EQUINOX Experience 2018: The Enchanted Forest

Magical. EQUINOX 2018 definitely tops my list of festival experiences – the attention to detail, organisation and production was second to none. The intimate, recklessly abandoned crowd, together with the mystical venue created one truly enchanting atmosphere. The musical progression from techno to psytrance to progressive on a single stage is also not something I’ve seen before for a weekend event.

I’m going to approach this review a bit differently by trying to build on an analogy that was running through my mind constantly over the weekend. Lately I’ve seen a number of movies/series that have emphasised the enhancements of virtual reality (VR) and gaming – creating alternate worlds for us to explore and experience things we wouldn’t normally have access to. Well, perhaps it was just the recency of watching these shows, but throughout the weekend, all I was visualising was how the EQUINOX team had built an entire new world for us to explore and enjoy.

Sculpted Woods.

Video game and VR designers spend months designing their worlds; they have absolute freedom to create whatever they want. It’s all just 1s and 0s, thousands of lines of code, where they ultimately try to create a world that they feel you, the consumer, would get the most enjoyment out of. Well – this is exactly what the EQUINOX team did. Those woods were completely transformed. There were visual cues everywhere – from a massive chameleon in the trees to secreted deity faces sculpted onto random trees; small figurines scattered around the grounds to the immense eye of the stage. Countless artworks all contributing to building a unique environment for us.

Giant Chameleon by Artescape Decor (photo by Adam Metcalfe)

Now, the best games often provide you with an open world – this is where the limits or boundaries of where you can explore aren’t easily perceivable and you have freedom to progress as you want. However there is always a singular theme or purpose that ties everything together. EQUINOX provided you with a similar freedom with the stage being the focal point and dancing being the main theme. You could go wandering in the forest, bounce on the jumping castle, laze in the ball pit, walk the tightropes, rejuvenate in the campsite, gaze up at a sky perfectly lit up with stars, interact with the numerous dogs – almost like in game critters, watch the fire dancers or just gambol about. All whilst being constantly drawn back to the stage where we had pure freedom to dance and let loose.

Your Tale.

Each attendee could also create their own characters for the weekend. You could be anyone you want to be with no predefined culture fits to consider. Now, a lot of people find it easier to interact with others through the guise of a computer screen – here in this fantasy land there was no need to hide. There are none of the boundaries society seems to place on us that limit our interactions to those from our friendship circles or workplace – you could easily walk up to anyone and just start up a conversation. One of the key aspects to many games has to be the interaction with other characters; you can hear their tales, receive some knowledge or get clues on how to progress further.

I honestly think this was core to what made this event so special – everyone was freely communicating, constantly sharing stories and laughter, motivating one another, etc. This was aided by the incredible Funktion1 sound system – with more than enough volume and clarity for you to fully immerse yourself in the music, yet you’re still be able to hold a conversation with the person next to you. Quick side thought, while mentioning the music: so games also always have soundtracks right? Well, you could see the stage as providing us with an absolute treat of a soundtrack that was audible from anywhere on the grounds – a constant backtrack to our weekend.

Angelique gathering some helpers to return the lost balls to the play pit, Saturday midday

Total Unity.

All together this created an extraordinary unity in the crowd; one that provided everyone with a sense of comfort and freedom to be themselves and dance however they pleased. Why worry about how you’re dancing when everyone around you isn’t – zero judgement. We were all on that floor for one reason – to dance. The floor was also incredible spacious – allowing the crowd to easily move in an almost Brownian motion resulting in a constantly flowing dance floor full of energy. For instance, if you zoom into the cover photo for this review here, you can easily identify every single person in the crowd – all with faces of pure bliss. There was no more spending hours lost trying to find your mates.

I’m sure most of you know that EQUINOX also run their ticketing system with quite a unique invite code structure. This is were previous event attendees get a code that they can share with a few friends who will then be able to buy a tickets and in turn be able to invite their friends to the following event – building a network or tree of people (the concept behind the EQUINOX logo). This is also very similar to how a lot of games run their pre-release testing and allows the organisers/developers to track users and cultivate the experience to include only like-minded individuals and keep out any problem causers. The organisers were also actively engaging with the crowd over the weekend to build their own perceptions of their attendees with the goal of also implementing a reward system for those that help contribute to the quality of the experience.

Layered Production.

There were also so many layers to the production – every aspect could be interpreted in many different ways. The most obvious being the stage: as a whole it was a huge eye, but each element of the eye was an artwork of its own – all working together to create a living stage. However, the visuals didn’t just give the impression the stage was moving, the quality and layers of effects gave it texture. It was almost as though you could reach out and touch it – the inner rings’ lashes ‘feeling’ like soft feathers.

Mogey, Friday evening (photo by Anja Oosthuysen)

Practically every game is designed to tell a story; to provide entertainment through a series of chapters and levels. Well, EQUINOX managed to curate their line-up in such a way that there was a constant progression of musical energy, going through different stages, with each set being provided by a new storyteller. A conglomeration of some of the best artists from around SA – featuring many names well known in the Joburg scene that we don’t often get to hear in Cape Town. And every single act playing utterly top-notch quality music – taking full advantage of the expertly tuned Funktion1 rig. The passion and dedication Dale and Hugo have for those speakers and programming them to sound the way they do is phenomenal.

