Zulafest part II review
If i didn’t write this before the Monday realities of all the event costs kick in it would fall short on reflecting all the magic and stunning performances that happened in Zula this weekend. I witnessed a side of bands at Zulafest that confirmed to me the possibilities of a South African music revolution to the same scale that saw the English, American and later Australian music scene carve the sustainable industry they find themselves in today. Creativity has never been an easy path to go hand in hand with money and laws of business but when passion and training come together with experience and above all public support and recognition, a platform is created that becomes higher than any business or monetary value can offer, it becomes a nations medicine.
The Matt Samson Project: After one hour sleep from the last Zulafest due to my boy getting up early and having to organize Zula during the day to get ready for another event it left me running late to get back down for the start so i unfortunately missed this band....next time i won’t.
The Liminals: On at the same time as The Matt Samson Project so gutted i missed this band. I have seen them before but this is a review of my night so can’t unfortunately pass comment. What I will say is they are new on the scene and young and I’m very excited to see them grow and hopefully be a strong part of the next generation of musicians to kick some royal arse in the SA music industry. Let’s hope the new kids on the block are the push the industry needs, it will take balls and seer dedication but the youth are more hungry and have less responsibilities of bills so hopefully they have the space and time for it.
St Fearless: I arrived at Zula while they were half way through their set and the room had a buzz already. I loved their stage attitude, with each band member being a joy to watch. With great audience connection and participation they pulled the crowd into their performance, a great band with a strong future ahead. Punchy, funky and catchy tunes that I only wish it were in front of a room that knew all the words to their songs as they deserve the following. A great way to start my Zulafest II experience!
The Lonesome Dave Ferguson: It is always a hard thing to play with just you- yourself and I on stage in front of a crowd and taking to the stage after the wall of sound that St Fearless produced was no easy task and one i didn’t envy, but Lonesome Dave just impacted to us why we chop and change between genres at our festivals. He brought the room from crazy to close and intimate with a mix of grooves that flowed through us all to move our feet. He is a great performer to watch and very few people could pull of his style and stage presence alone but he does with absolute grace and pleasure showing us all that being lonesome is by no means a sorry state of affairs.
Sons of Selassie: I left the foot tapping and hip sliding dancers in front of Lonesome and headed up the back (stopping to cat to a few bands back of stage) to enter Upstage to the pure love that Sons of Selassie were producing on stage. They delivered an uplifting floorless performance that connected the love of reggae, music and the spirit of oneness to the whole crowd in the room. I found it hard to leave as they captured me so much on the dance floor. The waning full moon shone through the Atrium window and for a moment I was convinced that music is pure medicine, it was a medicine i needed to keep going this night after server sleep deprivation. Love their lyrics, love their performance, love their oneness with what they do and love their love for “Cape Town” that they got the whole crowd singing at the tops of their voices through one of their songs. Can’t wait to have you back on the stage!
Reburn: Talking way to much backstage and have no idea how it happened but missed the whole performace. Shame on me but the truth and i have been known to talk so easily done....pleas forgive me and i will review them in the future. Would not of been on the line up if they weren’t one of our favourite bands so defiantly check them out whenever you can!
Wolf Town: The ever changing and evolving Wolftown took to the Upstage after Sons of Selassie and I enjoyed watching the contrast happen. Crowds were introduced to a broad cross of genres and i was most impressed with curtain band members that took the opportunity to watch the other acts. Wolftown saw a brand new audience enjoying their tracks and the mix of the audience that stayed to experience something different was a great sight to see. With Sarah’s powerful blues vocals against the rock guitar sounds they touched the grunge in us all. I unfortunately cut them short due to time but the crowd insisted for more so they wailed their final song and left to a room full of applause. Nicely done.
The Plastics: Due to comparing on the both stages and trying to be in as many places as possible I only saw a bit of The Plastic set. Really like what they are doing and again hopefully one of the next generation bands to inject some clear statements into this industry. They are a joy to watch although seemed a little unsure in stages with audience contact between songs but when they let the music speak for itself I was swept into the moment again. They have a great international sound and i only hope they are not forced into that route and left being better supported abroad like so many others as i know they would do very well in many parts of the global music scene, great musical talent.
