5+ South African bands you may (or may not) have heard

South Africa has a wealth of musical talent, spanning every genre imaginable. One can go out almost every night of the week and have a unique musical experience. Having been actively involved in the South African music industry for several years, I have come across a vast number of bands and solo musicians, both established and independant, that have caused my ears to prick up and listen closer. I thought I’d share some of my discoveries with you, both new, recent discoveries, and several with a few years of gigging, late nights and endless parties under their belts. Look out world, South Africa’s got talent…in bucketloads!

Reverend Wright and the Mystery Train Gamblers

Reverend Wright and the Mystery Train Gamblers

A relatively new Pretoria-based rockabilly outfit, Reverend Wright and the rest of the Gambler trio crank out a brand of rockabilly unique to South Africa. With a passion for fast cars, greased wheels and old fashioned rock ‘n roll, it is no mystery what the Gamblers put out. There are great things on the horizon for Reverend Wright and the Mystery Train Gamblers.

Having fronted famous South African ska/punk band, Leek and the Bouncing Uptones, Reverend Wright is a South African music stallwart, continuing to firmly make his mark on South African music culture. The good Reverend can also be found playing guitar for Pretoria-based rock ‘n roll outfit, The Slashdogs.

Tidal Waves

Tidal Waves

Tidal Waves are a Johannesburg-based reggae quintet. True African reggae is what Tidal Waves deliver. “Original music, for original people” is their mantra. Often described as South Africa’s hardest working reggae band, Tidal Waves have played gigs from Oppikoppi to Pretoria, Cape Town, Potschefstroom and many other towns in the country. There music is made up of a wide variety of influences, comprising African rhythms, ska, reggae, blues and jazz. Tidal Waves performances are not to be missed.

Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop

Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop

Where does one start with these guys? Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop is rock ‘n roll at it’s dirtiest and best. The trio is made up of Martin Rocka (the man behind the mic and guitar) and the Sick Shop, consisting of James Flames on upright bass guitar and Boy McLoud on drums. This trio hold nothing back.

Having won the South African leg of the Global Battle of the Bands (2005), Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop have shown no signs of slowing down their speedwagon. A quote from Rocka reads; “Hi, I’m Martin Rocka and ladies and gentlemen there are only three kings – drinking, f**king and Elvis.” This is a perfect example of the incredible style and edge that this rockabilly trio exudes. If you enjoy a bit of rockabilly jive and a dude in a wrestling mask and red glitter jacket, look no further.

The Rudimentals

The Rudimentals

The Rudimentals have become somewhat of an institution in South African music. This 8-piece ska/afro-beat outfit molds African melodies and rhythms with strong jazz and reggae influences. Having released 2 successful full length albums to date, as well as a live DVD and CD combo of the popular “Rudimentals and friends” concert at the Kirstenbosch Gardens, The Rudimentals aren’t slowing down for anyone. With a signing in the last year to UK-based major ska record label, Moonskaworld, the band will enjoy releases in the UK and Europe in the near future. Plans are in the pipeline for a tour to those shores as well.

Having travelled the country extensively, alone and with legendary reggae band UB40, The Rudimentals have cemented their place in the South African music hall of fame, and are rising up the ladder to greater heights.

The Allstar Funk Four

The Allstar Funk Four

Is it the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Is it the Beastie Boys? Is it Rage Against The Machine? No, it’s all three! The
Allstar Funk Four, having been long-time friends and musicians, came together out of the ashes of two underground punk bands (War-on-Salt and False Pretense) to form a funk quartet to rival the greats. Combining a strong influence of the above three mentioned international acts, the Allstars created a sound familiar to many and always enjoyable. The main aim of the show was always to rock the party.

Having since parted ways, the band made a significant mark on the Cape Town music scene, while spreading their wings briefly further north and east of their home city. Great music and a great vibe was shared by all.

Man In Suit

Man In Suit

South African hard rock at it’s finest. These guys truly blow me away. I will never forget the last performance of theirs that I was honoured to witness. I have seen very few acts that work as hard or harder than Man In Suit.

