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Krank’d Up (w/ SikTh, Miss May I & More) @ Sundowners (Johannesburg, SA) on September 29, 2018 [Show Review w/ Photos]

With international headliners SikTh and Miss May I in tow, 2018’s edition of Krank’d Up Festival hit Sundowners in Johannesburg, SA and left the crowd buzzing.

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For many people like me, Krank’d Up Festival is a yearly pilgrimage down south. Since its inauguration in 2012, it’s consistently offered a perfect moment during the year in which you can don your favourite band t-shirt (or two), bask in the hot Highveld sun and revel in some of South Africa’s best alternative music. It’s a guaranteed good time and will remind you time and again of why you support the industry, why our bands are world-class, and why you should strive to be a better fan. If you’re not thinking the latter, then you should be, because we have an ever-changing scene that is starting to be really noticed – and it needs your support. Let’s ride the wave together!

As I walked through the gates of Sundowners, that familiar lurch of happiness hit me in the chest as I took in the buzzing midday crowd. I had arrived in time to catch Last One Alive, whose high-energy performance is hugely enjoyable and whose EP managed to secure them a number of awards at the South African Metal Music Awards. Knowing that same EP as well as I do, I went straight to the front of the crowd and jump-started my day – no easing in for me. The rest of the day saw me hurrying from one stage to the next; there were so many bands I didn’t want to miss out on, some which are rarely in Johannesburg and are making some serious headway in the scene. Treehouse Burning were one of these and blasted the stage to pieces with their heavy metalcore-inspired set.

Krank’d Up had a good year in 2018. It’s difficult to better what is perfect, and with many years of trial and error behind them, Duncan Bell and Wayne Boucher from Turning Tricks have created a festival that sails effortlessly through the day, barring the occasional hard-done-by band complaining of something going wrong and the never-lessening queue at the ladies. But on the whole, they kept it together and you hardly noticed if things were in crisis. That’s not to say there were a not few let-downs, so let’s focus for a moment on what may have been missing, before we talk about the best part – the international headliners, SikTh and Miss May I.

Check out our full photo coverage thanks to Ruan de Witt.

There was a smaller attendance this year – it felt as if the headliners failed to draw the usual mass. But those who skipped this year should be kicking themselves because both SikTh and Miss May I were phenomenal for different reasons. And even if you weren’t there for the headliners, the local acts should have put some fire in your belly.

One interesting aspect of Krank’d Up is that a theme develops – like last year’s prog-heavy lineup featuring bands like albinobeach and Ohgod – although this year a theme was less discernible. Because Turning Tricks have adopted the principle that the same bands won’t play on consecutive years, it can sometimes be a hit-and-miss when it comes to the local selection. I remember clearly that attending last year was like being run over by a bus of candy and I didn’t think there could have been a lineup with more power, talent and presence. I was supremely proud of every band that played because they brought their A-game and showed our scene at its best.

This year offered some weaker points, with bands on the Hunter’s Dry Stage struggling to keep a crowd engaged. The lineup was also fragmented, starting out heavy and jumping between hard rock, punk, blues and then hair metal, never keeping the momentum going and losing fans between sets.

Nonetheless, the stage had a fun selection, and you could get a great buzz on with anything from alternative metal kids like Last One Alive or folk punk rockers like Penny Vagrant (which I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across and really enjoyed). I was especially pleased to see LA Cobra there and got to sing along to “Danger, Danger” which was a song I got to know too well when it featured on some random SA song list I had created many (many) years ago. In fact, that damn song stayed with me the rest of the night. I would have enjoyed the lineup more if I had felt like the Krank’d Up community were giving it the love it deserved. There is nothing worse than an insipid crowd and the occasional mosh pit that broke out in front of the tiny stage made me want to spit rather than join in.

SikTh have some totally “Philistine Philosophies”.


It was not that the Main Stage brought a better vibe during the day, despite the ingenious inclusion of a massive stretch-tent that brought with it trance-party feels, but also kept away the sweatiness that had been a recurrent feature of previous festivals and kept the audience away from the stage. Despite a cool breeze blowing, there was a bit of a lacklustre feeling to some the bands, who failed to fill the stage or inspire the crowd. Maybe people just need better fitness regimes because there was a distinct laziness to the crowd.

