So i had the privilege of an impromptu tagalong to my first Afrikaans music fest yesterday with my friend Nicola, whose bf just so happened to feel under the weather (yass guy!) – allowing me to take his place and see Karen Zoid and Francois van Coke live for the first time ever at SPAR Tussen die Sterre. (I know, travesty, but let’s not dwell – I made it after all).
Nicola was dropped at my home in Boston by her bf around 16:20-ish. We had a sip of wine each before being picked up by our Uber driver. A fancily dressed guy who was clearly not from South Africa and loves music (he asked us if he could turn up the volume). I asked where he’s from and he said Kenya. I was surprised, as his features didn’t look very Kenyan to me (not that I have any bloody real expertise in ethnicity). I told him his features resemble those of people a bit further north. A bit more Ethiopian/Sudanese? Then again, I’ve never even been outside South Africa, so my observations are based on news, movies and people I’ve met – so propaganda and personal experience. Admittedly, I probably don’t look very South African to foreigners either. This is a nonsensical part of my blog post. But I’ll leave it for context.
The drop-off – Tussen die Sterre arrivee
We arrived at the venue around 16:45. Gates were to open at 17:00, so we had to hang around between the venue’s fence and some scraggly, dry thickets in the searing heat. I’ve always wondered why they don’t sell refreshments to people waiting in queues at concerts. Snow cones, shooters and cigarettes would sell like hotcakes. Also – those little spritzer bottles filled with plain ol’ tap water to spray yourself with. Nevertheless, the wait made us appreciate the scenery – tonnes of ice cream wrappers and an old-assed, red, shriveled, used condom up top on one of the bushes. Apparently the previous concert HAD had more entertainment in the queues. Nicola remarked that the owner of said condom really took to painting the town red.
One thing I’ve had to get used in my three years in Cape Town is the fact that NO ONE is EVER EARLY for ANYTHING! It’s a bit of a cultural thing I suppose – I mean, when culture determines that no one ever drive less than 20 km/h under the prescribed speed limit of any roadway, it’s hard to be early. So the gates opened 17:01. I say gates as the two adjacent gates had clearly marked signage to distinguish between us plain concertgoers and VIPs. Well, that was the intention at least. In practice anyone could enter at either gate, as there was no other distinguishing feature to the VIP entrance save for the signage and 1 m closer proximity to the queue. Nevertheless, I chose the VIP entrance. I have never been a VIP – except for the time I made myself a “film crew” button badge and accidentally made my way through the VIP entrance at a concert. I was there about 20 seconds before becoming flustered and making my way back to the plain people. Stardom has always frightened me.
Upon entering, there were about three or four food stalls. It reminded me a bit of the tombola tables at church bazaars. Nothing really fancy. Also, despite the obedient queuing moments before, no one seemed to know how to queue at the food stalls. It’s as if the human mind is incapable of computing a line of succession for purchasing snackage without a thicket and fence for reference. After making our way to the other side of the venue for a glass of wine we did, however, return for some hot dogs. The type of hot dogs you find at kids’ parties. Not entirely dissatisfying, but let’s just say a few glasses of wine will have made it far tastier. More like morning-after food than day-before food.
Vintage or thrift? Same-same
The organisers were clearly forward-thinking in understanding their audience though. Next to the food stalls was a lone warrior – a vintage jacket stall of note yo! It reminded me of a little charity shop I’d seen in Hogsback a few months before. Of course, though I had no need of a jacket at Tussen die Sterre, I’m quite sure the big difference between these ones and the ones in Hogsback was that these ones probably didn’t smell like moth balls and sweat. So if you had R150 to R350 to spare you could get yourself a retro eighties patch bomber – purple, black and some kind of fluorescent yellow, green or pink. Also – loads of denim jackets. Most uncomfortable stuff on earth. But I guess clothes don’t need to feel good – as long as it gives you confidence.
Anyway, I’m a second-hand thrift shop type of gal. Have always been. I suppose it bugs me that it’s just a fad right now.
