Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Dirty Skirts vs Tumi and the Volume

Picture it: an old ice rink just waiting to come back to life, 2 stages facing each other, and a DJ box in the middle of the room with one of the country's finest perched on it. And you have the setting for the Redbull Soundclash - The Dirty Skirts vs Tumi and the Volume. I loved the idea behind the event - taking two hot bands and give them the chance to show just what they can do.

This was no ordinary "battle of the bands", but a true show of musical prowess combined with the ability to charm and win over fans from two of the hottest bands in the country. During each round the bands had to gain support for their efforts - the louder the applause, the higher the number on the metre placed up on the ceiling. First off, both bands performed 3 of their own songs.


The Skirts

Round 2 was hilarious - both bands had to cover the Spice Girls' Wannabe, as chosen by the superstar DJ that is Kenzhero. Both totally changed the song around and made it - for a few minutes - acceptable to like the Spice Girls. In the last round they had to bring out a secret weapon...

Thandiswa helps out the Dirty Skirts

Zolani from Freshlyground plays for Team Tumi

In the end The Dirty Skirts won, but it was a tight competition and both bands absolutely shone up on stage and made it a night to remember.

It made me want to see another one of these nights again. How about 340ml versus aKing? Or Taxi Violence versus Kwani Experience?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

District 9

It's being billed as the film of the year and it's no wonder. Walking out of a preview screening of District 9 I thought about how this is unlike anything we have ever seen come out of South Africa. By now, I'm sure you'll have heard the buzz about the movie - how it was directed by South African Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, after the whole 'Halo' concept fell apart.

Using a pseudo-documentary style mixed with realism and fiction, the movie is about an alien ship that docks, not in New York, not in Washington, but in Johannesburg (gotta love it!), and how the residents try to contain its inhabitants who are condescendingly called Prawns (and as Gus Silber says, this could be in tribute to our very own Parktown Prawns). Much of the film was shot during the xenophobic violence that flared up last year so some of the scenes are very close to home, but the story is cleverly spun around and it works.

District 9 truly blew me away! And I am not a sci-fi kinda gal. It was smart and and had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. Part of the reason I think I was won over is that at the heart of all the gunfire and CGI is the main character Wikus van der Merwe. He's played by Sharlto Copely in his first big acting role. When he laughs, you laugh with him but when he becomes terrified, you become terrified. I think Copely is outstanding in his breakout role.

The film has also had an effective marketing campaign - first via the online viral trailer that was released and then also the on-thr-ground bus and seat signs such as these that I saw in the States.

Check out the trailer here. The film releases locally on the 28th of August.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Smoorverlief, aka Oppikoppi '09

It comes but once a year - well, for those who can only handle it once a year, it does. The annual Oppikoppi music festival, and it turned 15 this year.

I can clearly remember being a 15 year old teenager and desperately wanting to go to Oppikoppi. I was a huge Fetish fan (still am) and one year the band was part of an online broadcast that was being streamed out of Northam. I didn't have the internet at home so I found an internet cafe to make-pretend I was in my own little stretch of Northam for one afternoon.

Now that I get to go whenever I want, I try not to take it for granted. To have all these great bands together in one space for one weekend is still as marvelous now, as the allure of it was back then.

So, highlights from this year's fest?

Friday night was very festive - what with the new Jose Cuervo Black doing the rounds. It tastes a little like chocolate so it was going down very well ;) I had been invited to the launch of the new tequila which took place right on the koppie - with one of the best views of Oppikoppi, overlooking the bands and fans below. Aking's Laudo Liebenberg performed on the intimate Cuervo stage, which was only accessible to VIPs ;) Met and chatted to former Idols' contestants Pixie and Graeme. Discovered that Pixie has almost as much energy as me! Violin player extraodinaire Brendan Jury was also enjoying the party as well as the guys from Bed on Bricks. It was good to see a friend from Cape Town days, Agony Barman Dave - otherwise known as comedian Dave Levinsohn - who introduced the new drink to us.

Aking's Laudo

In between the goings on atop the 'koppi, the great vibes of The Sick Leaves and Bed on Bricks could be heard filling the Most Amazing Mainstage. Voodoo Child had warmed the stage up earlier in the evening - they are sounding tighter than I have ever heard them.

The weather on Friday night was surprisingly warm and that made Saturday such a lovely day too. Surprise find of the day: Melissa McClleland and Luke Doucet. Although there were only a handful of people at the start of their set on the Levi's Original Bushveld stage, word soon spread and a big crowd had gathered, hanging onto their melodic voices. They're performing in Jozi this weekend so I am keen to see them perform again. Doucet recently toured with James Blunt and McClleland worked with Sarah Mchlachlan but they really are artists in their own right.

Husband-wife duo Luke and Melissa

Van Coke Cartel and Gerald Clark were perfectly placed to play the Saturday afternoon set unplugged on the Levi's stage. Francois van Coke cleans up quite well! He has cut his hair and was wearing a suit. Also enjoyed Isochronous on the Main Stage and of course Koos Kombuis, then later on in the evening Karen Zoid. I hadn't seen the fiesty songstress perform for some time so I really enjoyed her set - wedding veil and all!

I missed the Sunday Women's Day lineup, because I had to get back for a wedding. But I hear Die Antwood, featuring ol' Waddy Jones, was the real crowd-pleaser of the day. Wonder if this latest incarnation by Mr Jones will last until next year's Oppikoppi? Hope so...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Soundtrack

I love it when it happens. I'll be sitting in a movie and seeping in through the screen I'll hear a snippet of the song that's been selected to accompany the scene. Sometimes I end up concentrating so hard on the hearing the song, I lose interest in what's going on on-screen. Other times it all comes together so well, enhancing my whole "cinematic experience".

Some of the best CDs I own are soundtracks: Brokedown Palace, which introduced me to the haunting sounds of Plumb; City of Angels, with that tribute to overcoming grief by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush; Garden State, with the Imogen-Heap-led Frou Frou. I even got into the whole Robert Pattinson thing because of the song he added to the Twilight soundtrack.

More recently, in the film Public Enemies, I found another gem. In between watching Johnny Depp play the charming John Dillinger, I heard this song: