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
They took a little break, but Synergy Live is BACK! After a short break, they’re returning with a brand new flavour. With a fresh new look, new venue and new vibe, this year they’re going back to our roots and taking you on three-day electronic music journey with a line-up boasting the best in cutting-edge local and international talent.
One of the world’s greatest music acts, +LIVE+ has announced they will play South Africa as part of their reunion tour in November 2017. Presented by AMP Events, the show promises to feature all the highlights from +LIVE+’s incredible 25-year repertoire. Continue reading LIVE: – The Reunion World Tour South Africa
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.
Big Concerts did it again, this time bringing their first metal act in two years to South Africa and filling up the Grand Arena in Cape Town with eager Iron Maiden fans.
The sheer quantity of metalheads walking through Grandwest would have been a spectacle on its own, but the real display was set to begin at nine o’clock after the supporting band The Raven Age, a 5-piece UK Melodic Metal group who have also supported Gojira and Mastodon on tours as well.
The Raven Age delivered a tight opening performance and were well entertaining, but as mentioned by their vocalist they were well aware that they were only there to get the crowd warmed up for the headliner. Nonetheless the relatively young band tore up the stage in their own way and were very impressive to say the least.
As they left the vast stage the two peripheral projector screens lit up with a video advertising Iron Maiden’s upcoming mobile game “Legacy of the Beast” and the arena was once again left in anticipation.
The show started with another projected video clip themed as a jungle horror ending as the lights blasted outward towards the audience and the concert was on the go with a practiced stage presence that comes from more than thirty years of experience with legendary front man Bruce Dickinson sprinting, jumping and singing all over the stage, which portrayed a Mayan scene of pyramids and altars, showing off his incredible stamina for a 57 year old.
In the case of a band like Iron Maiden, a group who have collectively brought out sixteen records, the majority of which have garnered great international success, there is no shortage of songs to select from to put together a monstrous set list. Although many of the songs were from their latest album “The Book of Souls” which the current world tour was in promotion of, they succeeded in pleasing the nostalgic fans with classic favourites like Fear of the Dark, The Number of the Beast and the fantastic Blood Brothers to name a few.
The audience stood, jumped, cheered and even moshed with great enthusiasm along to every track and Iron Maiden held all in their hands with Dickinson commanding the crowd with gestures and encouragement.
To say Iron Maiden have a good stage presence would be a wild understatement as the whole performance was a production in its own right, every member exposing their own style, especially with guitarist Janick Gers competing for attention. Gers is arguably one of the best performers with an instrument in hand when it comes to showing off his moves, be it windmill strumming power chords, throwing his guitar high into the air, swinging the six-string 360⁰ by its strap or simply sprinting around like a madman in white high-tops.
And then there was Eddie…
Twice the size of a large man the goliath came stomping out onto stage adding to the entertainment and quite frankly it was a frightening sight. Eddie became a part of the performance and then disappeared, only to return later as a gigantic head and shoulders behind the band with burning eyes leering out at the crowd.
An incredible demonstration of music, visuals and entertainment which left people in awe. This is where metal grew from and these epic productions are a glimpse into what was once an enormous market, an absolute treat to behold and experience.
Photograpy courtesy of Jono Jebus
Dark ominous-looking clouds loomed above the prestigious and spectacular Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. A torrential downpour seemed imminent but this did not dampen the spirit of the 5 500 fans who managed to purchase tickets to the debut performance of Of Monsters and Men in South Africa. Peals of laughter and excited chatter rang up down the long snaking queue of people who were waiting for the gates to open. It is rare to hear such excitement accompanying a long wait to enter a venue and it even remained after the brief delay to open the gates. A delay that was done so that people queuing at the top gate could enter without colliding with those making their way into the concert grounds from the main entrance.
Minor spats occurred between couples, and friends, as people made their way into the concert grounds and tried to decide where to sit. These spats were quickly resolved when somebody decided to take charge and forcibly command how the seating arrangement shall work. Sharp terse comments of “Put the blanket down”, “Nee fok, moenie daar sit nie”, and many others rose above the crowd as order was eventually restored by the self-appointed seat ushers. Once order had been restored, people settled into the usual routine that accompanies a South African picnic concert: drinking copious amounts of alcohol and stuffing one’s face until the main act took to the stage.
Gangs of Ballet promptly took to the stage and humbly understood that they were the band to which everyone shall eat and drink. There was no expectation on their part that the entire crowd was about to clamber to their feet and dance along to Gangs of Ballets’s spectacular fusion of ethereal alt-pop, anthemic alternative rock and aggressive alt-metal guitar riffs. It is an attitude that is a testament to their resilience in a harsh musical climate and their set only further proved why they have been so successful.
The band powered through some of their smash hits like the ethereal synth-pop anthem of “Always” and gave an interesting alt-rock meets alt-metal to the delightfully happy singalong of “Don’t Let Me Go”. It was their performance of “Hello Sweet World” that truly impressed me. It is such a slow, melancholic song when heard on Yes/No/Grey but the live performance saw the song straddling the gap between a melancholic musing and a soaring alternative rock anthem that matched the seething mass of ominous clouds above. The technical skill of the three piece came through on each song as intricate guitar riffs were matched to rhythmic percussion and layers of synthetic padding. The choice of Gangs of Ballet as the opening act had been criticised by many, but if one considers the role of an opening band to be warming up the crowd before the main act then Gangs of Ballet did just that as they loosened vocal chords and warmed swaying bodies
Much excitement descended upon the crowd as the tech team strode onto the stage and began setting up the array of instruments that would allow Of Monsters and Men to conduct an absolutely mesmerising performance. The set-up seemed over so quickly and the crowd immediately clambered to their feet when the lights went black and the smoke machine poured smoke onto the stage. Band members began to make their way through the mixture of artificial and natural mist to their respective instruments. Ominous tendrils of synth reached out to the crowd as if beckoning them to acknowledge the spectacle they were about to witness. Whispers of violin and muffled guitar riffs soon joined the synth tones as the band launched into the sombre opening of “Thousand Eyes” – a song that reached a dramtic crescendo as Nanna Hilmarsdóttir hammered away at a snare drum after drawing us in with her lilting vocals and enchanting hand movements. The song ended almost abruptly and as the cheers died out co-singer and guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson exclaimed “We are Of Monsters and Men. This is our first time in Cape Town and it is fucking cold”. An ironic statement considering the band’s Icelandic origins and the fact that Raggi sported a t-shirt.
