Words by | Lu Makoboka
I feel like the city of Cape Town rests between a very puzzling space at the moment… Over the last couple of years, venues that have accommodated live music and nightlife in the city have been closing faster than a door cornered by a police officer. But the irony is, there has been no better time than NOW to be a musician/producer/DJ in Cape Town under the surging the music industry within our country. Regardless of these conditions, our beloved artists have been finding unique ways to showcase their talent and promote their events. Last year, I went to as many live shows as I could even if I didn’t recognize the names, even if my friends weren’t keen to join me. This list looks back at some of the most memorable performances/sets I witnessed in the year 2019. I must add though, if my memory was a person, it would not be getting any right swipes on Tinder since it is out of shape. Something was charming about the moment and the actual performance that made these names stand out ever so easily. Here they are in no particular order…
Diskotekah at Modular
After Bazique 2019, there were two things that I physically couldn’t stop blabbering to my friends about: 1) The La Vee Vert and 2) A “mysterious” duo called Diskotekah. What I loved about them was their fabulously outlandish look and their unique approach to Disco music. Their set was dark, it was grunge, and it was also flowery. They lured the crowd into a ‘Disco odyssey’ with their meticulous selection. During the middle of the year, the two hosted an event at Modular. I had a choice to study for my final exam coming up the following Monday or grab at the opportunity to marvel at this spectacle once again since events from Diskotekah are somewhat rare. Dear reader, there are no words I could use to describe how ‘worth it’ the experience was. It felt like a revised version of their ‘Disco odyssey’ at Bazique but more intimate because of the environment at Modular. What made this so memorable is because of their ability to introduce audiences to sounds that we generally don’t come across, to the point where our perception of music becomes challenged.
Card on Spokes at Gin Festival
I remember this as if it was 10 minutes ago… The Cape Town weather decided to treat its people with a warm temperature that didn’t come with mood swings. The Old Biscuit Mill was packed and perfectly captured the essence of ‘that Sunday Chillout Vibe’. Then out of the blue, rich electronic textures hovering over these animated drum works erupt through the speakers! That was the first time I heard a fusion between Hip Hop and Electronica coming from a local artist which mirrored the likes of Gold Panda, Chrome Sparks, Flying Lotus, Giraffage and artists like that. From my understanding, his bass playing was live too. The paradoxical nature of his vibrant music and his relaxed demeanour also created a bit of an enigmatic effect. He was far from flashy; it was his music that illuminated him.
Albany Lore at Raptor Room
This man has played quite several shows at Raptor Room, although the first one of 2019 was THE ONE. What I find interesting about the package of Albany Lore is the difference we receive with each experience. If you listen to his music via Spotify, Itunes, YouTube etc, you’ll find it’s quite tranquil and soulful. But go to his show – this man is jubilantly dancing with his trap-infused moves, there are enchanting backup vocals, and you can tell his band pours bucket loads of passion into making the music come alive. That was the first time I saw him live and I remember that as if it was 20 minutes ago. The progression of his performance also can’t escape mention. That night, he continuously held the attention of the crowd by magnificently dictating the flow of energy. The progression of the highs and lows were executed in a manner that had everyone very entertained.
Bryan Travis at Boiler Room (News 24 Building)
I’m not too sure if that was an opening set or not, though I recall it being quite early and WOW, I enjoyed his fine selection. Something I appreciate in music is when I hear a hint of culture and throughout his set, that’s exactly what was peppered in. Kwaito, Grime, UK Hip Hop, House and local Rap decorated the scenery whilst Travis was on decks. I don’t feel as if it was about getting people hyped, I felt as if he intended to get people truly comfortable within the space. The fact that a lot of local classics were played made it relatively easy and when I stopped and looked around, people felt like they belonged.
Kujenga at Waiting Room
Earlier I mentioned the importance of not just the performance, but also the circumstances involved with that specific moment. When this 4 piece played, the sky was dark and the city was acquainted with hefty amounts of rain. And it was a weeknight, so about 25 people were at Waiting Room that night. But the way these dudes played it’s as if the room was packed to the rim. There was no way you could’ve left that show feeling down as their positive messaging and energizing performance had the strength to lift your soul. Kujenga has a sound which blends the best of R&B, Soul and Jazz and when live, the group exudes musical opulence. Because they are so skilled at what they do, they are also easily able to disrupt those moments of ‘elegance’ and introduce a sense of controlled chaos. When this occurs, each member fanatically breaks out into a fiery solo which generally gets the crowd going. And on the subject of the crowd, the fact that they find a way to involve the audience in their performance is yet another exhibition of showmanship.
Lastly, a massive thanks to venues such as Waiting Room, Modular, Old Biscuit Mill, News 24 Building and Raptor Room for continuously being there for the city’s creative scene.