I recently attended Park Acoustics at the Voortrekker Monument after an absence of nearly 5 years due to completing my studies at that University where the noticeable Rhodes statue is going to be removed. In recent years the Voortrekker Monument has hosted acts like Jack Parow and accordingly all stigmas of this ex-sacred Afrikaner spot have been revised. This was a great basis to start from when guitar-slinging edgy rock bands were on the festival’s menu for the day.
One of the first things I observed at Park Acoustics was that the amount of suburbian families attending the festival has grown exponentially. Pretoria has limited public spaces, thus families would attend the festival with their youngsters and just camp out at a random spot without really engaging with the music. The fort setting is intimate, but navigating the landmines that were picnic blankets and non-hippie families to get to the stage was quite discouraging.
I can’t ever moan about Pretoria’s prices for drinks – thirty Randelas for a Jack Black Lager kept most people smiling and un-sober for the duration of the festival. The bands, in particular Beast, Black Cat Bones and Shadowclub, were lively, dirty and energetic. A few ‘die hard’ fans jammed out in the front ranks and other festival goers danced between cooler boxes and families.
I remember Park Acoustics as an exclusive event, but it felt almost as commercialized as the Neighbourgoods Market in Johannesburg. Thrift shops and food entrepreneurs were now part of the festival, but the most prominent new addition however was the deep house Red Bull stage. Deji Dada pointed out that the organizer has to be commended on this brilliant crowd control idea. All those Tiger and Ty’s boytjies felt at home in this Thatch Roof Stage (only in Pretoria). No one danced to the deep house music, because most of the guys were too busy flaunting there expensive liquor bottles to the ladies outside.
The festival also has a comedy tent which was Pretorianized and transformed into a comedy lapa for post-band entertainment. This lapa is perched high on top of Fort Schanskop with an amazing view of Pretoria CBD in the background. Other than the authentic setting, the comedy did not really sustain my brother or my interest, so we decided to do the ‘groot trek’ home before the main comedy act.
Many people, including myself, attend music festivals for the party and not so much for the bands. We can be compared to the Pretoria families just looking for a public space to feel the ‘Ubuntu’ vibe.
As my brother and I walked back to our car I summed up my feeling about the event in five words, “Park Acoustics was kak, maar oraait.”
Photos: Christiaan Pretorius