With Rocking the Daisies little over a week away, I am considering what to pack, and so should you. Or maybe you shouldn’t. I envy those people that decide to go on a whim, pack nothing, float around in layers and have a total party in any case. But I am not one of these people. No, sir. I have had two very different Rocking the Daisies (RTD) experiences, and I thought I would share the small wisdoms that these two years have imbued me with, with you.
First, a brief retrospective on my previous RTD experiences to show you what not to do, fashion or otherwise:
Seduced by the idea of a wild weekend in the wilderness, Olivia and I decided to Do Things Properly. We took two tents (one for luggage, one for us and our food and no I am not kidding). We took sturdy footwear. We took wet weather gear (not of the attractive Kate Moss stylish parka variety; we’re talking the real deal here). We took hats, scarves, thick socks, yoga mats to snooze on, litres of booze and a 3 litre vat of home-roasted veg. I insisted on the veg because I was adamant that we remain healthy even though we planned to binge drink and loll around hungover on hay bales for most of the weekend. A very misguided approach. The veg barely got us through the weekend and all we wanted was pizza to take the brandy-and-coke edge off. Not to mention the fact that we missed the memo about looking tousled and game rather than fortified and READY (for a hike? A church team building excursion?) And all the other girls at RTD were flitting around in chiffon florals with cardies and fashion wellies. Lesson learnt.
With a selection of floral pretties, a warm coat, skinnies and a couple of scarves in my bag, I fared well at my second RTD experience. Fashion-wise. Lesson still clearly not learnt on the food front, I took a vat of grated cheese, rolls, snacks and fruit. On the Sunday of the festival, literally on the verge of dying with a hangover, I perched on a cooler box for an hour trying to digest a dry roll crammed with flaccid cheese. Yes, flaccid. Not even the 340ml set could get me on my feet. I looked at the sky and went to a happy place.
Third time lucky. Although I had the best time ever both years, I learnt a couple of thangs along the way:
If you take a walk back 619 years in history to the days when pointy caps were cool and people reckoned putting a flag in the ground made it yours, you may remember a chap by the name of Bart, who thought he owned ‘South Africa’. Details aside, another guy called Luís wrote the whole episode down, and before you could say ‘continente escuro’, a poetic relationship with South Africa had begun.
In a musical scene dominated by just a handful of starkly hewn genres, 340ml brew a music concoction that pulls down boundaries with ease and is set to make a lasting impact on the global music scene.
The southern African four-member group, currently based in Johannesburg but with its roots firmly planted in Mozambique, has already released an album that’s earned it critical praise and opened the doors to a seriously busy gigging schedule (among their gigs in 2005 was a very well a received slot at the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival). Titled Moving, the album is one of the most effortlessly evocative recorded in South Africa during 2003, casting a musical glow that speaks of hazy beach sunsets, languid afternoons and blissed out summer fun.
But don’t think that 340ml is only about the slow jam.
A windswept day in Cape Town saw the launch of South Africa’s sweetest new party franchise. Rollercoaster: Lark, the Dirty Skirts and a couple of surprisingly refreshing acts. Uh, you did know it’s called Rollercoaster because it moves from city to city, right? Big things to come from this mobile themed event? You decide…
Ok, so first things first: was the super-branded sponsored event worth the R120 (R100 presold?) Major crit includes the fact that once you’re at the Old Biscuit Mill for the 3pm door-opening, there’s not much to do around and outside the venue till bedtime. Even so, a core 400 stayed to catch 12.30pm closing act Sweat X, who said it best: “We’ve been waiting all f*ckin’ day to get this motherf*cker goin’!”
340ml: How ridiculous can crowd banter get? More Vids
On the plus side, the show really ripped up, and it’s awesome to jol a venue with an open air vibe and a view, much like Obzfest and Afrika Burns, which we’ve featured on Overtone. Great sound/light rig by the Hellfire dudes, and some seriously enthusiastic boerewors vendors.
Unfortunately, The Skirts were on the list of opening bands to miss this time round, but you all know they don’t need the props from us. Check out what we had to say about ‘em last time.
Howard Roark: I figured out by chance that the band is named after the protagonist in a novel called The Fountainhead, so mention that if you get to meet any of the four indie dance-rockers. A very alive set, with not much in the line of crowd interaction other that the complimentary shirts and the occasional glance at the pink-haired chick in the front row. Hook lines like, “you got a face for radio.” Straight-forward dance rock a la The Beams, Kaizer Chiefs, Editors, and Arctic Monkeys.
