If you didn’t know that Rocking the Daisies was this past weekend, then you are probably over 70 and have a house filled with cats, kak ‘collectible’ porcelain and questionable odours. Attracting over 10 000 people every year, RTD 2011 was no different and one small seed contributor Cameron Duncan hit it, and hit it hard…
It was about 9pm on Friday night when the seed team finally arrived at Cloof Wine Estate. The plan was to arrive a lot earlier, but some dubious directions meant that we ended up in Pella (not once, but twice) and were lucky to escape with our lives. Believe me when I say that that place is best avoided, especially at nightfall. Having successfully negotiated gangster’s paradise, with a zest for life that only a near death experience provides, we finally arrived to the sound of bass reverberating across the field and a sea of tents and cars. Luckily the Chinese have got tents down to a fine art so it only took about five minutes to put ours up, make some wardrobe additions and mix up something strong with the bottle stores (fourth) finest vodka. Daisies, here we come…
The festival had been in full swing since early Friday afternoon and we had barely left the VIP/Media campsite when we encountered those who (clearly) arrived a lot earlier than us. One young woman was so fantastically out of it (read: fucked) that she could do nothing more than lean against the fence and mutter to herself as her head lolled back and forth. A short while later and we passed a group of guys practically carrying a mate of theirs who slurred out “I have no more money left!”. Rookies! Don’t they know a three day festival is a marathon, not a sprint? It was going to be one interesting weekend.
Before heading across the makeshift bridge to the festival proper, we got acquainted with the camping section and did some mingling with our festival brethren. After checking one of our crew in to Lumo City, we had a sneaky puff with the brains behind the Lumo Sumo concept, Tim, Ricky and John. All three are rad guys and very passionate about their blossoming company. It does of course help that a large number of their clients happened to be attractive American exchange students, with a healthy appetite for some South African loving. The camping section resembled a refugee camp in that it was a sea of tents almost as far as the eye could see. It was almost like a makeshift town had sprung up over a couple of days, complete with ablution areas, restaurants and even a ‘Daisy Den’ for the ladies. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tent dwellers had elected some sort of tent king who ruled over the land with a crown of pegs, such was the vastness of the campsite.
The seed crew was pleasantly ‘on it’ and needed some music in the system! We headed across the bridge with the masses and took in the festival for the first time. At the end of the bridge, that connected tent land to music land, was a Converse stall called ‘The Right To Tune’. The concept behind this was basically two folk singers following people with a guitar and a tambourine and tuning them in impromptu songs. Yeah, I don’t get it either. The sounds of Jack Parow blared from the Main Stage as the Zef proponent gave the crowd what they had come to expect from the man – tongue in cheek humour, fat beats and an energetic stage presence. It works, and hundreds of Bellville’s finest were lapping it up!
Mix ‘n Blend were an act I was really looking forward to seeing and were up next after Meneer Parow. I could barely contain my excitement when the band arrived on stage, but sadly the sound did not do them any justice. We stayed for the first song and just couldn’t take it anymore – the bass was nowhere near enough, the levels were too soft and it just generally sounded flat. A travesty for such a talented group of people! I sincerely hope it was rectified shortly thereafter.
After the poor sound at the main stage, we hankered after some real bass so made our way to the Electronic stage. Brilliantly put together by Kilowatt AV, sShadoworkss and Red Bull Studio Cape Town, the dome was heaving to the sounds of El Gordo. Freshly back from London, where he is studying at one of the world’s premier music production schools, El G delivered his trademark sounds of the indefinable. Techno infused with electro, with a dash of nu-disco and a dollop of breakbeat, reverberated through the massive tent as bodies writhed in delight. The man is a musical genius and I’m sure he is destined for huge success on the global stage.
Next up was the first international of the festival – Mustard Pimp / Dim Mak. I was pretty disappointed to be honest. I have caught a couple acts under the Dim Mak label in the past, namely label boss Steve Aoki and Belgian wunderkind GTronic, and Mustard Pimp was nothing like them. My memory was admittedly hazy at this point, but it seemed to be a set of electro house of the older persuasion. I could be way off, but I know what I like and I didn’t like that. We made some rounds and chatted to some people whilst we awaited SA’s own superstar – Haezer. As has become customary at SA’s major festivals, Haezer was again the biggest draw card. Despite the global decline in popularity of thrash electro (as dubstep greedily gobbles up club slots), he still continues to pull in massive crowds. The tent was chock-a-block during his set and he delivered his high energy, thrash/punk electro set with aplomb. There was not a dry pit in the house. Completely devoid of all bodily fluid, I decided to call it a night after his set and brace myself for day two.
