Saturday, January 30, 2010

Let Your Hair Down For Me...

Thieve and Desmond and the Tutus at Hotbox Studios, Wednesday 27 January

I am still on Cape Town time, where the suns sets inordinately late and gigs only start once everyone has arrived [which is late, because arriving early is almost as uncool as showing that you’re enjoying the music] and thus I am late. Thankfully I arrive with the band, and I have a little rockstar moment as ‘we’ are, literally, what they have been waiting for.

The crowd is in place, and things get underway almost immediately. Standing in the crowd, right near the stage, I am alone. So far I know all of four people here, and they are all on stage. No matter; I determinedly seek the company of cigarettes and booze and stay glued to the spot. And despite this alien occurrence of attending a gig not knowing everyone, nor being surrounded by my music-loving friends, I enjoy myself. It’s all thanks to Thieve. I had been craving something familiar, and it came in the form of a Cape Town-based band.

Having had their debut album Gold on repeat for weeks in my car I know every word and –note off by heart. The lyrics are stirring without any facade, and surprisingly the Pretoria crowd is singing along and even requesting songs by name. Relieved to see that the hype has reached the north, I watch the crowd dance along eagerly. Even during quieter moments of Thieve’s songs, they have their fans captivated. Having recently changed from a four- to a three-piece, the band seems to work better. I for one prefer frontman Andrew Davenport on bass guitar, and with Fred den Hartog joining him up front and contributing significantly to back-up vocals the band is a cohesive troop. Andrew acts a real leading man, and we welcome him [and the rest of Thieve] happily to Pretoria.

No strangers to this crowd, Desmond and the Tutus are up next. By now I have found friends [old and new], and we are raring to get dancing. And dance, we did. With frontman Shane Durant’s spastic on-stage moves and quite arbitrary lyrics, spirits are high and the crowd does not stand still for a second. There is much claw-action, of course, and by the end of a set that seemed too short there are loud protests for more. We got a taste of the older tracks we love, the new material we were getting to love and the vibe we could never grow tired of. Having seen Desmond and the Tutus a fair number of times, I must say that this has been one of their best gigs, and the crowd certainly showed its appreciation.

Photos by Liam Lynch

This was my first 2010 gig. We stayed at Hotbox [where the fun apparently never stops] well after the music had stopped, and the next day my body is confused by the late night, the late morning, the smoking and the drinking. But oh, it was worth it. Hotbox, Thieve and Desmond and the Tutus go right to the top of my I Heart list.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Could there be a familiar ring ...

I have a strange memory from my childhood that I have never forgotten.
I was a little girl of about 7 or 8, and I was sitting on the kitchen counter while my mum cooked dinner. Though I was raised in an Afrikaans family, I had been to an English pre-primary. This meant I was pretty much the only person in my class who could speak any English. But at this age, my vocabulary was still very limited. So, while sitting on the counter chatting, I sniff the air and say to my mum 'That smells familiar!' with a big grin. See, I thought 'familiar' was a complimentary adjective. This was because of movie I watched over and over again called The Little Mermaid. When the prince is all near-dead and Ariel has just saved him, she [now sans fish tail] is leaning over him and he looks up in his dazed state saying 'You look familiar'. Now, knowing that Ariel was a beautiful princess, my logic told me that 'familiar' was a compliment. And that is how I made an error that has eaten at me since the day I figured out the true meaning of the word. Thankfully it was a mistakle only evident if you were in my head, or are now reading my blog.
Having just moved to Pretoria, I get to see my family and boyfriend all the time. But I have a strange sense of lostness and loneliness at times. When I am alone at home I realise the great lack of people to text for a quick cup of coffee. I know many people in this city and its neighbour, but so few of them are what I had in Stellenbosch and Cape Town. They are, for now anyway, not the Naomi or Nina I meet for a cup of coffee and cigarettes any spare minutes we have. They are not the Stef who will text me on any night that the drinks are flowing, and manage to drag me from bed to Bohemia in a matter of minutes. They are not the Simon, with whom I have fabulous lunch dates, wine tastings and shopping sprees. They are not the Nash with whom I make plans to go out, always getting out of hand and the next day nursing hangovers over breakfasy, coffee and recollections of the embarrassments of the night before. They are not the countless familiar faces at gigs I always run into at gigs, the Melissa I always see at the stage, with whom I end up partying unexpectedly into the wee hours of the morning.
I crave something familiar. In the true sense of the word, of course. I crave Bohemia pizza, Mystics dancing, Neelsie coffee and a gig at Klein Libertas. I want to walk everywhere, spend a day wandering aimlessly around Long Street and have sunset cocktails at Buena Vista.
It will come. Change is good. This will be a new year with a whole new start. But for now, familiar is my favourite word.
On that note, Thieve is coming to town! Catch them at Hotbox on Wednesday along with our spastic favourites, Desmond and the Tutus.
Be there. You know I will.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

