Sex, drugs and some rock ‘n roll

MTN may like to believe it owns summer, but it seems that Rocking the Daisies was hosting the official launch party this past weekend.

And judging by the amount of naked flesh on display, Cape Town was revelling in the dawn of the new season. As one female punter so succinctly asked this past weekend: “Is it just me, or is this festival seriously oversexed?”

It wasn’t just her.

Held on the Cloof Wine Estate in Darling, just more than an hour out of Cape Town, Rocking the Daisies is now in its sixth year.

Thousands of revellers headed to the 2011 Rocking the Daisies festival in Darling for three days of music, sunshine and fun. Now in its fifth year, this eco-friendly music and lifestyle festival has grown rapidly.

Sweltering heat, which fuelled the infectious vibe that Rocking the Daisies had going, was the order of the weekend. In fact, it was only the Springboks who failed to play ball, with their dismal loss to the Australians in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday morning. It was the only dampener on a salacious ­weekend.

Not just for hippies
Billed as a “green festival”, the organisers of Rocking the Daisies take great care to make sure that the carbon footprint is as minimal as possible.

Powered by wind power from the neighbouring Darling Wind Farm, Rocking the Daisies also encourages its punters to carpool to the festival and even incentivises those who choose to cycle or walk to the festival.

No wonder the festival has won a Climate Change Leadership Award for two years running.

However, it’s not just a festival for hippies, Rocking the Daisies is a seriously cracking good time, with thousands of punters fuelled on whatever they could get their hands on dancing the night away.

Unlike South Africa’s premier music festival Oppikoppi, the majority of festivalgoers at Rocking the Daisies seemed to spurn alcohol and chose other stimulants to fire up their party with almost every second punter appearing to be in the grip of a hilarious mushroom trip.

This made for a much friendlier, less aggressive experience — and also a less dangerous one.

There was a fair amount of ecstasy flowing and, as a result, the Red Bull Studio marquee was heaving for most of the weekend, causing a dust storm that would have made Oppikoppi proud.

Which brings us to the music.

As a Johannesburg resident, my main curiosity with Rocking the Daisies was the opportunity to see a lot of Cape Town artists who don’t often make it north to the Big Smoke.

This was a chance to see what Cape Town has to offer and, to be honest, judging on the festival I have to say that it’s not a lot.

MOR mediocrity

All the stand-out bands hailed from Johannesburg and the impressive Cape Town acts were often well established and have been plying their trade for years, such as Sibot, Markus Wormstorm, Felix Laband, Lark and Foto na Dans.

Where is Cape Town’s new emerging musical talent, I found myself asking throughout the three days.

Cape Town’s banging bass-rap outfit P.H.Fat were loads of fun and the way they got the entire Red Bull tent bouncing left an impression. But their lyrics were hardly challenging and seemed trivial at times. Others such as aKing, Gazelle, Just Jinger and Hot Water just dragged the party down to their own level of mediocrity.

Also exposed for the bizarre farce that it is was Cape Town’s romance with the Balearic beat and Gypsy music set to house beats, which has been dubbed Balkanology.

The Nu World Beat Ring may have hosted a great collaboration between the Nomadic Orchestra and Mr Cat & The Jackal on Saturday night, but all too often this tent resorted to world-music exoticism, where funky, drugged-up hipsters shook their arses to some foreign beats, feeling all so progressive, but in reality they were being anything but.

The international acts were also disappointing with the United Kingdom’s Band of Skulls failing to convince as headliners and Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson rocking the Red Bull tent to much fanfare, although I wasn’t feeling it.
So what where the highlights?

It was left to Tumi and the Volume to kick Saturday into gear, with a rousing show that had the crowd ­baying for more.

The Volume are a great funk band and with Tumi Molekane kicking out the rhymes, Saturday afternoon was made very pleasurable indeed.

Lark impressed late on Saturday night and it was really cool to see how this electronic project that started with Paul Ressel and singer Inge Beckmann has developed into such a monster band.

Ups and downs

On Saturday night they were ferocious, resembling an electronic Led Zeppelin with bassist Simon “Fuzzy” Ratcliffe playing the role of John Paul Jones, skulking across the stage to stand in front of Sean Ou Tim’s drum kit or Ressel’s rows of electronic gadgets, while the band launched into riff after riff.

As mentioned earlier, the Springbok defeat on Sunday morning was a major bummer, but I was impressed by how many punters were up and roaring to go at seven in the morning for the game.

Obviously many packed up and left after the defeat, but many others were still amped for the remainder of the party and Johannesburg’s dirty rock ‘n roll band Shadowclub rewarded their perseverance.

Shadowclub delivered a riff-heavy set of blues-rock to rapturous applause from the audience that was left, illustrating once again how the Cape Town artists just seemed soft in comparison.

As we jump-started our car on Sunday afternoon, determined to escape the boiling sun, I was left a little undecided about my Rocking the Daisies experience.

Killer festival, great vibe, but it needs a little work on the tunes side. I guess that about sums it up.

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Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye is a freelance journalist and one of the founders of The Con.

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