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Uprising Festival 2008 pt. 2 - Uprising Festival 2008 pt.2

2008-07-22 09:36
When I got to the Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre, or the K-Cap Community Hall, in deepest Kwa Mashu, friends of mine were sitting outside teaching a bunch of local youngsters how to skate, and Sibling Rivalry's Badger and Haydn had already started frying up hotdogs and serving "Magic Sucker Punch" at The Food Stand of Love.

Although it wasn't a complete success, The Uprising Festival's venture into Kwa Mashu was a pretty ground-breaking thing. In an ideal world, the event would have been sponsored, and entry would have been free. Because R30 was too much for the locals. And the crowd was limited to Sibling Rivalry diehards, the most loyal supporters of the Uprising cause, and a handful of Lifecheck-affiliated hip hop fans keen for a bit of early afternoon rhyming. But mostly, everyone was on a first name basis.

But the less than amazing response doesn't mean that magic didn't happen. When Sibling Rivalry played, they were literally breeding Anarchy and rebellion, as a horde of tiny local kids that had tamed the doorman threw themselves around to the strange music they'd never heard before. They were on shoulders, jumping off stage, and smiling wider than any Madonna baby.

Earlier in the day, "The Lifecheck Hip Hop Sessions" had kept the pretty dismal-looking crowd entertained. The Nymphonic Bastards of the Universe crew jumped around like Durban's answer to Wu Tang Clan. But by six, it was time for some guitars and live drums.

The City Bowl Mizers had mysteriously pulled out at the last minute, and local reggae band Tuff Masters were nowhere to be seen, so Sibling Rivalry had had to get things going and bump themselves up the order. Luckily, Tuff Masters arrived during Siblings' set. And went on next.
Tuff Masters are the kind of homemade, never meant for CD, roots reggae band that don't exist on the internet in any way. Made up of family members and friends, the most striking thing about them is that their drummer is six years old. It's quite something to see. But if he wasn't six years old, you'd think, "hmm, that drummer needs some work". But because he's six, and can barely see over his toms. You can't. He keeps a tidy reggae beat, but he's six years old!

Before Tidal Waves went on stage, I looked around the hall in a panic. Surely they wouldn't even play. The sparsely packed hall was keen, but it didn't look like there were enough bodies to absorb the kind of magic Tidal Waves dish out. But when they took the stage, they could have been playing Wembley Arena their onstage energy was so high.

On Saturday night, Tidal Waves confirmed my suspicions from the night before that they are one of the absolute top bands in the country. Majestic, classy, and soulful, and much more rock than you'd expect, they completely owned the stage, again. Tired brains forgot their tired legs' complaints. And empty walls were filled with more atmosphere than you'd have thought was possible.

By the time Tidal Waves were done, it was 12:30pm. And cars were pouring out of Kwa Mashu. About ten minutes after he'd left, we got a panicked call from our friend Gary: "It's dark. I can't see anything. I don't know where I am. I don't know where I'm going. I don't know what to do. Help me..." He was eventually led out by a helpful local police officer.

After Sibling Rivalry, the local kids had all gone home. But that magic and unconfined excitement I'd seen on their faces made the whole day worth while. And so did Tidal Waves. It's just tragic that the hall wasn't packed full of locals, all night long...

The next event is on Wednesday July 23, at The Willowvale Hotel, on the corner of Willowvale and Umbilo. For more info visit

- Wayne Arnold
[PREVIOUS: Friday's Uprising in Durban] [page 2 of 2]

Driving into Kwa Mashu, the first thing I noticed were all the billboards. Specifically targeted, researched and designed, the road in looked like it had more than the whole of Durban combined; Pep, KOO Samp, Cell-C and Zola 7's "Hola 7" campaign, and that classic, muscular black construction worker, "You've Earned It" Black Label ad. I was totally wet behind the ears, and just gobsmacked that less than 20 minutes away, roads turned to dirt and pedestrians were replaced by goats.

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