Obz Fest: A Musical Melting Pot

2007-12-06 19:24
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Watch - Funky Video Mash Up
Watch - Chilled Mash Up

Read our crew of reporters' ramblings about their festival experience

Finding my festival flow was initially pretty slow, but then I had broken rule #1: never arrive at a gig anywhere in Cape Town at the advertised time. Thank God for acoustic babes Black Betty who went electric and shone some sexy Celtic rock sunshine into the early afternoon hangover I was planning. Equally unexpected in the chill zone: a cute singer strummer named Natalia reminded me why shy looking young brunettes with acoustic guitars are always so much more believable than blonde rock chicks trying to play unplugged.

Sunday’s line-up was even more rustig. The Restless Natives showed that hard bop doesn’t have to be corralled into the supper club circuit on The Lazy Sunday jazz concert stage. Pick of the festival pack for me was catching hot young vocalist and trombonist Siya Makuzeni’s all-star combo cook up a bitchingly funky African Diaspora jazz brew boosted by some killer conscious cameos courtesy of SA’s most versatile MC Tumi and ragga toastmaster Teba. Miles Keylock, Music Editor.

I go to Observatory about three times a year: twice to fetch friends who live there and drive them to town, where they generally stay as long as possible. And once to attend the Obz Fest. I’m always struck by the fact that while the house prices just keep on going up, Obs always retains that windswept, shabby, grimey, THC-infused glamour that promises a lot and occasionally ends in tears. Anyhow, the fest seems to have gotten ahead of itself, with too many stages and not enough free music. I missed seeing festival institutions Brasse Vannie Kaap. Otherwise, it was pretty cool and the line-up of bands on offer was better than it’s ever been. South Africans of all sorts were out there, embracing Mzansi, summer, and large quantities of alcohol. Cool!

Some people had gotten creative with their choices of substance. A 16-year-old boy came and stroked me, grinning sweetly, until his friends pulled him off me. I didn’t think about 16-year-old boys when I was 16 myself. I still don’t find them hot. But it makes a good footnote – so thank you, and your dealer, whoever you both are. Jean Barker, Entertainment Editor.
If you don’t have a head-spinning hangover or blisters from dancing all night long, then you are the only loser in the whole of Cape Town who missed the Obz festivities. The rest of us kick started the season jamming to about 40 different bands. There was literally everything for everyone ranging from rock, ragga, house and hip-hop to ska, maskandi and jazz. One of Mzansi’s brightest wordsmiths Tumi Molekane (of Tumi and the Volume) even jetted in especially from Joburg to perform - for free! We were all mesmerized by his poetic hip-hop rhymes backed-up by atmospheric classical strings this time. Tiisetso Tlelima, house & hip-hop head.

There was lots of food, lots of booze, and lots of strange and wonderful Cape Town folk wandering through the streets of Observatory. My best performances of the festival were definitely by Blaq Pearl from Mitchell’s Plein who did the Cape Flats proud. And SAMA-winning singer songwriter Claire Philips who took one of those power outages in her stride. Yes, a complimentary power outage in case you forgot this was SA. - Ashlin Simpson, soul sister.

If you make it to Obs fest during the day then you are in for a treat! At this year’s festival the three stages offered music for every taste. The best was the chill stage where the audience lay on comfy cushions while enjoying intimate performances from folksy singer songwriters mostly accompanied by some kind of string instrument. The best part of any festival is the food of course. And Obs is no different. There is an abundance of meals on sale for Halaals, Vegetarians, Meatarians or whatever tickles your taste buds. But once the sun goes down and the alcohol levels have reached annoyance level, it’s time to pack up and go –unless of course you too are drunk and don’t mind being pushed around. Nomfundo Mbaba+Tshabalala, Amandla sister.

South Africa's biggest street festival had audiences rocking to a musical melting pot. The festival marks the official beginning of Cape Town’s summer and is the one music festival where the Mother City’s diversity is on full display - from Goths, to Rastafarians, to hip-hop heads, hippie folkies and just about every subculture under the South African sun. Everyone is there to have fun, get drunk… and enjoy the music, of course.

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