As most of you know, I have just moved from Stellenbosch to Pretoria. The reason had to do with the fact that my entire family lives here [the closest family I have from the Cape is Bloemfontein!], and that this is a sound career move; there are far more opportunities here, especially considering I have something of a baby toe in certain doors. I also needed to get out of the bubble that is Stellenbosch, having grown up in one small town and having gone to highschool in another, and as much as I LOVE Cape Town it holds few opportunities for me right now.
So, here I am, living in a city which has a lot of stigma attached to it, coming mainly from Cape Town [and surrounds] people. It goes without say that everyone does [and should] love Cape Town, but it seems the second someone says they love Pretoria they must have something wrong with them.
When people think Pretoria, they think ugly, Afrikaans and conservative.
My experience is that it, like Cape Town, has beautiful areas as well as areas one would rather not inhabit for the view.
My experience is that there are racists everywhere across South Africa: black; white; Afrikaans; English; Xhosa- you name it! Except here, unlike Cape Town and especially Stellenbosch, there are actually black people! And when someone is racist in Pretoria, you know it. In Cape Town, on the other hand, 'nobody' is racist at all- they just love the natives and they EVEN invite them to parties AND let them use the same cutlery as the others. Believe it.
My experience is that Afrikaans people are African. Yes, you heard me. Some of the most truly 'African' people I have met are Afrikaans.
My experience is that a place is what you make of it. We may not have a mountain, or the ocean [which none of the Cape Tonians actually ever use, except to lie next to it and look good. Hey, I don't blame you, that ocean is effing cold!], but we have people who are genuine and down-to-earth. We have an amazing music scene [including Hip Hop], great coffee, real traffic, and a buffet of malls to choose from. We have Oppikoppi [twice], countless radio stations and Tings 'n Times.
At the end of the day, a place is what you make of it. So, I fully intend to live the holiday up here in Pretoria. Updates on the blog about gigs and such will focus largely on Pretoria and Gauteng, but of course I will not neglect Cape Town. And I will come visit y'all down under, I promise.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eddie Izzard in South AFrica

I am sure we can all agree that Eddie Izzard is one of the funniest men currently alive. And as far as I know ancient times weren't exactly all fun and games, so let's call him one of the funniest men ever.
Now, the important thing is that he is coming to South Africa. It's a 46664 gig, and you can catch him in Durban 1 and 6 February at the Durban ICC, in Cape Town 4 and 5 February at the CTICC and in Joburg 2 and 3 February at the Nelson Mandela Theatre.
I got onto booking tickets immediately, and imagine the tears when I found out that Johannesburg was already sold out. So I started planning a road trip to Durban and such, but I took my chances at Tweeting him to ask him to add another show to the Joburg leg. It went like this:
lizetheunicorn @eddieizzard have more shows in Jo'burg, please! Rumour has it they're all sold out.
And lo and behold, he added another show! Coincidence? I think not.
Be there, or you suck.
Also follow Eddie and myself on Twitter.

New Arno Carstens video

I know guys who worship Arno Carstens so much they want his leather-weather, guitar-gracing babies. And he has a new album coming out on the 26th of April this year. While you wait for that, here is the video for Dreamer, the debut single from Wonderful Wild. Oh, and the very beautiful girl in it is my BFF model friend, Naomi. I'm just sayin'...

