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Art, Culture, Music

Pushing the Daisies

by Hugh Upsher / 15.10.2013

It is safe to say festivals like Rocking the Daisies are a suburban kid’s party paradise. There are no roadblocks, no car guards and no way of telling if the person you are hooking up with is fugly (at least until the next morning). Daisies has the added bonus of making you feel environmentally friendly with options to cycle or walk there, to which almost everyone politely thinks: “That’s such a cool idea!… but no”.


Rocking The Daisies was an impressively organised weekend with mind blowing headliners and an overall great experience. Due to previous critical engagements with the Daisies (here and here) Team Mahala was denied Media passes for this year’s shindig, which meant I had to buy my own and so without guilt or hesitation I can also add that essentially it was 15 000 people driving an hour out of Cape Town in the cars their parents bought them, to consume record amounts of Mainstay, Black Label and MDMA until they pass out. Despite the PR blitzkrieg, the festival doesn’t scream sustainability or green, especially when surveying the aftermath of the camping area on Sunday morning.


The great thing about a sold out festival is every act is guaranteed a sizeable audience regardless of their time-slot or location. From Beach Party’s set on Friday afternoon to Matthew Mole’s Sunday session, crowds were everywhere and the overcast weather meant they weren’t scrambling for shade.

I was surprised to see the Dirty Skirts on the line-up and assumed it would be a reunion gig packed with the high-energy classics that have made them such a formidable live band. But instead they used the platform to showcase their morbid third album. What a vibe kill.

Wet Sock

On the way back to my whiskey and lemon twist refuelling station I heard a familiar sound leaking out of the humble campsite stage. I ended up being drawn into a full set by Momantss. A band that has been falling between the local music scene cracks for too long due to their unique brand of jazz-infused-heavy-rock-hip-hop. Multiple stages delivering top talent simultaneously is just something South African audiences will have to get used to.

Back at the main stage P.H.fat managed to hold down a headline slot with ease, which was especially impressive considering they recently lost one third of their stage presence. Their dangerous brand of nihilism was stupidly infectious to the hungry crowd. Despite their surprising crossover qualities I couldn’t help but think they would have had an even larger, madder crowd if they were across on the Electro Stage instead.


The Electro stage seemed like the logical conclusion to my Friday night but I found myself hitting an invisible wall as the growls of the classic Fat Man Scoop Anthem entered my ears. I was not completely discouraged but decided to seek shelter in the Nu World Beat Barn until the trash storm passed over. Ten minutes later I step out only to hear that Black Eyed Peas Classic ‘Shut Up’. Damn you Ready D.


The next morning I was surprised to find my friends and I amongst the only people standing timidly in our boardies preparing to brave the freezing dam water. This was especially strange considering the queues for the mobile showers were 3 hours long. The water may have been one-third piss but the joke was on them because in fifteen seconds flat I was de-filthed and my hangover was gone.


Al Bairre had been swiftly shipped down from the Joburg ‘In the City’ concert for their midday slot. They did well to set the bar for the remainder of Saturday afternoon with what I would simply describe as “happy music”. The lead singer was wearing a shirt six sizes too big for him. A metaphor for the growth of his band?


Later that night a random girl would introduce the violinist of Al Bairre to me as ‘my famous friend’. I took the opportunity to enquire if she was a member of Beach Party and pressed on mentioning every band on the lineup except Al Bairre. By the time I asked ‘Are you Spoek Mathambo?’ she lashed out and said some nasty things I dare not repeat in a public forum.


Desmond & The Tutus are now grizzled veterans of the South African festival scene. They proved it by entrancing the portion of the Daisies crowd that wasn’t glued to the rugby or stubbornly stomping away at the Mainstay tent.

I was disappointed to see Spoek Mathambo play a loose set that suggested his backing band were in desperate need of a couple more rehearsal sessions. My next refueling session was severely delayed as I struggled to wind my way out of the gridlocked crowd. Alt-J definitely took the cake for most hardcore fans of the weekend. Some girl insightfully explained to me that they recreated all the sounds on the album live. To which I thought, “that’s generally how it works isn’t it?” It hadn’t even got to sundown and 20-year-old white girls were peeing in bottles to keep their prized spot.

