The world’s leaders of gypsy-punk, Gogol Bordello, graced our shores and many South Africans had no idea what they were in for!

When Hilltop Live announced that “One Night In Cape Town” was going to take place again this year, it calmed the nerves of many Gogol Bordello, Brand New and Twin Atlantic fans who could not afford making their way up north to OppiKoppi. This year ONICT took place at Shimmy Beach Club, a very unlikely venue for live bands more known for their DJ performances with acts like local exports Goldfish. Nevertheless, an amazing venue with one of the worlds most beautiful views.

After receiving our armbands and walking to the stage I realised something majorly wrong: The stage ended where the elevated swimming pool started. With space for two people between the stage and the swimming pool, stirring the decision of risking limbs to get close enough.

Although missing one of South Africa’s most well known festivals OppiKoppi, Capetonians could rejoice with the fact that the two best fitting South African artists would be opening for the international who we all came to dance to: Gogol Bordello.

Nomadic Orchestra by Ashley Brown caught on 35mm film
Nomadic Orchestra by Ashley Brown caught on 35mm film

With a quick line-check, Nomadic Orchestra kicked off the night with their brass safari. If you haven’t experienced them before…what have you been doing? There’s only one thing to do at a Nomadic show; dance your socks off!

Mr Cat & The Jackal, consisting of some of the most talented musos, plays a number of instruments while having a dancing jackal mascot. Seeing Tommy T (Gogol’s bassist) jamming out in the crowd unnoticed with a beer in his hand made me feel extremely patriotic. The band played their hearts out and made us proud. One thing is for sure, South African artists are world class.

Eugene Hütz known for his amazing stage performance and daring stage interaction finally took to the stage. There was no doubt that the band was put off by playing for a swimming pool and not moshing, dancing and singing crowd. Looking past this major problem the crowd started flooding closer and closer to the stage. Fans were now packing the just under a meter space between the stage and the pool. With the alcohol flowing it was a ticking time bomb until people would jump in the water which was clearly prohibited. Fans flooding from from left, right, centre and even backstage ( fans easily strolling past the seemingly inexperienced Shimmy Beach bouncers) the party was in full swing, gypsy punk style.

Watching Gogol was one of the most impressive experiences I’ve ever had and the band was even better live than their recorded material. What was sad however was the unprofessional production and organisation from Hilltop Live, which made me feel that ONICT was an after thought.

Gogol Bordello at One Night In Cape Town by Ashley Brown - 1
Gogol Bordello by Ashley Brown caught on 35mm film

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