Acoustics Underground: Francois van coke and Arno Carstens

Arno Carstens, Francios van Coke and Jett Kossew at Acoustics Underground at the Chavonnes Battery Museum Foto Credit: Chavonnes Battery Museum via Facebook

Arno Carstens, Francois van Coke and Jett Kossew at the Chavonnes Battery Museum         Photo Credit: Chavonnes Battery Museum via Facebook

It was a few months before the turn the century and a corporate was once again breaking ground on prime V&A Waterfront real estate to build boring offices. However, the power tools were soon downed in favour of excavation tools (in my mind it’s a million UCT archaeological students with fine brushes) when the ruins a 17th Century battery was discovered. The Chavonnes Battery is now a nerd fabulous museum where one can wear a tricorn hat and experience a sliver of Cape Town’s history that was almost lost under concrete and overpriced suits.

On Wednesday evening we were versed on a slightly newer chapter of the Mother City’s history, as Francois van Coke along with Arno Carstens and Jett Kossew opened Acoustics Underground with fokofolisiekar’s Hemel op die platteland.

The set was a retrospective of tunes from Francois van Coke (fokofpolisiekar, van Coke Kartel and solo) and Arno Carstens’ (Springbok Nude Girls and solo) projects peppered with a few covers of songs that inspired them. Carstens also debuted a few new songs off his Afrikaans album, so brand spanking new that he used sheet music.

Though the show had elements of van Coke and Carstens’ Blood Brothers performance last year where the duo teamed up with 8 other South African legends for the Vrede Foundation, the stunning venue added to the performance like no commercial space can. Acoustics Underground is the bottle of moderately priced wine you reluctantly share, to Blood Brothers’ shot of Jose Cuervo with a slice of orange*.

The cover of the evening was ACDC’s Highway to Hell reimagined as a ballad. Just as Carstens had the crowd whipped up like congregants receiving the spirit with his take on Hozier’ Take Me To Church at Blood Brothers, I could see quite a few people ready to call shotgun if he announced a road trip on said highway.

When I looked at how the three musos interacted with each other (at that point I had a unique top down view of the stage standing on a walkway) the word that came to mind is not often associated with rock n roll, mindfulness. Like when Carstens quietly swapped microphones with van Coke while the latter seemed to have mild technical difficulties during Toe vind ek jou. The 2 lead singers respectively stepped back, in a manner of speaking of course as they were seated, as the other took the rein of their respective treffers.

After being buried so many years, Underground Acoustics concert series gives the Chavonnes Battery a masterclass in the local music scene, pulling it into the 21st Century while still respecting the integrity of its hallowed walls.

The next Underground Acoustics features Judith Sephuma and Camillo Lombard on Wednesday, 18 August.

* Catch Blood Brothers at Carnival City on 9 of September 2016 with new recruit Zolani Mahola (!) replacing Arno Carstens. Unfortunately, there won’t be a Cape Town gig this year

Advertisements

Blood Brothers rocks GrandWest

Blood BrothersA few years ago the presenter of one of my favourite MK shows went bald; it really didn’t suit him I thought in my horrible judgmental teenage mind. Neither did the cancer, but that didn’t stop Herman Pretorius from living what time he had left to the fullest and leaving a beautiful legacy with his Vrede Foundation. Vrede raises awareness and early detection as well as funds for young people with cancer.

In aid of Vrede, Blood Brothers brought together 10 local rock n rollers (Jason Hinch, Albert Frost, Rian Zietsman, Francois van Coke, Arno Carstens,- take a deep breath – George van der Spuy, Kobus de Kock Jnr, Hunter Kennedy, Loedi van Renen and Isaac Klawansky) with the awesome Catherine Grenfell as host to one stage for a mind blowing three hours of rock and all its mutations.

With multiple ‘lead singers’ the stage dynamics made for fascinating viewing. Francois and George played solid backup when needed, killing it when they had the main mic. Black Cat Bone’s Kobus on the other hand stalked the stage like a caged lion. Arno Carstens seemed content being in the background on his tambourine, until he too displayed signs of a caged lion, in the form of a flamingo dancer.

Photo by @glanskind

Photo by @glanskind

With the Blood Brothers out of their comfort zones, most of audience members responded in kind. For the first time in years we stood close enough to feel the swoosh of wind then Francois twirls his mic on the cord and see the crazy in Kobus’ eyes. Instead of the cellphone screens the emotion of Van Coke Kartel’s Tot Die Son Uitkom inspired a few lighters to come out, no worries about scorched fingers. Then there was the middle aged guy standing rigid all night then doing what can only be described as jiving to Bubblegum On My Boots. The biggest fans of all seemed to be the Blood Brothers themselves, of each other and the music they were performing.

