The music scene in Darling is synonymous with three words: Rocking the Daisies. For the last decade, the first weekend of October has seen an influx of festival goers who flock to Cloof Wine Estate for the Western Cape’s biggest music festival. Contrary to popular belief, after the last of the Daisies’ stragglers make their way home, Darling does not revert back to a sleepy dorp awaiting the next twelve months in hibernation.
As the home of ‘the most famous white woman in South Africa’ Evita Bezuidenhout, Darling has been on the map for a while. On top of this claim to fame, the town also lends its name to Darling Brew, one of the top craft beer producers in South Africa, releasing beers with catchy names like ‘Rogue Pony’ and ‘Thunder Bird’. An occasion like the opening of the Darling Brew warrants a certain type of celebration, therefore, there was no better way to kick off the festivities than with local band Crank, and the indie (and very quirky) Desmond and the Tutus, for a night of beer and dancing.
The event, which took place on the 4th of December 2015, was invite-only, opening its doors to the general public the following day. The crowd consisted of a number of Darlingites, as well as media personal from all over. With the laid-back setting of the location, as well as the free-flowing beer (and wine for the non-beer drinkers) the atmosphere was relaxed and the crowd content. One could be mistaken for confusing the place with a hipster Cape Town venue, especially with the beer-brewing containers as decoration, cheese boards scattered around the place, the bar only serving craft beer and the artisan snacks coming out of the kitchen. However, in the town of Darling, there is nothing ironic about the venue’s authenticity, and the place is sure to draw in many for its unadorned aesthetics. The stage was located close to the bar and tables, removing the restricted exclusivity that often accompanies live performances, giving way to an intimate set-up.
The opening band, Crank, has been around for a couple of years and consists of four men who found that their musical interests aligned in Darling. With band practice on Sundays, the sounds of music and laughter on Mount Pleasant Street have become a staple in Darling residents’ lives. Performing five of their own songs, Crank’s music was met with enthusiasm from the crowd, who demanded an encore.
For those who weren’t already on their feet, Desmond and the Tutus fixed that when they took the stage. With their interactive stage presence (including an introduction of their eccentric dance moves, getting the local tannie to dance along, as well as singling out members of the crowd to sing) their appearance at the show neatly tied the entire evening together. After Desmond and the Tutus finished their set, they joined the crowd to enjoy the rest of party, demonstrating why they are so well-liked by their fans, and certainly gaining many more after their performance. The whole evening had an unfussed feel, a trait that accompanies life in Darling, as the crowd was left to dance, mingle and enjoy the beer. And as the night drew to a close, everyone who had been a part of the opening of Darling Brewery was left with an instilled sense of optimism about the future of South African music and its beer.