The one act that threw a heavenly light on the main stage, grabbed it by its balls and made it their slave, was Riddlebreak. They are a band to be reckoned with as they continue to develop musically while giving a consistently energetic performance. As they have grown as musicians over the years, their music has gained complexity and it feels as if they are really finding their true sound – and it’s good. This is one band I would like to see take on the world!

My great disappointment was during the Only Forever set because I so desperately wanted their very last show as a band to be one of the best shows they have ever had. Myself and their wives/girlfriends seemed to be the only ones who got the memo, so we formed our own inner sanctum and shed a tear as they finished their set – which was over too quickly and left me feeling emotionally winded.

Things really started to pick up as the sun set and Truth and it’s Burden hit the stage. Midway through set, while their positive hardcore vibes were being embraced by an adoring entourage, I suddenly had an epiphany about the name of the band and listened more closely to both lyrics and frontman, Ashley de Beer, as he spoke to the crowd in his endearing way. They are really one of the more genuine bands on the scene right now and deserve all the attention they get. Their set was tight and filled with feeling.

The other outstanding performance from the local lineup was Facing the Gallows, playing for the first time with their new frontman, Reegan Du Buisson (AKA Doobz); and they blew the roof off. I am learning to never judge a book by its cover, and when it came to the vocals, Doobz really nailed it even though he looked like he could have come straight from an all-boy choir. The crowd was duly impressed as the band kept it tight and heavy. It was a suitably loud performance just in time to welcome the international lineup, who was coming up after the Deity’s Muse interlude. Deity’s Muse have just come off the back of an overseas tour, and as openers to the international bands, were understandably showing off their prowess as a well-managed, hard-working band. I was just a little disappointed that the momentum of the lineup was interrupted and was itching for SikTh to get on stage.

Exhausted from a day of standing on my feet, I retreated to the back of the crowd to re-energize and eat a biscuit and was fortunate to see djent masters, SikTh, take the stage from the vantage point of a very distant and rapidly cooling bench. It was at that point that the wind began to pick up, the stretch-tent began to pump like the sails of a ship and some other earthly force swept through the crowd. SikTh frontmen, Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser, took command of the stage and invoked the devil – the crowd broke into a massive pit that never ceased. Dust billowed from underneath this raging mass, choking those close-by, but it was rapidly scooped up by the disjointed wind and thrust high into the atmosphere. It was as if some dark presence had invoked a spell, summoned the weather and cast Sundowners into the twilight zone.

I quickly joined the warmth of the crowd to get a closer look at what is probably one of the most musically-complex and engrossing bands to come to South Africa. Formed in 1999, SikTh has a lot to offer by way of technical brilliance – something that comes out strongly in their recorded music. Live, however, they provide more than just great technique, because their music played at volume is like nothing you’ll ever experience again. Full-frontal SikTh is aurally exhausting – so much so that you almost want it to end, yet you can’t get enough of it. Just as you think you’ve grasped one song, it ends and the next begins and it’s like listening to a whole new genre. I was drained by the end of the set – I felt like I had just absorbed a lifetime’s worth of aural convulsions.

Miss May I are “Under Fire” for this video. Not!


But it wasn’t quite time to head home because more brilliance was yet to shine – this time though, the powerful presence of one of the most commanding frontmen I have ever seen, Levi Benton from metalcore overlords, Miss May I. Although not the most original music, this band is heavier than lead. The band upped the energy levels to 110% and brought the crowd to a point of mayhem, with the pit growing bigger and fiercer. I could hardly take my eyes from the stage – it was such a compelling show. The music is the type that you don’t have to know to enjoy, which made them the perfect band to end the night.

By 11pm, Krank’d Up 2018 was over and, like waifs, the crowd wandered back to the various bars with that haunted look of combat survivors. Being at a festival like Krank’d Up can seem like entering a battle-zone, especially when you are prepared to give it your all – stock up on Monster Energy and get into the pit. I was glad to see people prepared to take it that far – it’s the only way to appreciate bands like SikTh and Miss May I. In fact, it’s the only way to appreciate any Krank’d Up, which consistently promotes some of the best talent in South Africa.

The question is, how much bigger are they willing to go?

Half-way through the day, I stood in the crowd while a friend “smudged” away the bad spirits that have been following me around the last two months. I think I was listening to Southern Wild at this point, which is music I have always loved for its emotional energy – and I felt really, really good about life. Frontman, David van Vuuren has some serious virtuous voodoo about him. While you might think this is some hippie shit, let me tell you that if you are not seeking renewal of yourself in the dusty, dry mosh pit, then you’re missing the point of Krank’d Up. Turning Tricks do their best to bring soul to this town and I have never attended a Krank’d Up and not felt moved by the experience.

