My Suburban State started on Wednesday the 10th of September at exactly 10 in the morning. With the Suburban State website open on my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone, I was reduced to a pleb as I scrambled digitally amongst hundreds of other end users for one of the free tickets they were giving away. A few tweets and clicks of the refresh button later, you can imagine my trepidation at the thought of having to actually pay for a ticket.
I had absolutely no cash having just made financial investments in my puppys health and tickets to Tribe One and Rocking The Daisies. I’d usually pay but at the entrance on Saturday my name was Brooklyn Pakathi, my number was 40, and I had lost my ID the night before. Of course I’m not Brooklyn, the free tickets were non-transferable, and it clearly stated that you had to bring your ID with to redeem your free entrance. More trepidation ensued as they asked my friend who went in before me to reveal his ID to confirm that he was the Michael to whom the ticket was issued.
I’m not really sure how—I’d like to think that it was a gift from the universe—but I managed to get in without even needing to tell door ladies what number I had been issued. The event bangle was gently wrapped around Michael’s wrist. Then mine. I never looked back.
I usually come to these events particularly early due to the fact that the more progressive kind of artists—which I’ve found myself enjoying the most of late—are billed particularly early at most events of this size.
I was notably sad having missed the sets of Andrew The DJ and Data Takashi. The duo, known as Brahm & Fontein when playing B2B, are a big part of the reason why I savour going to Braam. They are responsible for curating much of the sound coming out of Kitcheners on a regular basis. It’s safe to say that Kitcheners has the most eclectic offering of music available in Johannesburg.
My sadness was speedily soothed as I was met by the soulful sounds of Trancemicsoul. It was fitting for deep house to see the sunlight out and invite the evening in. Trancemicsoul is becoming more of a feature on various premium line-ups having also played Grietfest just the other weekend. The kid from Soshanguve is bridging the gap and introducing more suburb kids to an electronic music quite the reverse to that which we are constantly bombarded with by 5FM. The great thing about deep house is it’s inviting nature that you can float on. It doesn’t force you to dance. It invites you to take a swim in it’s ambience. Trancemicsoul was the best set of the evening in my opinion.
Liver was next on the bill. Not only was the gravy crew member next behind the decks, but he was also one of the individuals pulling the strings behind the scenes to bring suburban state to fruition. His set was a solid party set filled with all kinds of trap, pop bootlegs, and most enjoyably, the most local music I had heard that day. My favourite moments of his set included hearing Hawkword, and the end of his set when he played his personal production, ‘The Word Is’. It was a bit embarrassing as on both moments I went full fanboy upon recognising the songs, and on both moments I was isolated in this recognition.
Ill Gates from Canada was next. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m all about that local music. So I’ll refrain from commenting on his performance, which is not to say that I did not enjoy it.
Finally Drum and Bass made it’s debut at Suburban State. The team went it hard on this one booking none other than Niskerone who is acclaimed as the king of Drum and Bass in South Africa. He wasn’t playing to a usual Drum and Bass audience so he did a great job in striking a balance between keeping the massive pleased whilst giving the not so devoted sounds they could recognise—He even started his set with a Drum and Bass remix of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. Trap is still currently the biggest genre of music around and even Niskerone caved in playing what was some of the filthiest trap I’d heard all night.
Final performance of the evening was from the duo that goes against all the signage at a zoo, Feed The Animals. If the rooftop was a zoo and FTA were the zookeepers, an investigation by the SPCA would only result in a positive report. FTA ensured that the audience were fed a healthy mixed diet of house, garage, beats, future RnB, and the now customary trap. My favourite DJs are multi-genre DJs and FTA’s experience and technical acumen was highlighted in their ability to cross various genres, even delving into hip-hop at one stage. I only wish that they played a bit more house and garage than they did.
It wasn’t even midnight and the party was already petering out. Andrew The DJ was on duty to gradually take the volume meter from the red to green—gently bidding us farewell. I was still so fresh for another three hours of party, but this was my own fault in arriving as late as I did. I’ll make sure that I am at the next Suburban State—wherever the new venue may be—as soon as the gates open.
The great thing about Suburban State is the diverse selection of sounds they curate brings together an interesting mix of individuals who don’t usually come together. It’s also at that perfect size where festivities are enhanced by the number of the people present while avoiding the presence of okes who go to these kind of things just to be seen. It’s the perfect house party. With better music. On a rooftop.
Images and words by Thozi Sejanamane