Horns of the South: Thornfest 2011

The mission to Thornfest 2011 at Route 28 Resort in Jagfontein, Johannesburg began on an early Sunday morning as Matt and I boarded the 3rd class train at Cape Town Station. The next thirty six sleepless hours were spent drinking, trying to find a comfortable position to sit in and hoping the train would leave the spot it had sat in for six hours, in the middle of the baking Karoo, while it was being repaired. Our train trip turned into a bus trip and we finally made it to Johannesburg Central Park station. The next few days were spent preparing camping gear, our cameras and recording gear for what was set to be a truly entertaining festival.

Thornfest 2011
We arrived early Thursday morning and found ourselves a spot to setup. Beers open, tent up; we did our first interview with Conclave, hailing all the way from Durban. With the Horns of the South DVD now underway we headed over to the main festival grounds. Going through the gates with a massive “No booze beyond this point” sign, we were met by a themed Jagermeister truck set up to dispense the ice cold medicine. We headed over to the Black Dahlia stage where we met the sound guys from Bombsquad and organized ourselves a feed from the desk for our live recordings. We did the same over at the Burn stage and got our feed from the guys from Smack Entertainment. With our technicalities sorted out, we went to go and see what was happening at the Cool Runnings tent where they had a mechanical bull set up outside and The Secret of Silence had taken to the stage. We returned to our camp site to have a few more beers and get some food on the go. The Jaffle iron came out and the ingredients cut. After surviving the near explosion of our gas bottle, Matt had his first Jaffle and there was no turning back. Hooked like heroin junkies we had a few Jaffles and got ready to set off on our first night of recording and partying.

The Black Dahlia tent filled up in anticipation of Guns Go Bang, a band from my home town, Edenvale. Once the 6 six piece band had their monitor mixes sorted they delivered a powerful show that kept the crowd entertained and got a decent mosh pit going. Up next on the stage was Truth and Its Burden, a hardcore band fronted by Ashley De Beer from Hope Haven records. Their message of friends, family and hope kept me listening as the lyrical content reminded me of international band Hatebreed, who have gotten me through the hardest times in my life. We headed off to the Burn stage to catch Conclave. The melodic metalcore band was enjoyable to watch and we knew that once they were done we could put the gear back in the tent and begin partying ourselves. Thursday night, just before midnight and the festival grounds were quiet, save a few lost souls wandering around. Johannesburg had disappointed the two travellers from Cape Town and we had our own little party.

Early Friday morning; beer and a quick breakfast. We were joined by some hungry girls who loved the novelty of the Jaffle. Friday was an early start with Bringing a Shark to a Gunfight first up at the Black Dahlia tent. The tent was full and the crowd reacted well to the band. The deathcore scene seems well supported up in Johannesburg. Next up was Touched By Nausea, a punk/crust band, spreading their message of anti-racism, homophobia, greed, capitalism, and patriotism. The DIY package we received from Brian (vocals) was classic and reminded me of how the punks originally used to spread their music to the fans. We headed over to the main stage to capture Second Guess D and the two girls making out on stage during their track, “My Girl is a Lesbian”. The rest of the day was spent drinking when possible and listening to some really good bands. Death By Ninja, Fragmented Children and Chromium really stood out for me. We finished our recording with Facing the Gallows and after returning the gear we caught the last song of Martin Rocka and The Sick Shop on the main stage. After a day full of heavy metal and most predominantly deathcore vibes, it was really awesome to hear something different. We only caught the last song but the joint and whiskey went down well and we spent the rest of the night with the Mind Assault crew causing chaos in the campsite with a 1-Watt Marshall amp and Matt’s killer thrash guitar riffs. Again, the Jo’burg crowd was asleep too early for our liking, so any victims found sleeping were subjected to a thrashing! The drinking went on well into the night in preparation for Saturday, our busiest day. We decided to take a walk around with the 1-Watt to the stages to see if we could find any forms of life, putting on shows as we went, to our amusement we found 1 life form head banging by himself in the Black Dahlia tent. It was the security guard, a couple of Jagermeisters later, and he was definitely feeling the metal. Matt, myself, Donovan and Patrick from Mind Assault decided to join the last standing soldier and swing some hair with him. Things got pretty chaotic! Once the music had stopped at the stages all that could be heard was the doef doef from the trance floor. We decided to go take a gander at the tripped out hippies and all we found were a few corpses lying on the dance floor. I guess the drugs must have been good since they were sleeping on wet grass in the freezing cold. After a few more beers, early morning jaffles with Patrick and Karin and some drunken talk it was time to try and find comfort in amongst the gear and cases of beer.