Chapter One.

We started off with Chapter One – an intro to the weekend initiated by a debut live set from VO who provided some ambient sounds that built into an amalgamation of deep and tech elements. This deep, techy progression continued through the afternoon/evening with artists Bameano, Patrick McCreanor (ES), Craig Shacid, Mogey and Daniella Da Silva each providing us with their unique styles that flowed perfectly between one another.

The evening peaked with Weekend Heroes (ISR) and Nick Grater bringing the slightly harder techno selections while Defuse and Bander & Lewis continued this, providing tracks for the more ‘industrial’ techno lovers. And closing off the first chapter, Erebus brought in some more melodic elements with his sound. All together, a chapter mostly focused on the different styles of deep house and techno.

LEEU, Saturday morning

Chapter Two.

And so began Chapter Two – my personal favourite. Things kicked off with LEEU who played a downtempo/chill set – easily adding an extra hour to the already 90 minute live set – something anyone that’s prepared a live set knows is no easy task. Almost providing a musical reset to the dancefloor and playing to a select few didn’t hamper LEEU from performing one of the most impressive sets of the weekend; a perfect backtrack to those chilling in and around their tents – easing everyone into the Saturday. 

From here the day just escalated. Artists that usually play at night were playing morning and early afternoon sets, but the energy from the crowd allowed them to do as they pleased. These names speak for themselves: Wulfsohn, Ryan Hill, Mark Valsecchi, Stab Virus, Deadbeat FM and Stereotype all played an exquisite selection of absolutely powerful, banging techno. As a techno lover, I really couldn’t have asked for a more star studded lineup of local acts. Every layer and element of their tracks perfectly reproduced on the Funktion1 system – telling a constantly evolving aural story.

And even though the music was slightly slower than the trance most of the crowd were used to, everyone was easily able to find their own groove. Ending off the first half of our experience was a special techno set from internationals: Sawlead Ground (ISR). I could honestly write an entire paragraph on every artist that played this day, but to refrain from boring you with that detail I’ll blanket it as a chapter of sonic excellence and powerful, psychedelic techno.

Sawlead Ground, Saturday evening (photo by Anja Oosthuysen)

Chapter Three.

Chapter Three – the beginning of the trance so many were waiting for. But first we had RoomMush who absolutely blew me away – seeing this man progress over the last few years has been incredible and he left no question that he is the king of the Minimal Psy genre in SA. He even played his new Crash Bandicoot Bootleg to add to my game analogy. From here we had Sawlead Ground (ISR) play their second set. The duo having spent a great deal of the event hanging out with festival attendees had a great connection with the crowd which was clearly evident in the way they interacted with and controlled the crowd – throughout both their sets.

And just like that the proper psychedelic trance had arrived. Positioned perfectly between the Israeli internationals we had the two main guys behind EQUINOX playing an incredible live set as Quantum Project. Timelock (ISR) and Gonzo then followed with some no holds barred trance kicking the energy in the crowd up to its definite apex. This all leading us, in under 6 hours from the end of the techno, into someone I personally rate at the forefront of the South African psytrance scene, Rubix Cube. And Kieron definitely gave the crowd exactly what they were waiting for – some full on psy madness. Closing off the psytrance focused chapter was Deliriant & Dan Scot – two names synonymous with quality psychedelic music.

Sunday Funday.

And so we reached the final chapter of our euphonious journey – the progressive Sunday Funday. Phixius’ and Bongi’s energetic sets lured the crowd to the dancefloor and set a great tone for the day. This was followed by festival favourite and super enigmatic Portal building a truly electric atmosphere on the dancefloor. We then had 34° South playing a, as he describes, prog-monster set leading expertly into the Sunday Funday legend – HEADROOM. Having seen almost 10 sets from this man this season so far, I’m always in awe how he still manages to completely blow me away – both with his track selection and mixing – every single time. Watching him experiment with his mixing and his joy when it works is truly inspiring – a true master at his craft.

HEADROOM, Sunday afternoon

And finally we had German’s progressive maestro – Querox. He kicked things off in full throttle – breathing even more life into that dance floor with an incredible fusion of lyrics, synths and driving bass lines. And for those of us that made it through to the end, Querox even spoilt us with a bonus round! When he saw the Sunday crowd he told the organisers he’s playing an extra hour and a half – doubling his set length – and the organisers just couldn’t say no. It’s not everyday an act of this size has the opportunity to play for such an intimate crowd – it was a truly emotional experience.

One of the aspects of a festival I, and most people I know, always struggle with is when the sound cuts. Most of the time we have a massive artist closing, playing a full power set – and then it just ends. Music off. Crowd chants possibly get an encore or two and we’re mostly left feeling slightly dumbstruck – not knowing exactly what’s going on. Well, not at EQUINOX – we were spoilt with an emotional progressive journey in which Querox eased us down – only ending at 8pm on the Sunday evening!

Team Passion.

