Thursday, December 11, 2014

Foo Fighters Live in Cape Town - Meeting My Hero

Excuse me whilst I faint, that's me and the Foos

Late Wednesday afternoon, I watched a convoy of men on motorbikes head up the driveway of the One&Only Hotel. One had a beard. Maybe it's Dave Grohl, I thought, rolling my eyes, completely certain that it really was not - seriously, one of the biggest legends in rock music history, casually riding around Cape Town hours before his first ever South African show? Unlikely. A quick browse of social media, however, told me that I had been wrong - it was, in fact, Grohl, and suddenly excitement hit me like a ten tonne truck: I was seeing the Foo Fighters.

I'd always said that there were four celebrities I would love to meet: Brandon Flowers, Chris Martin, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl. And I'd almost achieved the first three, having stood metres from Martin, and grasped hands with Springsteen and Flowers during concerts. Closest I'd ever been to Mr Grohl? About 50 metres from the stage, separated from My Hero by a few thousand rowdy British youths at 2012's Reading Festival, an hour outside London. He was unattainable. Some kind of supreme being, who - despite being lauded as the nicest guy in rock and roll - just didn't seem to really exist. Imagine my surprise when Big Concerts said I could meet him after winning a competition. Oh, that will be nice.

But let me back track to what I was doing outside the hotel in the first place, and what competition this is that I'm referring to.

Every now and then something completely freaking ridiculous happens. You sit at the Edinburgh airport, too tired to even cry about your post-concert depression, then you look up and see your favourite band's private jet taking off. You meet a touring band member in a Starbucks and they recognise you from the internet. Stuff like that, ya know? And when Big Concerts announced that I was the winner of their meet and greet competition, I felt like something inside my head broke. I spent the next two days constantly on the verge of a breakdown, rocking back and forth whispering 'Dave Grohl'. It registered somewhere in my barely-functioning brain that the last time I'd felt this kind of weird, anxious, almost-in-tears excitement was in the lead-up to 2011's Coldplay concert. 

But onto the hotel....of course, everything goes back to The Killers. Years after I'd been to see them in Paarl, I had found out (read: done some creeping and found out) that they had stayed at the One & Only in Cape Town. Several more years of creeping revealed that this was one of the only hotels in town where the Big Bands are accommodated. Now, I can put two and two together, and figure out that the Foos would be staying at this exact hotel. But, alas, no, I did not stand outside their hotel for hours on end, decked out in a Foo Fighters t-shirt and "I Heart Dave" poster. In fact, I was at the hotel for a legitimate reason - it happens to serve the best high tea in Cape Town, and it's my birthday next week, I love tea, you can see where I'm going with this. The deposit for my tea was due, and by a miracle sent from the gods of the internet, my EFT payment refused to work, and I was forced to go into the hotel to pay and secure my tea booking. Total co-incidence that it's right at the Waterfront, where I was headed to park for the concert. So, in I stroll, still perhaps wishing to bump into the Foos, but of course not expecting too - things like that just don't happen. I should have learned my lesson from a certain Rob Likes Lattes in a Starbucks in Leeds, circa 2012: things like that do happen. 

We're halfway to the restaurant reservations desk, when my mother begins to elbow me furiously. "Drummer, drummer, Taylor, drummer."  Sure enough, Taylor Hawkins stands in the lobby, grinning and chatting to a few burly bodyguards. I try to act cool and avoid his eye, pretend I don't know who he is, but he grins in our direction: "Hi, ladies." And I just died. I'm not sure if I said hello back or not, but I calmly proceeded to pay my bill and then high-tailed it out of there before any other Foo Fighter could surprise me like that. We're down the driveway and across the road when the aforementioned convoy of bikes pulls in, and we're sitting down to lunch when I take a squizz at Facebook and find out that it really was Dave. Now I'm sitting in the Spur, hand over my mouth, giggling like a lunatic, because I just saw Dave Freaking Grohl. 

Then it's the trek to the stadium, and so somehow I find myself first in a line of about 40 people, separated from the Foos by only a thin black curtain. Cue mild hyperventilation - what if I see Dave Grohl and just die? Right there on the floor - die! But I don't. 

One of the most surreal sensations I have ever experience was at the moment when said black curtain parted, to reveal the Foo Fighters in all their glory, Dave Grohl grinning broadly at me, sticking out his hand and saying "Hi, I'm Dave, and these are the Foo Fighters." Thanks for telling me your name, Dave. AS IF I DIDN'T KNOW! Taylor grins shiftily and says "Hey, I saw you guys earlier", and we're basically already best friends. The meet and greet itself was short but absolutely fantastic. We shook hands with all of the band members, and posed for a photo, before thanking them for coming to SA and being led from the room.

