A note to The Parlotones, as they jet off to America

Earlier today, Rolling Stone South Africa published an article reporting that South African rock band, The Parlotones (or, as Gareth Cliff calls them, The Par-lot-ones), are moving to Los Angeles, California, in an attempt to reach further into the international music market. While I’m not a Parlotones fan, I am a big lover of South African music, and wanted to mull over a few thoughts, here, regarding this latest move by The Parlotones.

South Africa met The Parlotones several years ago. Instantly, the nation saw something in these gents (I’ll bet even your great auntie knows who they are). Since their inception, they’ve played at the FIFA 2010 World Cup, featured on television & radio… hang, they even had their own KFC-sponsored meal. To many South Africans, this is common knowledge and The Parlotones are a household name.

When looking at the South African music scene, there seems to be an inherent divide between the independents and the major labels. Many fans of ska, punk, metal and other, less-commercially friendly genres tend to “rebel”, if you will, against commercial artists, slating them for being “same-y” or “poppy”. While I’m certainly not a fan of The Parlotones (all their songs sound much the same to me), I feel it’s important to say a few things about and to the band, as they jet off to further their careers (as a band, and most likely as musicians in general, I’d imagine) in Los Angeles:

South African bands and why they rock

I love South African music. There’s something unique about the South African music industry, the culture behind the bands and the unique dedication and passion with which musicians and industry folks go about things. I’ve been listening to some really excellent South African bands lately and the other way, while in the car, it occurred to me that the band I was listening to released the album almost 6 years ago. Despite having released subsequent albums and having grown astoundingly as a band, the album I had on still sounded amazing. This notion lead me to the topic of this blog post- bands I’ll most likely still be listening to in 10 years time and why.

A few months ago, I posed the question of “is it the bands or the musicians?“- this question repeats itself here. It is said that a song, when played in a particular context, can trigger memories and feelings from a point in your history. Below is a list of several South African bands, what they do and what they mean to me. These are just some of the bands that have fueled my love for South African music. If you haven’t heard of several of them, I recommend you try and check them out (well, those that are still around). Let’s kick things off, shall we? In no particular order…

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

Following on from my first list, I’ve continued by compiling a list of a few more awesome South African bands, past and present.

We have so many amazingly talented bands and musicians in South Africa, it’s not easy to keep this list short. Here are a few South African bands that I’ve enjoyed listening to.

Rambling Bones

This acoustic project, staring Jay Bones (front man of Jo’burg ska/punk legends, Fuzigish) and Kustom Kev on congas, percussion and glokenspiel, these layed back tunes are perfect for a fun evening out or a relaxed evening at home by the fire. Elements of Bones’ ska/punk roots are audible in several tracks.

Check out Rambling Bones at: http://www.ramblingbones.com

Is it the band or the musicians?

I got to thinking the other day about bands and musicians, particularly in the South African music industry. Locally, it’s quite common for musicians to play in more than one band, usually varying in genre. Over the last few years, I’ve found that with certain musicians, whatever band they perform in, I enjoy the music. Whether it’s the vocal, the songwriting or the playing style of the musician, there’s usually that “X-factor” somewhere.

This brings me to the question; “is it the band or the musicians?”


South African musos on Twitter: The List

Since my previous post on South African bands on Twitter, I’ve been contemplating drafting a list of South African bands and musos that tweet. After reading Anna’s blog post on the topic, listing South African music industry Twitter users, I’ve decided to draft the list. Twitter is an amazing service that can assist bands in connecting with their fan base, finding out what their fans would like to know, and sharing information with their fans, potential fans, other bands, etc. If used correctly, the technology can assist bands greatly in growing their fanbase. So, without further ado, here’s the list:

South African bands arrive on Twitter

Recently, I’ve noticed an explosion of South African bands and artists signing up on Twitter to promote themselves. It’s taken a while for bands to cotton on, and they’re now chomping at the bit to get going.

The question here is, really, “will these bands use Twitter for it’s intended purpose, or purely as a follower-gaining tool?”

So often, I’ve heard bands showing off how many friends they have on Myspace or fans on Facebook. There seems to be a definite perception that the more friends/fans you have on your online profile, the more “popular” your band is. I believe this to be incorrect. So what if you have 30000 friends on Myspace? If you don’t interact with them, they mearly serve the purpose of making your band potentially look attractive to a record label, promoter or other music industry tycoon. This is that classic “one chance” that every band seeks out. That one chance to “break out” and “make it big”. What good will that do your band though?

More South African bands announced for Coke Zero Fest 2009

Since the innitial announcement of the line-up for Coke Zero Fest 2009 (when it was mentioned that more bands will be added soon), I’ve been waiting eagerly to see who will be added. Would it be more local bands? Would it be more international bands? I’m not sure of the exact date this announcement was made, but it has been made!

Joining the innitial bands for Coke Zero Fest 2009 are locals Foto Na Dans, aKING (only at the Cape Town festival) and Cassette. This is really great. While the bands are all rock bands (ie: no reggae, punk, blues or other bands), this is a great showcase of South Africa’s musical talent. Aside from that, the majority of the South African bands are based in Cape Town. The influence mountain must surely have something to do with this selection.

4 South African albums to expect in 2009

How often have you heard that your favourite band is “in studio recording their upcoming album”? How many interviews have you read, heard or watched where the band has mentioned that they’re in studio recording an album? This phrase seems to be extremely common among bands in general, which begs the question; “Who is actually releasing their albums and is finished with the recording and production?”. This is who.

Below are several South African bands’ albums to keep an eye and ear out for in 2009. These guys have all been hard at work on their albums for the last year or so, at least. Having followed each of these bands for almost a decade now, I can assure you that they have each pulled out all the stops with their upcoming albums.

Coca Cola Zero Fest 2009 – South African Bands

There has been a lot of excitement recently over the band line-up for the 2009 Coca Cola Zero Fest, happening in April, both in Johannesburg and in Cape Town. Having run for several years now, organised by Big Concerts in association with 5FM, the festival  has become widely known for importing big name international recording artists and placing them on stage. side by side with top of the line South African bands. According to Musical Mover and MyCoke, this year’s bill is set to include Oasis, Snow Patrol, PANIC! At The Disco and Bullet for my Valentine, as well as South African bands, Zebra and Giraffe and The Dirty Skirts.

Ska in Scarbourgh with The Rudimentals

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking a drive out to Scarbourgh (aka. ska’bra) to visit the Cape Farmhouse. One of my favourite South African bands, The Rudimentals, were performing there that afternoon as a part of the “Farmhouse Rocks” summer concerts series. Having seen many Rudimentals concerts over the last almost-decade (since about 2001 or so) I have seen the band grow (in numbers) and evolve in ways I could only imagine. This concert was set to be nothing short of incredible.

After the long (and beautiful) drive out to the Farmhouse, I arrived to see a steady stream of families and friends arriving at the venue. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Scarbourgh, I felt instantly relaxed and rejuvenated. I saw friends, both old & new, and was glad to be able to sit down at a beautiful venue such as this.

The concert, as expected, was amazing. It was in fact better than amazing. The crowd was alive and enjoying the music, the venue was bustling with activity and the performance was in true Rudimental form- top class.

If you missed the concert, below is a video of The Rudimentals performing “Love Riddim” (to be released on their upcoming album) as well as a few links for more info and photographs. There will be plenty more concerts this year. I hope to see you at the next few. 🙂

The Rudimentals on Zoopy
The Rudimentals on Twitter
The Rudimentals on Myspace 

Were you at the concert? How did you find it? Share in the comments.