One of the standout covers was Hozier’s Take Me To Church with Arno Carstens on lead vocals and Albert Frost rocking the bowed guitar (simply put, it looks like he’s playing an electric guitar like a cello). For three minutes GrandWest became a charismatic church, the kind held in circus tents in the middle of a veld, with frenzied dancing.

For more on the Vrede Foundation click here.

Buy the Blood Brothers original song ‘People Gotta Kno’ here.

Photo Album: Blood Brothers @ Carnival City

 

 

Book Review: Die ou met die snor by die bar

Die ou met die snor by die bar reads like a drunken conversation at a dive bar, the kind that is interesting enough to stick around for long after the storyteller veered from his original story. This is Zander Tyler’s life as told by his alter ego Jack Parow (and penned by Theunis Engelbrecht).

Jack Parow Die ou met die snor by die bar The book is selectively personal, divulging details of his childhood and rise to fame but limiting details of his current home life to scant mentions about his supermodel girlfriend and daughter Ruby.

His hard party days however are chronicled in detail starting from his skelm (and later less skelm) drinking as a teen, travelling as far as Russia with a bottle of brannas to his current carefully managed Jägermeister and water habit.

 

The book is filled with previously unpublished lyrics of his songs and the events that inspired them. The rap of my favourite Jack Parow tune, Die Vraagstuk, was written in 2 hours in front of the Ferrari garage near Assembly in the light of a street lamp.

The mothers who send him passive aggressive hate mail will find it quite hard to believe what a “nice boy” Zander really is. He has better manners than their children he “corrupted” because his momma raised him right and he is not afraid to praise her and his father every chance he gets.

That said, this is not the book to give your 11 years old cousin for Christmas. It will give him too many ideas and his Afrikaans teacher a few grey strands. Only those with a platinum album under the belt can get away with the ‘write as you speak’ style of writing.

The above mentioned style does lose some of its punch without that punchy inflection or facial expressions. Even with the random doodles and happy snaps with witty captions, a book is far too 2D to capture the complete Zef phenomenon that is Jack Parow.

With its bright blue cover that looks more like a graphic novel, Die ou met die snor by die bar a sweet guilty pleasure read. I got quite a kick seeing it next to the unauthorised Nancy Reagan biography I’ve been struggling though on my nightstand. One might get a lot closer to the truth with an unauthorised biography, but a memoir has more spirit(s).

Die ou met die snot by die bar written by Theunis Engelbrecht and published by Penguin Books. The recommended retail price is R200 and is also available in ebook format.

Up the Creek 2015: Rain, OBS cocktails and a medic

Up the Creek 2015 was marked by schizophrenic ups and downs in weather: a scorcher of 30+°C on Friday dropped down to the miserable rainy 20s of Saturday. But through it all the music kept on pumping even if it meant a temporary merging of the Sedgewick’s (River) stage and Hunter’s stage.

UpTheCreekLP

Photo credit: Louise Pieterse

Friday night’s lineup was so solid that any of the bands could have been the headliner. With all their radio play Beatenberg is great in theory but they didn’t really have the grit to capture the hearts of hardcore creekers. Al Bairre paid their dues at the River stage last year and deserved every inch of main stage the band danced over. The only taint on a rocking set by Zebra & Giraffe was that they only played one new song, ‘I’ve Been Bad’ – a shame as their latest album Knuckles is brilliant. The actual headliners Taxi Violence – who along with The Black Cat Bones should never be left off a UTC lineup – had a solid if somewhat egotistical set.

After being woken by bagpipes on Saturday, we spent our morning huddled under a soaking gazebo playing checkers with nuts and washers pieces on a board made up duct tape, and inventing new cocktails with Sedgewick’s (the I will never let go, Jack* was a real winner) while watching our neighbours make brief goosebumpy trips to the river. It was a creeking awesome day, though I’m still jealous of an earlybird’s crimson sunburn earned from a Friday morning float. UpTheCreekCheckers

But Up The Creek isn’t just about its river (okay 99.01%). It also throws together diverse artists for some killer collaborations. Al Bairre and a few of the guys from Nomadic Orchestra performed a bouncy mashup of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and Beyonce’s ‘Halo’. Bandolero can only be described as a dynamic musical extravaganza. The 15-odd supergroup led by the excessively charismatic Andre Kriel from The Black Cat Bones had the crowd’s attention with an endless stream of legends, newbies, rockers and blues men on stage including Piet Botha and Gareth Wilson. Every time I blinked it looked like a new band on stage.