The upside of this was that when Alt-J finished, the mass exodus meant I could spear right into front centre for The Hives. I’m not going to elaborate on my unhealthy obsession or try converting anyone but the song “The Hives Are Law, You Are Crime” sums up their approach.


Skunk Anansie, a band that many had reserved expectation from, closed off the main stage. The band’s sound hasn’t dated at all and the crowd watched in awe as they piled up hits you didn’t even know existed. The crowd shared a collective moment of disbelief when she announced that her last tour visit was 16 years ago. One thing that was evident from Rocking the Daisies is that great bands don’t come from talent or a couple of catchy songs. Great bands are moulded over consistent, long, hard graft.

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  1. john says:

    i was at jhb hives, ananzi n ctrl-alt-delete show,,l i’d say the exact same as this…

    “alt-j recreate sounds live just likje the album”… in fact i had sum guy say that exact thing to me!! Uh duh… that’s what a band does…

    skunk anazie… eish… that was just sad to witness.

    hives were flippnig great… “They sounded like they do on their records…” HAHA

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  2. Goodcall says:

    This cat is best music journo in SA (apart from not being obvious that Al Bairre are intensely shit). The graph is genius.

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  3. Yes Dear says:

    Sweet illustrations!

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  4. David says:

    What a commercial surface level review.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Tell me, did you have some fun? It sounds like you had a horrible weekend. Anything positive you might want to add?

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  6. hugh says:

    To Anonymous

    I fucked your mom, that was a highlight… lol

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  7. Larry Klimt says:

    The best fun is cynical fun. There is no other kind, trust me.

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  8. Margaret Westergreen says:

    this is funny. but labelling the beach bar as tiger tiger!? thats a slap in the face to the scene everyone has so hard been trying to create. sure there were youngsters there but great music was played and it hosted many talented artists on a funktion 1 rig. hello!

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  9. Larry Klimt says:

    Margaret Westergreen – Come on, learn about how reviews work. No one is dissing the hard work put in. It’s a review on society (the morons at the fest) more than the festival or those organising it. Shit, just look at the graph the review starts with. And please, if you’re working ‘so hard’ towards a scene, please stop it. The last thing we need as music fans is self-righteous musicians and/or DJs, as though you’re doing us some kind of favor. This is not high school. Once you present the music out in the open, it ceases to belong to you, so don’t take it personally when we say it’s shit. It’s out of your hands, regardless of your intention.

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  10. LilySue says:

    Dude, I said it too, Alt-J sounded exactly like they do on their album which is fucking insanely talented!

    The point she was trying to make is that their vocals & lyrics are likened to an instrument on their own (which is where the massive talent comes in). SO the fact that their live performance sounded exactly like they do on their album is… fucking epic!

    It takes huge skill to nail a live performance as well as you would in the comfort of a recording studio. Granted, any good artist / band has this skills (which is what makes them great), but when you couple it with an ability to do vocal techniques even Pavarotti would have envied, is mind blowing.

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  11. Al Bairre fan 587 says:

    Lick my balls good call.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Entertaining review, but mostly self-obsessed opinionated bullshit.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I think you are the only person that didn’t enjoy themselves out of 15 000 people. No wonder you got denied media access. Please don’t come next year

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  14. Margaret says:

    Larry – The only person being self righteous here is you. the rest i could not be bothered to comment on.

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  15. Simon Captick-Dale says:

    Comedy Gold: “It hadn’t even got to sundown and 20-year-old white girls were peeing in bottles to keep their prized spot.”

