Most afternoons, you’ll find Shiraz “Busta” Ahrendse – “like Busta Rhymes, ’cos I can rap also” – playing his trumpet to passersby on Thibault Square – just across from the Vida e Caffe on St George’s Mall. Some people stop. Maybe throw a coin at his feet. But most just walk on by…
“My name is Shiraz. I’m a Muslim. My friends call me P. Just the letter. We went on this camp. I peed into a bottle. Later, two of the guys were very thirsty. They were looking for leftover cooldrink. They drank from it. I didn’t tell them. I laughed at them. Now they call me P, some of the time.
It’s mostly change I get, this bronze money. And two rands. But ja, God is good. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes I get a note like this. Then I just put it in my pocket. When I have proper money, they – the guys from the train station – run past and grab it. But I know, I understand. Ja, I don’t get angry. We have the same struggles.
I have a four-year-son. I stay with an auntie and I have to pay R20 a night. My little brother stays there too – he’s still young, man. I’ve got to look out for him as well.
Ten months ago my mom was shot in the head. Those gangs in Mannenberg – you know, when innocent people get in the crossfire. It’s in the paper, The Voice. Ja, you can read it there. Sharina Arhendse. The three boys, the sons they write about? That’s us. Then you can know I’m not lying.
You can hear sometimes in my music that I’m broken. You know, the sad songs.
You’re never lonely at a music festival, they say. Yet many seekers of live music weekends tend not to heed these words and look for a romantic partner, whether previously known to them or met in the very first beer queue, ‘for the weekend’.
It’s understandable, I guess. When the euphoria of escaping to another world – one where few of the rules from the rat race apply – it’s tempting to want to make that transformation complete. In the real world, you’re alone, watching sitcom reruns every night until you fall asleep in a haze induced by french fries and self-abuse. In the music festival world, everything seems perfect, including your love life, so you hook up with the nearest available target to complete the picture. Here’s why you shouldn’t.
(1) All rules are left at the gate
You don’t get to choose which “outside” rules apply at a music festival and which don’t. So consider whether you’d enjoy missing the act you were most looking forward to simply because you’re too worried, having no idea where your “partner” is, or you do know and a raging jealousy destroys you as he’s/she’s cosying up to the world’s worst band’s worst roadie, right in front of you.
(2) The sex will be uncomfortable (at best)
Partners get to know each other’s bodies and needs over time. But even if the first time with someone new is great, the atmosphere when you’re in a small tent, dirty, possibly with plenty of alcohol or other substances in your veins (or on the floor), becomes less than romantic. If, however, that’s usually the case for you anyway, feel free to discard this point.
(3) You don’t want any explaining to do
The lack of responsibility that accompanies a weekend away at a music festival is one of the main reasons we keep on doing it. Do you really want to be chewed out for forgetting to lock the tent, or for taking three shots in a row, or for dancing stupidly and embarrassing her/him? No.
Experiencing a music festival in and around Cape Town with your partner is great. Creating a partner to do this with is not.
A 20-minute drive from Cape Town’s city centre, Stellenbosch is primarily a student town, playing host to a wide, vibrant array of clubs and bars catering largely to the hundreds of 20-year-olds who populate it. Here are a few to check out.
Aandklas is, arguably, the centre of Stellenbosch nightlife. A club with an extensive range of events every night of the week – from typical college-style foosball and beer pong to Thursday quiz nights. The rest of the week is dedicated to a wide range of events, with live music on Tuesdays and pumping parties from Monday to Saturday.
Bohemia restaurant and bar incorporates a relaxed bohemian vibe. Primarily a live music venue, Wednesday finds it packed to the rafters with students as they demonstrate their support for whichever local musician is booked for the night.
Just down the street is Die Mystic Boer, an alternative club that plays music out of the mainstream six days a week, with Fridays being trance nights.
Nu Bar, a fresh upmarket club, features top DJs six nights a week, while every last Thursday of the month is Afrikaanse musiek aand (“Afrikaans music night”), ideal for those wanting to get to the root of Afrikaans music culture.
The Shack isn’t the coolest club in Cape Town, but this late-night venue is always interesting…
The Shack may not be the prettiest building in town, but you won’t find a friendlier bunch of real people! The regular crowd is extremely mixed, from students to musicians to young professionals and even the odd refugee from a cocktail party over on the fancier side of town. In fact, a common Cape Town expression is that after a certain time of night, “all roads lead to The Shack”.
With five bars to choose from, even on a busy night service is usually good. Each bar is different and play different music depending on the tastes of the bar staff, each of whom gets to play DJ.
Apart from the bars, The Shack features pool and foosball tables, an outdoor area and a kitchen that serves consistently delicious food, including pizza, burgers, stuffed pita, awesome chilli poppers and the most unique fried chips in town.
Only a short cab ride from central Cape Town, The Shack shares a city block with its neighbour Mercury Live, one of Cape Town’s most popular live music venues. This makes it perfect for combining music with an after-party!
Yes, things can get messy at The Shack, but the regulars and visitors wouldn’t want it any other way.
The Shack is open till 4am, seven days a week. It open at 12pm from Monday to Friday and 6pm on the weekends. It offers a unique experience and is well worth a visit.
A historic quarry and a refreshing dam provide the backdrop for arguably the most authentic and enjoyable gathering of blues musicians in South Africa. The Table Mouintain Blues Summit is held annually on Hillcrest, a farm on the outskirts of Durbanville in Cape Town’s northern suburbs.
