All words: Matthew ‘The Wizard’ Wise
All images: Aumega | photography
Not too long ago, I joined a whole host of storyboard characters out of whichever children’s book, fairy tale or Disney movie you could care to mention at The Tea Party – A Flamjangled Experience. It was quite a drastic change from the average festival one grows accustomed to here in Cape Town, something bizarre and unique not encountered very often, and I’m happy to report that I (along with everyone else I spoke to there) absolutely loved it!
Work and personal commitments meant I could only make my way there on Saturday morning, but next time I will most certainly be going for the full duration of the festival over the whole weekend, such were my exceedingly high levels of enjoyment and ebullience throughout.
It was hosted at the beautiful Elandskloof Farm near Greyton, the venue which normally plays host to the annual Origin Festival at the end of January. Don’t be fooled by that statement though, due to the layout of this particular event, the venue was almost unrecognisable to the one thousands flocked to a couple of months ago. I spent much of the weekend disoriented in the best possible way. There were pathways and bridges one doesn’t come across during Origin, interesting little nooks & crannies I didn’t know existed even after attending four Origin Festivals there.
The venue was adorned with an abundance of extremely eye-catching décor. A multi-coloured fluffy octopus, a robot which had an electronic light display in its midsection, a doorway that led into a little open-top room with walls reminiscent of the starry night sky, a massive heart and equally impressive sized disco ball were my personal highlights. There was quite a lot more though, far too much to mention every single installation, but it’s safe to say an absolutely stellar job was done decorating the place. At night the venue was brought to life thanks to the many LED’s of varying colours scattered around, the perfect reflection of the lit-up trees in the dam’s still water at night was quite a spectacular sight indeed.
On the whole, I found the music rather enjoyable, an eclectic mix of intriguing sounds. Some sets I didn’t enjoy so much, but that had more to do with my personal taste in genres than any issues with the quality of the performances.
I caught a bit of Kings Down South who were doing quite nicely, but the first full set I watched was a band called Los Tacos, who I know quite well but haven’t seen very much of. I genuinely wish I had been to more of their gigs, as they played a truly wonderful set. Led by the talented and energetic Jeronimo (real name), their Latin-influenced fusion of sounds makes for easy listening and even easier dancing. I will certainly be making an effort to see more of this group of highly skilled musicians over the coming weeks & months ahead.
After they had finished it was time to do some exploring and perambulate to see what else the festival had to offer. Funky reggae tunes were emanating from a little stage by the food vendors and clothing stalls, but the other two dancefloors were only set to open later on in the night. Luckily I made it back to the main stage in time to watch another band I had heard of, John Wizards, who had been invited to play at Glastonbury Festival last year as one of the components of an extensive European tour.
They were nothing short of incredible. Their multifaceted musical style is somewhat reflective of a group comprising members from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities, which is refreshing to see as I find it to be the exception rather than the norm. They expertly combined elements of R&B, Afropop, Shangaan Electro and Reggae to create a novel aural experience that was an unequivocal treat to bear witness to.
I did manage to catch intermittent bits and pieces of Crimson House and Native Young, although not their full sets. They both managed to leave a very good impression though from what I did see and hear (Crimson House in particular), and have certainly piqued my interest to watch them again.
By this stage the wonderment at some of the outfits I had seen had fully dawned upon me. More so than any other element of the festival, it was the enchanting attire which created the greatest sense that I had been teleported to a fantastical wonderland. Extravagant, marvellous, flamboyant and dazzling assemblages of clothing, headwear, accessories and trinkets left me in a constant state of amazed bewilderment.
Eventually the other dancefloors opened, starting off with the Mirrored Forrest, which purveyed an extraordinary mix of swing and some associated sub-genres. James Copeland stole the show there, as is usually the case regardless of the moniker he plays under. I really have run out of superlative adjectives to describe what an exceptional DJ he is, Capetonians ought to feel quite fortunate to be able to see him perform on a regular basis.
At around midnight I stumbled across a huge question mark atop the entrance to a small tunnel leading to a hidden enclosed area. It looked enticing, and rarely in my life have I felt as compelled to do something as when I decided I had to see what was on the other end of that tunnel. I landed up surrounded by an effervescent array of green, red and blue flashing lights and the gentle hum of people singing to themselves as they tuned into whichever channel played the music they most felt like listening to at that particular moment.
It was the first time I had attended a Silent Disco, another wholly different and uncommon addition to what was already proving to be one of the most otherworldly environments I have found myself in. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I was fascinated by how one could genuinely get lost in their personal little microcosmic party under those headphones.
Sunday was primarily spent chilling on the lush grass embankment adjacent the dam, the relaxing morning tone perfectly set by the soothing, harmonic sounds of Felix Laband and Thor Rixon. With a heavy heart, at around lunchtime it was time to pack up and start saying our goodbyes. What struck me as we were leaving was how little litter had been left. It’s unfortunate that it’s even a point worth mentioning, but the tremendous respect and care of the environment adopted by the vast majority of those in attendance at The Tea Party is an attitude that is sadly lacking at most other events I go to.
It really does induce a small sense of sadness that I won’t be able to that again for another twelve months. The production and sound at all the stages was impeccable, the visual experience was spellbinding and overall it was just one of the most exquisite times I’ve had at a festival in Cape Town for a long while. I’d like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all involved on the organising team and all the artists for a job superbly done. I simply cannot wait for the next one!