Balthazar back in SA

For those of you who were at Oppikoppi Smoorverlief in 2009, it was awesome. But that's not really my point here...
You may remember a Belgian band that graced the Most Amazing Myn Stage. Their name is Balthazar and it turns out they loved us so much that they're heading back to South Africa for two more shows.
The first is in Cape Town. It happens on 26 March at Mercury.
But the one you really want to go to is in Johannesburg on 28 March. It's Joburg Burning in Melville, and other bands include Ashtray Electric, Fire Through the Window, Wrestlerish [are you in musical heaven yet? I am], The Uncut, Josie Field and The Shadowclub.
So, be there, and show some support to a band coming a very long way to see us. And join their Facebook Fan Page.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Jimi Hendrix album on the cards

Some of you may know that I love Jimi Hendrix. I have his lyrics tattooed on my side, for goodness sake. The man is one of the ultimate legends of all time!
And now, nearly 40 years since his tragic death at age 27, a new Jimi Hendrix album is set to be released. On the 8th of March this year, an album containing previously unreleased material which was recorded between 1967 and 1970. The album is called Valleys of Neptune, and was produced by his stepsister, Janie, as well as John McDermott and engineer Eddie Kramer. Some tracks you can look forward to include a Cream cover, and the original version of Hear My Train's A-Comin'.
Janie has also mentioned that the plan is to steadily release music- and video material over the next ten years. That is ten years of bringing to life original masters locked up somewhere far far away!
Amazing news. I heart 2010 already. Keep an eye out for this, and if you want, do buy me a copy. The 8th of March is my graduation day. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Africa 1000 on the Adventure Bus: Part 3

After spending another night at Mubaya Camp in Lilongwe, chilling by the pool and allowing ourselves some time to unwind, we had another early morning to follow, having to cross the border back into Zambia and get to Lusaka. At Mabuya Camp we had met some fellow travellers, though they were doing things in a slightly different way- they had been following one another around the globe for years, after which Sue [the girl] moved to Cape Town where Albert [the boy] was living, and they are currently living happily, potentially ever after. They each had a tiny rucksack with them, little money and no real plan as such- instead, they took everything as it came. We ran into them at the border [they had hitchhiked there] and gave them a lift to Chipata. We got stuck there for quite a while, trying to draw money and such, and we got to Lusaka a little later than planned. But once we got there, we decided [over Wimpy coffee and other vaguely familiar food] that we would drive on to Livingstone. Now, besides that it is a good six-hour drive, the 60-odd kilometres before Livingstone is without doubt the worst stretch of road I have ever seen. Needless to say we only got to Jollyboys after midnight, but we managed to check in, set up our tents and sleep. And boy did we sleep!
The next day we slept in [well, at this point 7am was indulgent], woke up for another early swim and then set about our day of doing... well, not much really. We each did some laundry, and then read, chatted and dozed off in the wonderful "Chill-Out Zone" at Jollyboys. Late in the afternoon we went to the Livingstone market, where we spent time bargaining, meeting locals and buying the usual- copper bracelets, Nyami Nyamis and such. The day of taking it easy was exactly what each of us needed!
That night we spent time at the bar. We drank, played 30 Seconds [I absolutely must mention I was not once on the losing team] and made some friends. Travelling is great, especially when you run into the kinds of South Africans you aren't desperately trying to get away from! We also spent that night devising our plan for the last few days of our trip.
The following morning [keep up- it's the 9th of January] we left for Botswana. We drove through the Caprivi strip [next on my list is to do a trip of Namibia and Botswana] and headed to Maun, the gateway to the Delta. Here we stayed at friends of Sarah's, one of whom generously allowed us to kick him out of his bed. After much discussion, a trip to the Okavango Delta turned out to be time-consuming and pricey, and so we decided it would have to be done another time. Instead we hung out at yet another very cool backpackers, The Old Bridge, and went on a lovely sunset cruise on the river. We saw little wildlife [and after two weeks of wanting nothing but to see one freaking giraffe, they still did not show] but the view itself was enough. A few more drinks back at the bar, a pack of Marlboro filters and a huge dinner later, we were more than ready for bed. Of course we would first have to get rid of the giant snake that had decided to make itself at home in 'our' bedroom...
And so, this morning, we hit the road for the final stretch home. We left Maun at 6am, very nearly ran out of fuel, and made it back to Pretoria in time to order pizzas for dinner. Having showered, eaten and made a mess of my room [knowing I won't have to pack it all up tomorrow morning at 5], I am happy to be home, and satisfied with a very successful trip. I learnt a lot about myself, about other places, other people and I developed even more of a hunger for travel! Tonight will be spent listening to all my favourite music that didn't fit onto my iPod, abusing the internet, and not covering myself in Peaceful Sleep.
That said, I am already planning the next one! Who's in?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Africa 1000 on the Adventure Bus: Part 2

