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…
Photo provided by Mango Groove
We got to ask Claire Johnston from Mango Groove some questions before the Good Luck Bar turns two! Can’t wait for this amazing party, bring your dancing shoes, grooves and your best singalong voice with on Saturday 9 September.
Celebrating their birthday a bit earlier due to OppiKoppi this year, the 9th of September you need to be at The Good Luck Bar’s second birthday. Last year was so amazing and crazy at the same time – we’re all a bit scared for our livers this year already.
Co-written by Craig Roxburgh and Skye Mallac. Photograph by Vetman Design and Photography.
There are only 8 days until Superbalist is Rocking The Daisies kicks off and excitement levels are escalating. We know how difficult it can be to decide which acts to watch, so we have compiled a helpful list of 15 acts you should definitely see at Rocking The Daisies. Hopefully, this will allow you to focus more on what you’re going to pack and how you are going to make it the greenest festival experience possible. Continue reading 15 Acts You Do Not Want To Miss At Superbalist Is Rocking The Daisies
Mango Groove is a household name. No-one grows up in South Africa without hearing the famous “Special Star” or the iconic “Penny Whistle”. They are what we could call legends in South African music and we have seen them make a bit of a comeback this year after performing at Splashy Fen. We caught up with them ahead of their performance at Emmerentia Live on 9 August. We spoke about existing as a multi-racial band in the ’80s, their connection to Nelson Mandela, the new SABC quota system, and their forthcoming yet-to-be-announced album.
Mango Groove came into existence at a very interesting time. Apartheid was practically in its final stages yet the National Party’s policies of segregation were in full swing in the early 1980s. Considering the varied ethnic groups within the band, was it difficult to perform live especially since most bands tend to start in the club scene?
Interesting times indeed! All non-racial acts at the time faced many challenges: travel, security, venues, accommodation… many interesting tales to tell, but I believe we were all stronger for these experiences.
A lot of people seem to forget that the Apartheid government tried very hard to censor the music scene that was growing out of the various liberal international influences seeping into the country. What was the music scene like back there?
For all the censorship and hardship, the SA music scene of the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s was incredibly vibrant: huge festivals, massive-selling artists, and enormous talent. I do believe that in many ways music played a very important role in shaping (and changing) peoples’ perceptions, and in fact bringing South Africans together. Some of SA’s most iconic and timeless artists came out of that time (Brenda Fassie, Lucky Dube, Johnny Clegg, The Soul Brothers, Stimela, Hotline). It was a time when SA artists ‘’looked inwards’’ for their inspiration and influences, and the result was something magical, eclectic and uniquely South African.
I’m guessing it was a difficult time to be a band of any genre that didn’t fit into the National Party’s strict requirements. How did artists and bands circumvent the various attempts at censorship?
I would say that already by the ‘80’s, and for all the terrible conflicts and hardship of the time, the government of the day was already losing its grip to a degree, and we were seeing the crystallisation of a broad social, political and cultural movement that pushed the agenda of transformation and the vision of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and non-discriminatory South Africa. As artists, one hopefully became part of this broader vision. Again, South African music was very much a ‘’soundtrack’’ to that broader process, and many brave artists were part of it.
Looking back at the band’s career and your success, do you think that starting the band at that precise time played a large role in paving your way to success? Especially when you consider that Mango Groove, in the transition from Apartheid to Democracy, became a major symbol of Mandela’s Rainbow Nation.
I think that any artist is to an extent a product of their historical circumstances: they are influenced by them, it shapes their art, and to a degree they reflect those circumstances in their music and ethos. We simply did what we did as young artists, we expressed ourselves with honesty, and to the extent that we were even a tiny part of a much more significant transition in our country’s history, we feel extraordinarily grateful for this.
Mango Groove had a rather close relationship with Nelson Mandela or at least as a close a relationship as a band could have to Mandela. How were you affected by his recent passing?
Our specific associations with Nelson Mandela related firstly to our music being used as the soundtrack to the worldwide broadcast of his release from prison, and secondly to us being part of SA’s first democratic inauguration concert: massive honours for us. Like many SA artists, we hope he was touched by our music. His passing was a massive loss to all South Africans, and in fact to all citizens of the world. His death was the end of an era in so many ways. Our personal, musical response to his passing is reflected best in a (currently unreleased) song we wrote a while a called “The Road’’.
Your career has spanned a whopping 3 decades and in these 3 decades, you’ve managed to remain a household name even though the new tastemakers in music have entirely views on what qualifies as good music than they did back in the 90s. Are you surprised by how you’ve continued to stay so successful, or is it an indication of just how ferociously South Africans support their local artists when they are aware of their existence?