Only down side of having met Dave Grohl an hour before the show? It meant missing the first half of support act, Kaiser Chiefs' show, a pity because frontman Ricky Wilson is known for his incredibly energetic performances, and is guaranteed to entertain. After making it into the crowd as the band began 'Never Miss A Beat', I could see Wilson immediately barrelling down the T-shaped stage like a cannonball, and couldn't restrain himself from climbing some scaffolding during 'The Angry Mob'. They ended off with their standard, 'Oh My God', which must have rung true for them - "Oh my god, I can't believe it, I've never been this far away from home..." and though they had played in SA before, Cape Town Stadium must have been a whole new experience.

At exactly 9pm - right on time - the main act appeared like visions. Shiflett, Smear and Mendel smartly dressed and semi-formal, Hawkins looking like he'd just rolled off Camps Bay beach, and Grohl himself grinning that same toothy grin that characterised the 20-year-younger version of himself in his Nirvana days. Let it be said though, the smile is the only thing still reminiscent of the weedy Nirvana drummer - Grohl has aged like a fine wine.

The band wasted no time, launching straight into 'All My Life', then 'Rope', with barely a breath in between. Still with that manic grin, Grohl roared up and down the stage, like some kind of inhuman being, that is, perhaps, too talented to be real. Too much of an idea. Too far removed. But I've met him, and I know he's real. 

The hits came thick and fast, with arguably their most well-known song, 'The Pretender' going down a storm amongst the crowd, as did 'My Hero'. And of course my very favourite, 'Arlandria'.... you and what armyyyyyyyy? Just when we began to wonder when we might get a taste of the band's new material, 'Congregation' started. Inspired by the Nashville's country roots, and with subtly religious undertones, it has to be one of the greatest Foo Fighters songs ever. Other new songs were 'Something From Nothing', which has recently soared up the local charts, 'Outside' and 'In The Clear'. At one point, the young man next to me tapped me on the shoulder and asked "Do you know the lyrics to all the songs?" "Pretty much" I replied, although I wanted to say "What, don't you?!"

And if you were wondering if Grohl lived up to his reputation as the 'nicest guy in rock and roll' - he sure did. Having met Springbok Nude Girls' Theo Crous the day before, Dave invited the local musician onto the stage to perform Cheap Trick's 'Stiff Competition', with Grohl taking to the drums, and drummer Taylor Hawkins taking over vocals. 

Dave Grohl's stage presence is absolutely astounding. He thrives on being on stage and the passion of all five bands members is evident throughout the set. "We're simple guys, we don't do all this firework and confetti sh*t, we just play rock and roll!" And somehow, this simple rock and roll has an almost universal appeal - from the older couple we met outside the gates ("Bucket list stuff!" the lady had said, high-fiving me) to the group of teens behind us ("We've been queueing for two hours!"), everyone loves Foo Fighters. 

25 songs later, Grohl and company were finally ready to leave the stage. They ended with the absolutely spectacular 'Everlong', evoking emotion in every single crowd member. "We've got a long night ahead of us - we're not nearly done!" they had repeated throughout the set, much to the delight of the golden circle ticket holders who most definitely got their R960's worth. 

But the three-hour-long set took its toll on an audience clearly not accustomed to such long performances. The young lady next to me - who began the show headbanging so violently that I became concerned she might give herself a concussion - was found to be using her sister next to her's shoulder as a pillow before 11pm, and the bro next to her had sat himself firmly on the ground, back against the barrier, where he stayed until 'This Is A Call' gave him something of a second wind. 

Yes, it was a long set, and the feet of the best of us were left protesting feebly by midnight. But was it too long? Would I have traded it for the world? No, of course not. If it were up to me - and the band, if their enthusiasm was anything to go by - the Foo Fighters would still be on that stage, playing their hearts out. In fact, I'm trying very hard to restrain myself from sneaking up to Joburg for Saturday's show - Gauteng sure is in for a treat. 

Adapted review also on What's On In Cape Town.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