So, thank you Krank’d Up 2018 for renewal, sanity and a damn good time. I have a feeling 2019 will be even better!

Features

Track-by-Track: Beyond Unbroken Discuss Some of Their Greatest Hits

Hard rock/metal band Beyond Unbroken join us for a special track-by-track rundown of some of their most notable and significant songs.

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Beyond Unbroken
Beyond Unbroken

Beyond Unbroken has proudly unleashed “The Madness” via FiXT Music. It’s a fitting title for the metal quartet’s brand-new single, released with an accompanying music video earlier this month. The clip matches the song’s intensity, a deep dive into the small pockets of our minds where our demons lurk. “The Madness” depicts a psychological struggle where the mind succumbs to manic thoughts. The prison in the video is a metaphor for this struggle and the fact that one’s mind can become its prison. With “The Madness,” the message that the band is trying to convey is that you are not alone. Pain comes, and it’s often only temporary. Facing obstacles is a part of life, and we derive strength from these experiences. We’re all in this together, and Beyond Broken wants to emphasize that.

Beyond Unbroken celebrated their tenth year together last year, originally formed between Monte and Michael Money after leaving Escape the Fate. Although “The Madness” is a very aggressive metal song, the band is not defined by one genre. They enjoy trying new sounds, mixing genres, and, in doing so, defying expectations. The Money brothers and their bandmates derive inspiration from all of life’s experiences, culminating in a hard-hitting sound widely appealing to fans of both rock and metal.

With the recent release of “The Madness,” Beyond Unbroken joins us today for a special track-by-track feature in which they expand on the stories and meanings behind some of their most notable songs.

1. “The Madness”

“Lyrically, the song deals with the negative thought patterns we sometimes find ourselves in when facing struggles such as depression and anxiety, which can have negative impacts on our mental health. The song is about finally facing and breaking through those barriers. We wanted the music to greatly relate to the impact on the potential of the mind’s destruction, from heavy, ground-shattering guitar riffs and high-octane scream vocals from Michael Money, until you are met with the blissful vocals of Monte Money on the chorus to tie it all in. We literally couldn’t be happier with how this track turned out. It’s so great we had to do it justice by complementing it with an equally crazy music video.”

2. “Blood On My Hands”

“This was the first song to debut the dynamic we wanted for Beyond Unbroken and its future sound going forward in correlation with our label FiXT. The song truly resonates with a dark nuance of a tale of the aftermath of murder, demons, drowning, and blood, literally losing one’s mind and the regret of the aftermath of it all, begging for forgiveness only to be faced and judged as the criminal at hand hears the words ringing ‘Burn It, Burn It, Down, This Is Your Hell!’ as the embodiment of the victim finally gets payback. The song’s breakdown is truly unique and heavy and does the story justice in this dark, sinister world.”

3. “Running Out of Time” (Remaster)

“The official first single off the album debut. The song defines the band’s growth with modern originality, depicting as we age how little time we truly have and how we shape our destiny. We wanted to bring up the track with a slightly new touch to signify our signature sound as a remastered version with intense drums and big, booming guitars that complement the vocals. The song is a staple of our sound.”

4. Andromida – “Break the Cycle” (feat. Beyond Unbroken)

“With ‘Break the Cycle,’ we wanted to vocalize the effect the routine of everyday life has on us. Doing the same routine day after day becomes a monotony that you never even question, but are left just sitting in silence and suffering with all these thoughts in your head. The song is about finally breaking that vicious cycle of repetitiveness. The music defies all natural law and order of the world with big, chunky guitars, screaming verses and breakdowns, and a mind-bending chorus met with a screaming metal vocal choir to really kick you out of your seat and inspire you to take action.”

5. “With or Without Me”

“In ‘With or Without Me,’ we took you into a digital world influenced by big blockbuster movies like Blade Runner 2049 and TRON: Legacy, and games like Cyberpunk 2077. We wanted the touch of mechanical machines and digital sounds to meet heavy guitar-driven choruses to really bring a big impact to today’s music. We absolutely love the track and how it resonates with all our listeners.”