We have had amazing public and media support through the decades, and we will always be very grateful for this. More specifically, we are both surprised and incredibly touched (and humbled) by the extent to which young South Africans know our music today. Our most memorable concerts to date, in fact, have been to younger audiences at festivals like Oppikoppi, Park Acoustics, Splashy Fen, and so forth. I would like to think that Mango Groove’s longevity resided in those things about music that will always move all of us… the songs, the memories, the associations, and (we hope) a relevance for our ongoing journey as South Africans today. Our live show has also always been incredibly important to us: a chaotic thrash if ever there was one, and hopefully people take in this energy as well!
In the past month, we have seen the music industry undergo a metamorphosis of sorts as the SABC announced their new 90% local quota. What are your thoughts on this decision? Do you think it can succeed?
A tough call, I guess. The use of the term ‘’local’’ over ‘’South African’’ has always been a bit of rub to us, truth be told, as it still sounds so condescending, but this is maybe a different debate. It will be interesting to see how the quota plays out, and good SA music certainly deserves as much support as it can get, but hopefully (and in time) these sorts of mechanisms won’t be totally necessary, and the best SA stuff will simply get the play because it deserves it and the demand is there. The Nigerian example was an interesting one in this regard. We are of course very much a part of the global music community now, so equally we want to thrive and compete in this way. Eclecticism is such an important part of the music, after all. However, there is a tricky balance between “looking after your own” and “isolationism”, and I think we’re still figuring out where this balance lies.
You played at Splashy Fen this year. What this experience like and would you like to do it again?
Splashy Fen was insane! A truly humbling experience for us: an amazing, young, inspired crowd, and at times we couldn’t hear ourselves on stage because everyone sang all our songs back at us! We were honoured to be part of it.
On the note of performances, you’re set to perform at Emmarentia Live on National Women’s Day. Is this a rather special day for you considering that Mango Groove plays host to one of South Africa’s most iconic women?
Thank you for the compliment: way too kind. The old cliché that every day should be women’s day, perhaps, but of course it is a very special day indeed for the issues to which it draws attention. Women’s issues and the enormous challenges women face globally have always been central to our broader ethos of equality, freedom from abuse, freedom to choose, and equal access for all people of the world.
Furthermore, we live in a day and age where women and their rights are being fought for more strongly than ever before especially with the recent rise in violence towards women. What are your thoughts on how feminist movements are opposing how society seems to treat women?
We welcome and wholeheartedly support any initiative that seeks to counter the appalling abuse that women suffer globally and that seeks to free women to make their own choices and live the lives they want to live.
Finally, your last album was released in 2010. Could we see a new album being released in the next couple of years?
You must be psychic! 2016 sees the release of an all-new Mango Groove album (a double album, nogal!). The album has been over 4 years in the making, and it features a combination of all-new Mango material as well as our own, personal celebration of the SA songs that have touched us and influenced us through the years. Watch this space!
You hear many things, besides the actual music, when you are at concerts and they are all dependent on what kind of concert you are attending. For instance, Mumford and Sons had a lot of women talking about how much they want to shag the band while their boyfriends stood around arguing about which brand of beer is better and whether checkered shirts and flannel shirts are one and the same. The sophomore edition of the Cape Town leg of the Parklife Festival sported entirely different conversations and sounds that were spread out over the course of the day. It happened to be Family Day and slap-bang in the middle of the school holidays so many of the conversations were family-oriented with parents calming screaming children, teenagers fleeing the oppressively embarrassing aura of parents who aggressively follow the “it is 6pm somewhere” rule and the occasional drunk uncle without a shirt.
There were two statements that have occupied my thoughts in the days following Parklife and they stand as immense points of contradiction. The one is a hopelessly negative and is, in my personal opinion, an ignorant indictment of all Cape Town concerts and parties. The other encapsulates my entire opinion regarding Parklife and the ethos embodied by the festival. The first statement was heard in the opening hour of the festival, which happened to be moderately delayed for some unknown reason, as Cape Town’s latest rock super group Sweet Resistance were tearing their way through an exquisite set of alternative rock songs tempered by the moodiness of blues rock. Halfway through their cover of Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” – a snarky voice bursts forth from behind me saying how much she dislikes the festival because there is no “vibe” unlike the awesome house parties she attended when she was in New York and this cool trance festival she went to over the weekend.
There are two problems to this statement and they are connected. The later of the problems is that she equates that a festival’s atmosphere is only good if it adheres to that of a trance festival or that of an American house party – something that has never existed in South Africa. One could argue that one’s notion of what is good or bad is subjective, but there is a difference between have a subjective opinion and ignorantly pigeon-holing events into specific categories. “Vibe”, as an abstract concept, is fluid. Every festival has a vibe, but disliking the vibe does not equate to there being a lack of a vibe.