30 Seconds to Mars Cape Town Review

30 Seconds To Mars graced Cape Town with their presence for the third time, this weekend. Or perhaps it was ’20 Seconds To Mars’, as third member Shannon Leto was noticeably absent – ill, explained his brother, frontman Jared Leto.
By 6pm on Sunday evening, the Echelon (read: The Serious Fans) were already queuing in droves, and those who had purchased meet and greet tickets, could be seen sprinting from GrandWest’s Good Hope Suites clutching signed posters and hyperventilating. Can’t say I blame them. What would any sane human do when faced with Jared Leto? Cry, surely.
Cape Town’s own Beatenberg were given the opportunity to open for the American rockstars, but unfortunately they did little to excite the crowd. Whilst their music is catchy and popular, their fan base and that of 30 Seconds To Mars clearly did not overlap. Although a few younger people sang along happily to ‘Chelsea Blakemore’, crowd interaction was minimal, and the band seemed slightly lost on such a major stage.
Cue dimming of the lights and loud, dramatic music – ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana – and a long-haired figure wearing a long white coat and crown emerges into a patch of light on the stage. Is that you, Jesus? No, it’s Jared Leto. But to those present they’re pretty much the same thing.
Opening with ‘Up In The Air’, from their latest offering, Love Lust Faith Dreams, Leto immediately electrified the crowd. Jared Leto is acutely aware of his reputation as a sex symbol. “Who wants to sleep with me tonight?” he asked the predominantly female crowd, cheekily. The answer? EVERYONE. He later took the opportunity to lift his shirt revealingly, teasing the group of girls to the right that if they kept shouting for him to take it off, they might just get more than they bargained for. But, we were here for the music, of course…
And it was music we got. 30 Seconds to Mars have an incredible way of producing extremely powerful music, and it becomes, perhaps, even more powerful when performed live. From ‘This Is War’ to ‘Kings and Queens’ (the latter written right here in Cape Town), Jared Leto’s stage presence is faultless, and it’s clear that his passion is performing live. Setlist highlights included ‘City of Angels’, the stand out track from their latest album, and a stripped-down-to-the-bones version of ‘The Kill’. All too soon it was over, in a snowstorm of white confetti and flashing lights.
A glance at Big Concerts’ Facebook page reveals nothing but disappointment with the Johannesburg show (held two nights previously). Shannon Leto was absent, Jared Leto’s voice was not up to standard, the sound at the Coca Cola Dome was shocking, and – perhaps most disturbingly – the crowd was full of people who were more interested in “drinking wine and going on Facebook” than watching the show. But the Cape Town show could not have been more different. The Grand Arena is an impeccable venue, with excellent audio, and even though it was a true rock concert, I was not left with ringing ears the next day.
As Jared Leto so sincerely told us, South Africa is truly a special place for his band. Yes, all bands engage the crowd with shouts of how happy they are to be in the ‘best country in the world’, but somehow, I believe him more. Maybe it’s because he looks a bit like Jesus.

Review also published on

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Taylor Swift: '1989' Album Review

OMG, I just DIED! #RIPme! Tay Tay has a new album out! If you're not sure what's going on - or if you think I've just regressed from quite a serious 23-year-old lady to a squealing 13-year-old girl -, check this out and then come back.

Yes, it's sure, country-pop's sugar-sweet little Taylor dropped her much-anticipated album '1989' this week. No, I did not converge at a friend's house that very night for a listening party, because I am an adult, and that would be weird...

I must admit, my hopes were not high. After my strong feelings of dislike for most of 2012's 'Red' - which I took as a personal insult, after being completely obsessed with 'Speak Now' - and my outright hatred for 'Shake It Off', I had begun to sink into that deep depression of human beings who disregard the girl as just another awful pop star. A bit of a joke. Did I mention awful? Well, I was about to be proven wrong.

THE ALBUM IS A MASTERPIECE. (Yes, caps are needed)

It is, indeed, a pure pop album, without a hint of the country style that had defined her early career, but somehow it's edgy, with barely discernible hints of indie-rock (largely, I'm sure, due to her work with fun.'s Jack Antonoff). While most of the album is filled with highly-listenable tracks, I do have a few favourites:

1) 'Wildest Dreams': This turns me into a complete fangirl. I can just imagine crying on the floor if I ever had to see this song live. I'm dead. DEAD. It's tinged with poignance and sadness, but still comes back down to Taylor's favourite themes of girls in pretty dresses, crying after boys and begging them to remember her. It's probably even set at Tay's favourite time of day: 2am.

2) 'Blank Space': Taylor Swift ripping off Taylor Swift - can it get any better? "Got a long list of ex-lovers, they'll tell you I'm insane..." It's also dead catchy.

3) 'Out of the Woods' - Nope, I am never going to be out of the woods. An obvious stab at Harry Styles, it shows off Taylor's slightly darker side - one can almost imagine her singing "Remember when you hit the brakes too soon, 20 stitches in the hospital room" with a sadistic little smile on her face. And with an electronic chorus that is bound to stick in anyone's head for weeks, it's a favourite among many.

All in all, I think Taylor has done great. She remains my guilty pleasure, so far removed from any of my other favourites, that some people think I'm joking when I say I love her. But really, who cares? Haters gonna hate.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Taylor Swift - Out of the Woods

It's my lunch break, and I've just gobbled down last night's Chinese takeaway leftovers in 3.4 minutes flat so that I would still have time to write this post.
So let's cut to the chase...