It was around 7am when I first gained what can only be described as semi-consciousness. I was barely dry from Haezer’s set when sweat had already begun pooling around my body as the Darling (or Carling, right SAB-Miller?) sun beat down on my ill-equipped tent. I hastily opened the front flaps and rushed outside before my internal organs slow roasted any further. Saturday was set to be hot as hell! It seemed that I was not the only one scampering for relief as throngs of bikini clad lovelies made their way to the dam for the day. A quick side note: as a male of our fine species, there are not enough adjectives to accurately describe the magnificentness that is the female contingent at the Daisies. Bikinis and short (almost micro) shorts were the weapons of choice of Cape Town’s lovely ladies and I would just like to take this moment to thank each and every single one of you. Truly. From the bottom of my heart (and pants). But on with the story…
The heat meant that the dam was the only place to be on Saturday and the Mainstay beach bar quickly filled up with Daisy goers keen to soak up the rays close to the water, with a refreshing beverage in hand. Michael Kennedy and the brothers Skene (Ian and Malcolm respectively) provided the beats to accompany what was turning out to be an amazing summer’s day. My only criticism is that the Mainstay beach bar’s lineup did not feature in any of the main mediums of the festival. It definitely warranted a mention! Some of the best music of the festival was heard on the banks of the dam as revelers got a lot of two things: 1) into a serious party mood and 2) a much higher chance of skin cancer later in life. Man was it hot!
By around midday, the heat of the sun had formed a formidable mix with the abundance of alcohol (and the like) and people were in no state to visit in-laws (so to speak). The excess vitamin D was taking its toll in a big way. I sought refuge in the shade of the Red Bull recharge zone where people were passed out on both bean bags and other people. The Red Bull recharge zone is a brilliant idea as it means you can catch your breathe while your phone catches some charge. It was also right opposite the Electronic stage so the beats were crystal clear. Marshall was laying it on proper while I got talking to one of the many American exchange students at the festival. The tasty little San Fran native told me that it was either this or Burning Man. I made some shitty joke about how there were tons of burning men around and left it at that.
Peachy Keen was on at the Main Stage so I stopped to have a listen. The band is fronted by two chicks heavily influenced by the style of the 50’s and tattooed the fuck up (unsurprising as they are sponsored by Sins of Style). Their energy is infectious and it’s pretty evident that they love what they do. They play what can only be described as homage to classic rock. Throw in some trumpet, and you have the makings of a good time. I feel for them though as their slot was at the hottest part of the day, so people were not exactly going ape shit on the dance floor. This lead to one of the front ladies calling for some movement and exclaiming “we’re a rock n roll band – we’re here for a reason”. They played a lively cover of Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’ that roused a few sporting types, but alas, the heat was taking it’s toll on the masses who clung to what little shade was available. Click here to listen to their track ‘Shot a Man Down’
After grabbing a Hudson’s Burger in the amazing food court tent (which boasted better food than most malls around the country – especially Bloemfontein) I headed back to the Main Stage to catch Iscreamstix at 13.00. I had heard of the band a while ago when they were still know as I-Scream and the Chocolate Stix but only really sat up and took notice when I heard ‘Skitso’ on national radio. I was not disappointed! The make up of the band reflects in the style of music they play – diverse range of influences with a unique sound and serious feel good factor. The Daisy newcomers looked very at home on the big stage and drew quite a crowd – say what you will about 5fm, but it does do it’s fair share for local music. Iscreamstix are so damn cool because they are obviously having the biggest jol, and that comes across in their tunes and their stage presence. You can’t help but smile as your foot taps to their catchy beats. Highly patriotic and proudly South African, they don’t try be something they’re not. There’s no rapping in American accents, or phrases like ‘damn, shorty fine’. Instead, they use colloquial South Africanisms and a good couple of our national languages. Their track ‘Cow Bell’ (which I imagine could be the next single) is a glitch hop beast and got people up out the shade and onto the floor. The feel good factor of their music is undeniable and summed up by the chorus “Dancing is easy. You’re moving your body; we’re moving our bodies together”. Watch out for these guys – big things!
