When is too much enough?
For years, South Africa experienced a drought in good and relevant bands and acts visiting our shores. They usually avoided us like we had Ebola. Unfortunately, most continue to avoid Durban – Luckily, The Kooks will be heading that side of the country to make amends. Only a few artists dared to come to South Africa and see what was going on here – To see lions roaming our streets or something like that.
But is the exposure and sudden popularity we’re getting from all the international acts that are streaming into the country really a good thing and is it maybe going to our heads and turning us, music loving fans, into assholes towards our own local bands?
When Coke Fest started we had a place to go to watch some of our favourite international acts once a year. Between the Coke Fests, we had all our local bands to feed the hunger we had for live performance. Coke Fest eventually disappeared as Oppikoppi grew in popularity – duefully filling the void. It was great because we still had our local artists to give us our live show fix between each Oppikoppi and the bill at Oppikoppi actively supported local rock and roll giving our indigenous acts the same stages and crowds to perform to as the internationals.
Shortly thereafter; Ramfest and Rocking The Daisies followed suit in bringing internationals to our shores – giving more and more bands the opportunity to share the stage with some of their heroes. Instead of building up excitement to see an international once a year, we now had three or more events with international headliners to look forward to in the year. It was like Christmas every few months.
The result was neglect. A neglection of our indigenous creators. Priorities changed and smaller live shows became disposable in an effort to save money to afford a ticket to witness the internationals.
2014 has seen a peak in the amount of internationals visiting South Africa. Ramfest, Oppikoppi, Rocking The Daisies, Park Acoustics, Krank’d Up, and We Heart JHB (or We Love JHB or whatever they call it) all offered up international acts at no small fee. That’s discounting the internationals yet to come for Sounds Wild, and various other Big Concert shows. The list goes on.
How can we keep up?
We are spoilt for choice now and can pick out which internationals we’d like to see, where we were once so desperate that we would even consider watching Celine Dion purely for the sake of watching an international artist.
We no longer have that hunger to go to local shows to get our live music fix because we know in a month there will be another international act. Easily costing anywhere from R300 to R1500, which is a shit load of money for young people (me). Yet we won’t or can’t pay R30 at the door to see, support, and grow some of the best acts our country has to offer. I know of people who only go to shows and festivals where internationals play. I also know of people who wait to see the international announcements before they buy an Oppikoppi ticket. Koppi is an experience. It’s about the vibe and the party not only the tunes as they claim. It’s our last little escape to a fantasy life of hedonism. My very first Koppi didn’t have a single international act performing and I watched more bands and had more fun that year than any other year at Oppikoppi. Oh, and then we have the goddamn gall to complain about who the organisers bring over. But that’s a story for another article.
Our bands gave us something to listen to when our favourite international artist’s CD’s started skipping due to excessive listening. They were there to give us something to do on any night of the week. They remained there even though we said that they sold out or that the scene was dead. Like an old toy we grew bored with, we placed local music on the shelf and got out our fun new toys – the internationals.
Some of us have spent all our money on a concert ticket for an international act so we end up missing the local band’s shows because, “we can see them whenever we want but that international band only comes once in a lifetime”. Then the local band feels defeated if they look at the turn out at some of their shows and struggle to get their money from the organiser and decide to call it quits and then we have that “woe is us” moment.
I’m not immune to this and I know it’s somewhat rich coming from me. I am the first one to get excited when an international gets announced. But I can’t help feel sorry for the bands. Some of them don’t know the right people in the industry so they’ll never get the chance to open for an international and get the exposure they rightfully deserve.
It’s a flawed system. It’s a flawed world. But despite this, the local music scene is strong. With artists out there like Bye Beneco, Newtown Knife Gang, Jeremy Loops,The Dollfins, Savage Lucy, The Brother Moves On, Alright Goodnight, Julian Redpath, Gangsterdam, We Are Charlie, The Goldilox Zone, Go Barefoot, Strike In Berlin, and more making well above average music and putting on very entertaining performances, we have no reason NOT to go and see them.
So save R30 or whatever and go and check out a show or two a month at a Rumours, The Bohemian, or any other small bar I haven’t heard of and remind yourself why you fell in love with live music in the first place.
To be continued.