)

The Valley is planning a tour to Johannesburg next year, and the band hopes to visit Europe beyond that; after seeing other Cape Town bands like Wildernessking and Medicine Boy doing well in Europe recently.

Metalheads, no strange sight at Endless Daze

I thought I’d be one of only a few metalheads at a festival like this one, but they were everywhere. Yet many familiar faces from gigs around Cape Town emerged from the crowd, and plenty of my metalhead friends branched out a bit for Endless Daze 2017.

I even got a high-five for my Finntroll shirt early on Friday night.

Besides The Valley, stand-out bands on Friday night were Medicine Boy and Moon Duo. Superficially, they have a lot in common – female on synths, male on guitars, and shared vocal duties – and both dominated the stage with big sounds and complete professionalism. But where Medicine Boy favours walls of reverb and dreamy, layered vocals steeped in emotion, Moon Duo offer up rhythmic and hypnotizing psychedelia with unexpected harmonies and technically outstanding guitarwork. In both cases, the crowd was rapt.

Moon Duo: image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography
Moon Duo: image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography

Saturday really kicked into gear just after another jaw-dropping West Coast sunset, with The Sunflowers from Portugal reprising their performance at Inner City Psych Fest earlier this year. Another polished duo churning out massive amounts of noise, their heavily distorted psych punk sound set the tone for a much more upbeat evening of music.

Amy Ayanda and Dangerfields both impressed, before the BLK JKS returned from a long hiatus, with a new-look lineup, shared vocal duties and a more psych-rock attitude.

When crescendo reaches climax!

When the Oh Sees walked on stage, Endless Stage was at a smoulder. By the end of their first song, it was properly on fire. Driven by two literally steaming drummers playing in unison at the front of the stage, frontman John Dwyer whipped the crowd into a psych-tinged rock’n’roll frenzy in minutes. I started the set standing with my friends, but very quickly found myself in the middle of a heaving but incredibly friendly moshpit, horns in the air and with no desire to leave.

The Oh Sees have been around in one form or another for 20 years, and that experience was impossible to ignore. Their music ranged from almost Beach Boys-style surf rock through to post-punk and even desert rock sounds, but inevitably at high speed and delivered like a punch in the face. The response was the same from across the broad spectrum of friends and fellow music-lovers that I spoke to, in awed tones, after the show – irresistible talent and experience in what makes an unforgettable live show.

Oh Sees: image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography
Oh Sees: image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography

After a show like that, almost anything would be an anti-climax, but I rode the wave of euphoria and danced out the last of the festival to the classic tunes of the After Hours DJs. And then, scarcely believing it was over, the crowd dispersed to the moonlit beach, or their tents, or simply stood, slightly dazed, and wandered what exactly had just happened.

Yet all Daze must ultimately end

So that’s as it happened. Over two days, I witnessed remarkable music, with musicians dedicated to their craft, and crowds of great people as excited about and interested in the music as I was. I heard more distortion and reverb than even I expected, and I sweated my way through the friendliest moshpit in the world. Pretty metal for not-a-metal-festival.

I arrived in a rush, and left dragging my heels, wishing there was more where that came from. What better could be said of a festival experience?

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Endless Daze 2017, image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography
Endless Daze 2017: image courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography