Haai Fokof!

This weekend my crush on Cape Town deepened. Not only does she give me rock shows on tap, they’re hosted in the most awesome of venues too. First up this weekend was Billy Talent at the City Hall Auditorium, a beautiful building but I need to back up my claims with photos. On Saturday it was Fokofpolisiekar in front of the predator tank at the Two Oceans Aquarium. No photographic proof needed that it was a cool venue but I’ll share it anyway.

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The break from fokof’s usual stomping grounds was in honour of their live DVD launch, Forgive them because they suck k*k. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Somehow I got it in my head that it was an acoustic set, I was way too deep into weekend mode to register all the plugged in instruments with only a sole acoustic guitar. So when Snake started pounding away on the drums I got quite the jolt. Overall it was a relatively mellow set for their standards, all the members’ sat on high chairs except for Wynand. He is so hyper I suspect he sleeps standing up.

It was their second launch with the fishes, having also launched their 2005 EP Monoloog in Stereo at the Aquarium. Liny Kruger, who has been part of the fokof machine from the beginning, did not want to reminisce too much on this. “As long as they are still playing, there is no need for nostalgia.”

It was the kind of event that created envy in people who are only mild fokof fans and broke the hearts of the hardcore ones.  But don’t worry, they’re playing another gig near Cape Town soon… Friday the 13th of September at a hostel in Stellies.

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Review: Billy Talent in Cape Town with Goodnight Wembly and Dead Lucky

On Friday night the Cape Town City Hall auditorium, built to host operas and orchestras and elegant events, was invaded by a scrawny Canadian screaming “I think I found a flower in a field of weeds!”

In 2010 Billy Talent made a promise to come back and they did just that in a spectacular way. As if to show just how ready Cape Town was for its second tango with Billy Talent, the merchandise stall sold out in 30 minutes flat.  BillyTalentBalcony

Firstly though Goodnight Wembley opened the show along with Dead Lucky while Gary Cool took the mic as MC. Goodnight Wembley took advantage of the situation by treating the event as an unofficial album launch. They roped in the lead singer of Fokofpolisiecar and Van Coke Kartel, Francois van Coke, to pack an extra punch to ‘She’s a Liar’. The band worked overtime in their role as the warm up act, having the whole audience jump as one by their closing number.

Billy Talent’s music takes full flight when performed live. On the album, ‘This is How it Goes’ sounds angry and intense whereas the live version was somewhat cheeky. Lead singer Ben Kowalewicz seemed more centred this time around. While he still bounced around like a maniac during songs, the hyper rants of three years ago were far from evident, and he was a whole more engaged and engaging.

Earlier this month I wrote about how South Africans don’t like to be told what to do, after Yellowcard got iffy when the crowd didn’t participate at One Night in Cape Town. There is an exception to this rule. During ‘Devil on my Shoulder’ Kowalewicz had the whole auditorium singing “over and over”. This was successful because unlike the split loyalties at One Night in Cape Town, 1) the whole audience was made up of Billy Talent fans,  2) no one was expected to move from their spot and 3) well, it’s not that difficult a phrase to sing… um… over and over. Also Kowalewicz said that if you don’t sing along “you’re an asshole”.

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From the balcony I had a perfect view of the stage and the surprisingly rowdy mosh pit that developed. It was a prime spot to see a rather foolish attempt to crowdsurf during ‘Devil in a Midnight Mass’, a song better suited for jumping and screaming “Whisper, whisper, don’t make a sound. Your bed is made and it’s in the ground!” at the stranger in front of you.  Also the crowd was so dense that even though it moved with the music it was not that simple to get back down. BillyTalentGuitarist

The lighting was at the same high standard that RamTouring had set at this year’s Ramfest. During the opening acts the lights were a show in themselves, nearly eclipsing the playing of Goodnight Wembley and Dead Lucky. With Billy Talent the lighting was more carefully in sync with the sound, particularly during ‘Saint Veronica’ when it basically became the fifth member of the band.  BillyTalentDrummer

August marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of this Canadian band, originally known as Pezz. It also marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of their eponymous first album as Billy Talent. A really special occasion, made even more magical by the breathtaking venue and a crowd that was there with heart and soul.