But an event like this doesn’t just happen – it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, planning and mostly passion. Everyone involved with the organisation and running of the event are absolute experts in their fields – logistics, venue, sound, visuals, etc. The sheer amount of preparation the organisers put in is also definitely worth mentioning; building an entire new ablution block with mesmerizing views of the landscape while you showered, two new bridges over the empty river bed (probably the only thing I could think could make the event better is this being full of water, but since it’s a seasonal river there’s not much that can be done to help this) connecting the festival area and the camping site as well as the ridiculous stage build that took weeks of on site development. The venue was also kept perfectly clean; constantly having cleaners walking around, picking up stompies from the dancefloor, emptying bins, etc that kept the venue looking immaculate.

Querox, Sunday late afternoon

And finally, to Ryan, Jéan and rest of the EQUINOX team – thank you. It was an absolute honour to be a part of this magical event. I look forward to seeing how your concept and goals for the event play out over the next 5 years at this magical venue!

About a certain Creek…

Ever so slightly I shift my feet from side to side in anticipation, palms sweaty, heart palpitations fire up a notch, stomach butterflies, an amalgamation of physical signals goes through my whole body in mental preparation for what is about to happen next. In the mounting moments I know I will be seeing a band live, one I’ve dreamed of seeing.  Still, I remember the first night my mother made me sit in front of those brown Kenwood speakers to hear Claire Johnson belt out perfect vocals. Here I was, aged 33, finally to experience all that energy and talent in action. Continue reading About a certain Creek…

REVIEW: Rez Fest NYE 2017 – 2018

Hectic. There’s no point denying it – that was a rough weekend. Heat, cold, sandstorms, a torrential downpour – we had it all. What was, only a few years ago, a lush landscape next to SA’s largest dam, was now a barren, dusty badland. But what an atmosphere the setting created… It’s always been a dream of mine to attend some of the massive international psy festivals such as Boom, Ozora, Doof, etc and it felt like this weekend gave us a tiny taste of what those events would be like. Continue reading REVIEW: Rez Fest NYE 2017 – 2018

The Medicine Dolls: [The Band You Need To See]

 

Waking up from a good gig is hard work.

The first thing to deal with is the wool in your mouth, the indelicate gunk that’s apparently sealed your mouth and eyes shut – as if your body knows that waking up is not advisable and has unsuccessfully moved to prevent the bad decision. But, the noon-time sunlight has already rooted you out, so you enter the land of the living anyway. It’s the slight pang of guilt that’s gotten you – or at least that’s what always gets me – the fact that you’ve slept through another perfectly good morning due to the raucous night had till 3 am.

Next thing to deal with is that same light – it hits you when you open your eyes and you realise that, yes, you have apparently made it home in one piece – though you may not remember just exactly how.

Then there’s the slight dizziness, the still aching body, the dirty clothes from the night before which all come together to cement the definition of this morning: hungover. Very much so. But, was it worth it? Hell yeah. Cuz last night, you saw one of the best things you’d ever seen; one of the gigs that you know is gonna stick with you for a while. Cuz it reminded you what music is about.

That’s what seeing The Medicine Dolls live was like. See, they’re a band that gets it. They get what it’s all about.

Frontman Greg Allan takes to the stage with an animalistic prowess, demanding attention by the mere fact of his existence. Exuding energy in all directions, as if his tentacular hair were the source of an artistic electricity, the dude commands the room like a Glam-Punk Jesus, wielding his guitar like a weapon in defense of all the shit the weird kids hoped they’d see when they were finally old enough to get into clubs like the one the band would be blowing up tonight.

Tonight the mainstream dries up.

Alt-culture takes to the stage and pushes the thermostat up to its peak – threatening to blow its gauges, flood every available orifice, as every person in the room sets their sites on a single goal – making this night one to remember.

As ever-ready, ever-epic drummer Anro Femurs bashes out his part with precise strokes and bassist Bex Nicholas (Arabella) gives me all the feminist energy I could ever need, the band plays on with a power that deconstructs the boundaries of the space. The trio creates an interactive system reminiscent of all the shots of punk and post-punk gigs we millennial revivalists wish we could’ve been in in the 70’s and 80’s. Dead Kennedys, The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, The Slits live. Performers jumping on and off stage – into the crowd – drinks flowing, energy flashing in all directions. A concept we thought was bygone – revived in a small, dark room in Cape Town.

Guys. Punk /Post-punk is alive and well. Bands like these prove it.

So, have a listen to The Medicine Dolls’ new single – “Excuse Me Misbehaviour” – below:

Seriously, you gotta check these guys out. Like a really good friend of mine declared on said the hungover morning after: “It’ll change your brain.”

IN REVIEW: Mother City Live

Photos and words by Cathelynne Walker

From the Old Biscuit Mill to the Old Castle Brewery, Woodstock is a suburb never seen without bustle on a bright Saturday afternoon. It was, therefore, surprising that what should have been a day out for the whole of Cape Town’s summer-body populace was instead a poorly attended showcase of brilliant artists without a muse.

Mother City Live was held on the 26th of November at Trafalgar Park in Woodstock, or so it seemed. Despite the well-organized and enthusiastic event staff, the largest audience that this event would see was only around one hundred people strong – and that was nearly midnight. This lack of numbers was amplified by the fact that the venue was simply miles too big for the turnout.