Oh gawsh, me and my stupid jokes. So this place only had wine, beer and a stall selling coffee and iced coffee. Sweat was already trickling into my cleavage – not cool yo – so I thought caffeine would probs not be a good idea. We had a glass of wine each at R30 a pop. When we returned a second time, they’d dropped the price by R10 a glass. The waitress wasn’t interested in my weak assed skimp for a refund. We took our glasses and found our seats. Now, before we left Nicola and I got into discussing the Centurion Coke Fest debacle circa 2008 where Coca-Cola apparently tried to cure groupies of their music fetish through mass dehydration. We laughed about it. The bar lady said not to worry – they had lots of wine. We laughed. Idiots. All of us.
Of course, the bar ran dry just as the show started. I’d run up to the top for third rounds to get away from Adam, only to be told they had no more glasses. I tried to buy glasses from a group of people sitting there, but only got some grumbles. One guy accused me of having snorted cocaine. He said my eyes looked wild. I, of course, could not see my eyes, but immediately felt a fool. Were my eyes betraying my lacklustre Afrikaans music enthusiasm? Was it this damned sweat surreptitiously sneaking between breasts and the thought of having to sit for hours without booze in my bloodstream dilating my pupils? Was it that obvious that I was excited, anxious and desperate? No. That oke was just a doos. I hoped he got a holkramp for a moment, but I have also learned that it’s not good to wish bad things on others. It always backfires. So I forgive him for being a nool. He prolly can’t help it.
Anyway, I was crazy peeved at this stage. The people and Adam had made me grumped (of course, Adam are people too – but let’s suppose for a moment celebrities aren’t, and take them apart for a lil’ bit). It’s the vice of the peasants.
Adam – Eva would be miffed
So here’s the shit. I’d never heard of Adam before yesterday. Or at least, I can’t remember ever having heard their music. I was surprised at the quality of their voices. Reminded me a bit of old Innes and Franna Benadie when they went a capella at times. And I liked it. They have talent.
But, of course, save for the two classy and intriguing tunes, the rest was crap. Ag, don’t you judge me! My opinion about Adam’s music, and most mainstream Afrikaans treffers is a professional one based on experience in literary critique. Having had to dissect numerous poems and writing pieces throughout my life – both for degree and professional purposes – I kind of have the authority on what constitutes good writing. So someone having “Coca-Cola in my are” (Coca cola in my veins) as some sorta romantic gesture is flat, common and predictable. I can’t really recall the whole tune – selective amnesia I suppose. Let’s just say I’m tired of loslappies, pampoene, blou bulle wattie vannie vloer af eetie, bokkies, kapteine spanning seile and oe-a-lalala crap. And the fact that most of these tunes share the same baseline, three chords and rave beat doesn’t say much about the musical prowess of the musicians. Ag nee, okes, you can do better.
So, my opinion about the lyrics may be a professional one – the next one is purely subjective and will obvs get me lambasted. But I’ll take the whipping. This is my blog after all.
I asked Nicola if we were at an Afrikaans is Groot concert (?). The crowd just didn’t remind me of the typical van Coke crowd. I’ve been to Blood Brothers. NOT the same thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with the crowd because they’re not your die-hard rockers. No. My observation has more to do with the flipping cliquishness of the Western Cape. I’m not joking here. I’ve seen it in the sweaty crowds of Shimmy’s, the thronging clubs of the city centre, experienced it at the Cape Town Stadium watching bands like Foo Fighters, felt it in my first visit to a Paarl night spot last week (by the way, this concert was my second Paarl visit ever) and now at the LiquiFruit -Taalmonument amphitheatre stadium thingy for Tussen die Sterre. I’ve even experienced it as far as Hermanus – where I’ve been working once a week for the past year. People treat each other like lepers. They gooi an oog at you which is hard to decipher and makes you want to scrub yourself with a
There’s not a lot that I miss about Gauteng – but thunderstorms, efficacy and friendliness are three things I long for every day (oh, perhaps a fourth – driving ability). People don’t mingle here. They don’t like strangers conversing in queues or sharing their beer, snacks or shooters. They don’t want to hear where you come from or what you think about anything. They sure as shit don’t want to dance with you, let alone get to know you. Of course, I am an oddball, so yes – it could just be my personality – but still, I’d never experienced such alienation and segregation as I have in the Cape. It’s oppressing and depressing and really makes for shitty social experiences. Then again, these were people who clearly came to the show only to hear Karen Zoid’s sweetpakbroek. But more about that later. We’re at Francois next. Tussen die sterre, onder die straatlig and onder die maanlig…
Francois van Coke – I am biased
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m hella biased when it comes to Francois van Coke. He is a fucking legend of epic auditory proportions. I like my screaming musos – but it takes a certain type who can scream AND be coherent AND catch the perfect pitch in between. Reminds me of Chester Beddington in a way, gosh that boy can growl with style. I miss good punk.