Taylor Swift has a new song out.
Why would anyone care?  You might ask. Good question. After feeling strong dislike towards most of Taylor's 'Red' album, and downright hatred for 'Shake It Off', why the hell am I still listening to the girl? Argh, old habits die hard, I guess. Back in 2009, I was completely obsessed with the 'Fearless' album, and even more so with 'Speak Now' the following year. I didn't care how people wrinkled their noses and frowned when I told them that she was my guilty pleasure - completely on the other side of the spectrum to the rest of my favourites: The Killers, Springsteen, Coldplay. I guess that my inherent sarcasm and cynicism makes some forget that deep down I am still a young female human being who wants to float down staircases in sparkly dresses, whilst singing 'Sparks Fly', dammit!

Anyway. Taylor's new song 'Out of the Woods' is absolutely nothing like her early country music ('Tim McGraw', 'Tied Together With A Smile', 'Our Song'), but it's also a slight departure from the pop atrocity that is 'Shake It Off'. Perhaps she's found herself. Perhaps her cat had a good, long sit-down with her and explained that twerking is just not okay. Whatever happened, she's come out with this song  that's got a bit more of an electro-pop-rock feel to it.

Here are a few things I learned from the new song:

- Taylor is obsessed with the month of December. At least the snow mobile crash wasn't at 2am.

- She's got a little bit of a dark side - just listen to the way she sings about the hospital trip. Mwahahaha.

- She's still experimenting with different styles of music...

- ... but she's stuck with her tried and tested my-relationship-failed lyrics.

- She's still got it. Hell yes, she does.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rocking The Daisies 2014

Rocking the Daisies 2012 was cold. And rainy. So cold and rainy, in fact, that I skipped the 2013 festival because the extremities that I’d almost lost to frostbite had not quite recovered. So it was with a mix of trepidation and downright excitement that I headed off to RTD 2014.
It must be said that Rocking the Daisies is very loosely termed a ‘music festival’. It is, in fact, a three-day-long party, with some interspersed music and nightly pass-out sessions in tents. As one person put it “I’ve been to nine festivals and only seen about three bands.” Yes, music is optional, but far more important is the ‘vibe’ or ‘gees’ if you will.
Frustratingly, festival go-ers were met with a shocking queue to enter the festival. Yes, for security reasons it’s great that IDs were checked, but the organizers needed to the strong possibility that huge crowds were going to arrive on Friday afternoon. Standing in a two hour queue in the howling wind whilst carting around all your bedding and supplies for two days is far from ideal, and by 8pm on Friday night instead of listening to Jeremy Loops serenade me with ‘Down South’, I was listening to the guy behind me in the queue pull a “How you doin’?” whilst opening his 42nd can of beer.
Inside the arena, however, the party was in full swing. With Taxi Violence having just finished up their set, an excitable George van der Spuy was to be found in the beer tent, smiling for photos with fans. “Did you enjoy the show?” Yes, of course we did.
Sticking with legends of local rock, Francois van Coke and Arno Carstens were joined by the likes of guitarist Albert Frost and Jason Ling of Taxi Violence for a set that went down a storm with the fans. Even the most English of English people were to be found singing along to every word of van Coke’s Afrikaans songs, whilst Carsten’s ‘Another Universe’ received what was perhaps the loudest crowd reaction of the entire night. Over on the other side of things, the Electro Dome proved popular - perhaps because it offered a brief reprieve from the wind – but was overcrowded and stuffy before long.
Friday night’s chilly weather gave way to burning heat on Saturday, meaning that a swim in the dam was a priority for many people. When a slight wind picked up, this was certainly the best place to be, and with the sounds of GoodLuck emanating from the Beach Bar stage, it offered the perfect balance between relaxed beach vibes, and the excitement of a festival.
Over in the Lemon Tree theatre, comedian Rob van Vuuren had the crowd in stitches with his brand of humour that somehow finds the balance between slightly crude and squeaky clean humour. “What’s the only thing more pretentious than a cat person? An effing cat!” He cried, to uproarious laughter. His comments about the demographics of the festival were also on point: “If there’s Ebola in the dam, Constantia will be littered with corpses on Monday morning.”
Out of every festival that I have ever been to, RTD 2014 wins hands down when it comes to food. From outlets of popular Cape Town chains including Knead and Hudsons, to an array of noodles, curries and vegetarian options, there really was something for every taste. And with a whole truck filled with different kinds of teas, the hipsters went wild. As water was not sold at all on site, there were apparently nine water points scattered throughout the festival, but the lines for these were long, resulting in one particularly un-PC comment of “Welcome to the holocaust, where you have to queue for your water rations!” (“He’s German, it’s okay.” His friend assured me.)
As Saturday progressed, the mercury continued to rise, along with the spirits of the rugby fans. Whilst sitting in a boiling hot tent with a thousand or so other boytjies might not be everyone’s cup of proverbial tea, there’s no denying the goosebumps that shot up the arms of every single human being in the beer tent when everyone rose simultaneously to sing our national anthem before the Bokke took to the field. And two hours later, they had cause to celebrate as our team pulled off a spectacular win.
One person who was not so impressed with the rugby situation was Ard Matthews. Relegated to a Main Stage slot in the middle of the rugby match, the Just Jinjer frontman commented that he wasn’t that popular in the Springbok camp (a reference to his botched rendition of the national anthem a while back). Whether it was a light-hearted comment or a cutting jibe, I wasn’t sure, but the man’s musical talent is indisputable. From the slowed down ‘Shallow Waters’ to a cover of Rodriguez’s hit ‘Sugar Man’ (with a lot of sweet Mary-Jane in the air…) no one in this crowd gave a damn about the rugby.
The sun had set and the chilly wind had returned by the time the international acts were ready for the Main Stage. Crystal Fighters pulled off a brilliant set, with their unique dance-rock style combining with their eccentric dress and stage presence for a show unlike anything Daisies has seen before. Even after the death of drummer Andrea Marongui just three weeks ago, the band elected not to pull out of the festival, and the thousands who gathered for their set were nothing but appreciative. My personal highlight was the insanely catchy ‘LA Calling’, and the band definitely have one new fan in Cape Town.
And then came MGMT. The band that rocked the commercial music scene back in 2009, when ‘Kids’ was topping the charts and making every human being feel 10 times cooler every time they listened to it. The band that created ‘Electric Feel’, a song that is best described by one word only: “sexy”. This was the band that everyone had been waiting to see – and they killed it.  And by ‘it’ I mean the vibe. Although their trippy, hallucination-style background graphics were cool for the first 10 minutes, they got boring, and with almost zero crowd interaction, combined with a complete lack of stage presence, the band quickly lost the audience’s attention. Even during ‘Kids’, a two-minute instrumental in the middle of the song made everyone who had jumped up in excitement sit straight back down again. But hey, ‘Electric Feel’ was great, so who am I to complain?
Late Sunday morning saw hoards of hot, sweaty, hungover campers attempting to disassemble the mess that had become their campsite, leaving masses of trash in their wake. The 34 degree heat had resulted in much dehydration, and after trying to barter Marie biscuits for any drops of H2O, the campers gave up and retired to their cars for the long drive back. At the Engen One-Stop outside of Malmesbury, hoards of dusty campers were to be seen dashing for the fridges as though they had been competing in Survivor for the past month.

