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Everyone who is music-conscious in South Africa is talking about it, ‘it’ being South Africa’s boom in popularity as a destination for international acts. This seems to go hand in hand with South African musicians’ new-found popularity abroad. Just think of artists such as Die Antwoord or Jack Parow. South Africa is serious about its music, and it’s a lovely surprise to see the world take notice.
International acts provided South Africa with much happy entertainment throughout 2011. The year featured an impressive line-up of top musical acts from around the world. These included The Script, Coldplay, Kings of Leon and U2 with their amazing spider-looking contraption of a stage. Roxette graced South African stages during their first world tour in sixteen years, and Faithless allowed South Africans of all ages to jam to their live music, right before another of their rumoured band break-ups.
Rammstein paid a visit for the first time in their career, and Deadmau5 took South Africa by storm – one which was unanticipated by the concert organizers, who had to book a bigger venue for their Cape Town concert. They just had too many South African fans. In fact, each of these concerts was particularly well attended – a sign of South Africa’s appreciation for being recognized as a part of the international circuit.
Various South African musicians opened for these big names, proving that they can be as good as big Grammy-award-winning stars. The Arrows did well when they opened for The Script; and Goldfish, an energetic South African duo playing double bass, keyboards, tenor and soprano sax, energized the masses when they opened for Faithless at Cape Town’s Grand West Casino.
Also worth mentioning is The Parlotones who opened for Coldplay. With his soothing, sultry voice and famous, striking eyeliner, The Parlotones lead singer Kahn Morbee soon had the crowd singing and dancing to their songs, not to mention the girls’ swooning at the Parlotone boys.
Equally, 2011 was a year for South African musicians to make waves abroad. Die Antwoord, a band claiming to be from “the dark dangerous depths of Afrika” (www.dieantwoord.com), has graced international stages as well as channels such as MTV. Look out for their new “Evil boy” toy range alongside their new album, “Ten$ion”, in 2012. Also on the move are acts such as the rapping, funny-yet-serious Jack Parow.
On the more theatrical side of things, local theatres are currently buzzing with the success of Andrew Lloyd-Weber’s internationally-acclaimed “The Phantom of the Opera,” and a band that composes for theater, “Mr. Cat and the Jackal”, made some interesting new sounds to the delight of South African theatre-lovers.
South Africa is proud of its cultural diversity and this is evident in its extraordinary variety of music festivals. New Year’s celebrations are never complete without the “Tweede Nuwe Jaar” Street Parade, or simply the “Coon Carnival,” a parade and street party during which colourful Cape minstrels take to the streets with authentic Cape Town sounds.
In 2011, up to sixty minstrel choirs paraded Cape Town streets singing traditional songs. Their colourful costumes, smiling faces and overall good-naturedness ensured a happy new year for all in attendance. Another mainstay, the National Festival of the Arts, transforms the small Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown into a massive cultural hub, featuring acts ranging from traditional African music and dancing to classical piano concerts.
Other festivals include “Rocking the Daisies,” “Rock the River SA” and the “Oppikoppi” festivals. These featured line-ups of more contemporary indigenous musical acts, entertaining the young-at-heart. The 2011 “Rock the River” ensured that their line-up catered even to dubstep fans, providing everyone with a chance to dance during festivals over Easter and New Year’s Eve. Lovers of trance music gathered together for a weekend of celebration at Synergy in November. These festivals are adored by music-lovers of all kinds.
This is but a small part of the musical happenings that kept South Africans smiling and dancing through 2011. Altogether it was a good year for musicians and audiences alike. May 2012 bring even more opportunities for South Africans to experience their favorite artists live and for South African stars to take on the world with their unique sounds.