Anyway, so after whistling like a bloody banshee that’ll give Roger Whittaker a go, the only friendly crowdsters we met (a bunch of elderly ladies who were moera impressed by my whistling antics and asked for lessons) admitted that it was due to this whistling extravaganza that my new friend (Nicola’s colleague’s wifey who joined us at the show), got to go on the stage, answer a question correctly, get to meet Francois and get a fucking CD. I agreed with them. Probably because I was srsly jealous. Not that I’d ever have gone on stage had I been called. My stage phobia is out of control. All of the out-of-control. Of course, I wouldn’t have answered the question correctly anyway – which was to name the gender of Francois van Coke’s new baby. I suppose I’m not that much of a hardcore fan if you don’t know the gender of a muso’s newborn. My friend Fanie and I discussed it just now and concluded that I could just have acted aghast and asked them whether it was appropriate to assume a gender in the year 2016 (:’D). But, as I mentioned, there’s that stage-fright thing. So no.
Anyway, a bit later us three ladies made our way to the small incline between the stage and seating to act all embarrassing groupie-like. Sat there on our bums headbanging, screeching, shrieking, howling and singing. This lasted a little little bit, until a disgruntled old omie security guard found our offensive sit-singing too intimidating and shooed us away. Clearly we were the types whoda jumped on stage and acted all stalkerish. Perhaps it was our sizes – this omie had probably seen a few pieces of underwear fly on stage in his lifetime and ours wasn’t likely to be that pleasing. Nicola is the skinniest of the three of us. But as a crappy attendee remarked when she’d accidentally photobombed their group picture (THAT THEY’D TRIED TO TAKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOODY WALKWAY FOR TWO MINUTES) – she’s a ginger. And clearly gingers aren’t favourable assets at places like these (we talked about that clique thing earlier). Probably reminds the Afrikaners too much of our European ancestry and all of that colonial stuff.
Joking. Jeez. Get over yourself!
Anyway, enjoyed Francois van Coke’s set tonnes (useless fact – did you know a ton and a tonne are different measures of weight?). I think, perhaps, he would also make Adam’s tunes sound better had he had a go. Maybe salvage the lyrics with a gruff growl. Living in apparent close proximity to van Coke, I’ve often considered walking past his house and throwing it with rocks – perhaps he’ll scream at me. (I say apparent, because I’m not entirely sure where he lives, I only know it’s rather close). But i’m a bit of a wanker when it comes to celebs – as we’ve already established. And despite my brash and abrasive online persona, I generally don’t go out of my way to piss people off. Also, my hubby mentioned that it would be kak style to throw someone’s house with rocks who’s just had a baby. He says my timing is all off. It usually is.
So I’ll just listen to him serenade me on my phone then – until such time that I can get a vinyl. (Who wants CD’s? Bloody 90’s coasters).
Karen and the Afrikaners
I’d never seen Karen Zoid live. Always wanted to though. Well, not always. To be honest, I’d found Afrikaners is Plesierig a bit tedious at the time of release. I think, perhaps, I was unsure about her intent and I tend to frown on people reappropriating old music or snippets of others’ work to make a quick buck and capitalise on consumer psyche.
But she’d salvaged my opinion of her with successive releases. I really liked Deurmekaar, Die Meisie Wat Haar Potlood Kou and Vleesbaai in particular.
Of course, my attraction to Vleesbaai is also biased. In the song Karen mentions one of my longest, dearest and deadest friends – Blignaut. Having grown up with him, he later became Karen’s flatmate in Jozi. So I guess, I admire her for the fact that she’d been able to share a flat with him. Gosh, anyone who knew Blignaut will have known him to have been a bloody nightmare at times. An interesting nightmare. A self-absorbed, deeply creative, deeply troubled and absolute genius of a nightmare. He died outside Lydenburg a few years ago, having attempted his way back drunk after a night out and instead driving off a cliff. To be honest, though, dying in his sleep would never have been suitable for Blignaut. It’d have been far too ordinary and underwhelming. As with the rest of his life. It had to be shocking and traumatic and unexpected. I miss that guy.
