Reviewed By Matthew Nijland

Whenever South Africans hear the annual phrase “State of the Nation”, we tend to brush it off as nothing more than a farcical formality held by our incompetent government, with no real significant impact on our daily lives.

However, on Saturday 8 July, when Bailey’s Bedfordview hosted their first ever metal festival under the same name, it turned out to be – dare I say it – the ONLYState of the Nation” that mattered!

As an occasional attendee of Bailey’s shows, a few initial questions filled my head when this show was first announced. Firstly, would Bailey’s be able to handle a mosh pit/ wall of death/ circle pit based on its uniquely narrow floor structure in front of the stage? Secondly, how would the typically larney Bedfordview residents who frequent Bailey’s feel about metalheads infiltrating their space (usually a club on the bottom floor, with bands occupying the top floor)? I simply HAD to attend and document the evening to find out firsthand!

Curated and hosted by everyone’s favourite emo sound engineer, Liam Murray, it certainly promised to be a groundbreaking evening on which some of the Gauteng scene’s finest up-and-coming metal acts would grace the stage on the East Rand for a change. And what a lineup it was!

As I reached the top floor, my eyes were greeted by a room chock full of metalheads clad in their finest black leather, colorfully dyed hair and emo makeup. It was clear that word had spread far and wide about the gig, and even attracted some big names and familiar faces of the metal scene who came to support.

Every corner of the Bailey’s Bedfordview top floor was occupied by a metalhead on the night.

Maybe In The Sequel? kicked off the evening’s shenanigans just after 18:00, proving once again that their streak of successfully managing to infiltrate almost every Gauteng metal gig as the only pop punk band on the bill remains unbroken. In the months following their tongue-in-cheek performance in this year’s Wacken Metal Battle Southern Africa 2023 heats rounds, you’d think someone would’ve noticed by now? The boys brought their feel-good gees, on-stage banter and best Yo Mamma jokes to the party, playing a string of awesome originals including their debut single “Night In The Light“, and nostalgic covers of Sum 41’s “In Too Deep” and Busted’s “Year 3000”.

Like watching “American Pie” for the 500th time, Maybe In The Sequel? proves that 2000s nostalgia hits best when great music is associated with it.

Up next was a band I haven’t seen live since 2019, Days Without Incident. Now a three-piece, frontman Rudi van Rooyen greeted the crowd saying that they were “going back to their metal roots” for this show, and ushered in their set with a blistering cover of “Master of Puppets” by Metallica. The trio delivered a high energy, full-on distortion 45-minute set of original songs which got heads banging and giving the metalhead army, now occupying every table and inch of the balconies, their first taste of metallic blood.

Days Without Incident display that “going back to their metal roots” involves a lot of face melting.

My good friends in Walk These Skies then took to the stage for their first show in a few months, backed by a brand-new rhythm section. From the anthemic barrage of their debut single, “Walking Away“, to the breakneck breakdowns in “Death of a Sun”, to a tender moment where lead singer Trystan Bryce’s girlfriend, Donné de Kock, joined him on-stage for their ballad duet, “Lying to Myself”, these guys have incredible potential to grow into one of SA metal’s most exciting newcomers! The guys have also been hard at work writing and demoing brand-new music, such as their closing number “Dead Things”, which the very responsive crowd lapped up with cheers and inducing the night’s first mosh pit.

Walk These Skies triggered the first mosh pit of the evening with a crushing set.

Middle Grounds tore up the stage next with yet another signature 1000% energy, highly crowd interactive sets. They’re a band that needs no introduction, considering they are the fastest-rising newcomers to the SA metal scene as winners of the Wacken Metal Battle Southern Africa 2023 finals (for which I was privileged to witness their incredible victory firsthand!) and playing prestigious local lineups including Ramfest 2023 Pretoria (on 2 September) and killer Emalyth Events shows at Sognage. My favourite moments of their shows are always when the frenzied crowd screams the refrains of “There Is Never Peace” and “White Picket Purgatory” along with lead singer Brandon Render, and when they encourage audiences to crowd surf. Even more awesome is their support of audience inclusivity, such as when Brandon called for a mosh pit “for anybody who identifies as women” to participate in in front of the stage. They’ll be off to Germany towards the end of July as SA’s representatives at Wacken Open Air 2023, so best of luck and give it horns dudes!

Wacken Metal Battle Southern Africa 2023 winners Middle Grounds proving their champion status.

Metal scene champions Sunken State then delivered a set which quite literally shook the top floor, displaying their incredible musical focus while simultaneously creating absolute bedlam. Greeting the room with “Separation Has Begun“, my jaw dropped at lead vocalist Dwayne Hees’ incredible vocal range, effortlessly switching between screeching highs and full-throated gutturals. The sea of metalheads chanting the “And now I’m falling to pieces, and all the anguish, I feel it” refrain of “Pure Hate” along with guitarist Mat Swanepoel (an incredible singer in his own right, too) was definitely a standout moment for me. After my first time seeing their tightly crafted ensemble at this show, I thoroughly look forward to witnessing their Ramfest 2023 Pretoria set!

Sunken State shaking the top floor of Bailey’s.

State Dependency closed out the night with a heavy set that maintained the energy until the very end, with the crowd still going crazy after 23:00. They performed an awesome rendition of their brand-new single, “Aether“, which dropped the day before. Although they’re known veterans of the scene, it was my first time seeing them, and I really enjoyed the three-piece intensity they bring to the stage. Despite a few guitar glitches, the guys carried on like true professionals and brought down the curtain on a hugely successful evening in style!

State Dependency performing their brand-new banger, “Aether”, which dropped just the day before.


In addition to witnessing each amazing act, I also had a much-needed catch up with my friends in the various bands and got my hands on a brand-new Maybe In The Sequel? shirt and a Middle Grounds patch which I’ll be sporting when out and about!

Huge congratulations to all the bands, the sound and lighting crew, Bailey’s and especially a very happy Liam for putting on a brutally stellar show! The SA music scene and I look forward to the next one!

A very happy Liam Murray with stage and sound assistant Raeleigh Kraft.

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