One of the first rainy nights in Cape Town of 2015 didn’t keep the crowds away for the New Holland reunion show at Manila Bar. I was filled with nothing but excitement. Would New Holland be just as great as they were ‘back in the D’? Would the songs still mean as much to me now as they did to me 8 years ago? And would the crowd still be filled with ‘teeny boppers?’ bursting at the seams and ready to scream “EVERYBODY WANTS TO SHINE!” at the top of their lungs? (You just shush and let me use my outdated slang.)
First up were The Vanilla. For those of you who don’t know who The Vanilla are, they’re the new pop rock band on the scene. Their sound is defined by the pop rock elements that make up their songs: Catchy guitar riffs, sing-a-longs, synth lines and a straight up four to the floor. You name it, they do it. Armed with cheese they opened the evening with a bang. Heads were bopping and the dance floor was shaking. Pop rock for days. Not exactly my kind of thing, but you might be into that. To quote Chazz Michael Michaels from Blades of Glory, “It gets the people going!”
Next to play were Sons of Settlers, fronted by ex-New Holland guitarist Gerdus Oosthuizen. I was slow to catch on to this band but I’ve grown to love their music in the last year. The sound reminds me of Fleet Foxes: a folksy, indie band bent on catching your ears with their astounding vocal harmonies. Sons of Settlers have a more Pop-like quality than Fleet Foxes, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – these elements make them damn catchy. The vocals are on point. The harmonies make one all happy and warm inside. Leroi Nel, Gerdus Oosthuizen, and Jonathan Velthuysen: their voices are amazing paired together. I love the sound of this band, and I’m not afraid to say it. On first listen they may sound like Mumford and Sons, but they’re so much more.
Third on the line-up were the kings of ‘Bouncy Bouncy’: The Nomadic Orchestra, a band that really needs no introduction but I’m going to give you one anyway. The first time The Nomadic Orchestra ever played Manila Bar I was bartending. The floor felt as it were about to break at any minute. Nomads never disappoint. The tone of Greg Abrahams’ guitar can be likened to something out of a Tarantino film. And the brass? Let’s just say EVERYONE LOVES BRASS. The band was tight as always, with a new array of songs I had not yet heard. Raps, guitar, brass and tight beats. Everything just runs together so smoothly.
The ground shaking and the crowd all amped up by the bands that came before, nostalgia for what was about to come kicked. Finally, New Holland took to the stage. After struggling with a faulty bass during the first song, we were off on a ride down memory lane. They played every single hit the band ever produced, from “Shine” to “Freedom”. From their most recent album to the oldest. Playing with smiles and the crowd’s nostalgia on their side, The New Holland reunion made for a brilliant night out. A crowd filled with both “teeny boppers” and their old dedicated fans now in their late twenties and early thirties.
With reminiscence thick in the air, I left the show wandering what New Holland would sound like it they launched today? Would we still listen to them if they made the same kind of music? Is the Indie-Pop wave of the mid-2000’s sound something of the past? If the rise of The Vanilla and the large attendance at the gig are anything to go by, maybe not.