So, anyway, my idea of Karen had been boosted somewhat by the mutual connection with someone special. This idea, however, had changed in the last few years…
Like Chris Chameleon, I’d felt a bit of a fracture in these personas I’d idolised for their music – in our Chameleons and Zoids. So, some may say this is a logical fallacy – to judge someone’s material on their personal opinions, actions and affiliations – but this is the reality of the limelight. We will undoubtedly never get to befriend these icons of ours, so our perception of them is a package deal – we either buy the whole package or we don’t. And I find it odd when people sort of change their personalities to become more mainstream. Karen, for instance, used to be the epitome of Afrikaner-feminist-rock – an alternative movement which never quite caught on, but was hella refreshing and exciting none-the-least. Now I don’t know when this transition into the mainstream Afrikanerdom started. I don’t know whether it’s as a result of participation in things like the Voice, Republiek van Zoid Afrika and Afrikaans is Groot, or if she started participating in these mainstream events due to having an inclination towards Afrikaner mainstream in the first place. What is the cause and effect? Is it a chicken or an egg? For instance, had she always had this affinity for mainstream Afrikaner culture, then I suppose I cannot fault her authenticity – it will have been an intuitive move, though I somehow cannot admire her music so much anymore. Conversely, had she been prompted towards this wider public audience as a strategic move to secure a constant income, audience and fanbase, then I’m kind of miffed at the dishonesty of it all, but can appreciate that her public persona and music are simply tailored to the consumer. It’s about record sales after all.
But I cannot really see myself ever really being tight with a part of my culture which is notorious for fuelling racial tensions, discord and self pity. I sound off point, right? But this is my biggest gripe with mainstream Afrikaner music. It’s not just the lack of literary proficiency and phonemic diversity and dulcet dexterity which irks me. It’s the connection to a culture of divisiveness, self-pity, disgruntledness and entitlement. I mean, I’d like to separate the genre from its roots and its affiliations, but it’s not entirely possible, is it? I suppose it’s a political thing. Goshdarnit. I wish politics would stay out of music, but I suppose if we were to keep politics within certain boxes it wouldn’t be true politics. It wouldn’t be truly encompassing of all of society.
So my point, I suppose, is that I find it hard to see someone I admire as an artist who shares a connection with one of my ghosts also share a connection and airtime with people I would probably never come to admire, let alone stomach. With people who seek to unravel the very power that music has to unite. You know the artists I’m talking about right? And their fans? I don’t need to accentuate the obvious? I don’t need to go into detail about the type of people I’m referencing here? Good! Smartypants!
Of course, who am I to analyse the lives of celebrities so fervently? No one. I am just bored. It’s Sunday afternoon in December and the heat is killing me. I am just lying on the couch thinking random things. I am making assumptions and forming opinions about things which really don’t have such a big influence on my life but still warrant some introspection.
Anyhoo – so back to Karen. She certainly has a stage personality of note. Kind of my nemesis in a way. She involves the crowd and does what they want her to do. And she is clearly genuinely a social butterfly. Of course, it goes without saying that the two songs she got the greatest applause for were Afrikaners is Plesierig and Sweetpakbroek. Sweetpakbroek had apparently not been on the set list, but after asking the audience what they wanted, it was the overwhelming request. Karen noted that it was one of the worst songs she’d ever written. Now, what I found rather hilarious, is the fact that the audience didn’t seem to grasp that the song is a parody about people like them. The audience really seemed like sweetpakbroek people. Not unlike kaalvoet me – I also have a stereotype I suppose.
Still, I don’t get this…
(WHAT IS THIS?)
All-in-all, Karen gave a great show. She has an amazing voice, a larger-than-life personality, and a way with people. I am perhaps a bit tough on her. But she looks like a tough cookie. So I’m sure she’ll take it on the chin. My beef, after all, is not really with her.
