In the last while, we’ve only seen tragedy on every social media feed we’re subscribed to here in South Africa. Our feeds are abundant with horror stories daily, which in turn fueled a long overdue movement. It was incredible to see so many of us unite in a single cause in the last week.
On Saturday, 7 September, I arrived at Mark’s Park in Johannesburg rather late, due to being ill and finally mustering up the strength to pack my gear and head out to Pirate Fest 2019. Upon my arrival, I witnessed an army of black buccaneers in front of what looked like a massively stranded frigate. The metal scene in Johannesburg is alive and well. I headed through to the media tent and met up with David Devo Oosthuizen, the media head honcho, who took great care of all the photographers shooting that day. We had our tent, seemingly endless refreshments and any requirements we had were swiftly taken care of.
I’m informed that I missed Fuzigish and Hellcats. Flu be damned! I would’ve loved to witness those two bands on stage, but alas, a man has to rest and recover. The last time I was able to capture Hellcats was at Bloodbrothers in 2018. Fuzigish, well, I’ve never had the opportunity…
Tweak blasts on stage like the Kraken itself and the crowd immediately starts chanting along to “Birthday Card” and I check my gear one last time before heading to the pit.
Bass bins three times the size of Carronades were stacked up in front of the stage as I head into the pit. My shutter clicking away at eight frames per second, I head in between the speakers, attempting to get the best shot of the individual band members. I remember hearing Garth Barnes (vocalist) reassuring the crowd they’ve been practicing hard all the time they’ve been silent. It definitely showed. The band members were all perfectly synced like cogs in a large industrial machine.
After Tweak’s set was wrapped up it was time to explore the vast wasteland of Pirate Fest. I stumbled upon a Monster Energy tent with a few guys busy playing the upcoming Boetfighter game, created by Louis Du Pisani and his team at Cali4ways Games. The players were completely immersed in this new fighter, reminiscent of games such as Mortal Combat I, perhaps a bit of Golden Axe and Leisure Suit Larry all combined into one beautiful masterpiece. Trust me, you want to head over to Steam to check out this release.
The sound of guitar and drum techs fill the air as Atreyu’s tech’s start prepping the instruments for their set. I decided to head over to the stage area, change memory cards and mentally prepare myself for their set. I must confess, I’ve heard of Atreyu only since the Pirate Fest announcement. I guess I’m just set with my preference from the ’80s and ’90s and never really kept up with new bands - ie I live in a cave. The same happened with Jinjer just before they came to South Africa, and damn, I became a huge fan upon seeing them live. The same can be said for Atreyu. They came out guns blazing. Full of energy and filling up the stage with their presence, they simply demanded every ounce of attention from the audience, and the audience responded with everything they had throughout the entire set. Just like Jinjer’s set and many before it, I found that international acts will always act up to the camera if presented. As soon as they see a photographer, they’ll immediately strike a pose and give you an opportunity to get some good images.
If anything, I became a fan of Atreyu right away (In fact, I’m listening to them right now on Spotify while typing this article). As Atreyu’s set ended the crowd was still full of energy, it was electric. Tangible enough, you could feel it in the air. We all knew what was coming next...
BOOM! DUBBA DUBBA DUBBA DUBBA BOOM CRASH! Alestorm’s drum tech starts prepping the beautiful Pearl, or should I rather say, Peter Kit.
While the drum tech was busy doing his thing, Rob van Vuuren kept the crowd at bay with his witty humour and displaying the cosplay winners of the evening.
Eventually, Alestorm is announced and the crowd cheers in anticipation. Here we go! I missed their show a few years ago, so I was excited to see them live for the first time. Peering over the crowd, you can see most of them have their rum at the ready. This is it, Alestorm is about to set sail and conquer.
It’s incredible to witness everyone come together amidst the tragedies we’ve gone through in the last while. Issues we face daily were thrown out the porthole and everyone came together to just enjoy this moment in time. Metalheads, men and womxn united to enjoy a universal language together.
Special thanks to David Devo Oosthuizen, The Kraken Is Alive, Jam Packed Productions, the hard-working crew to make this all happen and of course the bands, who, without them, this would all be keelhauled.