If you've not yet been to one of the annual Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts at the botanical gardens then you've certainly missed out. The programme runs until the first week in April (closing the season with Johnny Clegg) so you still have plenty of time. Review the programme, choose a concert, and go. You won't regret you did.
We, along with thousands of other fans had the opportunity to see the legendary U2 on their 360° tour in Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium. The venue was superb (except for the difficult acoustics), the stage and famous Claw (the huge array of lights, speakers, and video displays that resemble the shape of a claw) was spectacular and the performance... perfectly brilliant. The entire event was unforgettable and will certainly be a hard one to beat!
The only negative aspect of the concert was that they had to crank up the volume extremely loud because of the poor stadium acoustics - so much so that I heard ringing in my ears for ages after the concert! (No helpful suggestions now, next time I'll be sure to remember those darn earplugs! :D )
I unfortunately couldn't take my normal camera along to the stadium, so this is the only snap that I have - but take a moment and see this awesome photo (citation) of the stadium, taken during the concert from Signal Hill. Doesn't it just remind you of City of Blinding Lights? :)
Did you manage to see the 360° tour in your city? How long ago was it, and was it also awesome? :)
On 22 November last year Johnny Clegg opened this season's Summer Sunset Concerts at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Since then the Gardens have hosted the likes of the Johnny Cooper Orchestra, Zebra and Giraffe, aKING, and many others.
After a day out in the sun watching cricket, we met up with two friends at the packed concert venue in the middle of the botanical gardens. The vibe was happy and relaxed, and even though it was windy elsewhere, the gardens had comparatively little wind. And, as always, Just Jinjer were phenomenal.
A few more concerts remain this season, but the upcoming highlight for us would have to be The Dirty Skirts. They have a super-energetic stage presence (which makes for awesome photos), and it seems that they have an interestingly euphoric effect on the ladies. We have our tickets already; I suggest that if you want to go, you should make sure that you book your tickets fast. :)
As I mentioned in my previous post, we were invited to go along to Mercury Lounge in Cape Town to take photos at Autopilot's new video launch gig. This particular show must have been one of the most challenging that I've shot - the stage was very small, and although the lighting was great for the performance, it was terrible for photos.
Nevertheless, I felt challenged and had plenty of fun trying to come up with angles that would work. I've uploaded an album of photos here.
Autopilot was born in 2005 as a 4-man band. While Kevin Sykes (the guitarist in this photo) and Shane Coomber (the other guitarist) seem to be the only original remaining members, the band has seen a shift with the introduction of a female vocalist, currently 22-year-old Brigette Greybe (who according to the drummer, Nicholas, has a great butt ;) ).
At the time of writing this article, the new video hadn't yet been uploaded to their website, but if you'd like to hear their sound take a look here for one or two other music videos.
Thanks for a great show, Autopilot!
While I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of guys who enjoy ballet, you'd have to agree that the passion for the art is upheld more by the fairer sex. The truth is that if I were to ask most of my male friends to join us at the ballet, I don't think I'd get many (if any) enthusiastic responses.
We were invited to Maynardville (an open-air theatre in Wynberg) to watch Cape Town City Ballet's dress rehearsal of Les Sylphides and The Firebird. The fun thing about dress rehearsals is that we photographers are able to get so close to the dancers that we're almost sharing the stage. Take a peek at the two photo albums that I've created to see ballet photos that are unlike the ones photographers usually have the privilege of shooting.
Cape Town City Ballet will be performing Les Sylphides and The Firebird each Sunday from 24 January (this weekend) until 21 February. Guys, seriously, if you're not into ballet, but would like to earn 200 points, this is your chance. Les Sylphides is fairly traditional (but also reasonably short), but The Firebird (the main act, pictured above) will almost certainly appeal to everyone, even those who don't enjoy traditional ballet. And one of the shows falls, rather conveniently, on Valentine's Day (I think you get 1,000 points for surprising your wife/girlfriend/prospective girlfriend with tickets to the ballet on Valentine's Day). ;)
Tickets cost between R90 and R100. As I said last time, my advice would be to get seats reasonably close to the front. And do yourself a favour - read the Wikipedia articles on the two ballets (1, 2) before you go. It's not like a movie - it really helps to first understand what the story is about!
