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Rocking the Daisies

2007-10-03 07:49
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- Friday night: green broadband
- Saturday night: green broadband

It was a rather civilised affair, with plush seating for VIPs and plebs alike, wine-tasting, hot showers, ATMs, day care facilities and recycle depots. Yes, people were getting trashed. But they were getting amiably trashed. Families wandered about peaceably, couples canoodled in the grass and dogs playfully nibbled on the toes of over-enthusiastic revellers passed out in the hay.

The major downer was the weather. Friday evening kicked off under a gun-metal grey sky heavy with clouds. The rain lashed the stage as roadies scrabbled frantically around getting ready for the first act. Tidal Waves sadly had to pull out of the festival after their drummer was laid low by a serious case of bronchitis. Their irie original music for original people was sorely missed. Get better soon, Bra Sammy. Captain Stu and the Llamas gamely tried to fill the gap and produced a pleasant set of sunshiny, if forgettable, ska.

Rory Eliot and the Reason elevated their rather precious tunes with a muscley blues tinge. His unabashed sincerity and Christian aw-shucks charm won the crowd over and made me wanna buy him a glass of milk at the bar. Love Jones looked absolutely knackered but still put on a professionally thrilling show: Esjay’s hot-pink sex appeal was muted but still intact. In contrast, Bed On Bricks’ set simmered on a low heat. They were fun enough to watch but it felt the wrong kind of familiar. These old dogs need to learn some new tricks. Hopefully their new album will return their intensity.

South Paw bathed the early afternoon crowd in their soulful sounds on Saturday. Frontman Stephan was in prime goofball mode, alternately entertaining the crowd with his acrobatic vocal range and his delightful colouredisms. When are we getting that debut album boys? And so we eased into the Shy Guevaras, who were lame. How lame? They covered Jimmy Eat World. Yes, that lame.

I really don’t know what to make of 12th Avenue. They’re probably the second uncoolest band in the world (losing the top spot to Hoobastank, naturally). But are they so uncool that they’re cool? Are their tongues burning holes in their cheeks? I hope so. No musician this side of the 90s should wear self-advertising armbands, spotless Ackerman’s black suits and un-ironic eyeliner. Their penchant for anthemic snoozers that sound like Avril Lavigne B-sides don’t help either.
The Beams were disappointing. Frontman Paul Maree’s trademark hyperactivity looked like hard-work and the band seemed short on chemistry. With his charm in short supply, you realise that you don’t really care what he’s on about. A howling wind started blowing as the sun went down. Cassette delivered a stately set despite being on the tail-end of a world tour. The Sama-winning power-poppers didn’t let the tempestuous wind dull their polished performance.

But Saturday night belonged to Cape Town’s finest. 10pm heralded the battle of the Cape dik-koppe: The Dirty Skirts vs. Taxi Violence. The Skirts were the box-office smash, but the Violence stole the show.

The Skirts are getting better and better. Their arch acid-pop ditties occasionally transcend indie homogeny and sound…grand. They need to make good on those Bloc Party-scale ambitions to attain longevity. They got their skinny-panted crowd pogoing despite Jeremy’s professed disdain for Cape Town’s cliquiness. Talk about biting the manicured hand that feeds…

The Skirts drew the biggest crowd, but Taxi didn’t let any of them sneak off to their tents and their fantasies of Jeremy. It was the first time I caught a whole set of theirs. George and the boys blew my underpants clear off with a set draped in jet-black majesty. These Long Street outlaws channelled the best parts of Sabbath and poured forth a bubbling cocktail of righteous unapologetic rawk. Theirs was the only set that benefited from the baleful wind which imbued their performance with a feral intensity.

The stand-up comedy was generally kak. For the most part, the comedians were shrill and overbearing. David Newton regurgitated old crowd-pleasing material. Nic Rabinowitz and Ndumiso Lindi got the best reception while Mark Palmer and Paul Snodgrass’ lowbrow natterings drew laughs only from the most stoned audience members. Martin Evans didn’t get any laughs.

Sunday morning dawned with a clear sky and groans from festival goers. Many had stayed up all night, going bos to the trance dolled out by benevolent DJs. The Restless Natives got things under way with a bewilderingly early 10am set. The organisers must have thought they were a soporific smooth jazz group designed to soothe tender synapses. Instead the Natives blasted hangovers away with a riotous set punctuated by Kesivan Naidoo’s heavy-as-fuck drums.

Flat Stanley rounded the weekend off in class. They played their sheeny-shiny soft-rock to the faces of the faithful and the backs of the faders. Die-hards paddled in the dam to the sound of "Freedive". As I hit the dirt road out of the Wine Estate, I felt my tender expectations of a homegrown Cape rock festival calcifying into pride. Northam se moer, my Darling.

- Zane Henry

Rocking the Daisies is a comfortable middle-ground between Splashy Fen’s muddy flower-powered flakiness and Oppikoppi’s dusty testosterone-charged debauchery. This year’s event, held on the oh-so-pretty Cloof Wine Estate near Darling, brought together well-heeled Cape trendoids and grizzled hemp-clad hippies.


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