EJ Von Lyrik: There are some reviews that are simply a joy to write. I have loved and respected Ej’s work and the band members she regularly plays with since I first saw Godessa back in the day. Now performing her solo work and about to officially launch her album Method in the Madness, which is already being widely loved and played in the underground scene, she is set for a bright musical future. It is obvious to me that Ej has performed around the world as she brings a level of professional experience and electric stage presence. Due to the band playing so long and regularly together they are tight and seamless and they had the whole room captivated and jumping incredibly high off the ground! It’s embarrassing but truth that i can’t think of her backing vocalist name right now...so sorry still very little sleep over this weekend but she gave an outstanding performance not only with her backing vocals but with her solo moments that caused my jaw to hit the floor with the notes she reaches, she is a great dancer and was a fundamental part at getting the audience grooving. Teba aka The Original Social Worker took to the stage and added his fire to an already hot performance. I experienced many local CT people coming up to me and asking who they were which was great to hear but was an insight to just how little people know about the talent they have on their doorstep. If Ej had received the radio, tv and media coverage she deserves people would defiantly put her in the same class of artists that are huge in England and America and making good lives for themselves through it. Lyrically outstanding, visually a pleasure and on the whole one of my fav acts in the Mother City.
Taxi Violence: The last act on Downsatge and what a way to say goodnight on the two day festival. Never have I seen this band play a dud gig. They give as much passion and drive as the likes of Kings of Leon that packed an immense audience space the other month and yet SA artist still struggle to pack venues regularly, it really is beyond me. Hard rock is not my most favourite music style but they have sold me hook line and sinker and made a place in my heart as one of my fav Mother City bands. The front man George has all the stage presence required to have anyone falling in love with rock. The band are tight and equally loose themselves in the music making every member a pleasure to watch, really looking forward to watching them and their future albums. The crowd wouldn’t let them go and out of all the bands who played they had the most vocal crowd about an encore, resulting in the drummer having to put his symbols back together just to shut them up and deliver what they were screaming for and what we all scream for.....more Taxi!!
340ml: I have longed to see this band for a long time at Zula and although they played our last space once a very long time ago, the smallness of our old space restricted them coming back. Well i’m glad we have gone bigger because these boys are welcome back whenever they want. Not only really sound blokes they have a sound that is unique to them and is instantly recognised as soon as you hear them play. Fabulous drummer who provides a strong backbone to the band and they had the crowd loving what they were hearing. Playing their greats and much loved songs as well as new material that have never been experienced by crowds before they gave Zula a treat we will never forget. Great audience connection and although they suffered small pedal and sound problems they remained with the crowd in the palm of their hand throughout the whole gig. Looking forward to having them all again and again payed to a room full of people who had never heard them before which is what i experienced a lot with all the acts this weekend. Let’s hope your fan base just got bigger with the type of people who keep coming back again and again for your musical fix of medicine to life where ever you play.
So that was the end of Zulafest II. Wasn’t without its heart ache considering all the bands and the amazing performances they delivered to a substandard door attendance resulting in each band member attracting a total of 5 people each if you worked it out. Back to the drawing board to try to figure out how one of those acts alone or Dj’s can attract triple the crowds but unsure of where to begin to explain it. If we were to put this night on in London with all this creative talent exposed under the same roof there would be queues round the block! I have only been a musician in London and a venue owner in Cape Town but the two industries and the public response to these industries are worlds apart. Maybe while i am trying to find the money to cover the costs the answer will come to me but right now I am at a loss to figure it out.
Big up to all who came and experienced the magic, we had nothing but gushing praise from all who attended, the lower turnout actually made such an enjoyable party for the crowd as the heat, bar queues and general moverability around the space for the crowds was a pleasure and left more time for people to catch up, dance and enjoy. Not so good for the old bank balance though, but as a good friend pointed out to me: debt is only temporary but magic lasts a life time and education takes is no quick task. Let’s hope Cape Town wakes up to the talent it has before the sun sets on the SA music industry and all the good acts leave to make it in other sustainable music industries.
See you in March for our next Zulafest.....
Big love, Zoë