Billy Talent made a point to thank the people who brought them back to South Africa and I would like to do the same.  The Cape Town gig might not have had the cool name like Joburg’s Post aKOPPilyptic Punk Picnic, but nevertheless we had the epic venue. Not all international bands will sell out the stadium but that doesn’t mean there is not a solid fanbase in the Mother City. Nicely done Hilltop Live and Ram Touring for getting this.

Check out Billy Talent’s full setlist here.

* Photos by Warren Talmarkes Photography

* This review was featured on WhatsoninCapeTown.com

* A cool personal take on Billy Talent and Francois van Coke’s right to a skinny jean by Hipstyler Pretty & Ginger.

Billy Talent Cape Town Setlist

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Billy Talent at Cape Town City Hall

1. Viking Death March
2. Devil in a midnight mass
3. The Ex
4. Love Was Still Around
5. The Suffering
6. Stand up and run
7. Show me the way
8. Rusted from the rain
9. Saint Veronica
10. Surrender
11. Runnin’ across the tracks
12. Diamond on a Landmine
13. This is how it goes
14. Turn your back
15. Try Honesty
Encore:
1. Devil on my Shoulder
2. Fallen Leaves
3. Surprise Surprise
4. Red Flag

It was an amazing gig, read my full review here.

Theatre Review: The Rise of the Insanity League

The Insanity League is a troupe of crazies made up of Aaron McIlroy, John van de Ruit and Ben Voss. Through a series of sketches, they introduce the principles of The Insanity League… and the insanities of living on planet earth. The-Rise-of-the-Insanity-League

Insane comedians are the most fun to watch for two reasons: they will go to extreme lengths for a laugh, and those not in this league of insanity (see what I did there?) will never see it coming.

Brian's Brain - The Insanity League

From a post-apocalyptic political rendition of Under the Sea to the spot on SAPS’ version of YMCA, the musical numbers are pitched to hilarity. I found it interesting that most of the numbers were older songs, but this worked very well with the mixed audience. The members of The League are not shy to use outlandish costumes and props to create new characters. Although this was merely an extra punch added to the already great gags. A few tweaks of his rubber face is all McIlroy needs to create that waxy look of a certain opposition party leader (rhymes with Brazil). With a perfectly even – yet somehow still animated – voice and hand gestures, van de Ruit was a dead-on Jeremy Maggs. In fact, he did it so well it seemed like Maggs was doing a van de Ruit impression.

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For me, The League truly proved themselves with their Oscar Pistorius joke. Any South African comedian who even thinks of making the “he doesn’t have a leg to stand on” bit should be sentenced to hard labour with The Insanity League.

Don’t be a Norman, go see The Rise of the Insanity League on at Theatre on the Bay until 1 September 2013.

Elle Editor’s Breakfast

Style talk with Elle’s Belles with a side of crispy bacon, what’s not to love? The event was the Elle Editor’s Breakfast and entrance was a clever comment on their website.

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The way we consume magazines has changed drastically. Even those who still kick it old school with a copy bought from a supermarket don’t leave it at that. It’s all about added value on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Instagram and Pinterest. Elle takes this even further with events outside the digital realm like the Editor’s Breakfast.

At the Elle Editor’s Breakfast, hosted in the 3 major cities, readers have the opportunity to share their thoughts with the Elle team. Editor, Jackie Burger, broke the ice by having everyone introduce themselves and share what it means to be a woman in honour of Women’s Day. I am horrible with public speaking so what I said is a complete black hole in my memory. One of the Elizabeth Arden consultants stuck with me: “It’s the birth right of every woman to be beautiful.”

I felt confident putting my beauty routine in the hands of someone with this sentiment. Everyone received a skin consultation from Elizabeth Arden and products tailored to each individual’s needs. As part of the assessment they viewed my skin under a UV light. It felt extremely futuristic inside the light box with the beauty consultant’s huge eyes looking at me from the other side. It was absolutely terrifying to see my skin under the light with my freckles so prominent I could individually name them. My ‘bravery’ was rewarded with a toner, cleanser and ceramide capsules in Elizabeth Arden’s gold packaging. To paraphrase Jackie, they don’t do sample sizes.