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  16. Margaret says:

    larry on second thought – if you could not work it out for yourself i am referring to the ‘microcosm’ map and my comment was geared at the UNDERLYING musical reference that there is (intentionally or unintentionally) to each floor – not at the obvious crowd labeling. thought you might get that being a ‘music fan’. high school you say? this review is derived from lunchbox immaturity, even though rather comical. in hindsight i should not have even bothered commenting on it. if it was not for all the ‘self righteous musicians and/or djs’ you rant of and the hard work they do in producing and playing out their own music at these festivals there would be no scene. thanks though for going off on a personal targeted tangent even though my post had nothing to do with you 🙂

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  17. Larry Klimt says:

    Margaret – I understood what you were referring to. Still, we don’t give a shit about how much work you or whoever else put into it. If the reviewer thought it sucked, suck it up and live with it. Then it’s up to you to work at it harder or keep on bitching about a subjective review. This is review is only comical, not rather comical. An no, your post has everything to do with me – it has everything to do with everyone who’s on here. You chose to make it public (like your music – I don’t really know what you function at the ‘Tiger Tiger’ stage was, but that’s not the point), then you must be prepared to get opinions on it. And again, we don’t care about how you perceive your own scene. It’s about how we as listeners perceive it. Try to be a little more humble, it works wonders, trust me.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Larry you’re a dick.

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  19. hugh says:

    Dear Margaret

    I never stepped foot near the Mainstay Tent once over the whole weekend. I am in no legitimate position to critique it. Especially from a musical perspective. That being said, The Mainstay tent being referred to as ‘Tiger Tiger’ was not my isolated opinion, it was an uninformed consensus from multiple people probably based mostly on the comparatively jocky crowd frequenting the area.

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  20. Margaret says:

    larry – you are so out of line. theres freedom for comments and opinions but theres no necessity or reason to be a dick about it. the post was directed at the review, you then decided to get rather obtusely involved – and you say i must try be humble? lol. maybe keep to being the ‘listener’ and allow everyone else to play their parts. i would happily meet up with you to chat further 🙂

    hugh – thanks for your feedback, much appreciated.

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  21. Larry Klimt says:

    Ok, now I have to spell this out. I am also a creative, well know in some circles, and somewhat successful; and I have learnt through my experience that you never comment on a review written about you. (I’ve done it before and it helps no cause). You just sit there, read, think, and learn from it – IF there is something to learn from it. In both instances, you do not voice your opinion but carry on doing what you do and hopefully get a better review next time around. In a way, a reviewer is your best friend if you can learn how not to be precious about your own art. This is what I meant by high school, this what I meant by ‘art is out of your hands’, and so on. There are no defamatory statements here. Just opinions. There is no need to take any of it personally. Fuck, if he said Tiger TIger, so be it – no big deal.

    In a way, I’m not really commenting or attacking you, but the modus operandi of the art/music circles vs those critiquing it. It does not progress the ‘scene’ that you talk of because you don’t let it (you don’t play along with it). You must learn how to laugh at yourself – that’s the main point here.
    Remember, an art/event review needs to have specific elements to it so it can be enjoyed by the reader. First, cynicism must be there. We cannot take ourselves too seriously – we do not live in a totalitarian society, at least not for now. The writer needs to press some buttons. Second, it must be comical, especially a festival review. Come on, music festivals are not serious gatherings – it’s comical by definition. And thirdly, it must criticize. Very seldom are you going to find perfect event. Something will always irritate you about each one. There are a few more elements to reviews but I’m not gonna get into them. Point is, sometimes the writer will write certain things at your expense and you must not take it too seriously. I always say it: what’s not written is usually the most important. In other words, we read between the lines. The reading in the instance of this review is: SILLY REVIEW, there to entertain bored readers with sill pictures and some sort of cuteness.

    This kind of review has a specific style to it. You may not like it, but that’s not the point. It’s not a discussion you need to be involved in as a promoter/artist/punter etc. And again, I’m not really talking to you directly, but the discourse that happens between reviewers and performers.
    Yes, let’s meet. I will find you, but I won’t tell you that I’ve found you until it’s to late. (That was a joke).
    Love, Larry.

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  22. Margaret says:

    shoo will have to read through this properly when i have more time. the review is not about me (?) hence i commented on it. i totally agree art is out of your hands but thats not what this is about. my comment was about the underlying musical comparison (intentional or unintentional) of the beach bar to tiger tiger which (in my opinion and am free to voice it) seemed inept. thats all.

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  23. […] is a visual gag from the Mahala review of RTD. What’s wrong with this picture? Read the caption: “Rocking the Daises as a […]

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  24. greg says:

    dude. your a glass half empty hipster.

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