MCL 2

Carrying the burden of this slow start, The Liminals were keen to unite the drips and drabs of scattered festival-goers in their bass-heavy, moody funk – and they were taking no prisoners. The talented front-man and backup vocals contributed seamlessly to the synergy of blues, bringing with it a wave of sound best suited to sunset. It was only a pity, then, that their set was scheduled so early, so as to fade away against the background of the blazing heat and a small crowd of ten.

Good music and good food are often coupled together, and in the mother city, this should be no exception. Unfortunately, Mother City Live fell short here again, offering very few food choices and all very far-removed from the main festival area.  The bar area, small and poorly cordoned-off, was similarly not suited to accommodate for crowds, and it is with this information that one wonders whether or not the organisers anticipated many attendees or not. In between the food court and music area were the lonely tables of two to three artists, whose works, undoubtedly beautiful, would mingle only with one another for lack of new discourse. While these factors cannot solely be blamed for the overall poor turnout, they must nonetheless be taken into account. Warm beer never made a happy hipster.

MCL 1

Where other features failed, music came to the rescue. With sounds like Janice and Lana Crowster mixing in with Opposite the Other, good energy and variety were the words of the day. When it comes to attracting the largest crowd, the likes of Tehn Diamond must be accredited with the opening of the faucet. Introducing a sound that was pure energy and shamelessly black, the trio succeeded in opening the floodgates to what seemed like the beginning of the event. It is a great task that stands before any band that must open for the main act, and Tehn Diamond did not hold back in ticking any of the boxes. It was by the end of this performance that the MCs handed over the audience, whose eyes glittered with the colours of Africa, to Jimmy Nevis.

It is one thing to be introduced as constituting the main act, and another entirely to act as such. Jimmy Nevis succeeded in laying the lights for his own runway, guiding the plane safely and taking off into the air with splendour, energy and poise. A performer at heart, Jimmy succeeded in capturing the audience as if each individually by the hand, whispering sweet nothings into their ear and allowing them the favour of calling his name into the night.

MCL 4

It was therefore with a heavy heart that the talented and upbeat Grassy Spark saw only half of the audience remain for their performance. Diverse in sound and teaming with eclectic energy, the two front-men took no notice of this slight and continued to entertain, with the comfortability and ease of a band practice in the garage.

The night was still far from over, and many more artists such as Phresh Clique and Simmysimmynya graced the stage, regrouping the audience for the final few acts, ended with a bang by DJ Diggy Bongz. Even this was not enough, and it was with light feet and bright eyes that festival-goers skipped their way into town to various unofficial and official after parties.

MCL 3

There are rough patches – plenty of them. The venue needed some second thought; the food needed a major boost and the bar: some market research. Improvement in these areas is sorely needed, but with those few changes, I am confident that this festival will go to new heights to unite and showcase great African talent. While it can definitely not be called an Arts festival at this stage, Mother City Live 2016 was a big reminder to all that as long as the music is good, everything else can be excused.

LIVE REVIEW: KONGOS in London, England

 

Touring to promote their new “radio-ready” album Egomaniac, released in June this year, KONGOS played three dates in the UK fresh off the European leg of the tour. I managed to cough for tickets in London at the o2 Academy, and, pleasingly, so did loads of other people. I felt particularly patriotic supporting an SA band in London, and the other South Africans in the crowd were equally enthusiastic about our shared origins. Let me say up front that this was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, of any band in any country. They might bill themselves as a ‘South African-born American band’ but they betray their roots with afro-indie guitar licks and poignant lyrical nods to home.

Standing at the bar, languages drifted around me – it seemed that the KONGOS’ European success had crossed the Channel. French, Spanish and Portuguese fans had obviously given their friends in London a heads up. Waiting for the opener I sold a vital organ for two beers and settled in for some top notch people watching. It had been empty when I arrived but as the room filled my fears were allayed.

Tempesst, the openers (so called because “a band in San Francisco called Tempest, with one s, got peevish with us” the guitarist later told me) played a combination of classic rock-style originals and alternative soundscapes. I’m not sure if it was the effect of my obscenely expensive beer but I have seldom been so enamoured of an opener and with time, a tighter set and a hit single they should do alright.

While Tempesst played, the venue filled up and my concern that I’d be a lone patriot at the gig was finally banished. The crowd was thick and buzzing by the time KONGOS came on, launching into “I Want It Free“. Their set was perfectly sequenced, interspersing old favourites like “I Want to Know” with newer tracks off Egomaniac, though most the crowd knew both the new and old tracks. At first, I hung back in the club, watching the crowd’s reactions but was eventually swept into the elation of the fans as they sang along to “I Don’t Mind“. It tells the story of a night much like the one I was having: messy and happy, the kind of night that you wish every night out was like. Prior to launching into “The World Would Run Better“, KONGOS bassist and pretty boy Dylan Kongos, commented, “This song is in light of the results of US elections today.” The crowd erupted in laughter and sang every word, indicating the general relief the English are currently experiencing at now that America has displaced them in the number one spot of Most Monumental National Fuck Up of 2016. It was a beautiful moment of irony and resistance in the most unpredictable context. When I’m old and people ask me where I was when I heard that Trump had won the 2016 USA election, this is the story I’ll tell.