Saturday morning, we woke up to head splitting hangovers and the intense heat. I went to go buy some more ice to chill the beers and keep them frosty from the scorching sun. With no water in the showers, Matt constructed a shower from some 25l drums and a two litre Coke bottle and we cleaned up as best as we could. We started our morning with the punk rock band Gross Misconduct and an ice cold Game energy drink to rehydrate our metal head asses and prepare us for the long day ahead. After an awesome performance, we went to catch Erebus at the Burn tent. As usual, they delivered an epic show and it was good on the ears to hear some well orchestrated blackened death metal. The next few hours were spent bouncing between stages and we managed to catch Theater Runs Red from Durban, the female vocalist from this band having a voice that I could only stand in awe of and listen to. Haggis and Bong was a highly entertaining band to watch and their mosh pit kicked up so much dust in the tent that it was difficult to breathe. It was also really cool to see so many females jumping into the pit. Straight after them was Warthane who kept the dust storm alive and all looked pretty menacing in the costumes and make up. Next was Mind Assault and we had the chance to let our hair loose and join in the fun of a good hard mosh! We were lucky enough to hear some tracks from their new album, Metal Rites, performed live for the first time. Joining us in the pit was another Capetonian supporting his local metal scene. We got back to work and Contrast the Water from Durban took to the stage next. Having enjoyed a break with some truly awesome metal bands, we returned in time to catch Bloodline Ltd. taking to the stage. During the track “Fists Raised”, a whole group of friends from the bands and fellow vocalists from other bands all took to the stage and performed the song together. “This is our way, this is our life, this is our scene.” A perfect ode to the hardcore scenes ethos. If the stage full of people wasn’t enough, a mini scrambler entered the mosh pit and was burning doughnuts and kicking up the dust. I had never seen or imagined anything like this and am so glad I captured that moment on film! Bloodline Ltd definitely was the highlight of my Saturday at Thornfest. With our energy running low, we managed to capture Riddare Av Koden and the mighty Agro on stage. Due to technical difficulties Agro‘s set was cut short to the disappointment of their fans. Over at the Burn tent, Bile Of Man was also suffering from a power failure but still went on to deliver a killer set. The entire drum kit had to be moved forward to accommodate the sheer size of the kit. With a strong whiskey in hand and a joint at the ready we watched Hog Hoggidy Hog from Cape Town entertain the masses on the main stage. Their set came to an end and so had our work at Thornfest 2011, so it was now time to really party it up. The whiskey finished, the beers coming to an end, half a bottle of Jack Daniel’s sponsored by George from the Hogs, half a bottle of Jagermeister and it was chaos in the campsite again. Long into the night we missioned around enjoying the last hours of the festival. I managed to get a ‘Legend’ sandwich to help avoid the spin. It was basically grease, meat and cheese stuffed onto a roll. The rest of the night was… It just was!

Thornfest 2011
Sunday morning, we again woke up to the insane Jo’burg sun and a tall Jagermeister from the guys over at the truck for breakfast. We somehow managed to set up our now totally trashed umbrella, sink the last cold beers and finish packing up our campsite. In pure Matt and Chris style, we sat and continued drinking as the campsite slowly packed up and started retreating to wherever they came from. After Richard from Erebus and his buddy had left, we were the last people on site apart from security, the sound guys and the stall owners. Mid afternoon came and we bid farewell to Thornfest and the wait until next year had begun. Next year will be a total shitstorm and we can’t wait to come back and give Johannesburg and the large metal scene a full on dirty Cape Town thrashing and some more killer Jaffles!

The Horns of the South crew