There's something soothing about the deep bass voices of a group of singing black men. I think it's completely unlike what any of their white counterparts could do. If you're not from Africa (or are, but haven't heard it before) then it's something that you should certainly experience. I didn't even understand the words that were being sung, but in some ways I think that's a good thing - it prevents you from being distracted by the words, and helps you to feel the music and perhaps the meaning of the words.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LSBM) and their style of music has its origin in the mines of South Africa. Joseph Shabalala (here's a photo of him), leader of the Grammy-Award-winning group, assembled the members of LSBM from family, relatives and friends in his hometown of Ladysmith. The group quickly rose to fame by winning every singing competition they entered.
The group's name is made up of one place-name and two concepts: Ladysmith is their home town, Black refers to the strong black oxen that were prevalent in their farming community, and Mambazo means axe. In other words - the singing group from Ladysmith that is so strong that it cuts down every other group in every competition. :) Voila! Ladysmith Black Mambazo!
An interesting fact that you may not be aware of is that LSBM co-wrote and recorded two tracks on Paul Simon's Graceland album in 1986. Do any songs come to mind? Of course they do! Possibly the first one you may think of is Homeless; the other is Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.
LSBM will be singing at the V&A Waterfront again on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 January at 20h30 (see my photos from the event here). If you haven't seen them before, go along and prepare to relax to the sound of deep, dark African voices. (You can buy tickets online or at the little Computicket caravan near the Aquarium's entrance.)
Axene is a 17-year-old pop princess from Vredenburg (near Saldanha, just a little way up our West Coast). While her song choice and style appeals mostly to kids and younger teenagers, I have to admit that her show at Aqua Festival (see the photo album here) wasn't bad at all - in fact, she could have a really great career ahead of her. She's got a really good voice, awesome stage presence, and a whole lot of energy. And besides for playing piano, she also plays guitar and drums. Now that's not too shabby at all for a teen pop artist, is it?
Her show also included a young lead guitarist, who accompanied her on several songs; award-winning solo artist Shaun V; and a talented team of dancers from the Waterfront Theatre Company. Together they performed songs by Rihanna, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Abba, Michael Jackson and more. And they were all really pretty darn good!
Axene is playing at the Waterfront's Aqua Festival until 6 January, so if you have young kids, perhaps take this opportunity to introduce them to the world of live concerts. I'm pretty sure you'll end up enjoying it too. :)
"I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay - Ain't it sad?"
After the brilliant performance by Johnny Clegg on Saturday we found ourselves at the Aqua Festival's AquABBA show at the V&A Waterfront. What a spectacular spectacle it was - especially with the likes of Amra-Faye Wright (cast as Velma Kelly in The Broadway Company's musical, Chicago), Jody Williams (winner of SA Idols 2007) and the members of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra gracing the stage. Other artists taking part were Craig Urbani (known, amongst many other things, for his role in the SA soap-opera Isidingo), Chrissy Caine, and Alistair Izobel.
They sang all ABBA's best-known hits, as well as a few songs from the musical Chess (which was written by Benny and Bjorn, of course); and by the time they got to "Thank you for the music" the crowd was on their feet, singing and dancing along. Kerry-Anne pointed out that the setting was absolutely perfect for an ABBA tribute show, as the harbour backdrop was very reminiscent of Mamma Mia.
If you don't yet have plans for New Year's Eve, (and especially if you're going to be at the V&A Waterfront anyway), consider booking your seat for AquABBA - I believe the ticket price includes not only the show, but the NYE afterparty at the Aquarium as well.
I've put together an album of photos from the performance. Check it out here.