And so I arrived home to my temperate house; my soft, warm bed; my water-stocked refrigerator; my shower; my cat. Why, you may ask, would I ever want to go to Rocking the Daisies again? Well, after all I experienced this weekend, why wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t have traded the heat, the dust and the drunk campers for all the cold water in the world. Because festivals are, of course, about the vibe, and that’s something Rocking the Daisies sure didn’t lack.
Original review also published on
Media clearance via What's On In Cape Town

Monday, September 15, 2014

Zebra & Giraffe - Knuckles Album Launch

It’s almost impossible to have avoided hearing a Zebra and Giraffe song at some time over the past five years. Be in on the radio, on television, or live at some or other festival – this band has been everywhere. They chose the Assembly as the Cape Town venue to launch their brand new album ‘Knuckles’ – which you can now order on iTunes.

Upon entering the venue, it was clear that this was not your average Friday night at the popular local club. Sponsors Ray Ban and Honda Music had gone all out on the experience front, and created a station for hair cuts (which Zebra & Giraffe frontman Greg Carlin later confessed to having visited) and other where a man was holding out his arm, appearing to be having a tattoo inked on, right there and then. Surely not? Surely the tattoo was only temporary? No, it was real, all right, and the man being inked was none other than Z&G’s own bass player, Stefan Henrico – aha, that’s why Carlin was standing in a corner, having a good giggle to himself.

The opening act for the night is Cape Town’s own Reburn, who treated the gathering crowd to some songs from their second album. Although not as well known as the main act, they managed to hype up the audience very well, with their interesting style, which could possibly be described as “funk-infused reggae indie-rock”.  Their vocals and style are noticeably influenced by British indie-rock bands, and indeed one song in particular reminded me a lot of Scottish band The Fratellis’ hit ‘Chelsea Dagger’ – interestingly this is one of the bands they cite as an influence. Although I did begin to worry at some point that the bass player’s Joy Division shirt would result in a spontaneous cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.

Fresh from last Saturday’s slot at the I Heart Joburg festival alongside international acts like Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy, Zebra & Giraffe proved that a club environment is where they are most at home.