The other problem is the assumption that Parklife was going to have the same vibe as a trance festival. The festival was marketed as one day of commercial local music with the addition of two international artists that have a cult following in South Africa. People were not going to be dropping MDMA and trance stomping to the exquisite alternative rock showmanship of Civil Twilight. People were rather going to be treating most the day as a picnic concert as the dedicated fans piled up against the security railing and grooved to the electro-swing beats of Goodluck or twirled to Al Bairre’s infectious indie-pop cover of the iconic intro to Mango Groove’s “Penny Whistle”. The “vibe” of this festival was one of having a good time without feeling the need to drop a tab of acid or have your retinas visually assaulted by strobe lights. Those things are optional.
I suppose this brings me to the other statement I overheard during the set-up to Xavier Rudd’s rather underwhelming and drawn-out set. The person in question had just found refuge from the sun in the shade that was conveniently erected and remarked that one day festivals are great because you don’t get sunburnt, as badly, and don’t have to get incredibly dirty but it still maintains the feel of a full weekend festival. It is a notion for which Parklife seems to stand quite strong: that festivals don’t have to be dirty and you’re able to get the luxury of sleeping in your own bed and having a shower that doesn’t involve the fear of contracting athlete’s foot. The eccentric people, eclectic fashion, brilliant music and heavy drinking that is synonymous with the South African festival culture were all present at Parklife. Nature-loving hippies brushed shoulders with rugged rockers as they are engaged in the proudly South African tradition of drinking as much beer as humanly possible before losing themselves to Josh Wantie’s synth-pop tunes or embracing the culture of Ubuntu as Jeremy Loops powered through a jovial set that celebrated his return to Cape Town.
Parklife was an exquisite event that improved so much in the period of less than a year. The turnout was considerably higher than last year and the line-up gelled well with one another with each act delivering brilliant sets but the greatest of them all was that of Civil Twilight: the home-grown heroes that spent last week hopping between festivals. Their set was the perfect combination of showmanship and innate musical talent as they tore through classics like “Letters from the Sky” and flexed their alt rock muscles with new songs like “Oh Daniel”, “Holy Dove” and “When When”.
Parklife Cape Town. I’ll see you next year.
Summer Sunset Concerts at the impressive Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden‘s programme has been announced and it’s EPIC as always! Buy tickets here!
Continue reading Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts Line-up 2015/2016
2013 was a fantastic year for Park Acoutics. Although the Cape Town shows didn’t start off as planned, the shows in Pretoria were always sold out by at least 12 pm and the vibe every last Sunday in Pretoria at the Voortrekker Monument was monumental as such.
The Gauteng Music Scene Weekly Gig Guide!
To have your gig posted on our Weekly Gig Guide post your event link on our Facebook page and we will add it for you.
Review by Vicky Jankiewicz (@Vicky_JKWICZ)
Oh the joy of a sunny Park Acoustics after a rainy night before. I have to admit, I haven’t been to a Park Acoustics with bad weather, not to jinx it or anything, because I am pretty sure rain would only add to the fun on a chilled Sunday with amazing live bands playing. The October edition wasn’t any different, with an amazing line-up consisting of the new kids on the block, Bye Beneco, We Set Sail all the way from Cape Town, Gran’Mah from Mozambique, the funky Plastics from CT and the crowd-favourites, Zebra & Giraffe.
Written by Charlie Brown
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is world famous for the breathtaking views, and diverse Cape flora it displays. Nestled against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, it is home to a variety of birds and animals. Summer it awakes to a picturesque live music venue with some of South Africa’s and even international music acts. Continue reading Kirtsenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts 2013/2014
Review written by Roy Bouwer (@Roy_booy)
Photos by Christelle Duvenage Photography (@StellaTeleur)
August for many music loving South Africans is all about Oppikoppi. As the festival rolls into Northam the quiet mining town becomes the bustling mecca of alternative music as the celebration of Women’s Day is eclipsed by the greatest rock pilgrimage in South Africa. Oppikoppi has grown to be the biggest festival in South Africa hosting the biggest local line up as well as the boasting the most internationals on any South African Line up. The best part about Oppikoppi is that people of all ages and social backgrounds can come together in the warm embrace of the dusty BewilderBeast. Regardless of what you’re into, there is something to please you at Oppikoppi. The festival’s theme BewilderBeast meant the Oppikoppi farm was inundated by strange and wonderful beasts all congregated around the grand cows head on the James Philip Main Stage and the giant gleaming horns on top of the Wesley’s Dome stage awaiting their fix of rock n roll!