Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Kooks Live in Cape Town - #5GumExperience



It’s an interesting thing chewing gum brand 5 Gum does a few times a year: get everyone squealing over a musical act, make tickets available only through a competition, then announce the winners at the last minute and pack the lucky few thousand people into five buses headed for a secret location. Throw in an extremely successful social media campaign, and you might just have the winning formula.

Bitter though I may still be about the Two Door Cinema Curse (don't get me started on this one), I was quite impressed to have won myself tickets to see The Kooks. Did I even know who they were though? Uh... OK, quick check-up on my music library and I was pleasantly surprised to find an entire album on their's. OH, these guys, of course. Sorry, Luke and company. Much fanfare later, plus a constant rotation of The Kooks setlist on repeat all day every frikking day for about a month, I was prepared. 

Let's hit it. 

So off we pop to the 'secret meeting point' ie Maitland Secondary School - all the while acutely aware of how easily some creepy axe-man could get all of us in one go - and board the buses (*shudder*) to the 'secret location' ie Salt River Studios. It's a warehouse - totally called that ages ago.  

The trickle of hipsters becomes a flood by the time we get inside, how many people won tickets anyway?! Now, I must clarify my use of the word 'hipsters' here: they weren't jocks. No one looked like they'd stumbled in here on the way back from a surf or Tiger Tiger. These were the kind of people who were on social media often enough to know about the gig, and that could be bothered to enter. If there were any jock-types here, they'd clearly been dragged along as a plus one to a out-of-place friend. 

Anyway, ain't nobody got time for three opening acts, so we decide to chill in the food court for a bit, only to be constantly enticed by the smell of artery-clogging fried potatoes on a stick. By 10.30pm though, it was time to go and find ourselves a spot in the crowd for the main act. I am so unaccustomed to being anyway but holding onto a barrier for dear life, and being so far back was definitely a change. 

In all honesty, I was surprised at the amount of enthusiasm for a band such as The Kooks. Brits who had never toured SA before managed to pack out a venue as large as this, whilst still leaving those unlucky enough not to have won tickets feeling upset. Perhaps music is not doomed after all.

And they sure proved they were worth all the hype! Opening with the ridiculously catchy “Ooh La”, they sped through a catalogue of their hits, from first single “Eddie’s Gun” to the extremely popular “She Moves In Her Own Way”, they got the already excitable crowd jumping and bopping and singing happily along to every word. For a band without much significant so called commercial success, they sure do have fans. Although crowd interaction was minimal – hey, they didn’t fly all the way over here for a chat – when curly-haired frontman Luke Pritchard did engage with his adoring audience, no one cared that his accent was so strong that the only word we managed to understand was “OK.”

In a performance that was so pitch-perfect that it could have been a CD, The Kooks outdid any expectations that I had. Highlights of their set were most definitely the acoustic version of the sweet ‘Seaside’, the audience going crazy during ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ and the massive singalong during encore song ‘Shine On’.

Ending off with The Kooks classic ‘Na├»ve’, Pritchard thanked the crowd enthusiastically for coming out to support them. The South African fans had clearly made an impact.

After such a fantastic event, the only thing on anyone’s mind was getting back to the parking lot with haste, but a disaster surfaced in the form of the buses back. Absolutely no queuing system was enforced, leaving some of us to wait for over an hour for a bus, whilst others took only minutes. and small riots nearly broke out with people fighting so hard to get on to the buses, that things got very dangerous. I would not have been surprised if someone had been run over by a bus, or managed to topple one of the buses over. I don’t appreciate being made to feel like I'm a contestant in The Hunger Games whilst waiting for a bus.

Transport issues aside, it was a well organized event, and a brilliant band. I look forward to the next #5GumExperience.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Winter's Day Playlist

Looking for inspiration is so damned frustrating! I've been reading so many friends' blogs recently, and my self-berating side is going "Why aren't I the one entering an international blogging competition?" Well, truth is, because I'm a lazy little sod who prefers sleeping to doing anything productive. But HEY, if you woke up at 4am every day, you might just feel the same. As I have a habit of doing though, I digress...