Great new finds – and a much needed dose of oestrogen to the festival – included Bye Beneco and Diamond Thug. Bye Beneco had a sophisticated sound overlaid with childish percussion on charming songs such as ‘Vampire’ and ‘Space Elephant’.

UpTheCreekRougeTent

A rouge tent

Being a diligent reviewer I explored an aspect of the festival experience grossly overlooked in my 15+ previous music festivals: the medic station. To the beat of Nomadic Orchestra I took a graceless tumble out of the little Cowgirls’ room and by the time the Plus One got me to the medics, a size 71⁄2 was bursting out of my size 6 Converse.Supplies in the tent seemed rather spare, not even a box of tissues or roll of toilet paper in sight. They won’t sell ice at the bar so I guess it’s your best bet, though I highly recommend not getting injuries that can be fixed with bar ice. The December Streets’ set were very soothing while I waited for the painkillers to kick in. Later my doctor was happy enough with my “care”, even impressed with the bar ice, though he would have preferred a bandaged foot that was kept elevated.

On paper my Up The Creek experience might not look that great, but despite missing out on my annual float down the river and the fact that I’m writing this with an elevated foot, Up The Creek 2015 was a festival to remember.

Yays

  • A generous plate of spit braai with all the trimmings from the friendly people at the Plaas Kombuis at R60 a plate
  • Bar ice
  • Liferafts, Titanics and Icebergs
  • Loyalty from festival goers, organisers and acts. It was Taxi Violence’s 8th
  • Kindness of strangers: a wonderful blonde lady helped me after my tumble and checked on me afterwards.
  • Al Bairre
  • Zebra & Giraffe

    UpTheCreekRiver

    Photo credit: Melanie Carstens

Nays

  • The weather. Excuse me for being Capetonian but Saturday was less than ideal.
  • The roads. Still being scraped on Friday creating dangerous bottlenecks for those arriving in the dark.
  • No free drinking water. And to make it worse Friday’s rate of R5 was doubled on Saturday.
  • Rubber Duc

* Recipe: I will never let go, Jack

  • A splash of Sedgwick’s Old Brown
  • Breakfast Punch
  • Ice Water
  • Ice
  • Celery to garnish

A version of this review was featured on WhatsoninCapeTown.com

Dusty Rebels and the Bombshells: Sounds like a band, acts like a festival

You rarely leave a festival looking better than you did when you arrived, but then Dusty Rebels and the Bombshells isn’t your regular festival. Where in the world – and by world I mean Cape Town – would you find beautiful girls dressed to the nines with red lips, updos and flared dresses only to hang around a dirt track?

Photo credit: Carina Roux/TygerBurger

Photo credit: Carina Roux/TygerBurger

Dusty Rebels and the Bombshells is the quintessence of rockabilly, an alternative subculture that brings the 50s greaser culture into the 21st century. To completely oversimplify, it’s what Grease would have looked like if a Suicide Girl was cast as Sandy instead of Olivia Newton John and the backtracks were scrapped in favour of a swinging rock/blues band.  Dusty Rebels and the Bombshells

The first few stalls assisted in the cosmetic transformation of a regular Jill and Joe into a bombshells and dusty rebels. The queue stretched long for pinup girl hair styles such as the victory roll from the talented ladies at Scar. Next door natural makeup was wiped off in favour of cat eyes and full red lips by the Mac makeup artists. Local barber, Barnet Fair, set up shop on the back of a bakkie where patrons could keep smoking while getting their quiffs styled.Dusty Rebels and the Bombshells

Only in its second year the organisation at Dusty Rebels and the Bombshells already runs relatively smoothly with more than enough food stalls, clean toilets and entertainment to go around. The only element really lacking was a programme posted somewhere, even if it was just online.

The hub of excitement was at the dirt track where hotrods revved up into a mighty ball of dust and a few kookier vehicles (think hearse) trying to navigate their way through.

The Hot Rod Honeys bashing it out with The Swingin Kittens

The Hot Rod Honeys bashing it out with The Swingin Kittens

The sport(s) weren’t just limited to the petrol guzzlers. The Hot Rod Honeys and The Swingin Kittens made up of skaters for the Cape Town Rollergirls held a roller derby exhibition match that had many a jaw drop. These girls are the height of badassdom. Look them up on Facebook, they’re recruiting!

