I have to admit something. It might come as a shock to you, if you know me.
I haven’t watched any live shows online or via any streaming service during lockdown (nor have I seen a live show (like most) since level 5 lockdown was implemented).
Why have I chosen not to watch live streaming shows?
I love live shows; live music, theatre, live entertainment, but for me, live entertainment is exactly that – it should be LIVE.
There is nothing like feeling, experiencing, almost touching the sound waves of a live show – it is exhilarating; seeing the sweat trickle off the brow of the lead singer, feeling the emotion resonate through that guitar riff, experiencing the heartbeat of that drum solo, and of course being a part of a united audience of people who share the same passion for music as you, while you dance to your favourite song or a new unheard track. Let’s also not forget the added advantage of a well lit stage, amplified, good surround sound and all the other effects that complete a successful live event.
I don’t feel that a live show on a phone or smart screen or TV cannot replicate that moment.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching concerts on a screen, but that is when the camera work is specific for TV viewing, where the sound is right…
To balance that and understand how to replicate a live experience on a screen, is a skill on its own.
However, with this strange year, the industry has had to adapt and in order to generate work, have had to move everything online, so that people are able to enjoy their favourite bands and musicians within the comfort and safety of their homes.
Saying all this, I was quite excited to have this event be my first online streaming show, as this is my favourite genre of music and the line up consisted of musicians who I admire.
One thing I am incredibly amazed with, is the funding that was generated for this event. A big shout out to Orgasmic Music Gallery (OMG) in their collaboration with Music In Africa who chose to support the industry, backed by funding provided by the German Federal Foreign Office, Siemens Stiftung and Goethe-Institut. I applaud this partnership for understanding the importance of supporting the entertainment industry, for understanding that in order for music, art, theatre… to exist, it needs to be endorsed and funded and supported financially. Without art, there is no life.
This event; ‘Blues, Rock & Roots’ had two elements to it; half of the acts performed live at the Daisy Jones Bar in Stellenbosch and the other half of the event was pre-recorded at a recording studio.
Kicking off this event, was a band that I hadn’t seen before – the Congo Cowboys. I am always excited to hear new music and was completely amazed at this completely original, proudly South African and marketable band. With poignant songs like their song about the rat race; working hard without a break, to ’Every Man Is Evil’…
They gave off so much energy and tried to engage with, what I would assume was a very small audience. Their high energy ‘Zomba’ song, had me dancing around my house. I definitely want to see them in person soon.
The cameraman really tried to capture the intimacy of a live show with close ups of the drummer during his solo and the wide shots so you could experience the full picture. Their use of bongo drums in the mix added to a very South African and original feel. This band, which was formed by Freshlyground members Simon Attwell (banjo), Julio Sigauque (bass) and Congolese lead singer Chris Bakalanga (guitar), together with South African drummer Unity Mzi have a very inclusive appeal to a very wide audience, with their multilingual lyrics and original sound. Their stage and industry experience was apparent.
A huge surprise was their interesting rendition of Jolene and Cotton Eyed Joe, adding an original version and feel to it, with their own translations, which made these classic songs sound like their own. I am usually skeptical about covers, but these were exciting and I loved them.
THE BLACK CAT BONES were up next in a pre-recorded session. There were some sound glitches at the beginning, but once it was fixed, it was great to see a band that I regularly watch live in person, after all this time. With a colourful backdrop, it was a great change in staging and lighting, but it wasn’t a live session, so it may have taken away from the initiative, that it was to be a live event.
I also found that the energy wasn’t at its best and the band’s chemistry seemed to be at a lull, but perhaps this was due to the fact that there wasn’t a live audience to feed off of.
But it was so nostalgic to listen to my favourite BCB tracks.
They ended their set with my favourite song ‘Vendetta; Take it like a Man’.
Their set seemed shorter than Congo Cowboys, but as mentiones, it was still great to see the guys performing again.
The Black Cat Bones will be touring this December – check out their social media pages for details.
Next up, live again, was the Albert Frost Trio and Tubatsi Mpho Moloi. I love these collaborations and the chemistry was electric between the four musicians.
Albert has just released a new single so it was great to see him perform live; including his classic tracks like Outside and Bright Light Big City.
Tubatsi really surprised me with his falsetto vocals during the show – he is one musician who really explores the use of various instruments, including his trusted flute and voice.
The song Caroline was incredibly beautiful and once again this arrangement was magical to watch and listen to.
I have always enjoyed the Nirox Sculpture Parks music events, under the guidance of Anthony Lloyd Smith where he would bring various musicians, singers, songwriters, creators, artists together to create one magical moment of artistic history.
This was one of those moments but on a different stage.
Urban Village followed in the studio, pre-recorded and they delivered.
Once again meshing different sounds, instruments and energy – with an addition of the bugle, another element which added to this captivating moment.
Well done to all involved – an appeal to all companies and funders to support live music and entertainment. Let’s create a culture in this country where art is valued by supporting it financially.
Well done to the camera crew, lighting and sound, publicist, and musicians. Hopefully I will be able to be there in person at the next event.