In a nod to Britain’s contributions to world music, the set included the very best version of The Beatles‘ “Get Back” that has ever been heard by human ears. KONGOS shifted between styles seamlessly, delighting the audience who moved through the genres with them, grooving through the reggae, dance and rock styles with the lack of cool that only white people dancing can achieve. Despite the glaring rhythmic handicap, the audience did what I believe is idiomatically referred to as ‘dancing one’s face off’. A testament to the strength of Egomaniac as an album is the number of songs on it that were included in the set-list: those already mentioned as well as “Birds Do It“, “Where I Belong” and my favourite track off the album “Take It From Me“. Unsurprisingly their biggest hit “Come With Me Now” also went down like shots at the end of a long week. The woman in front of me must have had the most epic bangover the next day. It was the kind of gig that hack music journalists like myself refer to as ‘electric’.

Now, I have never cried in a club (except for the handful of times when I was very drunk in my undergrad), but when KONGOS played “It’s A Good Life” in tribute to the South Africans in the club, I’ll admit my eyes welled up. When, in the encore, they played “Escape“, a romantic, slightly sentimental tribute to Cape Town, a few tears made for freedom. KONGOS married the fun and dance of the rest of the gig with the emotional intensity of Escape, playing to the crowd and shifting gears with the ease of a decades-old band, belying their age.

 

Afterwards, I pushed out into the frigid cold of London in November and made my way down to the Tube, sweaty, teary and happy in that way that makes you ignore how much your feet hurt. KONGOS have clearly hit their stride on this tour, gaining fans with their irreverent audience interaction, tight sets and of course the gorgeous tone of their uniquely powerful alt-rock, afro-indie, I-didn’t-even-know-I-like-accordion sound. This was just their second gig in London this year and despite getting almost no radio air play in the UK, loads of people in the crowd sang along. This bodes so well for the future and I look forward to when I’ll have to queue for hours to get tickets to see them in Wembley.

 

In the next month you can find them in the Ukraine, Russia, Spain and Germany before they head to the States for a run of gigs across the southern states ending on 8 December.

The Dandies Bring Lost Children To Grahamstown

Written by Kyle Leaver. Photography by Joshua Stein.

Kaihl (pronounced ‘Kyle’) Thomas Meades laid his guitar on the stage and ripped the bisected lower E-string from the machine head. As he fed a fresh wire through the guitar and began the tuning process, Tinus Lottering booted out a drum solo. Meades drilled a sliding chug riff on the E-string to finish his tune-up. “These guys outdo themselves too much,” said JC Bonnici, manager of Champs Action Bar where the action happened in Grahamstown on Friday, 11 November.

Meades and Lottering are The Dandies; a two-piece rock group from Potchefstroom. They have spent the past two years touring the South Africa, and have just released their new album, Lost Children.

the-dandies_champs_gtown_jstein

The Dandies’ one-night stand in Grahamstown was the second gig on a road tour to publicise Lost Children along the east coast. They will stop off in Knysna, Plett, East London and many other towns and cities before their final show at Smoking Dragon Festivals’ New Year’s Eve event in the Drakensberg.

The album’s first single, “Lucky Monkey”, was released on 29 August. “We’re releasing each song as a single. Our second single was released on the 2nd of September,” said Meades. The album was recorded at AntiMotion Studios in Johannesburg. According to Lottering, producer Dave Grevlar works very well with Meades in forming and refining song ideas.

the-dandies_champs_gtown_jstein-_2

“The album is a good reflection of who we are. We draw from a lot of people, we take an element and we sort of build on it,” said Meades. The Dandies describe their genre as “party rock, hard rock, and body rock with edge”.

Meades and Lottering have a standard songwriting process. “Most songs come from riffs,” said Meades. “A lot of the lyrics are Christian; messages of Love. They come from everyday experiences.”

“Being onstage, there’s no substitute for growth,” said Lottering. “The Oppi set [crowd] was full. There aren’t words to explain the joy,” he remarks on their gig at Oppikoppi this year. Meades and Lottering name Railways, Grahamstown, Jeffrey’s Bay, Wild Kei festival and Smoking Dragon 2015 as some of the favourite locations they have played. In total, they have manned the stage over 230 times in the past 24 months, according to Lottering. “The mentality these guys have towards music is up there,” said Bonnici, gesturing in the air.

the-dandies_champs_gtown_jstein-_3

The Dandies are formerly known as The Jack Rolling Dandy’s. “People can’t remember the name. We don’t want people to miss out just because of a name they can’t remember,” said Meades.

As the Jack Rolling Dandy’s, The Dandies shared the video for their most popular song to date, “The Jack Rolling Dandy”, on YouTube on 18 March, 2013. The video was filmed and produced by Stefan Louw of KoringKriek Fotografie. “We do a lot of stuff with them. They’re really nice guys and really professional,” said Meades of Louw and his team.

The Dandies are looking forward to releasing new music videos soon. “There’s a live video coming out for a cover of the Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy”, and then we’re thinking of putting out a new video in January,” said Meades. The Dandies roped in production company Dizzy Khaki to produce the “Lonely Boy” cover video.

Lost Children is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and all major accredited download services.

