Words By: Lu Makoboka
All images by Closure (unless credited otherwise)
As many of us know, the months leading up to this year’s edition of Rocking the Daisies continuously fluctuated between excitement and disappointment. Whilst an amazing line up was being released, some of the new policies presented by the RTD organizers encouraged many to immediately sell their ticket and never look back. Although I’m sure many did look back after the images and videos were released of yet another successful Daisies. When it came to the line-up, this year was quite different as an explosion of international acts (including beat makers) from all across the globe was included. I’m talking Monte Booker, Sticky Fingers, Da-p and many more. All of the acts that I saw truly put a smile on my face, but there can only be 5 ‘Daisy Darlings’ and here they are in no particular order.
Artist: Full Crate – Amsterdam
Stage: Hotel Soulection
(Image by: Neo Beapi)
Wow! He gave us classics, he gave us remixes and most importantly, you could tell he gave us his soul. The Amsterdam native is known for his unique infusions of Hip Hop, Soulful House, Electronica, and occasionally Dancehall. ‘Vogue’, the glitzy track featuring Trinidad James and Bryn Christopher is one of his own bangers that incited a bustling frenzy from the crowd. Full Crate is the type of artist who is energetic and interactive with his audience, to the point where he leapt over barricades during his second last track and baptized his body in a sea of enthusiasts. It was hard to believe that it was his first time ever playing in South Africa by virtue of the rapport he built so quickly with us, not just through his music but through his personality too. Positivity oozes out of this man’s aura and certainly makes any fan feel like their more than welcome into his company. From what I can remember it wasn’t the music that led me into Full Crates set. The announcement of his name was followed by a flock of ‘trap troops’ marching into the front, earnestly preparing themselves for the sonic bombs they were about to receive. That’s when I knew I probably should stay for this ‘Full Crate’ fellow.
Artist: Mura Masa – UK
Stage: The Lost City
It’s not even a surprise this man is on the list. During the middle of the year when many found out the youngster would be performing, they immediately knew they had to be at Rocking the Daisies. If you’re still in the dark, Mura Masa is a London native who acquaints listeners to colourful acoustic sounds such as harps, blended with various elements of Hip… You know, let’s just leave it at Hip Hop/Electronic since the description of his music needs its own paragraph. The majority of Mura Masa’s latest works are littered with an array of features. Anticipation grew even more with this taken into concern as the crowd didn’t know what to expect at the beginning. Just beats maybe? Nope… An off-kilter ‘Afrobeat-ish’ rhythm suddenly crashed into the direction of the crowd. It was ‘Complicated’ – Mura Masa’s latest track and even though NAO wasn’t present, the audience was overjoyed the second Bonzai/Cosha serenaded us with her vocals instead. Right after that, the clustered bodies around me roared liked animals as the hit ‘Nuggets’ began playing.
There tends to be a correlation between an artist’s activity on social media and their live interaction with the audience. Throughout the whole set we didn’t see a smile crack from Mura Masa, a couple of “hello’s” and “how are you feeling” here and there but not because he wanted to, it seemed like something he had to muster up the courage to do. Honestly, it didn’t take away from the experience in any way. Whilst Mura Masa looked like he was deeply concentrated in his own world of instruments, Bonzai and the following performer ‘Fliss’ electrified the crowd with flamboyant dance moves and their catchy choruses. His set was certainly a contender for the #1 spot.
Muzi – South Africa
Stage: Hotel Soulection
(Image by Farina Deutschmann)
Legend has it that whoever was present during Muzi’s performance, was actually in the happiest environment in the world. His set didn’t have any extravagant fireworks, no special guest appearances… Just a black man with his laptop dressed in animal skin. Probably 20% of the crowd was familiar with his album ‘Afrovision’, and maybe a good 60% at least knew who he was. What’s bizarre is given all these stats, some guy from KZN is able to deliver a performance that was arguably more electrifying than international heavyweights such as Sango, Gus Dapperton and in some ways Mura Masa.
The first spell this wizard cast over the souls on the dance floor was a remix of Brenda Fasie’s ‘Too Late for Mama’. I took a quick glance over the crowd and like a swift dagger to the heart I witnessed how many were instantly impaled by the nostalgia. The second the drums and the bass were introduced, I heard painful, yes PAINFUL screams of joy from a distance. People were possessed throughout his set! It was like watching an ‘African Kaytranada’ since he remixed South African classics such as the Shaka Zulu theme song and Stimela to create a hard-to-resist groove. I couldn’t even tell what knocked harder, overzealous cops with a search warrant or the bass during Muzi’s performance (the speakers eventually malfunctioned). Circles were also formed in various locations on the dance floor, making space for those who were deeply possessed by the enchanting percussive rhythms. There was no other artist at this year’s Rocking the Daisies who could put an entire audience through such a rollercoaster of emotions. The gorgeous Hannah Faith (the act after Muzi) even had a tough time beginning her set as an angry crowd recalled Muzi to give them what they want.