Having performed in several bands in their past, these guys burst onto the music scene blazing. With three releases under their belts (“demo(n)”, “The Last” and “Battle for the Sky”) I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to follow the band on their journey from the first release. Having toured the country and performed on stages of all sizes (including a performance with international act, Blind Guardian) Man In Suit are definitely a band to keep on the look out for. A bunch of awesome guys that work hard and have a true passion for music. This unique combination says it all.

The City Bowl Mizers

The City Bowl Mizers

Durban (Stone City) is a unique (and humid) place, filled with a unique bond between musicians and their fans. The connections and friendships are like none I have ever seen.

The City Bowl Mizers are swing-rockers with a unique passion for surf-rock, the sun and relaxing by the pool with ladies and beer. Having toured the UK for several months and released a successful debut partly independantly and published by Sony/ATV publishing, these guys have made their mark. Durban has many musical reasons to be proud. The City Bowl Mizers are one of them.

They tour the country as well as performing at their locals in Durban. Check their Myspace page for tour dates.

Several of the above bands have broken up. There music is out there and will be enjoyed as long as it is listened to. Music is timeless, which is part of it’s unique fabric and construction.

Who are your favourite South African bands? Let me know in the comments.


17 responses to “5+ South African bands you may (or may not) have heard”

  1. I am ashamed to admit I havent heard of any of those? Or maybe I have and just dont remember the names – I am bad like that!!

    Will definately check out their pages and blogs tonight 🙂

    1. All of the bands mentioned in this post are also on Facebook.

      Would be great to hear your feedback on the bands, after listening. 🙂

  2. Nicely done!

    Some excellent referrals for those just getting into the RSA music scene! It’s awesome to see you’re promoting quality South Africa acts!

    I’m a wee bit biased but check out an RSA band living in london called Silence the wolves. http://www.myspace.com/silencethewolves

    The City Bowl Mizers, Rudimentals Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop definitely rock but I will give the others a decent listen and report back!

    1. Thanks for the comment Vincent. 🙂

      Will definitely check out Silence The Wolves.

      Keen to hear your report back man. Thanks again for the comment. 🙂

  3. Also take a look at The White Rabbit, very interesting sound they’re working on: whiterabbitband.co.za

  4. Some great bands on your list. Will definitely have a listen to the ones I haven’t heard before.

    Make sure you check out Captain Stu.


    A great reggae/ska band, similar to Rudimentals.

    1. Hi Mark. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Yeah, Captain Stu are cool. I’ve been watching them since their first gig. A great bunch of guys as well. 🙂

      I think they’re releasing a new album this year, from what I remember? Would be keen to hear it as well. 🙂

      I think I may just do some more of these lists. We have so many great bands and solo artists in South Africa, it’s hard to trim it down to a list of 5 or 6. 🙂

      Any others that you’re into?

  5. Nice list!

    But there are tones more out there… in cape town alone i would recommend checking out 7th Son and Captain Stu.. both brilliant bands.

    1. Agreed Dan. There are tons of awesome bands in Cape Town alone. 🙂

      I’m going to do a few mini-lists, rather than one long list (that will be posted eventually). Smaller chunks makes for easier reading and all. 🙂

  6. I am a south african working all over the place. I am tired of top 40 rubbish and hearing all the same music all over the place. I am so excited that I came across this website! Can’t wait to get my hands on some CD’s

    good work guys

    1. Hey Glenda.
      Thanks for the awesome comment. 🙂

      I hope you find and enjoy the great South African music being produced at the moment. 🙂

      There are a few other posts (with more to come) in the music category here. I hope you find them informative and interesting.

      Looking forward to hearing from you again soon.

      Keep well,

  7. Blackie Swart Avatar
    Blackie Swart

    I am looking for anything on a 70′ ies band called The Stagatos, populat for Cry to me.

    1. Sorry man. I don’t know “The Stagatos”.

      All the best with your search. 🙂

  8. what about agro and bloedrivier, i need some info and contact details of both bands

  9. Hi Matty –

    Check us out bro , we’ve recently moved here too now. We’re called Munkinpure

    Cheers mate 🙂


    1. Hey Travis,

      Thanks for getting in touch man. You guys have a very cool sound. 🙂

      Any plans to tour back to South Africa? Keep in touch. 🙂


      P.S Nice one on using WordPress and TwentyTen. Rock it. 😉

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