Kerry-Anne and I were invited to watch the legendary Johnny Clegg performing at AquaFestival at the V&A Waterfront last night. This year is the first AquaFestival, and if last night's performance, vibe and setting were anything to go by, I can only imagine that the performances over the remaining week and a half will be magical, and that the festival will definitely be back next year!
You can't see it in the photo above, but in this photo you'll see that the entire stage on which the band performed was floating about 5 metres off the pier in the V&A's yacht basin. Table Mountain, the setting sun, beautiful yachts, and the city lights filled the background to make the setting comparable in beauty to that of the Kirstenbosch concerts.
Johnny Clegg is performing again on Monday night (at 20h30), and I think there are still a few tickets up for sale. Even if you can't make that show, check out the circus that's performing at 14h00 every day until Thursday, or book tickets for the evening ABBA or ballet shows; tickets cost between R60 and R250, depending on the show.
P.S. In case you're concerned about the persistent wind we've been having - I can't speak for the shows that I haven't been to, but there was only the slightest of breezes in the yacht basin last night, which was a freakin' fantastic break from the wind we've been enduring!
While most of Cape Town's inhabitants experienced a perfect Cape Town sunset - many sipping drinks at the beach - Kerry-Anne, myself and another 20,000 fans of The Killers spent 3 or more hours in traffic, trying to reach the Val de Vie estate in Paarl.
We arrived at the venue just as the sun was setting, and I have to say that the frustration of three hours spent in stop-start traffic quickly faded as we watched the sun set over the mountains to the music of supporting band, Zebra and Giraffe. The Killers were spectacular; the show was better than either Kerry-Anne or I had expected... in fact, it was outrageously good!
Unfortunately, the heavily packed parking area, the 2km single-lane exit road, and the crowd of 20,000 people trying to leave at the same time meant that some of our friends only arrived home at 04h30 in the morning, after spending hours just waiting in the parking lot for traffic to clear! We were the lucky ones - because of where we were parked (fairly close to the exit), we weren't stuck in the traffic for quite as long as that. We arrived home after only two and a half hours, at 1am.
Luckily for Cape Town it seems as though Big Concerts, the organisers of this event, won't be handling the arrangements for the 2010 World Cup football! :D
Tomorrow is a beeeeg day in Cape Town. Just in case you didn't know, South Africa is hosting the FIFA World Cup next year. Yes... of course you knew that. :) Have a look at the banner on the building to the left - it's one of a number of banners put up by Cape Town Tourism to promote Cape Town as one of the 2010 World Cup host cities.
Anyhow, tomorrow is when we'll have our first glimpse of what we can expect come June next year. The final draw to determine the tournament groupings is taking place tomorrow in Cape Town, and the city is gearing up for quite a party. People have been hearing helicopters and fighter jets overhead for a few days now; someone spotted David Beckham having dinner at the One & Only Hotel this evening; and apparently Charlize Theron is in town. I don't think it would be melodramatic to say that there's a real sense of excitement and expectation hanging in the air.
Tomorrow evening a whole lot of VIPs and media will be gathering at the Convention Centre for the official draw, while the rest of the plebs party it up at the special party venue being prepared in Long Street. An estimated 700 million people are expected to watch the draw live on television tomorrow, in 200 countries all across the world. If you're one of them, keep an eye out for us. We'll be in Long Street with all the other plebs. :D
Summer has arrived in Cape Town, and with it the annual open-air Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset concerts. If you're coming to Cape Town between now and 4 April then check out the lineup and book your spot online with Webtickets. (Oh, and I'm not kidding when I say that you shouldn't delay - tickets do sell out fast).
The music styles range from rock to orchestral, so there's pretty much something for everyone's taste. Even if you're not into the particular music of the day, the crowd's vibe, the beautiful botanical gardens, and the Cape Town sunshine makes any concert worth the time.
Let me say again that if you'll be in Cape Town over the period, do make an effort to get to at least one concert. It really is something different and memorable. Even if you're alone, the people are so friendly that you're bound to make friends. (All that you need to do is to take some wine, beer, and snacks along to share. ;) )
I was really really lucky to see two of my favourite South African bands performing back-to-back at Rocking the Daisies. Just Jinjer was fantastically good, and Prime Circle, well, they absolutely rocked the house... or, shall I say, the vineyards.