6. “Falling Down + Heathens”

“2020 was the year of lockdowns and COVID-19, with everyone staying inside. We noticed a significant increase in at-home quarantine-type cover songs that began to take social media by storm. With ‘Falling Down + Heathens,’ we wanted to do more than just a cover. We aimed to create a mashup consisting of two entirely different genres of music, putting them together to make something new. The result is this masterpiece, a song that truly unleashes Monte Money and Michael Money’s capabilities without any restrictions. The monstrous dueling guitar solos leave listeners hitting the repeat button. We never imagined that the song would end up being one of Beyond Unbroken’s greatest releases to date. We are truly thankful for every one of you who contributed to its success.”

Beyond Unbroken “The Madness” single artwork

Beyond Unbroken “The Madness” single artwork

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Alternative/Rock

OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival Returns with Powerhouse 2024 Lineup

OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival dropped an unbelievably impressive lineup for their 2024 edition this week.

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OSHEAGA 2024

The OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival dropped an unbelievably impressive lineup for their 2024 edition this week. The 17th edition of the festival will take place from August 2nd to 4th, at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Saint-Hélène, close to downtown Montréal. Headliners include SZA, Green Day, and Noah Kahan setting the tone for a diverse exhibition that is sure to appeal to the masses.

Representation is present for all genres at this year’s fest. Rock is covered by old-school legends Rancid, LA rockers The Linda Lindas, ’90s indie favourites Sleater-Kinney, and grunge icons The Smashing Pumpkins. R&B will be backed by hip-hop pioneer T-Pain, as well as Tyla, Ayra Starr, and Michaël Brun. Pop is represented by Mean Girls powerhouse Reneé Rapp, Euphoria star Dominic Fike, and alt-pop phenom Melanie Martinez. Indie will be covered by Irish musician Hozier and this generation’s Elvis, Stephen Sanchez. EDM will be showcased with sets by world-class producers like Martin Garrix and Labrinth.

If you’re someone who enjoys all types of music, this year’s OSHEAGA is a can’t-miss event. The lineup easily competes for the best of 2024. Tickets are on sale 2/21 for 3-day passes and 2/23 for single-day passes. Prices are as follows:

GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET / SINGLE-DAY: starting at $165 CAD
GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET / 3-DAY: starting at $395 CAD
CASINO DE MONTRÉAL GOLD TICKET / SINGLE-DAY: starting at $320 CAD
CASINO DE MONTRÉAL GOLD TICKET / 3 DAYS: starting at $745 CAD

PLATINUM TICKET / SINGLE-DAY: starting at $685 CAD
PLATINUM TICKET / 3 DAYS: starting at $1,620 CAD

Get your tickets while they last!

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Indie

J.MYSTERY Releases His Pure and Earnest Single “Everlasting Love”

J.MYSTERY drops his latest single, “Everlasting Love,” which takes all the emotion and heart of his sound and pours it into something pure.

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J.MYSTERY
J.MYSTERY

The name of Portuguese singer-songwriter J.MYSTERY has grown synonymous with high-quality and emotionally resonant sounds that strike something deep within listeners, amplified by the artist’s magnetic performances and enigmatic, distinctive presence. J.MYSTERY’s latest single, “Everlasting Love,” takes all of the emotion and heart of his sound and pours it into something that feels pure and earnest, evoking the spirit and euphoria of a new relationship and the wonder and optimism that comes with it.

These thoughts and feelings are captured as much through the artist’s delivery and soundscape as it does in his lyrics, creating an atmosphere and feel that is full of hope and dreams and visions of a brighter future.

J.MYSTERY says of the track:

“I wrote ‘Everlasting Love’ thinking of the early stages of a relationship when you want to know more about the person next to you, and you start planning for the future because you know there’s something unique, something worth fighting for. Everlasting love.”

There is an engrossing charm and vulnerability to this sound that reinforces this statement and makes for a raw and easily identifiable ode to the most sincere form of love.

While the exciting artist has made a name for himself over the last few years as a unique and boundary-pushing talent, doing things his way and carving out a unique path and vision, it is the more human and emotional side that has cemented his growing following. This new release sees him continue to open up and bare his soul while maintaining a level of intrigue and mystique through his otherworldly atmospheric style. “Everlasting Love” is out January 26th.

J.MYSTERY “Everlasting Love” single artwork

J.MYSTERY “Everlasting Love” single artwork

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