Gig Report: What makes a festival? Apparently, one night, Boogy Central, Sognage and a couple of rocking bands
blunt’s Gonzo live music correspondent Murf attended That Spring Fest in Jozi on Sept 17, featuring acts Buru Azeban, Painted Flowers, the Moskitos, The Klubs, The Tazers and Sold Ash; she lost her glasses (again) but still managed filed her usual spicy gig report straight from the pit.
By Natalie Murfin. Photos by Evan Cummings (Evan Captures).
The first thing about going to Sognage is that you have to figure out how it’s pronounced before you tell the homies that’s the weekend plan. Is it “song-age,” like placing a vintage on a particular piece of music? Is it phonetic – like “soggy-naggy?” Is it (what I tell people) pronounced with the same embouchure as the Afrikaans surname “Visagie?” Or do you pay attention to the owners and actually say it “son-idge?” (Probably that.)
The second obstacle is the location. In Jozi, we tend to be spoiled by venues that are so close they sometimes share bartenders, sometimes literally mid-shift. It’s about dragging the mosh-husks a few steps into the next spot, no Ubers necessary. Sognage is in an area known for immaculate auto-repair, but not necessarily for ease of finding a cold Black Label. It’s also the best live music venue in Joburg right now.
“It’s challenging to call a one-night gig a “festival.” However, I think when we boil it down to its bare (sleeping-bag-less and mud-less bones), a music festival is about the experience of a lot of people and bands you probably wouldn’t have seen in one place, all at once – with fun bits to meet people in between.”
The venue and organizers of That Spring Fest (Boogy Central – the same dudes who did That 70’s Fest) pulled together a memorable mid-city, mid-season, one-venue festival. This blog is going to tell you why it worked. And also maybe why I have to retire yet another pair of glasses. This is becoming a sizable expense for me.
It’s challenging to call a one-night gig a “festival.” Usually, we associate festivals with realizing your car makes a funny noise when you travel more than 70kms and how that time your dad put up a tent with you in grade 5 didn’t prepare you for fiberglass pole physics. It’s a whole thing. However, I think when we boil it down to its bare (sleeping-bag-less and mud-less bones), a music festival is about the experience of a lot of people and bands you probably wouldn’t have seen in one place, all at once – with fun bits to meet people in between.
That Spring Fest was just that. Though on the surface, it may have appeared to be a big bill of psych-rock artists with better hair than you, there was a distinct difference in each of the crowds and dancefloor vibes, and we all met outside after to make friends to a chorus of “ah no that was lekker hey,” while sharing smokes and stories.
“If you’ve got The Tazers on your line-up, they’re headlining by default. It’s like a Newtonian law of the jol. The crowd – at this point so big that the stragglers were pressed up against the back bar – certainly thought so. The Tazers have a way of sticking a group of people together like sonorous glue and moving them in unison to soaring bridges and tasty riffs.”
SO – just like how I know all your ‘Koppi 2017 experiences can be encapsulated in brief vignettes, let’s rapid-fire through these bands, shall we? We know every set is complex and appreciated throughout. BUT, the gig reviews you WANT to read give you an immediate “I wanna SEE these chinas” impression in 4 sentences or less.
Here’s a concise look at what went down:
It’s fuzzy. It’s proggy and it’s sexily mulchy, and if you’re looking to shake your ass to two sequential bars being the same, you’re in the wrong place. However, if you’re looking to wiggle like a snake caught in the throes of big noise and immaculate technical drumming, the members of this two-piece are both your rock and your hard place.
I want you to imagine a band where every member could have easily been a frontman. Then I want you to pack six of those people, all dressed better than you, onto a stage in Strydom Park. Then I want you to imagine all of them have a great grasp of contemporizing ‘70s rock’n’roll. That’s this band. Plus, they’ll give you a high five if you ask nicely. They will continue to be better dressed than you.
The Moskitos are surfing directly on the peak that came from our current psych-rock writing and grunge production obsessions colliding. There’s nothing like Cape Town artists that come up here and show us how to make cool seem effortless. They have a specific cadence that somehow combines shoegaze restlessness with a surf-rock chill. I wish I could access that on Tinder dates.
Listen, if you read any gig review of mine, you’ll recognize there’s definitely one band on any given line-up I absolutely ape for. This is that band. I was too sweaty-bounce-elbow-fling to give you an accurate musical assessment of this set. Sorry. At one point, I pitted hard enough that I accidentally headbutted a stranger, and one of my glasses lenses popped out. I was on the floor silently BEGGING that Warren didn’t launch into a mad bass breakdown while I found it with a phone torch. That’s how this set went. (I found my lens – just.)
So they weren’t technically billed as the headliners but listen – they were. At this point, if you’ve got The Tazers on your line-up, they’re headlining by default. It’s like a Newtonian law of the jol. The crowd – at this point so big that the stragglers were pressed up against the back bar – certainly thought so. The Tazers have a way of sticking a group of people together like sonorous glue and moving them in unison to soaring bridges and tasty riffs. Psych Rock is at its zenith in the SA scene at the moment, and there’s a reason these dudes are leading the charge. For a slice of where alternative music is in Gauteng right now, order one helping of The Tazers.
Sold Ash just released an album called ‘Howl a Little Louder, Just Don’t Spit In My Mouth’ and to be honest, I think that says more about them than my micro-gig-review possible could. They’re both abrasive and intimate, friendly and angry, and KAK technical musicians while creating accessible, emotive melodies. A plaintive, satisfyingly contradictory end to a loaded night. I loped off that dance floor wanting at least an hour more of Sold Ash.
In short: I went to an industrial area in central Johannesburg at night. I couldn’t pronounce the place I was directed to go to. I was taken on an emotional journey. I briefly (and stokedly) lost the ability to see. I had the best damn time, seeing artists I usually wouldn’t have. I am now groovier, hopefully permanently. My glasses are, once again, fucked.
Thank you, Sognage and Boogy Central. The blunt team can’t wait for the next one – and neither should you! Come boogie at That 70’s Stage at RAM’s PTA Halloween party on Saturday 29 October!
Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/591008912769330/
Ticket link: www.howler.co.za/halloween22
Check out the photo gallery:
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