In the centre of it all was the music that only really got its due when the dirt track closed and other activities quieted down a bit. Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop (I kept hearing Sex Shop), was a flamboyant brash of rock n roll. In fact with his Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling mask and red silk robe the lead singer looked like he would be very comfortable in a seedy sex shop. Their music has an honest, if a little obnoxious, quality that only a self-confessed tw*t can produce. As this is a family friendly website I will leave it at that…

An awesome Hiss Happ creation

An awesome Hiss Happ creation

If there was ever a subculture in need of a festival it is rockabilly. A lifestyle for some, a colourful break from reality for others, start practising those victory rolls gals, the Dusty Rebels and the Bombshells will rock again.

Click here for more images by the TygerBuger.

Cape Town, it’s time to commit to music

Fact: the Justin Biebers of this world will sell out stadiums for many years to come and no amount of bitching about it on Twitter or meme making will change this. However there is something you can do about the sad reality of great local artists playing to empty bars.

City Soirée uses crowdfunding to fill up events to a point where stage diving isn’t quite that sad. Their system is quite similar to the way group buying companies used to work: An event is created with a set number of pledges needed, once they’ve reached this goal the event is confirmed. If the pledges fall short of the goal the pledgees are refunded and the world misses out on what could have been the most amazing gig ever. Can you tell I really love this concept? Of all the initiatives born on The Internet, crowdfunding is up there with videos of cats. REBURN-CITY-SOIREE-EVENT-960x400

Getting Capetonians to commit to anything is quite the feat, so I commend City Soirée for even trying to get the Mother City to put her money where her taste is – a few weeks in advance nogal!

The next big City Soirée show is A majestic evening with Reburn and friends on 13 April at Nitida Wine Estate. At the time of posting this blog they were 70/100 strong on pledges.

Stop bitching about the state of the music industry and start pledging. Check out other great events hosted by City Soirée here.

Eminem’s R99 rent-a-crowd

1926044_10151933283390079_112837226_o

Photo credit: Eminem’s Facebook page

Eminem can’t even sell a Cape Town concert ticket without causing some controversy. To be fair, the R99 (‘worth’ R500) tickets followed by the ‘two-for-one’ special is solely on the promoter not the Detroit rapper. We took advantage of the offer and sat back as the last minute-inflated Gumtree sellers ran a loss of epic proportions.

We took our time getting to the stadium sadly missing South Africa’s own white rapper Jack Parow (but I heard we didn’t miss much), who was the first opening act. The stadium was oddly empty, especially the golden circle and general standing areas that usually have fans camping out early to get a good spot.

The second opening act, a humongous ginger man by the name of Action Bronson in a Springbok jersey was an import all the way from Queens, New York. With his long, unkempt beard, he looked like he would be perfectly comfortable drinking Castle while burning the tjops at a braai. I couldn’t make out half the shit he was saying but there was one standout phrase that became our mantra for the evening. He had a bit where he rapped over classic songs. In response to the Phil Collins lyric “She calls out to the man on the street/ ‘Sir, can you help me?/ it’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep/ Is there somewhere you can tell me?’” from Another Day In Paradise, he barked: “No motherfucker, I will NOT help you!”

The speed that the golden circle and general standing areas filled up when Eminem took to the stage was very impressive. Eminem was not very chatty, leaving most the talking to his hypeman, pouring all his energy into the performance. I would have been satisfied just hearing The Way I Am, which was way more intense than the recording could ever be.

The camera was zoomed in close enough to see Eminem’s spit flying when he speed-rapped through Rap God. Thanks to the excellent camerawork, even those in the excessively cheap seats could feel some connection.

1959582_10152221360739731_817790567_n

The obvious selfie if you’re a white girl

Just a warning to those going to the Jozi show, the outro after the Lose Yourself encore is excessively long, so don’t get too excited – it’s not another song.

The only really disappointing thing at the show was the people-watching; it was not nearly as funny as I thought it would be. I only spotted one freshly peroxided head (but oh, it was magnificent) and there was a dad with a small child who wore a ‘Stan’ shirt. White boys trying to look gangster was kept to the minimum.

As an I-only-like-his-old-stuff fan, the performance was well worth the R99… I might even put that up to R200.