Now – don’t be so judgey!
Ah, I can already feel the indignant rage emanating from you – I seem a bit judgey, right? (Kind of like you are right now amirite?)
Okay, so here’s the deal. I’m an avid music junkie. Had there not been that stage thing and this body thing I’d probably have ended up in the business. You should have seen me dance by my lonesome on those stairs away from the crowd last night. It was epic. I didn’t make it into the music business though, but I’d have loved it. I love music. I was raised listening to Black Sabbath, Luciano Pavarotti, Ennio Morricone, A-Ha, Wham, Tanita Tikaram, Sting, the Fureys, Dolly Parton, Anneli van Rooyen, Koos du Plessis, Leonard Cohen, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Pink Floyd, Uriah Heap, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Cranberries, Tori Amos, Heather Nova, Bon Jovi, the Beatles, Bryan Adams, Mariah Carey, Shakirah, Awakening, the Led, Alison Krauss, the Who, Frank Sinatra, Edith Piaf, Take That, Whitney Houston, U2, David Essex, Phil Collins, Bette Middler, Springbok Nude Girls, Randal Wicomb, Anton Goosen, Laurika Rauch, Eros Ramazzotti, Ace of Base, Paula Abdul, Elton John, Diary of Dreams, Heather Nova, Tracy Chapman, Bing Crosby, Maria Callas, Greenday, Rod Stewart, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Jewel, No Doubt, Bob Marley and, well, you catch my drift don’t you? I listened to almost everything!
From a young age I’d memorised music and lyrics and learned to judge individual songs, musicians and genres by the criteria applicable to these respective artists and their works. I had some stints playing guitar, piano, violin and flute and wrote a few unimpressive tunes – recording myself on the tape deck. My mother still plays the accordion and mandolin. My sister plays piano and guitar. My brother plays guitar (and lots-n-lots of games). My grandfather used to play Hawaiian guitar, harmonica and some San instruments (he’s a Suid-Wester). I come from a family of music lovers and musicians. Constantly singing, vinyl playing and discussing compositions and scores and whatnot. So, really, I’m just used to taking music apart and putting it back together again. I’m used to judging these guys quite harshly. It’s the same way I judge myself.
As for the people – the faces in the crowd – no, I am not that judgmental. I don’t really frown on the class, culture or affinities of groups of people – though I like to capture it in words. And I like to comment on the absurdity of conformity. These observations also stem from years of feeling like I don’t really belong in any such groups or consciousness or segments. I’ve always wandered the outskirts and peripherals of any classifications or groupings – always borderline something . Never fitting the mold. Never quite getting my square-pegged personality through all of them round holes. It is my life. It is not a sad thing. I am not sorry for myself or resentful of anything or one. That would be stupid. It is just what it is.
I enjoy my view of life. I enjoy that I still try to mingle with people of different backgrounds and conviction. I enjoy that I still try to place myself in the psyches of others – if only to question their actions, emotions and fear. I enjoy that I will still sit and analyse music and events which aren’t necessarily appealing to me personally – and that I can see what is good, what is bad and why this is. I enjoy that I am still able to change my own mind through analysis, conversations and DAMNED THIRST INVOKED BY A LACK OF EVENT PLANNING AT A CONCERT.
I guess the point is that a lekker show will still be remembered for the kak things even if the show was laank hot. So please – give people shit to drink okes. It’ll make the parche-throat and damaged voice boxes a bit more bearable the day after.
Also – a bit of liquid soothing will probably have made my lips look a bit less collageneish from all that kommin whistling. I suppose it’s not a bad thing to have a bit of a “stiff upper lip” for a day or two. I will bear my wound with pride.
So that’s it I suppose. Just a rant about a show. I’ll probably do this again soon. Have a lekker week.
On a side-note – big ups to the security guard who joined us in our exiting-the-stadium a capella song-and-dance. You got gees guy! Don’t lose it.
Will I attend Tussen die Sterre again? Probably not if I have to buy my own ticket. Depends on the lineup I guess. Will I see Francois, Karen and Adam again. Hopefully – and hopefully Adam will have dropped the graad 1 rhymes. We have enough Hofmeyrs, Darrens, Nadines and Snotkoppe. Stahp!