THE CIRCUS was in town last week, and no, not only the wilting Boswell Wilkie Circus, but the whole four days that is the Durban July. Based around the Vodacom July, there is an unofficial music festival that begins on Thursday and ends on Sunday and it has grown into the country’s biggest music festival.
There are the pre-parties, the after parties and the actual event itself and then there are the Sunday afternoon concerts with Kalawa Jazmee downloads party ending it all on Sunday night at Moses Mabhida’s Cuba Lounge.
Thursday was the beginning of the 10th annual SA Music Conference (SAMC) which, for the first time, went into the townships. It was also free for the first time. It kicked off in KwaMashu where after the politicians, including Councillor Logie Naidoo and his powder blue suit, finished speaking, the real work began.
The event is organised by DJU which is DJ legends Oskido, Vinny da Vinci, DJ Christos, Fresh and Greg Maloka. Maloka, who heads up Kaya FM, was the MC for the morning. The stage and audience were seated outside under a marquee. Oskido, in his usual casual way, said: “Just ask me any questions about the industry and I will answer.”
That is the wonderful thing about this event, it allows ordinary up-and-coming kids to meet and learn from the greats, an experience that not many other superstars afford people. But because they are so powerful when they invite artists like Black Coffee, Tira, Zakwe and KO to speak, even more knowledge is imparted. It really is a great concept and there is other practical advice from experts in copyright laws, media and digital.
DJ Shimza had a great session demonstrating ideas behind mixing that afternoon and the audience was entranced. Vinny and Christos also willingly shared their experiences.
The following day in Umlazi, Fresh explained that they are also hoping to spread it further than just Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal with the City of Cape Town expressing an interest to host an SAMC in the near future.
Each night there were afterparties where people from the neighbouring areas flocked to hear some cools beats from the DJs.
Sunday saw artists like Professor as well as members of the DJUs do one-on-one demo listening sessions with different groups in Claremont.
Saturday was the big day at Greyville race course where 55 000 people gathered. Celebrities and designers were everywhere. At the Lifestyle Oasis marquee I bumped into Thula Sindi and some glori- ously thin models in his flowing glamorous designs. Lifestyle Oasis had taken over Royal Durban Golf Club with a mostly conservative, older, political crowd.
Outside, however, they had built a deck for their oh-so-glamorous guests. It had big screens, a view of the racecourse and a stage host- ing two of the biggest acts of the moment – Mi Casa and Zahara. Zahara’s performance was even better than the last time I saw her about 18 months ago. She really is world class right now.
Afrotainment was another tent full of music, fun and fashion, oh, and David Kau. He gave an irreverent performance burning many sacred cows, with no mercy. A highlight. Spotted in the tent was, of course, the Afrotainment crew including Big Nuz and the man himself, Tira.
Zuluboy was fantastically fun. Oskido was somewhere in the area as his hot, gangsta wife Valerie was having a great time in the tent.
Outside the Afrtotainment marquee Liveamp’s Lootlove was interviewing fashionistas and fashion victims with Somizi who, literally, sparkled from head to toe.
It was also the launch of Tira’s streetwear label, the much awaited Fact Durban Rocks. Those T-shirts first popped up about seven years ago and were an instant hit. The brand was part of the Fact Durban Rocks parties thrown by Tira and his partners.
That night Tira took his artists to the people for the Fact Durban Rocks afterparty at Moses Mabhida Stadium, including AKA, Khuli Chana and a host of Afrotainment artists. Next door, the Mother of All Parties took place. DJU cleverly incorporated Kalawa Jazmee’s 20th anniversary celebration onto the agenda. The event was held on the outer fields at Kings Park with two stages, one mostly for DJs and the other for all of Kalawa’s artists.
After watching the American Monique Bingham play barefoot and dressed in a caftan on the DJ stage, it was off to the backstage area of the live stage. Here Uhuru, Black Motion, Trompies and Professor mingled, waiting for their turn on stage.
Uhuru are generally perceived as studio producers, so when they perform and then do it so well, it is always a surprise. Busiswa and Nokwazi were awesome in their solo capacity and, despite their size, are agile and sexy on stage.
But it was Trompies who killed it on the night. They had just released a new album the day before and this seemed to spark new energy into this cool pantsula kwaito group. Or maybe it’s because they have always been one of the best in the country, nah, probably both. They had the crowd eating out of their hands.
The show ran until past 5am. Around 4am Mafikizolo performed and were just as energetic as if they were playing a 10pm slot and they both looked as fresh. Amazing.
Unfortunately after them I was way too tired to wait for Dr Malinga. On the way out, I was shocked to see that next door at People’s Park, Afrotainment’s party showed no sign of slowing down. Eish, these Durban July people know how to party.