Artist: Alice Wolf – UK
I was speaking to a friend of mine during the afternoon and she expressed interest on leaving sometime in the evening. “You can’t leave before Wolf Alice!” out of the blue a man chimed in our conversation and (unnecessarily) stressed the importance of watching their performance. To shut him up I assured him we’d be there, although it wasn’t part of my plans I eventually went and what I experienced ironically had me speechless. Wolf Alice is a four-piece alternative rock band from London who are sort of reminiscent to The XX in their moments of calm, and Elastica during their ‘grunge storm’ episodes. As the artificial smoke snuggled against the lower limbs of Ellie Rowsell (vocalist), the wind gently stroked her long blonde hair to create this ‘movie moment’, emphasizing the cinematic sensation we received from their performance. The band has been performing for nearly a decade now and their virtuosity was uncomfortably effortless. Electric guitars were thrown into the air, kicks and screams arose in abundance, and I can’t neglect to mention the type of stage presence worthy of sparking a riot.
Each member had their own style: the bassist was absolutely intriguing with his ferocious heading banging and punk-like attitude, the lead guitarist (Joff Oddie) displayed episodes which oscillated between serene and erratically wild – such an amazing showman. And Ellie…You’d swear she had ice flowing through her veins by virtue of the level of chill throughout each song. Wolf Alice took listeners on a journey of emotions ranging from sweet love songs, some dance tracks and heavy angst-filled, head banging, grunge tunes. I wish I could tell you some of the songs they performed although going in I knew nothing about the band, all I know is that their performance was the only one that which had me drenched in sweat.
The last one is a tie between local darlings Bye Beneco and U.S rapper 6lack.
You ask why, well Bye Beneco’s set was truly memorizing and could go head to head with 6lack’s performance for a number of reasons. Popularity and hype carried 6lack, not in a negative way although there were moments it felt quite dull. His DJ guided the crowd’s energy level all the way to the stars as he warmed us up in the beginning with tracks like Mo Bumba by Shack Wes and Look at Me by the late XXXTentacion. With the audience fired up, 6lack introduced himself with a track from his new album… And here is the issue. ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’ was released two weeks before the festival, but most importantly his new album isn’t as prolific as ‘Free 6lack’, his debut album. The murmurs I heard from the huddled bodies around me indicated that many just wanted to hear the hits, and unfortunately only that. “I’m just here for PRBLMS,” said some of the juveniles to my left. As some of the lesser known tracks played, I could it feel it in the air of the night that the attention of the crowd dwindled and they were LITERALLY holding on until they received a hit. This symbolizes a ‘problem’ relating to stage presence. Again it wasn’t necessarily bad, he just struggled to steadily clasp onto the full attention of the audience.
Overall, 6lack did connect appropriately with the majority by saying some heartfelt things about South Africa. He left his platinum hit ‘PRBLMS’ for his encore (of course) and fireworks welcomed the sound of that gritty 808. The atmosphere was buzzing with energy. Affection and an audience-bond are just some of the reason why 6lack deserves to be on this list. No other act met the crowd on a deep level of sentimentality as he did.
As for Bye Beneco, such a stellar performance. I really don’t think the audience understood the significance of the events that occurred during their last song. Unexpectedly, Moonchild Sanelly rocks up and rocks out with the band as we witness an artist with one of the top songs in the country harmonize exceptionally with one the best electro-pop groups. Honestly, that moment is one to remember for this year’s edition of Rocking the Daisies. Beneco’s lead singer was interactive, flashy and her vocal range is unbelievable. It didn’t seem like a large percentage of the audience knew the lyrics to their tracks, that didn’t matter though because as I looked around the number of smiles and leaping bodies I saw reflected what many felt about Bye Beneco’s performance.
Acts that are placed 6-10 include some of the acts I didn’t get to see, but I received a multitude of detailed descriptions. In no order these are:
Max Hurrel (SA)
Jarreau Vandal (AMS)
J Robb (USA)
What were your of Rocking The Daisies this year and was your favourite acts on the line up?