Saturday, February 7, 2009

JOOLfees 31 January 2009

JOOL time in Stellenbosch is like nothing you have ever experienced before. It's two weeks of no class, crazy partying and hot new first-years everywhere! But the zenith is without doubt the JOOLfees at Die Braak on Saturday, also knows as Carnival. For me, it was Twelve-odd hours of great music, great friends, Brutal Fruit slushies and generally dancing like a loon on loon tablets. You had to be there to experience it, and if you were, relive it with me now. If not, I sincerely hope this recollection will turn you green with envy and inspire you sufficiently to make sure you attend JOOLfees in 2010. Winners of the 2008 Mystic Boer Band Battle, Black Market Riots were up first at 10am. Their crowd was disappointingly small, but what can one expect at that time of the morning? Nonetheless their set was tight, a result perhaps of spending so much time in studio post-battle. I would like to mention Nico Mans, their latest addition to the band. He is the new bass player and after just few days of official membership, he was thrown into the deep end and put on stage for JOOLfees. But he pulled it off better than anyone could have hoped, and the BMR boys certainly found themselves a stalwart replacement! Though I have recently begun appreciating local female-led bands, I cannot call myself a huge fan of the next band up, Red Light In June. Vocalist Natalie Jordaan has a powerful voice, but it seems they're stuck between genres. It's loud, and a little whiney, but they are not quite as gothic as they would like to believe. Then again, maybe it was their cover of 'You Oughta Know' that made me pull a face. Not lacking talent entirely, but certainly nothing too spectacular, nothing too original and nothing to write home about. 12 o'clock, with 12th Avenue. They recently toured the country with Seether, which is a pretty big deal if you ask me! But their reception in Stellenbosch was less than desirable. They're noisy and, in my opinion, not tight enough. And when the frontman went all Kurt Cobain on us, trying to be a rockstar, his response was black stares and raised eyebrows. What are you doing? I get the feeling that their alternative rock has taken a bit of a slip recently. Their new album, 'Sober', seems to be far less successful than the former, 'Insane', which tore up local charts a few years back. And the lyrics are lacking in a way words cannot justify. They sound like they were written by an angry ten-year old, planning revenge on his hamster. Maybe they're going through a bit of a bad patch. Personally, I'd say some emergency action is needed before they reach their 'Sell By' date. This year's lunchtime act Slagyster seems to take the stage at JOOLfees every year. This also seems to be their only gig for each year. The acoustic rock barely features at all on the local music scene at the moment, and so I am not entirely sure why they were chosen as part of the line-up. There are whispers of a new album and a tour, so maybe their low-profile vibe will change soon after a fairly long hiatus. Kudos for The Lottery Tickets and Barkley Blazer drummer James Regout, however, for standing in as their drummer at short notice and with very minimal practising! A job well done... 2pm act The Pretty Blue Guns have a new album on the cards, with some of the new material promising to be just a little less dark, a little more radio-friendly. Their swampy, bluesy rock set was well-received, with everyone waiting in anticipation for them to take the stage. The lyrics are dark and twisty without being entirely disturbing and we sang along at the top of our lungs about a life of tight music, tighter jeans, bad livers and good times. These guys keep improving with every performance, now showing a far more progressed sound that oozes experience, talent and professionalism. A scary thought to wonder how good they will be in time if they keep progressing at this rate... 3pm. Phew, reaching the halfway mark, and we have the sunburn and slight swagger in our steps to prove it. I could never decide what I think of Ryno Velvet's voice. But having listened to their new album, Harp, I am officially a fan. Their music combines rock, folk, blues and even a little bit of country to have you tapping your feet and singing along to a set of a great hybrid of music that is performed with such energy and a sound that is of a quality so high, you'll forget you're watching them live, let alone outdoors! The new sound is less chilled, more obviously rock. These guys are talented artists, passionate about what they do, yet oh-so-humble about it all. Definitely a must-see! 4pm's Bed on Bricks saw some big success and a huge following a while back. But it seems that their fanbase has started to grow much more slowly, with many former fans' support waning a bit. My explanation for this is that they have stayed the same all this time. Their sound has barely progressed at all, and the latest album, 'Royal Honey', does not live up to their earlier works. Nonetheless, they did have the crowd happy and bouncing, and I must confess that watching them live is always a treat, especially when I get to see my History II lecturer in a lion suit on stage... I suppose The Parlotones were the 'biggest' act of the day, up at the prime slot of 5pm. Though I must be honest in pointing out that they are not my favourite South African artist, my opinion is not held by many. The kids love them and everyone knows their music, whether they want to or not. And I must confess that their serenade-esque, ballade-type tracks are very sweet and every girl has wished, at some stage or another, that a guy would sing such a song to her from under her window. Their following is bigger then most local bands can boast and judging by the response of the crowd, I would say The Parlotones were the perfect welcome to Stellenbosch for the newly-arrived first year students, and a perfect reminder for the rest of us why we love the vibe here so much! From here on, it just got better and better. Next up at 6 was one of my top Afrikaans bands, Foto Na Dans. I appreciate their music especially for its originality. Their progressive sound is original and the lyrics match the music in beauty. It is all so hypnotic that will doubtlessly draw you into their world. Leroi's voice is immensely powerful for such a slight lad, the entire band is dripping talent, and this is one well worth watching live! Zinkplaat was up at 7pm. These boys are properly local and their faces are well-known in the music world and in our small town. We have all seen them perform countless times, and no one can tire of their music. It's a fusion of plaas-rock, Afro beats, country and good, old-fashioned music jam to. Who will ever be bored of the beautiful 'Gedigte vir Gesigte', a slower song that still has the entire crowd going wild for these Afrikaanse knape? Their new track 'Hondeklipbaai' is an upbeat track that has a strong element of blues to it, and the harmonica will make your knees melt. They're a couple of average boys who have just the right attitude and a simple passion for music and all it encompasses. And we love them. Last up was New Holland, the name on everyone's lips at present. They're groovy, they're melodic, nostalgic, straightforward, extraordinary, and they make you feel as though you're watching a classic, old-school rock band. TeeJay's hair is almost as impressive as his music and their fiery stage presence will have you falling in love with these often-shirtless lads in no time! Talented, tight [and I'm not only talking about their skinnies] and terrific to see, I for one cannot wait to hear more and more from New Holland. Everyone danced like crazy, and sang along whether or not they knew the lyrics. This band was the perfect end to the perfect day, and left me exhausted but smiling from ear to ear! Leaving a crowd tingling with euphoria like they did, I predict great things for these boys in the foreseeable future. JOOLfees was a marathon of partying and I could not imagine a better last party before JOOL ends, a better last party before class begins, or a better first party before the year kicks off in full swing. Here's to 2009, and hoping it will be as good as this, all the time.

No comments: