What Do You Say No To?
Music has always been shaped by the greater panorama of the socio-cultural movement. What styles and tones derived from the 1960s should come as no surprise, given the intensity of assured collective phenomena. The revolution of this era lay in its ability to transition the external substances and influences that set their cognizance free from the mind set of their country, family or societal pressure.
So, it comes as no surprise that drugs and rebellion surpassed the nature of their lifestyle. The youth did not ask for a better day, they took it. With the aid of music, the today had the potential to realise the complexities and paradoxes of a world unknown to the common man. Psychedelic rock was spawn out of a need to protest against the choices being made for people without their consent. In the 1960s, we were saying no to war. No to violence. No to political burdens.
Today, we are still saying no. To Nkandla. To corruption. To white privilege. To xenophobia.
Even when the focus is not on the above properties, our no reminds us not to conform or accept, but rather release what’s inside of us.
This is what is going on with the Psych scene in Cape Town. They are saying no to the strains they grew up with and now reimagining the music industry with more intense chords, dreamy and coarse vocals and strung out distortion. They are making the noise we need to hear.
Bands such as Medicine Boy, Bilderberg Hotel, Sol Gems, Wild Eastern Arches and Heroine all belong to a scene. I don’t think it was premeditated to belong to a society, but they are segmented because of the nature of their sound. The collective Psych Night promotes their belonging and sub-culture behind the music. They originated with a goal in mind: to celebrate psychedelica in their city through use of live bands, DJ, visuals and exhibitions.
Retro Dizzy, a surf punk psych band from Cape Town, will not give into higher powers ruining things, because they don’t want to push their own personal beliefs down people’s throats and don’t want to corrupt the people of “our beautiful land”.
“We say no to people judging people on external qualities only”, says retro Dizzy.
Dominating Cape Town and its bars, the psych scene often resembles the environment they operate around. Joburg is rather slack when it comes to its counterpart. Maybe it’s because we don’t have access to the mountains and ocean this side, but we are very limited to the psych continuity remaining here. We get a gig every six months and a vinyl session maybe bi-monthly. Golden Yolk has started hosting vinyl nights at Stanley Beer Yard. I have not attended an evening as of yet, but very much look forward to an ambiance full of desire and retribution. Nothing less than that will suffice. They recently celebrated a year of existence, so they are fairly new. I guess all we could do is watch this space for further development in the scene.
I would imagine that we have more to write about when it comes to the grit and grind of Johannesburg. Our evolution of urbanism is everlasting and our formula is under refined. We have more to object now than ever, and yet, we keep silent. So, what’s the hold? Why has Cape Town aced the imagination of an era once known and we are falling behind?
Cape Town garage band Gumbo Ya-Yas don’t want to create typical music.
“We also don’t like the old holier-than-thou-rock-star attitude. We are pretty chilled guys”, they add.
Not adhering to the rules is part of our contemporary existence. We go where the modernism sprouts. In an era before this, post-rock and chillwave captivated an assortment of audiences and brought them together. I cannot be stuck in a trend behind when the new one is more complex and defined. Today, I am attracted to the psych scene as its meat is textural and visceral. It is more low-key than expected and seems to attract groups of musicians and listeners to its surf/soul/garage content. It is not just music, but rather a movement. So just for today, I will say no to conformity, no to second best and no to comprimisning my integrity. Today, I will listen to those who sit up and echo instead of revel by the silence.
Featured image courtesy Everfelt Media