So, where did we leave off? Ah, yes- I was just about to go party it up for New Year's Eve in Livingstone. We partied at a place called Fez Bar and met some interesting people, albeit very few- Fez Bar was fairly empty. There were some South Africans [including a very drunk guy from Upington who are to be having ve most delicious accent], Livingstone locals, a man who danced by balancing a bottle on his head all night and another who was more drunk than I have ever seen someone. No, really- EVER. We danced to everything, from Hoobastank to Akon and even the Macarena [more than once], drank, got merry and I count this as my best New Year's to date.
The next morning Liam and I had an early swim [Jollyboys really is an awesome backpackers], and after some breakfast of bread and peanut butter [it is your friend while travelling], we set off for Lusaka. South Africans, be grateful for your roads! 'Potholes' hardly does justice to what we experienced.
Zambia is a gem for anyone who wants to see Africa, regarding the landscape. It is lush bushveld, dotted with typically African villages here and there. There are also hills and rivers, and the drive never once stopped being breathtaking. Lusaka, on the other hand, is not exactly my choice of destination. It is an eerie city, with nothing beautiful to it. The fact that it was a public holiday and everyone on the streets was hideously drunk did not help. But we found ourselves a place to stay, a Wimpy [or something to eat that was familiar but not bread and peanut butter], and had ourselves a decent night's sleep.
The next day it was off to the border to head into Malawi. It is true what they say about the locals here- they are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet! We realised our tyres on the car were a little done for, and after finding every store in Lilongwe closed on this Saturday we decided we'd leave the car at the backpackers while we headed north, and rewarded ourselves with some beers in the pool after a long, hot day of driving.
The following day [where are we now? Ah yes, the third of January] we took a bus north to Mzuzu. Now, this was probably our most African experience so far. The seats were filled, but so were the aisles and personal space flew out the window as people leaned on and -over everyone and used one another to prop up elbows and goods. But that night we stayed at Sarah's uncle's place, and all got involved as we raided their enormous vegetable garden and cooked up curried rice with soya, spiced chicken and salad, all while drinking local liqeur and snacking on fried aubergine on bread. Showering, a bed and good food were a nice change.
The next day was spent in Nkhata Bay, on Lake Malawi, and I have to say that Lake Malawi is my favourite place on earth! I want it for Christmas. The water is blue like you've never seen [and 30 degrees Celsius], and all around there are beautiful trees, quaint houses and a most stunning view of seemingly endless water. We snorkled, canoed and while the others explored the village I went scuba diving. This was my first dive since qualifying, as well as being my first boat dive, altitude dive and freshwater dive. The fish were beautiful [highlights include upside-down fish, huge catfish and dolphin fish], and the rock formations are enormous!
After a good lunch we swam until dusk, then packed our things to board the Ilala Ferry. We took it to Nkhotakota, which took about 24 hours. We slept on the deck [a blessing that it didn't rain, but even getting drenched in one's sleep would be more pleasant than the smell on the lower levels], and spent an entire day chilling out on the decks, reading and chatting, having the odd snooze. The Ilala is something you must do when in Malawi, and the views of Malawi and Mocambique are beautiful from start to finish.
We got onto the transport boats and headed to shore at abour 8pm. When everyone started jumping off before we even reached the beach, we realised we weren't going to reach the beach. So we jumped off, and trudged ashore. Wet jeans? Not so pleasant. But sitting on a little overloaded boat, looking up to see more stars than I had ever seen in a sky made it totally worth it all.
We were filthy after the ferry trip [the only things dirtier than us on it were the bathrooms], and we were grateful to find a lovely backpackers right on the beach and, much to our surpirse, run by some Afrikaans tannies from Pretoria! We spent some time admiring the view from the roof, had three showers each and slept on bunk beds which turned out to be cheaper than any of the camping spots we had been to.
This morning, after coffee and toasted sandwiches, we caught a taxi back to Lilongwe. Once again it was completely overloaded [turns out there is no such thing as a full taxi], and by the time a man boarded carrying three live chickenes under his arm, we knew we were in Africa! After four uncomfortable hours we got back to our camp in Lilongwe, and here I sit. It is boiling hot, with the promise of rain later.
Tomorrow we'll head back to Lusaka depending on our car situation. But for now, I need a beer and a swim.
More later [with pictures coming soon too!].