At this stage of proceedings, sun stroke was becoming a very real concern so I sought the shade of the Red Bull stage. On the way I passed the Bos Ice Tea wrestling ring where beloved comedians Corne and Twakkie were challenging members of the audience. The pair was dressed in ridiculously tight gym pants that left (regrettably) very little to the imagination. Their trousers were stuffed with massive faux penises that bobbled up and down as they wrestled. “Who will wrestle us?” said Twakkie. One man put up his hand in the crowd and Corne looked over at him and said “You? I can beat you wif my moustache”. This sort of exchange went on for about 15 minutes when I remembered my shade mission. Indiginus was next up on the Red Bull stage and his slide didgeridoo was unmistakable as I made my way to the dome. There was a group of people playing tap-tap football on the dance floor and they really summed up the great diversity of Daisy goers – a Rasta, a Xhosa guy, a khaki clad hippie and a peroxide blonde hipster chick all jammed footie together like it aint no thang. For me, this is the best thing about the Daisies. Young, old, black, white, cool, uncool, and everyone in between, make the festival the most diverse in Cape Town. While Indiginus played, Red Bull Studios honcho Steve Elsworth (Audiophile021) looked on like a proud dad as the stage production ran like clock work with impressive stage wide visuals and brilliant acoustics.
Thus far, all the Daisy patrons had been in really good spirits but, unfortunately, you always get some wanker from Claremont who finds his way there. This particular ‘gentleman’ was stumbling shirtless through the crowd and shouting “who wants to fight me?” All passersby politely declined his offer and he showed his frustration by taking his member out and urinating on a table in front of a squad of bewildered Norwegian tourists. I assured them that we shun this sort of thing too and got the hell out of there before this dude got another brainwave. Some people are just fuck ups I guess. I put the SACS/Bishops/Rondebosch knob out of my head and headed to my tent for a well deserved rest, in order to be fresh(er) for night two.
The second night in the Red Bull dome was techno heavy, which is right up my alley. No disrespect to any of the acts, but I’m all about the driving bass of minimal techno and tech house. It’s such a shame that Cape Town no longer has a regular techno night since stalwarts Killer Robot called time on their Friday residency at Fiction. Cape Town has become almost saturated with drum n bass, dubstep and electro so it’s always refreshing to hear something different. Killer Robot were exemplarily as always and passed the baton to their highly capable (and really rather stunning) sShadoworkss colleague, Anthea Scholtz. Anthea is one of those DJ’s that you will never be disappointed by. Not relying on any gimmicks or exaggerated movements on stage, she coolly and calculatingly serves up banger after banger. Anthea provided the perfect introduction to the Detroit based Kevin Saunderson. As could be expected from someone who hails from Motor City, the home of techno, Kevin took Daisy goers on a journey through the sounds of the underground. Grooving techno was reigning supreme and people were loving it! I thought it could get no better, but it did. Digital Rockit were next and, for me anyway, delivered the performance of the festival. All three members were clad in identical black hoodies with mesh over their face, and could only be differentiated by three different colours of luminous stitching around their faces and down their sides. The audiovisuals were insane and the music out of this world. It was truly of international standard, so big ups to the three piece from Joburg.
By the time 5am eventually rolled around, I wearily made my way back to the tent to catch an hour or twos sleep before the Rugby quarterfinal. The vibe was amazing as thousands of party people all sat to support our boys in Green and Gold. There was a real feeling of camaraderie and national pride, which made the whole thing pretty special. I overheard a couple saying that the rugby was the whole reason they came to the Daisies and it was not hard to see why. The National Anthem was sung with gusto as everyone stood to attention. That was sadly as good as it got. The shit result meant that a lot of people were left with a distinct lack of gees and there was a mass exodus after the final whistle. The seed crew were feeling disheartened too so we made our way to the tent and packed up what had been our home for the last two days. We snaked our way through the gate with thousands of others and bid farewell to the amazing setup behind us.
Rocking the Daisies 2011 was real. There were some good bands, some shit bands, some rad djs and some not so rad djs. The music was almost secondary though as the real treat was embracing the African sun with all of her diverse children. While the acts may not always be the biggest draw card, the vibe certainly is.