After a successful first day it was all hands on deck preparing for the second and final day of the first ever Cape Town Band Festival. Acts on the lineup for the day included Jules Terea (BRYNN), Mobbing Bali, Frances Clare (never heard of them), The Inside Job and Well Done Sun. It was a bit easier to breathe now that we somewhat had a handle on how the day would go. Another source of relief came from the clear blue skies and promise of sunburn. It definitely felt worth having the initial dates rained out to have the beautiful day that was Sunday the 9th as our own.
There’s nothing that a good cup of coffee (hot chocolate if you’re me) can’t motivate you to do and so, with steaming cups in our hands, we set about bringing the sound equipment up from the downstairs dressing rooms. Tangent: For all of you who are wondering how these look I was amused to see that the ladies’ room is indicated by a photo of Jules from Goodluck while the men’s has a large photo of Slash in front of it. As we finished our set up and started to sound check; a small crowd arrived at the amphitheater. It was amazing to see that many of yesterday’s audience members had returned for another full day of original music!
First up on the set list for Sunday was Jules Terea of BRYNN. Along with his band, Jules has opened for Incubus, performed at established SA festivals like Oppikoppi and did I mention that he OPENED FOR INCUBUS? I first saw Jules perform at Armchair in Observatory and remember being amazed not only by his talent but by how nice a person he is. Personality goes hand in hand with good music and Jules happens to be one hell of a songwriter.
Jules kicked the second day of the festival off at 12pm. This can be a sensitive time on a Sunday but Jules charmed the audience with his hypnotic vocals and beautiful guitar tone. His set was a range between originals and covers but all had the same unique quality to them. A seasoned musician, he commanded the stage and somehow managed to capture the audience’s attention completely. If you don’t live in or have never been to Cape Town then you would never have seen the Waterfront’s amphitheater stage in person (if you live in or visit Cape Town then the Waterfront is pretty inescapable). It is a beautiful and large stage that is definitely not meant for one person to perform on. However, Jules managed to fill it entirely and somehow perform on every inch of it.
With the crowd warmed up, the second band of the day took to the stage. Mobbing Bali are no strangers to the V&A Amphitheatre, they regularly take part in the annual Mercedes Benz Summer Concerts. The four piece band has been going strong for 7 years. In that time they have performed all over South Africa, been selected to record an EP at the Red Bull Studios and recently won a fan based competition to perform at Rocking the Daisies 2018. I had interviewed the band’s leadsinger and frontman, Warren, a few weeks prior and learnt that he had toured the world with the Drakensberg Boys School Choir.
The Waterfront was beginning to fill up quickly and almost all of the seats in the amphitheater were taken by the time that Mobbing Bali’s sound check finished. They launched into a set of vibey originals that resulted in a crowd on the upstairs balcony. A strong intention behind the Cape Town Band Festival is to change the way that local artists approach and interact with one another. There is often a sense of competition and unfriendliness which results in the industry fracturing into the musical equivalent of high school clicks. This is why we tried so hard to encourage performing artists to stay for more than their performance and to support the other acts.
Mobbing Bali showed their support for local artists by only covering South African bands. The music was flavourful and Warren’s dry commentary in between songs was the perfect balance between comedic and honest (and damn is his voice beautiful). An end vision of mine is to help to create a music industry of bands that stand together and are fans of each other. Mobbing Bali’s performance definitely converted me!
So far I’ve described the Cape Town Band Festival from an organiser/spectator’s view but in this paragraph I have no choice but to explain it as the frontwoman for Frances Clare. If you are a musician or performer of any sort you will know how exhilarating it is to stand up in front of an audience and give it your all. By this point in the festival my band and I had watched 6 acts and we were anxious to get in on the action. It is still slightly surreal that we were privileged enough to share the stage with the amazing bands who took part in the festival.
There is always a moment, before I open my mouth and start to sing, where I am overcome with anxiety and have to pause to question why I choose to put myself through performing. But from the moment that the song starts, the butterflies morph into energy. This was the case on Sunday the 9th and I needed the energy considering that we were performing to our largest audience to date! Thank you to the crowd for being so receptive and to my band for being their normal amazingly talented selves. As well as being the first festival that we have organized it was the launch of our debut EP (The Weather EP- available on digital distribution channels) and we were humbled at the support that we received for both.
A band that I have heard a lot about (but never actually heard!) is The Inside Job. They have shared stages with Karen Zoid, Jack Parow and even AKING so we were very anxious to include them in our lineup. A three piece consisting of bass, electric guitar and a rocking female drummer, The Inside Job have been an act for over 10 years. Something original and intriguing about this band is that they refuse to sell their music. Instead, after each show that they perform, The Inside Job offers to send their music to the audience free of charge. It is a sad truth that download and streaming revenue seldom feed an artist and that performing is still the biggest and most dependable income for musicians. In this way The Inside Job’s inclusive marketing strategy, which echoes the ways of industry greats like Amanda Palmer, focuses on the relationship between listener and creator rather than the one between seller and buyer.
After a few technical checks the band teased the audience with some heavy guitar feedback before kicking off their set. The Inside Job cannot be classified as anything short of a rock band- they even have the groupies to go with it! A whole group of fans wearing their merchandise mouthed the words to each original track and infected the rest of the crowd with their enthusiasm. The amphitheater was at maximum capacity and lead singer Lionel’s voice seemed to reverberate all around the Waterfront.
The last act for the day and the closing act for the festival was the talented Well Done Sun. A personal favourite of mine, I first heard Well Done Sun perform with another favourite of mine, Mel Mwevi, at The Waiting room on Long Street. Their sound is groovy, transcendental and infectious. Well Done Sun have performed at Rocking the Daisies and are set to perform at this year’s Smalltown Beat Festival in Stanford.
The band also works under the name of Bakai, a live act comprising of synths and drum machines. Complimented by front man Hanno’s chocolate-y smooth voice, both acts are well established in the Cape Town industry. We were lucky enough to be treated to both acts. It was the perfect end note to the weekend and, even when Well Done Sun were finished, no one was moving!
Overall, The Cape Town Band Festival was the most amazing experience to be a part of. Sharing the stage with so many local and original artists that I look up to and admire was just the cherry on top! Seeing hundreds of Cape Townians and tourists breathless at the talent that just a small portion of the South African Music industry has to offer put a real smile on my face. This weekend wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of the V&A Waterfront, the expertise of our sound engineer, the amazing and talented bands who both supported and performed and the new and old supporters of original music. Thank you- we can’t wait to see you at the next event!