So that one collabed with that one, this one is on drugs again, and the other one just released a new single. Cool. Story. Bro. But none of this strikes me with any particular lightening bolt of inspiration, as I stare out the window into the gloomy evening and watch the rain droplets snake down my window pane... kinda like Duffy's tears in the Warwick Avenue video. Wait, I made that last but up, didn't I? Oh well, that's what the video should have looked like. Anyway, seeing winter's on its dreary way, let's talk a little bit about the best songs to join you and your mug of hot chocolate on a particularly chilly day. Or maybe I'm just making a list of songs that remind me of bad weather. Or maybe it's just a list of songs. Shut up!

(In no particular order, I just like numbering things, it makes me feel in control.)

1) Coldplay - "Violet Hill"
"Was a long and dark December..." Chris starts off, but be it December, July, or an early April-freeze, one listen of this song is enough to make you realise just how great it feels to not be the love down on Violet Hill, freezing in the snow. (Though if Chris Martin wanted to take me somewhere, I'd gladly follow him to the North Pole.)

2) Duffy - "Warwick Avenue"
Perhaps the level of coldheartedness of this song is what made me put it on here: "I'm leaving you for the last time baby, you think you're loving but you don't love me." Plus the tube references make me think of a grey London in the middle of winter, dragging an umbrella and hoping to make it to shelter pretty darn quickly after you've given that former love of yours a good talking-to.

3) Greenday - "Wake Me Up When September Ends"
"Summer has come and passed..." yeah, it sure has. September is probably also when it starts to get a little bitty warmer in Cape Town (sorry Billie Joe, I know your song's about war). Anyway, the mood of the song is pretty much the mood of today's weather, so grab a blanket, curl up and allow yourself to be completely taken over by the depressing lyrics.

4) Hurts - "Wonderful Life"
Perhaps it's a personal association of mine, but I can't help thinking about rain when I hear this song. I mean, the one and only time I ever drove over the Severn Bridge, it was drizzling! Surely the man of Suzie's dream experienced the same climatic conditions?

5) Death Cab For Cutie - "Passenger Seat"
Doom and gloom are the name of the game for these guys, from their name to their sad little melodies, and this song is no exception. But it's cute, and short and features a pretty little piano bit that would probably lull you so dangerously close to sleep that the mug of hot chocolate would start tipping out of your hand. Careful.

6) OK Go - "Shooting The Moon"
Fine, I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a Twihard. Let me rephrase that: I don't dislike Twilight, I've seen the movies and I enjoy the soundtracks. Makes sense then, that a song I first heard in a movie set in a town that gets all of four days sunshine a year should make my winter playlist. Once again though, it's calm and almost sleepy and doesn't make me want to get up and dance - which is a good thing, of course, dancing would involve leaving my bed.

7) The Platters - "Twilight Time"
Don't question, just add it to the playlist. Before you know it, those heavenly shades of night will be falling all over you.

8) Foo Fighters - "Cold Day In The Sun"
Thank you Dave Grohl, for being so unnaturally awesome that you can write a song to go with every single season/emotion/thought. Wait, is this Taylor Hawkins' song? Thank you, Dave Grohl, for existing anyway. It's not that I'm interpreting this song literally, just that I absolutely killed it last Easter weekend, which happened to be freezing. Done, done, onto the next one.

9) The Shins - "Young Pilgrims"
A train ride, ice melting on the glass and elegant young pilgrims that pass. Whether it's a cold and wet November dawn, or a chilled-to-the-bone April eve, this song will make you want to hit the road in your nice heated vehicle, fall into a winter slide, and end up the kind of kid who goes down chutes too narrow. Try it.

10) Five For Fighting - "100 Years"
And so we conclude with a lament of human life. Yes, that's the same human life that's passing by whilst you nurse that third mug of hot chocolate - lazy. Anyway, take a step back and admire the brevity of your 100 years on this Earth, and perhaps cry some tears for those years already passed. Whatever you decide to do, you'll be accompanied by one of the loveliest songs ever written.

So, did I hit the nail on the head? Not so much? What's on your winter playlist?