Thrashing on his guitar and moving about with as much mad enthusiasm as the tiny stage would allow, Greg Carlin led his band through a stream of both old and new songs. Of course, the greatest cheers were for the earlier, better known songs including ‘The Knife’ and ‘The Inside’, but this does not mean that the band have stopped making good music. In fact, personally I found their new single ‘Dancing’ to be one of the best I’ve heard. Their new style is slightly different – slower in parts, more forceful in others – but it works. They are most definitely not the same band who joked in a slightly bitter tone that “no one’s here to see us” when they opened for The Killers five years ago; nor are they the same band that played to a half-empty student club in Grahamstown in 2011. No, this band has grown in leaps and bounds, and on their latest offering, are sure to cement themselves once again as one of South Africa’s best.

By the time the last notes of final song ‘Pariahs’ echoed through the club, Stefan Henrico’s fingers were pouring blood onto his strings, and Greg Carlin dripped sweat from his face onto his slick-looking leather jacket, but they look absolutely thrilled. And they should be.

Original article also published on

I Heart Joburg Part 1: Journey

It's 10pm on Wednesday night, and I'm sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, starring thoughtfully at a pile of laundry higher than I am tall. I've also just had the terrifying realisation that I leave for Joburg in approximately 44 hours (which sounds like a lot, but I'll be at work for 24 and asleep for 16, which leaves about 4 hours free), and in addition to having absolutely no clean clothing - save for the new flamingo socks I just bought - I also have absolutely no free space on my phone or camera - and what's a concert without a wagon full of photos? Ah well. At least I've got the most important thing down - the brand new, bright pink travel bag that cost me as much as half a week's groceries, but was way more necessary.

Yes, the weekend has finally arrived - it's time for I Heart Joburg. After much fangirling, I'd purchased tickets way back in May, and a busy lifestyle had meant that I had had very little time to look forward to the festival. Flights booked, accommodation arranged ... it was like a full-on flashback to that crazy month in 2011 when I'd done Jozi twice in three weeks for Coldplay and the Kings. In fact, this will be my first time in Gauteng since then.

Fast-forward to Thursday, when I've given up on my laundry being dry in time because it's just too damn hot to tumble dry anything, and instead have packed the bare minimum amount of clothes, and have gotten halfway through the toiletries when I realise that my deodorant can't go with because, ya know, no aerosols on planes. And so I launch into a crusade to find a bottle of roll-on somewhere in the junk heap that functions as my bedroom. Although completely unsuccessful, I do manage to locate a rock from Mount Vesuvius, a deflated balloon from a friend's farewell party in May, a collection of small rocks, and a pair of sunglasses that I thought I'd lost somewhere between Scotland and Durban circa mid-July 2013. Not to mention that shrivelled chocolate from an Emirates flight two years ago. Gross. Anyway, I've packed what I can, and hopped into bed for a good 9 hour sleep to prepare myself for tomorrow's trip... but like all people like me, I can never guarantee rest.

Before I know it, it's 1am, and my entire life is floating before my eyes in tiny, half-awake snippets, interspersed - for some unfathomable reason - with a line from Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black': "And life is like a pipe, and I'm a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside...". And even though I don't know what on earth that line means, IT MAKES ME SO SAD. Chalk it up to stress for work the next morning. Chalk it up to not being completely mentally normal. Whatever, either way, I get to work at 6.30am running on two hours sleep, and the certainty that absolutely everything is about to go tits up with this weekend that I had planned out so carefully.

Hit 1.30pm and I'm finished all my work for the day, but unfortunately unable to leave until 3pm. Twitter says there's a press conference, but my bois doing that weird thing where I'm not sure if the butterflies in my stomach are from nerves, anxiety, dread or excitement. I decide to satiate my stomach with some breakfast, but make the extremely bad choice to get a pie from the garage next door because real food costs more money and after this weekend I will have none of that left. 

And so at home I meet my eternal concert buddy, Miss Lauren, and we're whisked away to the airport by Miss Amy - none of us anticipating that getting to the airport in an hour is made almost impossible by a traffic nightmare on De Waal Drive. Cue mild panic, a mantra of "it'll be fine, guys" and dodging through lanes of traffic like we're in some perverted game of bumper cars. This is the part where any sane human being begins to regret that late afternoon pie - it was almost certainly road kill rather than chicken, and it's swirling around in the consumer's stomach, mixing painfully with the nerves and the bumpy care ride. We nearly hit the roof flying over a speed bump at the airport at 100km/h, and Amy giggles before pulling into a parking and declaring "We made it! 18 minutes guys, I did good!". Check-in; print boarding passes; sigh with relief; hit the Wimpy for food but get absolutely no service; proceed through boarding gates; get frisked for making the metal detectors go off; find another Wimpy; board the plane; wonder why said plane is heading towards the ground at a rather alarming angle of 45 degrees; almost fall asleep hug Carryn to death at Lanseria; drive to her house in the dark; pass the 'Welcome to North West' sign - three provinces in one day! Find a bed; collapse. 

