Cape Town’s music scene: an insider’s perspective

Cape Town is a creative melting pot of talented musicians, a potpourri of styles, and a host of great venues. Music editor Tecla Ciolfi, of popular music blog Texx and the City, gives us her scoop.

For live music, my favourite venue in Cape Town has to be The Assembly in Harrington Street. For almost eight years it has hosted every kind of event imaginable; from metal to hip hop to staple student parties.

For something a little different, I do believe that Manila Bar has to be experienced at least once. Even on a night when there isn’t a live music event happening on the top floor, there’s bound to be crazy karaoke shenanigans happening on the floor below. I also really like The Annex in Kalk Bay. It’s great for a chilled sundowner after a day at the beach, or dinner and a show later in the evening.

The word “iconic” means different things to different people, but in my opinion progressive rock group BLK JKS are iconic in a South African context simply because there is no other group quite like them. For me, they challenge the conventions of the genre pigeonhole, while creating a space and sound all their own.

Koos Kombuis is another iconic artist, not only because of the incredible body of Afrikaans rock that he has produced, but because he was one of the forces behind the “Voëlvry” movement, an anti-establishment group of Afrikaans artists that stood against the atrocities of apartheid at a time when it was not a safe or fashionable thing to do. A band like Fokofpolisiekar immediately springs to mind as legendary. They’re pretty much the bastion of South African rock ‘n’ roll, having spawned a movement and given voice to a disenchanted group of South African youths.

Cape Town abounds with young up-and-coming bands and artists. Ska/rock band Grassy Spark is currently probably the most exciting band on the scene. I’m also really enjoying rapper Dope Saint Jude’s material.

Whether you’re a visitor or a local, a Sunday afternoon concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens is simply a must-see. The venue’s location is unparalleled and the acts are always local stalwarts. If you want to experience a South African music festival in the Cape Town area, then Rocking the Daisies would probably be the pick. This festival, held in early October, is an institution and has grown to become the biggest weekend festival in the Western Cape.”

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