In Review: Rocking the Daisies 2016

Photographs by Aaron Polikoff

The journey to Cloof Wine Estate has become something of a pilgrimage; Rocking the Daisies an annual October ritual for the vast majority of music loving millennials. The festival has raised the bar consistently and astutely over the years, their greening initiatives stoically kept, and the sheer magnitude increasing every spring.

It’s a Thursday now, eleven years down the line, a less-than-comfortable breeze is blowing and by 4pm it has manifested itself into a howling gale. This has done nothing to deter the masses from arriving in droves. A winding snake of cars is visible as far as the eye can see; the campsite is crawling with tents battling the wind and a line of rainbow flags fringing the dam flap furiously. The brand new Bridges for Music stage is bravely pumping out electro beats while echoing thwacks announce the Campsite Stage sound check. Rocking the Daisies, it’s good to see you again.

I can only brave the icy wind long enough to catch The Tazers’ rollicking psych-rock extravaganza. Within minutes the Joburg-hailing rockers have riled the crowd into a mosh-pit mood and I dodge flailing heads and elbows for a good half hour before heading back to camp.

Friday dawns, chilly but bright, and a wander into the now open main arena reveals just how much the festival has expanded. The Green Village has been transformed into an open, vibrant trading zone, quaintly decorated with hanging plants and adorned in temporary thickets of shoulder-high trees. About 20 people are exuberantly hula hooping, and to the left you can cycle up a smoothie. The Superbalist activation station offers both bedazzlement and rope swings, while the Main Stage area is massive, a flapping roof of multicoloured flags forming the striking backdrop. I choose to give Red Tape Riot’s slightly underwhelming quintessential set a miss after one song, but Diamond Thug usher me back with their charming tunes the moment they take to the stage. Chantel Van T is a darling in over-sized rose-coloured glasses and lilting vocals. Their set is slick and slips past with effortless grace.

DJ INVISIBLE

 

Several hours later finds me shouldering my way to the railing in anticipation of Native Young. This is their second year gracing the Main Stage and with both an album and a European tour under their belts the African-psycadelic-pop outfit has been high on my schedule since they were announced. Armed with marimbas, bongo drums and an array of guitars, they proceed to play a captivating set of deliciously groovy tracks until they are cut prematurely short by the adamant sound guys.

The Hemp Stage is alive and electric and I arrive just in time for the tail-end of Wandile Mbambeni’s charmingly bouncing set. He’s followed by Well Done Sun, whose unfortunate technical difficulties are offset by their eclectic melodies and satisfying tempo changes.Back at Main Stage Mac Miller is late and pretty underwhelming. I have secured myself a sideline vantage point and stay for all of three songs before turning away. It’s icy, and even the promise of Das Kapital can’t keep me from my tent.

Mac Miller

Saturday is off to a slow start and the dismally chill wind prevails. The Lemon Tree Theatre provides some shelter and belly laughs courtesy of Deep Fried Man and his collection of droll parodies. Now it’s 2pm and Matthew Mole has raked in one of the biggest daytime crowds the Main Stage has enjoyed thus far. Backed on drums by Josh Klynsmith (Gangs of Ballet) he powers through his set with the gentle confidence of a musician still slightly perplexed at the attention he has received. His stage presence is undeniable. His performance is unrivalled. The crowd know every word, shriek delightedly when his dad joins him on stage, and roar as he concludes explosively: balancing a water-soaked drum on the hands of the audience and proceeding to beat it till the final note.

An hour later I am back for Hugh Masekela, worming my way into an impassioned crowd as Bra Hugh, slightly stooped but fiery-eyed as ever, soaks us in a glorious collection of deeply African songs. “Welcome to the township furnace!” he calls halfway through his set, and we roar in jubilant return. This performance is a treat of note.

The sun drops and the temperature with it. After donning the necessary multiple layers of clothing, I proceed to divest myself of them as Crimson House’s Hemp Stage performance spins the audience into a frenzy of fun. Abandoning them halfway through we skid into the packed Main Stage crowd just in time to catch Mango Groove’s final tracks. It’s over 30 years down the line and Claire Johnson has lost none of her verve. The pennywhistle is as sharp as ever, the energy is electric and the crowd, old and young, knows almost every word.

It comes as no surprise that Grassy Spark proceeds to play one of the most riveting performances of the entire festival. These guys know how to make a crowd move and they stop at nothing to get there. They are on fire from the moment they step onto stage, brimming and overflowing with unparalleled energy. Khaos Cotterall and Rudebobobos (The Rudimentals) saunter on only to add to flaming sparks, and by the end of the set I half wonder if Foster the People can top this.

Grassy Spark

They can’t. Despite their slick performance, unrivalled professionalism and crystalline psych-infused sound, there is something distinctly lacking. Dressed all in white and vaguely resembling a collection of clones or scientists, they barely interact with the audience and slip quietly from one song into another. Even “Pumped Up Kicks” doesn’t quite have the necessary kick and they depart the stage with little fanfare save for the multi-coloured firework display which goes up minutes later.

Sunday dawns, bright and sunny, and we can finally peel off the layers and venture with confidence into the open. The Plastics and Desmond and the Tutu’s wrap up the Main Stage with impressive vigour and in spite of the general mass evacuation of festival goers the two raked in remarkable crowds for the festival’s explosive conclusion. The Beach Bar is thumping but my feet are far too tired. Daisies darling, we’ll see you next year.