Wake up. It's 8am, we're leaving for breakfast by 9am and plan to be on the road to JHB by 10am, ETA at Ellis Park stands at 11am. LOL JK. We make it to Ellis around 1pm, handbags stashed under the seat and finger on the trigger of Carryn's pepper spray - expecting to get hijacked around every corner. 

And so we reach the parking area, only to be asked for our parking ticket. Warning - rant ahead: HOW THE HELL WERE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WE NEEDED A PARKING TICKET?? When Steyn Entertainment told me on Facebook that "limited parking is available at the stadium", did they ever mention parking tickets??? No, they sure as hell did not. So we're told to turn around and go find a Computicket to buy a parking ticket. That's fine. But no one knows where the Computicket is, and we're left driving in circles around what is probably the least safe area in the whole of Joburg. By the time we're driven for 5 minutes or so, our nerves are so shot that we happily pay some dodgy person R100 to park in a 'safe place'. It seems a little dodgy, but it's in the ground of a college, so it can't be that bad, right?

And so, hugging our handbags and making sure Carryn knows that she'll be offered up as Tribute if anyone attacks us, we make our way to the stadium, and only relax when we're through the golden circle gates.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Misheard Lyrics: Part 1

I can just about guarantee that everyone out there has misheard a song lyric sometime in their life. Perhaps it was because you were simply singing along without paying much attention to the words; perhaps it was because you were too young to understand what the song was about; perhaps you were just being an idiot. There are the standard "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy", "Hit me with your pet shark" and "Go, go, Jason Waterfalls", but for me, the more obscure, the more entertaining. Anyway, I personally have some classics - share yours with me in the comments!

The Gaslight Anthem - Ain't That A Shame
The most recent of my gaffes - one of my favourites on the band's new album, I had been confidently singing along to this song for the past two weeks or so ... "Oh my love, my love is a plane, ain't that a shame, ain't that a shame." Eventually I googled the lyrics so that I could read them and interpret the song as a whole, and discovered that it was 'plague'. 'My love is a plague'. Oh.

Bon Jovi - Bed of Roses
I grew up on Bon Jovi, and it took many, many years to realise that Jon was singing about being "just as close as the holy ghost is", rather than "holy ghost ears", which apparently are not a thing.

Brandon Flowers - Magdalena
On Brandon's debut solo album, he sings about a pilgrimage to Mexico, and how he is "fixing to carve this out of wood". In my tiny, science-infused brain, I interpreted the words as "I'm fixing the carapace out of wood." Please note, a carapace is the exoskeleton of a crab. Jury still out on what the crab was doing along a road in Mexico.

Take That - Back For Good
"Whenever I'm wrong, just tell me the song and I'll sing it - you'll be right up on the sun." Doesn't sound very comfortable, does it? It's "right and understood".

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Coolest Covers: Part One

A friend *cough* Tara Lancaster *cough* recently suggested that I do a blog post on 'awesome covers'. I thought it was a great idea, but immediately embarked upon an internal debate about what makes an 'awesome cover'. I came up with a few ideas:

Is it when the cover gets more attention than the original? (e.g: Leona Lewis's cover of 'Run' by Snow Patrol) 
Is it when the cover is entirely more memorable than the original? (Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt') 
Is it when your favourite band covers absolutely anything? (The Gaslight Anthem's take on 'God's Gonna Cut You Down') 
Is it something completely unexpected and different to the original? (That Hawaiian guy who covered 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' on his ukulele. Edit: his name was Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. I found it on Google, because the only other human being who would have known what I was talking about is my grandmother, and she'd probably think I'd lost my mind if I phoned to ask her) 
The answer is, in fact, that it's a little bit of all of the above. 

Below is a list of some of my favourite covers, a few being recent additions, and the rest oldies. I quite like this idea, so I'll see this as Part One of a covers series.

- Watershed: 'Southern Cross' by Crosby, Stills & Nash. Whilst it doesn't beat the original, the local boys do a fantastic version of the song, and luckily they always play it live, so I've gotten to see it more than once.

- Chvrches: 'Do I Wanna Know' by Arctic Monkeys. I love Alex Turner and co's version of their song, but I love Lauren Mayberry's voice more. Also, no matter how many times I'm told that the correct pronunciation of this band's name is 'churches', it will always be 'cha-ver-ches' to me.