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Meeting Jackie reminded me of the day I met Nataniël, approachable but still more fabulous than anyone in the room. I complimented her on her stockings/shoe combination, “They’re from Woolies she said, “The stockings?!” me,” No, they’re from Paris.” She also shared the secret to her signature red lips (primer).

The morning was conducted in a casual manner. Jackie and the rest of the Elle staff answered some of the questions that were posted online by standing up where they were seated. This made the event feel very intimate. Readers also had the chance to ask questions or simply to add their opinion to the conversation.

The only damper on the event was the news that former Elle Rising Star winner Tiaan Nagel had closed up shop and will be a fashion director for the Sunday Times. A project on Tiaan scored me an 80% in varsity so I’ve always had a soft spot for him. In the press release he said: “Lately I have found it extremely difficult to keep on producing contemporary designer clothing in quality fabrics that is distinctively minimal in its design approach, but commercially viable in a relatively young and less discerning market. For now I have made my decision to rather walk away from an industry that I respect and love; I don’t know how to contribute to it anymore.”

15onOrange

The breakfast served up by 15 on Orange was Instagram bait, way too beautiful to eat.  I tried to fit into the elegant surroundings by passing around a plate of fresh salmon before eating it all but this was a bit of a fail when it ended up right in front of me again.

Thank you to Elle and Elizabeth Arden for the amazing spoil, my boss who gave me the morning off and the lovely ladies at my table (Alisson, Jane, Zaida and Tara).

Theatre Review: Scrape

Scrape might be a one woman show but it is far from being a one woman production. The efforts of all the role players are delicately layered together to form a multidimensional piece. Image

A spoof sequel to Scrape might be the production team trying to get through an American airport with the set. It is the nastiest set – and the most fascinating – ever to grace a Cape Town stage. Through clever use of lighting and handheld torches it becomes as real as actress Amy Louise Wilson herself. It is a huge lump of… something organic. Despite receiving an explanation as to exactly what it is within the first few minutes of the play, one needs to sit through the whole 50 minutes to attempt to grasp what Francois Knoetze has created.

In the role of a hypochondriac with a particular fascination for skin Wilson ably holds her own to the larger than life set, providing an understated precision, and creating a rapport with the audience for a character that could have been annoying.  A lesser actress would have been swallowed alive – just as the character is.

Go see Scrape at Alexander Upstairs, if only to have a good story to tell when asked what is the strangest play you have seen this year.

Scrape runs at Alexander Upstairs 6 – 17 August 2013.

Review: One Night In Cape Town

Music brings people together, yet it is also a very clear divider… sometimes at the same time. One Night in Cape Town was just such an occasion. On the one hand there were the metal heads – a subculture characterised for their passion for their music, their boots and their studs.  On the other hand there were the Yellowcard fans – a group so varied you wouldn’t be able to pick them out in a lineup. ONICTI found myself in the latter category. I became a Yellowcard fan back in the days when MTV still focussed on music in favour of reality shows on underage pregnancies. Ocean Avenue played in a loop on my CD player back then but somehow it never made the transmission onto the iPod.

The 2013 version of Yellowcard leaned slightly more to the punk than the pop and proved to be somewhat sharp. They proclaimed to be just as surprised to be opening for the Deftones and endeavoured to warm up the crowd – even those “with their chins in their hands”. The band knew who the majority of the crowd was there to see but that did not deter them from giving the minority a kick ass show. YellowcardYellowcard introduced songs from their new album such as ‘Here I Am Alive’ by teaching the crowd the chorus. They like crowd participation and – unusual for Cape Town – the crowd happily complied until lead singer Ryan Key tried to initiate a circle moshpit. Now he’d crossed a line. The fact that South Africans do not like moving from their spot is information that should be highlighted on the fact sheet given to visiting musicians, especially the American ones. We fight for our spots to ensure the best view of the band that we never though we’ll see live and/or to ensure the best position from which to pounce into a better spot for the next band. On that very stage even Jared Leto could not make the crowd create a circle. Yellowcard2Yellowcard did not have this information on their fact sheet and they were very disappointed in us. There was some name calling (“You’re the only country that doesn’t participate”) and a threat (“We’re going to tell Johannesburg”). We just snickered at that last one; at my very first international gig at Johannesburg’s Coca Cola Dome, Fall Out Boy had failed miserably at this as well. At last Yellowcard gave up and wisely let the music dictate the moves from that point.

