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Convoy To Cape Town: 8 is Enough!

2008-06-11 09:34
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Live: Part 1 (funky broadband)
Live: Part 2 (funky broadband)
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. interview (protest broadband)

The night began with an unsettling experience: the gig started on time. Brrr! If you’re from Cape Town central, you’ll know that’s it’s just not done to start dinner before 8.30 PM and to show up at a club before 10.30 PM. So cramming eight acts into one 'school' night on a single stage meant bending the social rules a bit, and Stara Thomas and cohorts defrosted the meagre but supportive crowd of arty types with babysitters, from 8.15 PM sharpish.

The majority of city bowl wankers missed the evening’s most interesting act: the strange little girl Micachu, whose scratchy, freeform little songs were puzzling, amusing and suddenly grew on you. This chick’s the anti-pop.

Sam Isaac strummed and bleated his way through a set that felt much longer than it was. I do appreciate him flying all the way from overseas to bare his soul, but if we wanted that, we could have hired someone like Joburger David Foster much cheaper. Watching Sam was like getting too drunk and going to some guys commune to hang afterwards, only to discover that he wanted to share his feelings and play you all the songs he wrote about his ex-girlfriend.

Can anyone hear what Josie Field’s saying when she sings? She treated us to some new numbers off her upcoming "country" album. Not sure what they’re about, although I did catch something about her beating heart being located in her chest somewhere, but they sounded pretty. And you gotta love the way she’s camping it up in denim skirt-suits, fishnets and silver stilettos lately.

Tawiah – who’d guested here and there in others’ sets – warmed the room up with some rootsy soul as the audience finally began to filter in from the streets. Then Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, who’s almost as adorable as his name suggests, delivered a passionate anti-folk flavoured singer-songwriter set, with a laugh or two thrown in.
Most people will probably name either Man Like Me or Wumni as their highlight of the night. Man like Me, billed as being “like The Streets” are in fact not at all like The Streets. They’re white and they rap a bit, but that’s where the similarities end – at least, live. Their onstage act falls into a little-known genre called Cabarap (Cabaret Rap, geddit?) which seems to have the effect of making the crowd grin and jump up and down looking surprised. Fantastic fun.

Then for something completely different, with Nigerian-born Wumni. She’s passionate, sexy, and bewitching and under her spell, the dancefloor melted, and bubbled over onto the stage, until anyone who could was showing off their moves while the crowd cheered oooooh and clapped.

The crowd cheered. But backstage, the boys from Spitmunky, who waited impatiently in the wings, looked far from cheerful. This was their Mother City debut, and they'd been waiting to go on since the early evening soundcheck. I’d been waiting to see them. Ewok won the Hip Hop Indaba freestyle competition a couple of years back, and Spitmunky were easily one of my Splashy Fen festival highlights. But things began to go wrong when Wumni cruelly overstayed by three songs. The weary punters whipped out their cellphones and went “Oh my GOD will you look at the time. Anyone for chicken?” Most of them were up for chicken.

Sticking a band from Durban who’ve never pin the bitter cold of Cape Town at 1.15 AM is so cruel it should be reported to the SPCA. Try to remember, Spitmunky come from Durban, where it’s lank warm, the bands start on time and people with day jobs go to bed before 3am. Having made all these excuses, it was still depressing to see Ewok screw up as badly as he was about to.

Ewok and Spitmunky can make the a 2000-strong crowd bounce in unison. They can reduce boys to tears with their touching tributes to South African pride. But at Assembly, they shouted at the DJ to “shut up”, dragged the loyal supporters though a horrendous warm-up cum soundcheck, and came on pointing, jeering at Cape Town, and swearing like moody fourteen-year olds in fake American accents. Big mistakes, all.

Ask any stand-up comedian: you sulk, you die!

The slapped-about crowd went home to wash. By the time Spitmunky finished, the only thing on the floor was the confetti of cigarette buts and a 12 loyal fans behaving more like an entourage than an audience. Spitmunky slunk offstage, Ewok’s face drowned in the misery nice people feel when they know they’ve f**ed up big time. Let’s hope they come back and get a chance to show Cape Town how good they really are.

Sad endings aside, it was still another brilliant night at the Assembly - easily the best live music club Cape Town’s ever had. Keep an eye on our gig guide for upcoming highlights at this an other SA clubs. Get more info on the white ribbon campaign at White Ribbon Alliance.

- Jean Barker

Eight acts in one night, and all to spread the word: One in eight women in Africa die in childbirth. Imagine those were your odds of surviving today? The battle for better resources and medical care is a battle worth fighting. But for shouting-over-the-MC crowd at the Assembly, it was really all about the music and the booze.

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