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By Almé Hugo

Photo: Sebastiaan Whitward

The Stellenbosch music scene is filled with something for everyone. If you’re a music lover there’s probably no festival you haven’t heard of. Well, let us introduce you to Simonstock, a niche music showcase, hosted in the Simonsberg quad on 12 August. Simonstock has existed since the 90’s and is named after the famous Woodstock festival.

Die Matie spoke to Kyle van der Merwe, one of the festival’s organisers. According to van der Merwe, “Simonstock’s main purpose is to showcase the musical talent in Simonsberg and allow every resident the chance to live out their rockstar dreams.” And there were certainly many rockstar dreams present on stage. Barbie and the Kens had the crowd singing along to pop and indie favourites. The band prides itself on their ability to read the room and play music people want to hear. (Yes, they did play Wonderwall.) Their ambitions stretch beyond Simonstock and they hope to one day, “Make the type of music that can top the charts.”

First-year band, Five Seconds Simon says…Rock on! of Blou, also had their fifteen minutes of fame on stage. For a band who only played together four times before performing, they weren’t half bad. Lead guitarist and vocalist, JG Wegner, even pulled out his harmonica for a Bruce Springsteen number.

Then, of course, it was the Headliner — The Residents, a Simonstock favourite with this being their third performance at the festival. Both festival organisers, van der Merwe on the guitar and Johan Olivier on the drums, played for the band and highlight that the festival gives them the opportunity to do what they love (while getting applauded for it). They see Simonstock as their ‘Genesis’.

Christiaan Timmerman, The Residents vocalist, describes their music as “loud, negative music” which, surprisingly, was a great hit with the crowd. The band calls themselves a “guaranteed encore” which they definitely proved with their energetic performance that drove the crowd wild, although it might also have something to do with Timmerman pouring Jägermeister down the throats of fans close to the stage.

The band first started practising in the same garage Francois van Coke started Fokofpolisiekar in. This could only mean good things for the band who plan on staying together after graduation. In their own words, “We enjoy making music, and we’ll keep making it together until we don’t enjoy it anymore.”

All in all, Simonstock has immaculate vibes with a crowd consisting of everyone who knows what an electric guitar is — and even if you don’t, Simonsberg acapella also opened the show. Everything from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Ed Sheeran is fair game on the Simonstock stage with the tiniest bit of edge sprinkled in. As Timmerman shouted to the crowd: “F**k your sing-alongs.” Van der Merwe hopes the festival grows in the coming years and emphasises that it’s not for profit.

The focus remains on Simonsberg residents and their rockstar dreams. Die Matie definitely recommends putting this event on your calendar for next year and keeping an eye on the bands birthed from the festival. As one of the Kens from Barbie and the Kens put it, “We’re not done yet.”

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