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The Deftones

The standout moment of the evening was the performance of ‘Only One’. In the music video of that song Key and a girl walk with a huge crowd in a protest march. He never takes his eyes off her. Watching a live performance beautifully brought together the reality of seeing the band live and the years of being a fan. But no, I did not look at my significant other during the song because I am not completely corny. And it’s a breakup song.  Yellowcard was merely the filling to the rocking sandwich that was this year’s One Night in Cape Town, the mothercity’s consolation prize for Northham’s Oppikoppi. Manchester Orchestra kicked off the evening by defying the concept of orchestra with their brand of indie-rock-with-a-hint-of-screamo. Despite the enthusiasm of the Yellowcard fans, the Grand Arena only really filled up when Deftones took the stage. Before then the numerous Deftones fans waited patiently outside for Chino Moreno to fill the auditorium with his deadly growl. DeftonesFor the Capetonians who missed both One Night In Cape Town and the train to Oppikoppi, the good news is that there is one more shot at a Hilltop outing at the end of this month when Billy Talent takes over City Hall.

*Photos by Warren Talmarkes Photography

This review was also featured on WhatsoninCapeTown.com

De Grendel: The wine farm around the corner

While other people have a local bar/pub (depending on if you did the London thing), I have a local wine farm. To be fair, I probably only went 3-4 times in the time that I lived in the area, but I had just fond memories of De Grendel. It was the go-to spot I took guests. DeGrendelTasting

A few Saturdays ago we went for a quick tasting to wind down after my weekend shift.  No one received us when we arrived and we had to ask for service multiple times which really soured our experience. Who has the time to wait for the wine to ferment first? In the end we cut our intended tasting of their whole range of wines short to only 3. fountain de grendel

I tweeted about the experience, nothing hard core: “Thoroughly underwhelmed by the wine tasting experience at @degrendelwines. Pity because I really do like their wines.” I then closed the matter in my head. They responded with a request to DM them the details. I was impressed that they knew enough about Twitter to actually follow me first before this request, too often one sees people tweeting a company that they can’t comply to their request as they don’t follow them. However, overall I did not expect anything to come of the gesture after a rather shitty experience with another company’s customer service on Twitter who seemed sincere at the time but wasn’t matched offline.

De Grendel followed through. After a 4 part DM their winemaker Elzette du Preez called me personally to apologise and to invite us for a private tour of the cellar and tasting.

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No wine tasting signs were stolen in the making of this blog post.

Elzette took us through the whole wine making process at De Grendel starting with the history of the farm and the Graaff family, the infra-red photos they take every two years to determine the way to harvest the grapes, overcoming perceptions of South African wine internationally, all kinds of chemical things that made me wish I didn’t fail biology horribly, the process of selecting wine barrels… It was a delightful crash course into the world of wine. De Grendel is very lucky to have such a charismatic woman as a winemaker.

We then moved on to the tasting room to give our palates the benefit of what we had observed in the cellar. The Plus One enjoyed the pinot noir and we both agreed on the rose and sauvignon blanc. I enjoy their Rose simply because it goes completely against the more traditional sweet ‘cold drink wine’ prefer by old people in the interior. It has a lovely dry crisp taste best paired with a second chances. 20130725_175322

At 17:00 they closed up the tasting room letting us finish up on the stoep and keep an eye on the sun slowly setting over Table Mountain. It was that magical time of the day where photos came out perfectly without the need of an Instagram filter.

I am happy to say, in the most pretentious way possible, that I once again have a local wine farm.