The dramatic start to their performance built up tension in the crowd, and when Prime Circle finally appeared on stage the masses roared with excitement. The band's unmistakable energy carried over into the crowd, who loved every minute of it. It was awesome to hear their songs live again - the music was precise, and they delivered an excellent performance.
Visit the Prime Circle website for more information about the band, or start the music video below to listen to one of their tracks. However, if you represent a large record company that may plan on signing the band and relocating them to the USA (or any other country), please stop right here. I speak on behalf of all their SA fans when I say that we aren't interested in any offer or contract that you may have. :D
Oh, and don't forget to take a look at the other photos that I shot during their set. Click here to see the albums.
Just Jinjer are arguably one of the best-known South African rock bands. Unfortunately for us they left our shores at the beginning of the decade, as most really successful SA bands eventually do, and spent time in the UK and USA, recording with various large record labels and touring with bands like Def Leppard, The Goo Goo Dolls, and U2.
Over the +-13 years that they've been around, Just Jinjer (formerly Just Jinger) have become somewhat of a legend back home, and now it would seem, they've returned to settle in Cape Town. Although I guess "settle" is bit of a strong word, as they have several tours lined up that will see them out of the country for more time than South Africans are willing to share them. :)
I could go on and on about how awesome the band is, but rather visit their website - the music will start playing automatically. Alternatively, listen to my favourite Just Jinjer song below... and when you're done, check out my photo album from their awesome set at Rocking the Daisies!
Freshlyground is an Afro-fusion band who found their feet in 2002, when they played their first "big gig" at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. They launched their first album in 2003 - their success is evidenced by the fact that they were invited to play at the opening of Parliament in 2004, when South Africa celebrated 10 years of democracy. With both black and white band members originating from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, I guess that it's fair to say that Freshlyground is a Smarties box of cultures.
Kerry-Anne is a super-huge fan of the band and was stoked to have seen them live at the cosy Zula Bar in Cape Town before they got really big. We were about 3 metres from the stage (which was more of an elevated platform, really), and the band members were incredibly interactive during the set.
Today they have a huge following both locally and internationally, and (if you hadn't yet guessed) I managed to get up close for a few photos at Rocking the Daisies. Click through to our Freshlyground album, and if you have a moment more to spare check out the other RTD photo albums.
We were invited to the launch of Encore, an "opera appreciation club" created by Cape Town Opera to promote opera (and other performing arts) among 20- and 30-somethings. Don't you think that the posters for "Dead Man Walking", "Cunning Little Vixen", and "Requiem Mass" all look enticingly appealing?
We spent the evening listening to several young, stylish and talented singers and musicians perform in a style that I'm not accustomed to, and while I'd have to admit that I'll never be a opera junkie, the performances were pretty darn good and definitely worth making a part of your "night on the town".
Joining Encore is a matter of paying a R100 fee per year, which gives members access to several benefits - you can read about them right here. If you'd like to go out regularly, have the chance to dress up a little, enjoy some sophisticated entertainment, and perhaps meet other young people with similar interests, give it a try - I think it's certainly worth the R100.
There's a cynical statement that says that people become teachers because they're not able to actually do whatever it is that they teach in practice. Tenille (in this photo) is the founder of and teacher at the Feminine Divine Oriental Dance Studio where Kerry-Anne attends classes, and I'm confident in saying that she both teaches and practises what she teaches like a pro.
Kerry-Anne's progress from her own unique... erm... style, to the performance delivered on Saturday (in only a couple of months) simply has to be proof of this! In fact, all round, the performances delivered by the (approximately) 200 dancing divas was worthy of a standing ovation.