Up The Kriek*

We were accustomed to quite a different standard of festival by the time that a friend introduced us to Up the Creek 3 years ago. Accustomed to an environment of rushing between overlapping stages not to miss anything the relaxed paced of UTC, with its stages that run successively, was an absolute treat. Then there’s a the river stage… oh a few hours of floating on the Breede River listening to bands, my skin ages an extra 2 years each time I go but it’s worth it. Up The Creek

We were lucky to basically get the same camping spot as last year with a lovely view of the valley. Of course we felt waaaay less lucky when we had to walk all the way down to get to a bathroom, something we’ll forgot when we camp in the exactly the same spot again next year.

Taxi Violence at Up The Creek Photo: Royal Lens Photography

Taxi Violence at Up The Creek Photo: Royal Lens Photography

But it wasn’t ALL about walking to the toilet and floating like an otter. One of my favourite finds of last year, Al Bairre took on all the lazy bums floating in the river from the river stage and almost won, while Desmond and the Tutus, Shortstraw, Black Cat Bones and Taxi Violence rocked hard on the Saturday night shift.  Up The Creek 2014

Read my full review for Howzit MSN here.

*Let’s just say someone had an almost close encounter with a cricket (kriek) in the bathroom.

Photos by The Plus One with his trusty GoPro and Royal Lens Photography.

DSC_9039-copy

Black Cat Bones at Up The Creek Photo: Royal Lens Photography

Up The Creek 2014

New Year’s Eve for under R500

There is something about the calendar being reset that makes event organisers and restaurant proprietors go absolutely crazy with their prices.

Despite that there are still a few fun activities in and around Cape Town for under R500. Naturally I didn’t take additional drinks and food into account when putting together this list.

Table Mountain
Hop on the last cable car up the mountain at 23:00 and catch a ride down on the final descending car at 01:00. Don’t forget a warm top!
Cost: R105R215
This gets you: The best view in South Africa
For more information: 021 424 8181

The Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show – Fugard Theatre
Spend the last few hours of 2013 ogling Rocky’s gold hot pants…
Cost: R190 – R310
This gets you: the honour of being in the company of a sweet transvestite.

Wrongly Accused – Masambe Theatre at the Baxter Theatre Centre
A little food for thought and a lot of comedy. Highly recommended.
Cost: R180
This gets you: A complimentary glass of sparkling wine or orange juice and a spectacular balloon drop.

Big Boys 2 – Kalk Bay Theatre
A dance spectacular with 2 lovely boys. This might be a good compromise of sorts if you have any religious family visiting during this time as Kalk Bay Theatre is housed is a converted church. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but this is a good family fun at a reasonable price.
Cost: R350
This gets you: Show, meal and a drink on arrival

Goldfish, Yoav and Tailor – Kirstenbosch
A picnic basket under the stars with music, sold!
Cost: R290

Rezonance
If you don’t indulge in TOO many bad habits a festival is one of the safest places you can be New Years as you’re off the roads and amongst likeminded people.
Cost: R470 (online presale)

Studio54

Studio 54 – The Orphanage
Dance the night away with cool beats from Nick Matthews, Matthew Loots and Roy Hendrickse. I put this one last on the list because it has the potential of becoming dangerously expensive if you indulge in their killer cocktails. The Orphanage makes the most interesting cocktails in the city, and the more you drink the more interesting they become.
Cost: R200
This gets you: Entry, welcome drinks and canapés

8 Hours of Synergy Live 2013

I really love festivals. Music festivals in particular but I’ve been known to be seduced by interesting food or wine fests as well. I proved just how deep this love goes on Friday using Synergy Live as a case study. SynergyLive

I have to work one weekend day for my day job so a weekend away usually takes some planning ahead. As Synergy is so close to the holiday season I decided not to try to twist the schedule to accommodate my obsessions.

So Friday after work we drove through to Villiersdorp, caught the tail end of Woodstock Mafia’s set, watched another 7 bands including Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and drove all the way back to Cape Town. 20131129_171119

It’s not how festivals should be done, in fact, it’s cheating. I didn’t get to dance at the electro stage. I didn’t get to check out up and coming acts at the Marshal tent. Almost hitting a bokkie on a dark stretch of road is scary. Working with hard news the next morning while humming a mashup of Bittereinder’s tunes is not easy, or recommended. But I did get to see one of my favourite bands of my youth. That makes me happy.

Read my full review for Howzit MSN here.

20131129_212340

See no evil, hear all evil