Frances Clare Takes Durban

Frances Clare Takes Durban
There’s no place like home


Just yesterday we returned from Durban where we were performing at the Drakensberg’s White Mountain Festival. The whole trip was a blast and, if we’re honest, a bit of a blur as it went so quickly! Here’s a quick summary of our trip: what we got up to, the awesome people we met and the places we saw.

Friday was an early morning to miss the traffic to the airport, Dev and I packed (one guess who had the heavier bag), had the customary Wimpy airport breakfast and boarded. The man sitting next to us looked really familiar but, because we were unable to place him it was only two days later at the White Mountain Festival that we realized he was the saxophonist for Crimson House! The flight was uneventful but the pilot was hilarious and kept pretending that he was flying us to Joburg.

We landed and, after collecting our rental car (thanks Avis!) we set off for Durban.  On a recommendation we had reached out to Gavin Ferguson for help with gigs and he kindly offered to put us up as well. Before heading to a gig in Salt Rock we dropped our bags at his house and met him and his DJ friend, Justin Swart. We were performing at a restaurant called Yami between 6.30 and 8.30pm and it turned out to be a much further drive than we had expected.

The gig was well received and they gave us possibly the nicest burgers we have ever had (Devon’s had chilli poppers on it). With the work done we headed to the Litchi Orchard to meet up with Gavin and Justin before heading back to Durban and playing rock paper scissors to decide who would be on the couch and who would be on the blowup mattress.

Neither of us are fans of early mornings and Saturday was our second one in a row. Luckily, all it took was a McDonalds hot chocolate and we were ready to go. Excited, we set the GPS for the White Mountain Festival and started on the two and a half hour trip. Tangent: I wish we had factored toll roads into our budget! The trip was long but we had the Foo Fighters and Jason Mraz to keep us entertained. It definitely wasn’t dull once we reached the more rural areas as I had to focus really hard on swerving to miss goats and potholes the size of the road.

We arrived at the White Mountain Festival with an hour to spare before our set and quickly hunted down the artist accommodation and backstage area. We listened to the incredible Kaiti Faul from backstage and then prepared ourselves to perform to our first big Durban audience. The stage was under a giant tent and the tent floor was completely covered in camping chairs and festival-goers. The stage was also a proper big stage which sat high above the ground. Our performance disappeared before our eyes…time generally changes when you are performing. It either goes very quickly or in slow motion. For us, the 45 minute set was a blur. Afterwards we sold EP’s and t-shirts and gave out a few as presents to the first children who made it to our merch stand.

It is always fun to swap roles from performing to enjoying the music. It is even better if you have a backstage pass and we were lucky enough to have been blessed with artists passes. We danced around to Auldfield, Nomadic Orchestra and Crimson House. Auldfield is the duo of Robin Auld and Wendy Oldfield and it blew us away. How so much sound can come from two people we don’t quite understand but it was something to hear!

The Nomadic Orchestra, for any of you who haven’t ever heard of them, is a revolutionary band of skilled instrumentalists. The whole goal behind this music is to make you dance. There are little to no lyrics and the bass parts are played by a tuba! Besides making some infectious and brilliant music, the band is also just a group of really friendly and fun guys and it was great to get to know them a bit better.

Last but not least were the ridiculously talented, pioneers of gypsy-jungle music. I can only be talking about Crimson House. We danced and watched in awe as Riaan and his band hypnotized the audience and convinced them to abandon their camping chairs. The scariest and most exhilarating part was when I joined them on stage to sing “Sweet Dreams”. It was the biggest crowd I have ever performed to- the marquee was overflowing with people and the energy on stage was electric.

There is always a huge adrenalin rush after a performance. But, like any rush, it inevitably crashes and crash we did. A cold night’s sleep in the artist dorms was cut short by another relatively early morning so that we could get back to Durban where we had a home performance booked. Both of us had to work hard to stay awake on the drive but we made it to the house show and performed for our lunch to some lovely ladies. The rest of the day consisted of us watching Nomadic Orchestra and Auldfield at the Soul Sunday Sessions and heading back to Gavin Ferguson for the most amazing Chinese Food of our lives.


Durban was an amazing experience and we kept discussing when we could make arrangements to return. Well….the good news is that we have now made those arrangements and will be touring up the Garden Route to Durban between the 16th and 24th of December. Durban, we’ll see you soon!