Who's the best live band in SA? - Who's the best live band in SA?

2006-04-02 07:27

When everything became re-recordable, and music fans showed their love for their bands by stealing their profits indiscriminately, musicians were forced to find other ways to make money. The solution to their troubles? Live work - the only thing that is impossible to steal because you have to be there.

We put together a list of some of our favourite live acts in a few categories. Rock and Pop, Jazz, Kwaito and Hip Hop and Maskandi.

We'd like to invite you to post your own favourite South African bands on the board, and tell us why you love them, and where to see them. This invitation is not open to PR Agencies, their families, or their immediate relatives. We want to hear from the fans.


Hog Hoggidy Hog
Frenetic, energetic and even a bit crazy, but musically flawless and experienced enough to know how to perform in front of any audience, the Hogs are probably the band to watch at any festival.

Almost the opposite. Cool, composed, sensual music that can kick into high gear at any time. Musically more "alternative" than most would assume, but with driving bass lines, charged guitar work and the look of a real rock band.

Valiant Swart
Festival staples, Valiant Swart's gorgeous guitar, great lyrics and moving melodies make you want to watch them at every opportunity.

Arno Carstens
Slick, sexy, think-rock star is backed by top musicians like Brendan Jury, Barry Van Zyl, Albert Frost and Concord Nkabinde. See him at Massive Mix.

Chris Chameleon
Flexible, currently performing his own songs solo, as well as his musical interpretation of Ingrid Jonker poetry. Really beautiful stuff that goes beyond the "whacky" persona associated with the Boo! years.

Nomvula's sold 100 000 copies, and still going strong. That's a lot for South Africa, and not bad anywhere really. Their feel good, professional and sweet-hearted live performances are the key to their success.

Matthew Van Der Want & Chris Letcher
On the rare occasions these guys actually play in South Africa (Chris is based in London) they are a must see. A depression-inspired, REM and Radiohead meets Obs/Melville flavoured duo that frequently reduces audience members to tears, they're a quiet act. During their gigs, people listen, and nobody dances.

For fans of straight rock, the odd provocative drunk-punk shout out, and pretty hot music. LSV guaranteed.


Busi Mhlongo
Charismatic doesn't begin to cover it. The tiny Busi Mhlongo is huge onstage; energetic, powerful, and utterly bewitching. See her in Durban at the Rainbow or at the Bat Centre.

Phuze Khemisi
Famous for his live shows and amazing dancers, huge in the 90s but still worth catching. See him in KZN.

Madala Kunene
His long-phrased, repetitive numbers may be hard work for western music fans on CD, but live they're a rhythm inducing jol. And his dancers are always trendily dressed (and very sparingly dressed too). Madala's often live with other musicians, notably Syd Kitchen. He often shares a bill with Busi Mhlongo (see above).


Rhymes with "dark" for a reason. Should rhyme with "beautiful" but doesn't. Blending progressive electronica, operatic vocals and the odd bit of meandering instrumentalism, and a sweaty, sultry live performance to boot.

She's not actually South African, but based here, this European electronica babe is trendy in Joburg.

Felix Laband
Weird and slightly druggy sounding, yet tuneful too. Catch rare appearances when you can, and buy the albums now.


Energy energy energy... so much so, you keep thinking: "Jeez, what is this guy ON?"

Think-Kwaito. Zola is the one whose albums you want to buy. Also hot live.

Brothers of Peace (AKA BOP)
Tuneful and with something to say, these guys have stayed on the scene for a lot longer than most.

Brasse Vannie Kaap
They conquered Stellenbosch, saying race wasn't an issue, and broadened the definition of Afrikanerdom. They continue to put principle before pop, and are hugely popular all around the country.

These Sisters from Cape Town blow most the brothers out of the water. They are popular for hire at festivals like the Cape Town Festival where they sang from a balcony to an adoring crowd. And they espouse a sexy brand of feminism that's welcoming to men, but strongly opposed to sexism.


Miriam Makeba
A South African cultural hero. People are prepared to climb over each other's heads to get into a venue and hear her sing about peace and love. So make sure you're there early. See her at the Cape Town International Jazz festival 2006.

Moreira Chonguica
Mozambiquan who's settled here with his amazing Rhythms that enrich our scene, he plays live with a band of virtuosos like Mark Fransman and Frank Paco.

Kwani Experience
A recommended Cape Town Jazz Festival choice, this 8-piece fusion outfit from Jo'burg are the hot new thing.

Sipho Hotstix Mabuso
Also at the Jazz festival, this guy's been around forever, seen many style changes. Still the one to see.

Thandiswa Mzwai
For something more poppy, also at the Jazz fest this year. Ms Mzwai found fame as the dynamic lead vocalist and songwriter of Bongo Maffin.

- Compiled by Jean Barker

Take a look at our list of contenders and post up who YOU think should win the prize for best live band in South Africa.

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