Grietfest 2016 Left Us Begging For More

Review by Elmarie Kruger (@elmariekr)

Photos by Official Photographers Freedom Seekers – Ezra Qua-Enoo

 

Grietfest tends to be the highlight of every local electronic music fan’s year, and this year’s installment of this top class festival was no different. The day was warm and perfect for some tequila-fueled fun in the sun at the Container Yard in Johannesburg.

Continue reading Grietfest 2016 Left Us Begging For More

The Young Folks EP Launch with Black Sugar

This weekend The Mystic Boer in Stellenbosch played host to The Young Folks EP launch.

Slipping briefly away from its famous and well-attended trance/alternative-dance themed parties, the night of live bands was a fresh change welcomed by many and just as well attended.

Mystic’s has been around probably since before your parents were students, with its two (arguably three) storeys, front stoep and two bars on the iconic Victoria Street that runs straight through the middle of Stellenbosch campus. It has been where it stands/sits/slouches through good and bad and is well known as a beacon of respite for thirsty study-weary young adults needing an escape from work and class.

This particular Saturday, the age old club had attracted throngs of students and music enthusiasts early in the evening with its happy hour specials and generously portioned meals, and by 9 o’clock the venue was packed.

Black Sugar

The first of the two bands performing that night, Black Sugar, headed onto the balcony which had been fashioned into a stage for the evening to wild cheers and the crowd surged towards them. This relatively new group started hard at the beginning of 2016 with high quality animated videos and music which quickly gained an online following. Their sharp and pretty much creepy graphic design themes have a strange and defining attraction to them while boasting quality unashamedly in your face. Their following, however, is not limited to denizens of the internet, with Black Sugar pulling a decent number of real fans to their live shows as well. Somewhere between a dark country band and heavy blues rock is where you’ll find this powerful quintet. One of the best bits: they’re fronted by a girl.

The Young Folks quickly took to the stage next keeping up the spirit of good music and entertainment of the night with their indie folk tunes. These three young men have been hard at work on their debut EP for the past few months, recorded and produced with their talented workhorse bassist Mark Ellis.

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With matching pattern shirts and catchy pop choruses this dance-along band moved the audience rapidly and rhythmically from one side of the floor to the other and personally took on the responsibility of making sure everyone had a good time. The guys have been touring extensively around the country with their new EP and have gained immense confidence since I last saw them at the beginning of the year. A great job was done of promoting the music on the new EP and I felt most proud of the crisp, freshly printed CD I had purchased in my hand when I left that night.

Checkout their music on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/theyoungfolksband/sets/a-tiny-palette-of-colour-ep

Oppikoppi 2016 – Tales of the Unsea

Review by Elmarie Kruger (@elmariekr)

As the sun rose over Northam on 5 August 2016, this little Limpopo community readied itself for an influx of music fans and partygoers as the 22nd instalment of the beloved OppiKoppi Festival kicked off with its usual fanfare.

Koppi is known for its scorching days and freezing nights, but even the looming cold weather couldn’t scare off Koppi veterans and virgins alike as they flooded through the festival gates, eager for one of SA’s annual musical highlights to begin.

Continue reading Oppikoppi 2016 – Tales of the Unsea

Live Review: KONGOS at Hillcrest Quarry

Photographs by Shae Frank.

For those less inclined to take the annual big trek up north for Oppikoppi this year, One Night in Cape Town has you covered. The international acts of the grungy rock festival are hosted over the span of several days over various stages throughout the Mother City; and South African-born, USA-relocated KONGOS, high on the list for those of us who have known and loved the alt-rockers for years, are aptly hosted at Hillcrest Quarry.

Located at the mouth of the rehabilitated quarry in the heart of Durbanville Hills, this venue is something of a hidden gem which deserves far more attention and could easily play host to some of the worlds’ biggest musical names – if it weren’t for the somewhat limited capacity. The parking lot is situated right at the top of the quarry, and by the time I arrive Sannie Fox’s lilting timbre is floating from the dusky purple stage below. I take a moment to appreciate the rocky walls, thrown into sharp relief by roaming lights, before beginning the descent into the venue.

Despite being the middle of Cape Town winter, it’s a balmy night and early-comers are spilled across the lawn, swaying gently to Sannie’s rolling sound which is wafting from the stage. We haven’t eaten and made our way to the scanty food stalls in search of fuel. An overzealous trader and a definitive lack of self-control on our part see us leaving with a bizarre chip-salad concoction which we pick at gingerly as Sawagi prance onto the stage.

Shae Frank 2016

The Japanese four-piece toured with Shortstraw during their Japan tour in 2014 and the local indie-rockers brought them to South Africa early last year as special guests at their “Youthless” launch – so I am a little peeved when the underwhelming MC informs us of our apparent lack of knowledge of the group.  If nobody knew who they were before, however, they certainly will now. Their infectious, genre-breaching blend of dance-funk anthems are some of the most original and eclectic I have come across of late. Fizzing with energy and simply ecstatic to be here, they plough through their set, pausing only to eagerly greet us several songs in. Their energy is contagious and I laugh as the front man delightedly raises his hands in a heart at the close of their set. We pass them later in the crowd and trade a congratulatory high five.

