This past weekend I attended my fourth STRAB festival in Mozambique, and it was totally awesome. We left Pretoria at 4 AM on the Thursday morning and before you could say “Patlanksy” we were already in Ermelo by sunrise.
Thanks to improvements on the roads that lead to STRAB we arrived at the Kosi Bay border post around noon (3 hours quicker than the first time we drove there in 2009). Getting our passports stamped and catching our border transfer to Ponta Malongane proved to be a breeze and by 1:30 PM, my tent was already pitched and I was already sipping my first R&R on the deck bar and enjoying the fresh air and some awesome tunes.
The first act I caught was Peter Mitchell (who entertained the deck crowd with some funny Irish, country and other tunes). Next up was Stefan Dixon (who impressed me with his unique musical style and amazing lyrics and served as a reminder that STRAB 2014 had finally arrived and that it was going to be awesome). I caught a bit of Anika’s set and took a walk on the beach to suck some of the fresh sea air before enjoying some mesmerizing Blues by Gerald Clark and Guy Collins on the deck and exploring my deep Afrikaans thoughts thanks to Die See (who were the first act on the main stage for the festival). The next two acts I watched was Dilana (who completely blew me away with her strong lyrics, stage presence and vocal range) and William Wilfare (AKA Willim Welsyn).
From the first second that Mr Welfare struck the chords on his electric guitar I just knew that I was going to be blown away by his set. Hearing live versions of “Elephant Man” and “Four Cups of Dust” just put the cherry on top for one of the best performances that I experienced at STRAB 2014. Just check out the video below featuring the intro and first song of his performance and you’ll see what I mean.
The last two acts of the night were Akkedis (who reminded me how cool Afrikaans rock can still be at a festival) and Juggernaught (who rocked it out to the max, but unfortunately had to cut their set a little short due to an un-predicted power failure). I went back to the deck to party, but unfortunately travelling for 7-8 hours and lack of sleep before the festival caught up with me and I slept on the counter through Jon Savage’s set and only woke up at 3 AM. (It might have been the result of an R&R overdose though)
Friday morning arrived and we were off to Ponta Du Ouro to enjoy a huge R&R at Fernando’s and get some supplies for the rest of the weekend. We made our way back to Ponta Malongane, just in time to catch Bachus Nel, Hoot and Anny and Silver Creek Mountain Band’s sets on the deck and a quick supper and some refreshments it was time for Mr Cat and the Jackal on the main stage. These Cape Town boytjies brought out the jypsie in everyone before it was for Feed The Wolf to blow the crowd away with their unique Blues sound.
Next festival goers were taken to far off places by Scicoustic, blown away by one of the final Mrs B performances and amazed by a kick-ass set by Southern Gypsy Queen. An epic band battle between Fake Leather Blues Band and Black Cat Bones (which at one point featured Conrad Jamneck “eating a baby”) was up next and before you could say “Oink” Boargazm were giving folks their metal fix and die hard party animals were dancing on the tables at the deck into the early hours of Saturday morning (in part thanks to Bertus’ “Ball powder” that was doing its rounds). Eventually the party ended at 4 AM with me crawling into my tent for some well-deserved shut-eye.
Saturday started out slowly with amazing sets by Tamryn Jones and El Cantante (Martin Rocka and Cito from Wonderboom) and before you know it, it was time for Coelacanth (Gareth Wilson, Jaco Mans and Andre Kriel) to blow audiences away with some old school / country style acoustic rock ‘n roll. Naming James were the last act on the deck for the weekend, entertaining the crowd with their witty lyrics and catchy guitar riffs before Andra started the main stage line-up with absolutely amazing set at 5 PM.
Emile Swiegers and his band were up next and delivered an excellent performance despite the fact that their drummer (Jean Swiegers) injured his arm over the weekend. Next festival goers were entertained by amazing performances by Mean Black Mamba, Jack Hammer and Raoul and Black Friday, prepping them for the last 2 acts of STRAB 2014: Albert Frost and Dan Patlansky. Both of these guitar maestros mesmerized the audience with their stage presence, brilliant guitar skills and downright awesomeness before the party on the deck continued into the early hours of Sunday morning. On Sunday we hit the road back to Pretoria around 9:30 AM and were back home around sunset.
STRAB 2014 was definitely one of the best musical experiences of the year and I’m definitely going to make my way back next year. With just over a 1,000 festival goers, it was a bit more crowded than usual, but the vibe was still bloody awesome. It remains one of my favorite festivals to attend. You can check out more photos from the festival on the Henno Kruger Photography page on Facebook.
Kudos to Andries, Conrad and the rest of the STRAB crew, the Activation ZA crew (who gave me the opportunity to go to STRAB and provided us with wi-fi for our Tweets, Instagrams and Facebook updates) and Peter for getting me there and back in one piece. See you all at STRAB 2015.
How was your STRAB 2014 experience? Leave a comment and let me know. If you’ve enjoyed reading my review, feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is Caring.
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