Coming from a small town, live music is not something I’ve been really exposed to. It has only been in recent years that live, good, SA music has been performing in Nelspruit, and to be honest, I’ve never had someone to go with so I’ve never bothered. Nelspruit isn’t like Pretoria where you can pitch up at a pub or club on your own, and find someone to hang out with, or invariably someone you know. In Nelspruit you know everyone, and they know you – it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to buy them a beer! Also I haven’t had the privilege of having some really great friends who live in my phone (yes, people, I’m referring to twitter). I was saying to @hennokruger on Saturday night that if it wasn’t for twitter, I’d probably not have made friends, and I’d still be a crazy hermit cat-lady.
I’ve lived in Pretoria on and off for nearly two years now, and I’ve never been to a concert/mini-festival. I know, you’re probably reading that sentence and your chin has just hit the desk. Don’t worry, I get it. I’m a bit of a freak. That being said, I can now say I’ve popped my “live music” cherry.
Early this year, while I was on holiday in the Cape (first holiday in 3 years, no wonder I felt like a granny!), I bought myself RAMFest tickets (and one for a friend who is a HUGE In Flames fan, and it’s his birthday at the end of Feb) and I bought myself and one of my (I realise this now) only female friends a ticket to Campus Invasion at Hatfield Square. I didn’t quite put two and two together that “Campus Invasion” is also over Rag weekend. In hindsight, this was not smart of me – but hey! I’m not required to be smart all the time, sometimes I am allowed to be a pretty face!
After watching Liverpool lose to Man U (yes, they got their revenge for the FA Cup match the previous week), as stoked as I was for Campus Invasion, all I really wanted to do was drown my sorrows. I quickly realised how hot it was, and how busy the Square was, and put that idea on the backburner. After hooking up with @hennokruger and @baasdebeer, my friends @kierrynG, Sarah, Trevor and I ran around the Square drinking in the sights and sounds, before heading off to Aandklas for a much deserved beer! After running into a few people I knew there, we basically just decided to hang around and wait for KONGOS to start. A quick mission to the main stage later, and a few chance encounters with friends later, I found myself quite happily lying on the ground, head in @baasdebeer’s lap, waiting for things to happen. A short trip to our awesome VIP box (read: Sandwich Baron right next to the stage, where they put a fan out for us) and the show began. One of the things which impressed me the most was that KONGOS (as well as EVERY other band that night) not only sound the same as their albums (not like every overseas band who are so autotuned their music bear no resemblance to their actual voices), they actually rocked harder! I loved KONGOS, it was nice to see a band live, and know all the words. I can’t say the same for Van Coke Kartel or Bittereinde (actually, I take my hat off to the guys in the crowd who kept up with Bittereinder! They are so loud, and rap so quickly I could barely understand let alone sing along!). Die Heuwels Fantasties were also exceptional! It’s actually very difficult to pick an act who impressed me the most!
KONGOS were good, but I was disappointed, but I may have hyped them in my head! I found that I wasn’t driven to get up and dance, or sing along (except to You Must Be Joking) or run out and jam with the rest of the crowd. I do think that for me, personally, they are more of a studio band, and not so much a live act. I came home from work this afternoon, hopped onto Soundcloud and listened to them again. I didn’t find I loved them any less, but I did find that I definitely enjoyed sitting behind my laptop bopping my head to the song more than I enjoyed their live show.
Bittereinder was fantastic. I’ve been a Yesterday’s Pupil fan for some time, and seeing the guys live and getting to see Peach in action was quite cool. The energy onstage was electric, the sound quite fresh, and Jaco blew my mind! I thought I spoke fast, but I doubt even if I knew all the words to their songs, that I could keep up! I was a bit let down that they didn’t do “Slechte Mensen” or “Tale of Three Cities”, but it’s understandable – the songs are collabs, and they performed alone. I’m completely fluent in Afrikaans, but even I struggled to keep up with what was being rapped. It takes skill to keep up that tempo and rap in a language that isn’t always the most soft and fluid, and for that I commend them.
Next up was Die Heuwels Fantasties. Of all the bands, these guys I’ve known about and listened to the longest. Pierre was such fun to watch perform, he didn’t stand still for a moment, and they played all the favourites. Again, generally a band I like to listen to when I’m sitting at my desk working, but I really enjoyed their live performance. I found myself bopping around to the beat, and humming along. They finally caught my attention with “Pille vir Kersfees” to which I sang along with everyone else, danced around like a teenager and generally went a bit crazy. It’s cliché, but it is my favourite Heuwels song, so that was an AWESOME way to end off a set!
Van Coke Kartel was up next, and even though I’ve heard a few tracks on MK, and I’ve always enjoyed their music, I wouldn’t call myself a knowledgeable fan. I knew a few of the choruses, but I wasn’t quite on the level with the rest of the crowd that I could sing along to every single song. That being said, their performance was amazing, Francois and Jedd both seemed to channel Angus Young on stage – they would not stand still! Francois even went so far as to do a bit of crowd surfing! My favourite track on their set list that night was easily “Dis ‘n Land”.
Who was my favourite, you ask? It’s tough, but I think that Bittereinder impressed me the most. They are still reasonably new (especially compared to Francois van Coke who has been on the scene for well over 6years).
That all being said, it was a fantastic experience! Not only was it a fantastic night spent with friends, but I had the most fantastic time enjoying the live music, and being exposed to some of the most talented musicians in our fair RSA! I was blown away by the stage presences of the bands, and the fact that our SA bands are truly talented, and not the product of a computer and a really good producer! In fact, now that I’ve been listening to the CDs I have of the bands who played, I actually think (save KONGOS) all the bands were better on stage than on their albums. This absolutely blew me away, as I am quite used to hearing a CD, loving it, and then seeing a live show (normally on VH1 or MTv or the like) and being disappointed by the fact that this person who I love can not sing! That was not the case on Saturday, as all the bands could not only play their instruments, and play them well, but they could sing, and perform.
In short, I think I will definitely be spending a lot more time at gigs, and in clubs. Hopefully, the next time I go to a concert, we won’t get kicked out of the pub because the cops are raiding the area!
Peace out kiddies! Until next time!