Unit R’s Goran and the adventurous headwear award
Familiar knob-twiddlers Unit R played a self-confessed ‘dance-set’ to the warehouse, with an unusually heavy tone. Goran’s frontman presence included a, well, let’s call it ‘avant-garde’ beret and a piano-key belt. Niche, dude. They also notched up pacey version of It’s All About, the latest video single. If you like Kidofdoom, this one’s for you.
School field circles (and later pile-ons) dotted the outside area as later act Desmond and the Tutus took the stage. We also wonder about the name, but it seems that these guys don’t mind about much other than the music. They were billed as ‘sometime jive’, although we didn’t get much of the African sound you might hear from Freshlyground. Jeez, man. Sweeping, riff-based rock, just three instruments, and a clear love of the music.
Lark was last on our agenda just a few months back, and they’ve clearly just spent the time concretising their image. Gone is the sexy Inge Beckmann with flowing robes and overt make-up. In her place, a blue-lit, child-like, introspective anti-heroine, adorned in tight pants and a black three-quarter cardigan. Very Shirley Manson, and as intriguing as her former incarnation. They’ve heavied up their sound, too, and bassist Fuzzy seems to get the most out of the Humanizer‘s hybrid glitch loops. Neo-classical rock moments are made of the sight of a big guy thrashing his pineapple hair in the backlit smokescape. Another band on the creative move, as always, and a satisfying show.
The spot just after may have been the best in the lineup: a primed, cover charge-conscious crowd was ready. Mozambican dub/jazz/skankers 340ml put on the standout show of the event. Dynamic crowd-pleasing banter from both vocalist Pedro Pinto and guitarist Tiago Paulo demonstrated the power of a band to dominate the stage live.
A mike per man, the band also features a melodica (kinda like, a wind pipe-organ) and very vocal drummer Paulo Chibanga Jorge in a Panama hat. Very Copa Cabana, kinda like local act Carpet Mafia. All in all, a performance sensibility that went beyond mere sound and lighting, and a translating of seemingly random lyrics and fresh guitar anti-melodies into a tight, psychedelic set of both new and older stuff (remember At the Midnight Drive-In?)
Long after Cokey Falkow had disappeared, Richard III DJed between sets, until Sweat X made their blazing, boner-charged vintage rap appearance to the loyal party-hardies. The group is the pairing of Kool Disko Okapi and Real Estate Agent Markus Wormstorm. What they’re calling ‘electro booty-rap’ is pretty much exactly that. “I got money, I got time, I got pussy on my mind.” You get it. Steve Urkel glamorama, glitch-hop bling-fuelled rhythms with a massive black/white crossover appeal. Maybe a group of the SA future music panorama?
A few words with one of the crew revealed that Rollercoaster has big plans. Six cities, three times the size (there were probably around 1500 through the doors for the day-long Cape Town event), and all sorts of crazy plans. We’re stoked to see where the Rollercoaster will ride…
Where it’s at, yo.
The list of present hipness
People of the sun.
Desmond and the Tutus
Chris and a moment in Howard Roark
Canned Black Label for R15? Thought this was sponsored…
You may have heard of Rollercoaster by now. If you did, you’re ‘in the scene’. There. You have our approval. Get the lowdown on this novel party idea…
If you’ve heard anything about the idea, you’ll know that Rollercoaster is the product of the creative party goers in Joburg and Cape Town calling for a way to connect up. It’s a traveling party concept with most duidelik local lineup in history.
Think: Cape Town’s Balkanology with wheels. The franchise party, backed up by Opel Corsa, will be spanning the two cities on two weekends this month.
8 DEC 2007
Doors open 8pm
• THE DIRTY SKIRTS
• 340 ml
• DESMOND & THE TUTUS
• SWEAT X
• THE BLACKHOTELS
OLD BISCUIT MILL / CAPE TOWN
MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 2007
Doors open 3PM
• look & listen / hyde park
• high fidelity / killarney mall
• peepshow / parktown north
• canned applause / melville
• ke-ai / melville
• look & listen / cavendish
• mabu vinyl / gardens
• royale eatery / long street
all enquiries to 206 productions
• Josh Georgiou – 082 881 8565
• Alan Freeman – 083 267 0239
It’s not often a festival line-up can claim to be completely representative of the true independent music spirit in South Africa. Can they live up to the ultimate challenge of coolness: using the word “The” before your name? Either way, The Overtone will be there.