Though the venue and length of the festival changes from time to time, the Table Mountain Blues Summit has become an unmissable event in Cape Town’s midsummer for anyone even mildly fond of blues and rock music. Even for those who don’t specifically feel the need to seek out our growling, blues-churning brethren, the relief offered by a dip-friendly dam in the often scorching heat of a Cape Town summer should be more than enticing!
In an earlier interview on LitNet (* hyperlink: http://www.litnet.co.za/richard-pryor-talks-table-mountain-blues-summit), Richard Pryor – one of the organisers and a blues guru himself – indicated that though he’d like an international act or two to join the line-up at some stage, the focus is very much on the quality of blues acts in South Africa. “We build the summit around the so-called family of bands that have been a mainstay of the fest,” he said.
Though the setting might be considered by some to be too idyllic for a true blues experience (considering the misery it’s often rooted in and upliftment it pleads for), South Africa holds plenty of challenges for each and every citizen…and while the hard work is being done elsewhere to tackle these issues, a day or two of commiserating with excellent musicians and excellent people makes for a not only unique, but exhilarating, experience.
Cape Town’s hip-hop legacy is heralded for pioneering the movement towards community development and change for good. DJ Angela Weickl gives a glimpse into the scene.
Organisations such as Heal The Hood use hip-hop music, b-boy culture and related activities to encourage youth to rise above their circumstances and not succumb to the gravitational pull of crime and gangsterism. By emphasising the importance of art and culture, there is a better sense of unity and strength that is vital in these circumstances.
Uppercut is a weekly party that takes place every Friday at The Waiting Room on Long Street. An institution amongst hip-hop fans, each week the event offers a different take on the genre. Their Golden Era events pay homage to the prime of hip-hop in the late 1980s and early ’90s, while their Now Era events feature latter-day hits.
Red Bull Studios collaborates on projects with Cape Town hip-hop and urban artists regularly, opening up the studio space to rising rappers and producers and releasing their music through the studio’s channels. Red Bull itself hosts events like Corner 2 Corner, which follows hip hop artists as they perform in their communities, as well as local qualifying legs of the prestigious worldwide BC One B-Boy competition.
Hip-hop in Cape Town covers the spectrum from socially conscious rap music to carefree dance parties. It has infiltrated most mainstream events and clubs with almost every venue in the city featuring at least one hip-hop influenced party or event every month.
The Cape Town Electronic Music Festival brings progressive beats out the basement and onto the main stage.
Cape Town’s electronic scene is diverse, energised but mostly underground and misunderstood by those not in “the know”. The Cape Town Electronic Music Festival is doing big work to change all that, showcasing the best electronic music the city has to offer and introducing the genre to new audiences, both local and visitors.
Taking place in early February, the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival has only been around since 2012, but already it has a solid reputation for bringing the most innovative, relevant and thrilling acts to its stages. Top local acts are given the chance to perform in front of the most enthusiastic (and critical) of crowds, while international pioneers such as Four Tet come to show off their skills and entertain until there’s no more sweat to be sweated.
They take their electro seriously at this festival. In addition to live acts, festival goers can attend a number of workshops and specialised showcases over the course of three days.
The Cape Town Electronic Music Festival is held in the iconic Cape Town City Hall in the city centre. Come feel this Edwardian building reverberate with progressive beats.
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.”
Over the summer months, Cape Town and surrounds play host to a wide variety of music festivals – from folk to rock and more – and they’re a must for any music lover.
Looking for a thrilling summer festival experience? Cape Town has it all. In October Rocking the Daisies, one of South Africa’s biggest music festivals, draws thousands to Cloof Wine Estate in Darling, where seven stages boast top local and international acts. Expect to pay a premium price as tickets range from R650 to R950 for a full four-day trip.
Synergy Live takes place over the last weekend of November at Theewaterskloof Dam in Villiersdorp and boosts a weekend of top international headliners, local live talent and electronic artists to welcome in the holiday season. Tickets range in price from R200 to R600 for a full weekend.
Taking place in Swellendam on the last weekend of January, Up the Creek is one of the longest-running South African music festivals, charmingly set beside a river, where you can float leisurely by on your lilo as bands rock the River Stage. Tickets for this cosy festival with limited numbers sell out at a rapid pace and R900 will get you in the gate.
The Flamjangled Tea Party is another must-do and is like stepping straight into Wonderland, as three days of music and fun and tomfoolery take place at Elandskloof Wine Farm on the last weekend of March. Tickets range in price from R200 to R500 for the full weekend.
There is no festival in Cape Town like the Flamjangled Tea Party. Expect a weekend of dress-up, games, silliness, dancing, playing and incredible live acts, all on a beautiful farm settting an easy drive from the city centre. Festival organiser Regan Tacon of GoodTimes Events, explains what makes this festival an unmissable melting pot of fun, music and eccentricity.
The Flamjangled Tea Party is a weekend-long outdoor festival that aims to create an event firmly rooted in the eclectic, artistic and humorous side of life.
The Flamjangled Tea Party is all about mixing things up, being eclectic, frivolous, light hearted, chilled, silly, cheeky, naughty, arty and fun….The vibe at this festival is one you won’t find elsewhere: it’s unlike anything else in Cape Town. It is super relaxed and we take being silly very seriously!
There are many really satisfying elements of organising — and experiencing — The Flamjangled Tea Party. It’s like smiles on dials. People leave the event invigorated, not burnt out. They exit happy and full of life, and this is what we are after.
This ain’t no ‘thrash’! This is a bunch of people who love life, having the time of their lives with friends old and new, in a beautiful setting. We want people to leave feeling as if they have just stepped out of one of their favourite childhood dreams where everything is smiley and happy.