I mentioned in my previous two posts that I've been working on photos from Saturday's show. Finally, I'm done. If you'd like to see the 200 best shots of the day, visit the photo album here... and please, don't forget to comment on photos that you think are simply awesome. :)
The day of the long-awaited Feminine Divine Studio show eventually arrived. Kerry-Anne, and the rest of the dance studio, had spent months practising an assortment of belly-dance styles, and making costumes to match.
This is only the first sample of the photos to come (I'm busy working through the 500 photos I shot!); this genteel yet slightly cheeky cane dance was performed by the studio's teachers towards the end of the show. All in all, the show was spectacular, and I guess can be summed up in the words of Anais Nin (taken from the Feminine Divine website): "There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.".
In July last year Kerry-Anne's sister-in-law bought her a series of belly dancing lessons as a birthday gift. After putting it off for months she eventually attended her first lesson in January and now appears to be hooked - which isn't a bad thing, as I'm sure you'll understand.
9 May is World Belly Dance Day and to celebrate, Tenille from Feminine Divine (who happens to be Kerry-Anne's belly dance teacher) gathered local belly dancing studios for a little show - which turned out not to be so little after all! I was quite surprised to see just how many people are into belly dancing! Each school had a performance slot, girls from the St George's Home for Girls in Wynberg were given their first belly dancing lesson, we watched a fashion show (where the ladies showed off belly dancing accessories) and then, at the end of the day, all the belly dancers took part in setting the South African record for the most belly dancers performing the same dance at the same time in one place.
It certainly seemed as though everyone had fun setting the record, and yes, it was fun watching them from the stage too. What had me completely befuddled was how quickly they all learned the dance choreography! Damn, women are good at learning these kinds of things!
I took plenty of photos and published a dozen or three in our gallery section. They'll give you a pretty good idea of how many dancers attended the event - it was truly astounding.
Our friend Sidney invited us to his birthday party at Plaasteater (an Afrikaans word for farm theatre) at the Hazendal wine estate last weekend. Plaasteater is a cosy bar (or pub) that hosts live music shows, so Sidney asked These Three Words (who happen to be friends of his) to be the entertainment for the evening. They did a really good job, and I think it's safe to say that everyone had fun. :)
South Africa has a huge number of largely unknown bands playing in pubs all over the major cities (and many small towns) every weekend. Each of these bands has a small following of enthusiastic fans - not large enough to allow them to actually make a living from music, but large enough to encourage them to spend their evenings after work practising their music.
Of course, then there are those like Prime Circle, Seether, and Just Jinjer, who eventually reach critical mass and become full-time musicians, playing with the big boys in Europe and the USA, and making most of their money from live shows and band merchandise.
The question that's being asked these days, as the Internet matures and large record labels lose control over "piracy", is how the local music scene will be affected, and whether the development of the Internet will lead to greater equilibrium between large and small (but still really good) bands.
As a kid I remember my parents going out to shows at The Baxter fairly regularly. Although, I guess "regularly" to a child could have meant twice a year. :) They don't do too much of that these days, but wait for my next post to see what I have rigged to get them out to town...
The Baxter Theatre was built by the University of Cape Town with financial aid from William Baxter, Cape Town's mayor in 1906, and thus holds his name today still. As the second-largest performing arts complex in Cape Town, The Baxter seemed to retain a large degree of political freedom from the apartheid government in years gone by, due to its status as an academic theatre. Being an academic theatre, I'm guessing (although I was too young to know) that the performers (mostly students I guess) freely challenged views held by the government (which was a big no-no back then).
As far as location is concerned, you'll find the theatre in Rondebosch, a leafy part of Cape Town's Southern Suburbs, not too far from the city. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming shows, and do yourself a favour - get out there and have some fun!
We spent an awesome Saturday night taking photos of some of South Africa's most talented musicians performing at F*ROCK, an indoor rock festival held at Ratanga Junction. I had a really hard time choosing just one shot for the main post (we ended up with 253 photos of 8 bands, which you can see in our F*ROCK photo albums), and I even enlisted the help of my Twitter friends to help me choose at one point.