I could go into much detail about each song that was performed by the band but I rather want to focus on the nature of their performance. What interested me was that, proportionally, the band played the same amount of old and new songs. Raggi had stated in our interview that they would most likely play their older songs and just a handful of new songs, but a close to two-hour set allowed the band to power through the majority of each album. Each song was unique. Each song was accompanied by Nanna’s ever-so enchanting stagecraft and Raggi’s swaggering charisma. Nanna bounced around the stage on each song and sought to draw the crowd in with intricate hand movements while Raggi often encouraged sing-alongs and conversed between songs with the crowd.
The band delivered the songs in such an entrancing yet ominous fashion as their indie-folk roots were tempered by the ferocity of alternative rock. “Wolves Without Teeth”, dedicated to a praying mantis that caused Raggi to recoil with diva-like shock and horror as he proclaimed to not be used to bugs, was delivered as purely alternative rock anthem as intricate licks of guitar propelled the synths and drum into a crashing crescendo upon each chorus. The lilting indie-folk anthem of “King and Lionheart” was delivered as exactly that straight after the haunting energetic performance of “Empire”. It was at this moment that the crowd was awoken from their gawping stupor as an awkward mish-mash of voices sought to drain out the already strained sound system.
Unbeknownst to us, the boiling mass of clouds above us were plotting to soak us with a torrential downpour but Mother Nature seemed to temper their intentions until the perfect moment: the main chorus of “Little Talks”. 5 500 people screamed and danced to the song as the lights burst forth towards the crowd and raindrops were illuminated. It made the song seem 100x better than it already did and served only to increase our spirits. The final four songs of the night were performed in the on-off downpour and as the band closed with the exquisite “Yellow Light” the rain seemed to wear off.
It was the perfect end to an absolutely perfect evening. My legs may have felt like a jelly and I may have sat in the parking lot for half an hour while waiting to leave, but it was all worth it to experience such an ominous yet whimsical evening of pure delight. I sat blaring Enter Shikari while feeling very chuffed with myself for being able to attend an indie-folk concert and drive off blasting metal.
These days a festival ain’t a festival without indie pop heavyweights Al Bairre, if you missed Rocking the Daisies or you’re in the post-festival-depression like us, have a look at the Al Bairre Live at Rocking The Daisies 2015 below! Continue reading Al Bairre Live at Rocking The Daisies 2015
The Blood Brothers, South Africa’s first super group, consists of Francois van Coke (Fokofpolisiekar, Van Coke Kartel), Arno Carstens (Springbok Nude Girls), Albert Frost (Blues Broers), Hunter Kennedy (Fokofpolisiekar, Heuwels Fantasties), George van der Spuy (Taxi Violence, Goodnight Wembley), Isaac Klawansky (Shadowclub), Jason Hinch (Black Cat Bones), Loedi van Renen (Taxi Violence), Rian Zietsman (Taxi Violence, Beast)& Kobus de Kock Jnr. (Black Cat Bones). Continue reading In Review: Blood Brothers – Live at Grand West
While TWEAK was down in Cape Town for their reunion tour they jumped into Popsicle Studios for a live session! If you missed the tour have a look below. Continue reading Popsicle Studios Session: TWEAK “House Party”
The world’s leaders of gypsy-punk, Gogol Bordello, graced our shores and many South Africans had no idea what they were in for! Continue reading In Review: One Night In Cape Town with Gogol Bordello
Relive Synergy Live 2014 or see what you missed… Continue reading Synergy Live ’14 After Movie
The thought of writing my first review for one of my ultimate favourite bands was nerve wrecking. I had no idea what to expect, what to look out for or what to write about. I soon realized that The Lumineers were not going to leave me any other choice but to sit back, relax and enjoy their indescribable talent for entertainment and endless musicality. Continue reading The illuminating Lumineers, showing what performance should be!
To have your gig featured post it to our Facebook wall with the official FB event!
Win tickets to Synergy Live 2014 featuring: Bombay Bicycle Club, Congorock, Felix Cartal, S.P.Y, Stimming, Captain Hook, Egbert, Secret Cinema, Ron Costa, Anna, Lake People, Atmos & Mindwave and many more! Continue reading Synergy Live Competition
The Weekly Cape Town Music Scene Gig Guide, every week we’ll be updating you with all the gigs happening in and around Cape Town. To have your gig published on the gig guide simply post your event on our Facebook page! Continue reading Cape Town Gig Guide 17 – 23 Nov ’14
Synergy Live 2014 Hype Video – Featuring International Headliners – Bombay Bicycle Club, Congorock, Felix Cartal, S.P.Y, Stimming, Captain Hook, Egbert, Secret Cinema, Ron Costa, Lake People, Anna, Atmos, Mindwave and many many more local acts!