- Johnny Cash: 'Hurt' by Nine Inch Nails. I dare you to watch the video without feeling a stab of painful human emotion. Plus, it's Johnny. He can do no wrong.

- Bruce Springsteen: 'Royals' by Lorde. Something bugs me about Lorde, and I think it's the fact that she's a kid singing about adult struggles. I don't believe her when she sings about being from a torn-up town and driving a cadillac in her dreams, but somehow when The Boss sings it, I believe every word. It's all suddenly real.

- Nirvana: 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' originally American folk song 'In The Pines'. Because Kurt Cobain brings this song to life and adds a little bit of gravel and grain without losing the gist of the original song.

- Glee Cast: 'Don't Stop Believing' by Journey. For a lot of people, this was the first time they'd ever heard this classic song, and I can't hate on Glee if it made great music more accessible for the younger generation.

- Pendulum: 'Violet Hill' by Coldplay. I wanted to stay away from the Radio 1 Live Lounge songs, because I could do a million posts on those amazing covers, but this one sticks out for me simply because usually I'd block my ears if someone tried to cover Coldplay around me, but this one is just really great.

- Lily Allen: 'Everybody's Changing' by Keane. Lily seems to have a thing for covering Keane songs (she also did a cover of 'Somewhere Only We Know' for the John Lewis Christmas advert last year), and somehow her thick London accent and sweet, high voice do justice to the alternative band's songs. 

Review: Prime Circle Live at GrandWest

Cape Town – a land where the inner-city hipsters judge the quality of a band’s music based on its failure to sell albums, and write-off anyone who happens to have a hit on the radio, because really, what kind of mainstream fools even listen to the radio? How, then, did Prime Circle expect to sell out a venue as large as Grandwest’s Grand Arena? Well – take note, hipsters – if they’ve had so many radio hits, they must have had some fans in the first place, right? The answer is yes – they had a whole arena full.

The Grand Arena has in the past played host to international bands including The Script, Daughtry and Nickelback, with The Fray and 30 Seconds to Mars both scheduled for later this year, but this was the first time I had experienced it with the golden circle and general admission areas instead filled with chairs. I must say, it was a welcome sight. With tonight’s concert attracting a large number of the older crowd, as well as parents with children, seating everyone made for a less tiring evening, but did not stop the fans from jumping up and leaving their seats long forgotten by the second song of the night.

Opening act Jesse Clegg was treat for many of the audience members. Playing slowed down acoustic versions of five of his song, ‘Heartbreak Street’ in particular contained enough familiar lyrics to transport one back in time to 2008, when it was a firm radio favourite.

It’s a mind-blowingly quick changeover, thanks to the help of a giant curtain which had been hiding all of Prime Circle’s gear, and within seconds they burst onto stage. Now, I’d need both hands and possibly a foot to count the amount of times I’ve seen Prime Circle before – but never quite like this.

Instantly, the stage is lit up in all colours of the rainbow, with dancing lights and background screens emphasizing each song. It’s impossible to reconcile this band on stage tonight with the band that so often plays on outside stages at the likes of the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts. Tonight, they’re just as international as any of those bands that have been here before.

Brand new single ‘Gone’ goes down a storm as the second song of the evening, but of course we are treated to some of the old classics as well, including ‘Hello’ and ‘As Long As I Am Here’ from their first album, way back in 2002. And yes, everyone does still remember the words to both songs.

With the front rows having left their seats long ago, Prime Circle proceeded to cover their fans in sparkly gold ribbons, which shot from the confetti cannons, high into the air and elicited many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.

‘Out of This Place’ and ‘Breathing’ are two of my personal favourites, also performed impeccably, however the biggest singalong of the night was – without a doubt – ‘She Always Gets What She Wants’. Frontman Ross Learmonth (still, somehow, with that hint of a Scottish accent, although he left the country when he was tow months old) dedicated the song to all the ladies in honour of Women’s Day, and grinned broadly as the voices of the crowd overpowered his own.

Closing with ‘Consider Me’, the show was absolutely fantastic. Ending in a shower of confetti, Prime Circle set the bar high for live performances, and other local bands should take note. An absolutely professional production, it is no wonder that the band have had successful European tours with bands including 3 Doors Down.

As a side note, there are several ways in which one can describe Grandwest Casino on a Saturday night: the tourist brochures will certainly call it ‘a hive of activity’, but I prefer ‘pure hell on earth’. Do arrive at 7pm for an 8pm show, expecting to ‘just grab dinner when you get there’. What you’ll be doing is entering a fierce battle with several teens on dates, and perhaps a crying 3-year-old before you get near the front of the line for any kind of food. In fact, I’d advise to sneak in the side entrances near the arena, and skip the rest altogether.

Original review also found on