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Taxi Violence is up next. Twelve years in the running and with a wealth of accolades and awards under their belt, one can always trust the Captionan rock ’n rollers to put on a good show. It’s been several years since I saw them last and while they have lost none of their zesty stage presence I feel their latest offerings have a slightly watered down quality. Their bubbling energy is enough to bring even the last stragglers to their feet, however, and even two technical glitches part way through their set do little to quell their vigour.

It’s getting chilly now and we squeeze deeper into the crowd both to secure a decent vantage point and steal some warmth as we wait for KONGOS. The last time they toured South Africa was in 2012, and now with a brand new album, Egomaniac, hot off the press, their set promises to be a memorable one. The four brothers grew up in London and Johannesburg before relocating to Arizona several years ago. A lot may have changed since they last graced our stages but their energy is as palpable as ever – and from the moment they bound onto the stage behind a thick screen of white smoke the audience is wrapt.

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A selection of oldies eases us into their set and the die-hard fans filling the core of the crowd are screaming along to “Sex on the Radio” with impassioned grace within seconds. A selection of old and new tracks create the bulk of their set and they bounce neatly between them. The heady, pitching vocals of “Take it From Me” follow up on the grinding baritones of “Come With Me Now”. Their live performance is as gritty and polished as they come. All four brothers contribute in varying degrees to the vocals while Johnny’s piping accordion transgression contributes perhaps the key element in what makes these guys so different.  Although their sound smells vaguely of the twisted stylings of the Black Keys and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, there is a solid, foundational edge which is wholly theirs.

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They invite their stage manager, Mo Gordon to join them about halfway through their set: tiny and donned all in green he proceeds to wow the entire audience with a mash-up of an original rap verse and a collaborative rendition “Come Together” by The Beatles.

We decide to leave one song early, in order to fully appreciate just how well the quarry actually serves as an acoustic venue. It takes all of five minutes to climb and gain a decent vantage point: of the blue-lit quarry and a sea of heads, as the band bring their set to a tumultuous close on, “I’m Only Joking” – and it is quite something to have their poignant lyrics thrown up at one from the lookout of a cliff edge.

View full photography gallery here.

Park Acoustics – June Review, July Competition

Review by Elmarie Kruger (@elmariekr)

Photos by Christelle Duvenage Photography (@StellaTeleur)

The June edition of Park Acoustics was a packed one, as people flocked from all over to fill up Fort Schanskop. It was difficult to find a seat, but worth the mission to watch blues-folk duo Bad Peter perform songs like “Month of May” and “Love has Chosen You”.

Continue reading Park Acoustics – June Review, July Competition

LIEFDE BY DIE DAM 2016 – REVIEW

Written by Dee Theart (@deetheart)

Photos by Kurt Sassenberg (@SassenbergUP)

Day music festivals are becoming more and more popular in South Africa. In fact come to think of it, there are probably more day festivals than weekend festivals these days. The Jacaranda FM music experience, Liefde By Die Dam, proved that it is possible to cram one day to the brim with musical goodness.

Continue reading LIEFDE BY DIE DAM 2016 – REVIEW

LIVE REVIEW: FEAR FACTORY SA TOUR 2016 – CTN

Photography by David Devo Oosthuizen | Devographic | Witchdoctor Productions

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015_Fear_Factory_CPT_Photo_David_Devo_Oosthuien_Devographic_Witchdoctor_Productions_11_Jun_2016Where do I even begin to describe the sheer joy of getting to watch Fear Factory perform live at Assembly this past weekend? The vibe,the crowd, the supporting acts… let me start from the beginning of the evening, when I walked through the door and into the scene of one of the best shows I’ve attended this year.

Ill System went on stage in the first slot for the evening with an absolutely killer set. In typical Cape Town fashion, people were still arriving while the boys were on stage. It was so amazing to watch as people came up the stairs though as, instead of heading straight for the bar, they were rather drifting straight towards the stage in hopes of not missing another moment of the show.

Pretoria band, Boargazm, then took to the stage with their signature boar masks in place. Wow, what a performance. I could honestly never grow tired of hearing their music. Those boys impress every time they’re on stage and Saturday was certainly no different – it’s not surprising that they won the SAMMA for ‘Best Live Act’ 2016.

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What a privilege it was to be at Fear Factory’s first Cape Town show. I had such high expectations of this international band and they didn’t disappoint. From start to finish there was high energy, amazing talent, and great crowd interaction. Even though Cazares had to remain seated for the show (due to a foot injury), the only difference it made to his overall performance was that he was a little closer to the ground. Their setlist included a lot of music from their older stuff all the way up to their newest album, Genexus. The crowd sang along to every song and you could hear their excitement each time another favourite started up. Bell constantly interacted with the crowd and had us all captivated. After an absolutely insane show, it was all done and the band left the stage.

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I stood there, with the crowd pushing past to get to the bar, unable to put into words how incredible the experience of seeing Fear Factory live was. It truly was an unforgettable show. For those of you who weren’t there – you seriously missed out on a show of a lifetime. Here’s hoping we don’t take another 20+ years to bring down this amazing industrial metal band again.

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