I eventually settled on this shot of Etienne Janse van Rensburg, the bass guitarist for the hugely popular CrashCarBurn. It was the first time I'd seen them perform live, and I was pretty impressed - in addition to their own original material, they played a medley of cover versions, which the crowd absolutely loved, and to make it all even more fun, they tossed out a flock of giant (no, really, GIANT) balloons for all of us to play with while they performed. Too cool for words, that was.
Check out all our photos from F*ROCK here (and visit the bands' websites to have a listen to their music):
- When Karma Sleeps (MySpace page)
- The Undefind (Website)
- Chasing Friday (MySpace page)
- Taxi Violence (Website)
- CrashCarBurn (MySpace page)
- The Dirty Skirts (Website)
- The Parlotones (Website)
- aKING (Website)
By the way, if you have any interest in web culture and digital marketing, or if you'd just like to hear what I sound like, download a couple of episodes of The Digital Edge podcast, hosted by Saul Kropman and Jarred Cinman. My job is to sound like a girl in the news section each week, which I think I'm managing to do fairly well so far... and I promise you that the rest of the podcast is really worth a listen. ;-)
The next time that Kerry-Anne and I are on holiday in some other country (perhaps your country) we're going to make a plan to attend some kind of music concert. It's the norm to visit the tourist spots (after all, they're tourist spots because they're cool, right?), but if one's wanting to experience the locals, perhaps one of the more interesting ways is to attend a music concert.
Many week days, and on every weekend, you'll find one or more well-known local bands playing somewhere, and a horde of largely unknown (but still pretty good) bands playing from Hout Bay to Durbanville. You'll generally be able to find and book for live concerts at CompuTicket, or WebTickets (just make sure that the concert isn't in some other part of the country).
Each year Coke and 5FM put together a 10 to 12 hour outdoor music concert in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The music festival normally includes several local bands, along with a few international acts. This year we saw local bands Die Heuwels Fantasties, Foto na Dans, aKING, Cassette, Zebra and Giraffe, and (our clear favourite) The Dirty Skirts all put on super-rocking, super-professional acts.
The international acts that followed as the heat of day started to fade were the fantastically popular Panic! At the Disco, the Kerry-Anne-thinks-they're-awesome-and-very-cute Snow Patrol, and the strangely-legendary if-that-says-anything-about-their-performance Oasis. ;)
If I were to judge which band was best, I'd have to declare a tie between Snow Patrol and The Dirty Skirts... seriously, TDS were that good!
Now, aside from the beautiful day at Lourensford Estate, the superbly organised and smoothly run event, the beautiful people and the rocking music, it would seem as though the guitar gods were indeed smiling on me. Kerry-Anne and I arrived at the concert during Foto Na Dans's set. While walking through to the golden circle area we heard that Marshall Music had sponsored a PRS electric guitar as a prize to be given out during the Foto Na Dans set. I never win competitions, but I guess Le-Roi Nel (the lead singer) must have taken pity on me, as today I'm in possession of the finest guitar I've ever owned! Flippin' fantastic Marshall Music - thanks!
The organisers didn't get back to us in time for media passes, so I wasn't able to take my "proper" camera into the venue. Nevertheless, I managed to snap copious shots with Kerry-Anne's baby point-n-shoot camera - check them out here.
Summer Sunset concerts at Kirstenbosch are always great, and this week's concert was no exception - the weather was perfect, our picnic was yummy, and The Dirty Skirts played an awesome set. These guys are amazingly talented: they have a really original sound, and, as a bit of bonus for the girls, they make for good eye-candy too. :)
This was the band's first time playing at Kirstenbosch, and I sure hope it won't be their last. If you've never been to one of the Summer Sunset concerts at Kirstenbosch, you should really fix that. There are still a few concerts this season; you can have a look at the schedule here.
We'll be posting more photos of the concert later in the week (of the crowd too, so even if you're not actually one of The Dirty Skirts, you might see yourself here...), so do check back then. And if you really can't wait until then, you can have a look at some photos we took of The Dirty Skirts in concert late last year.