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East London Live Music Scene

Cesspool Rockers

by Dylan Mugabe / 08.11.2010

There’s nothing special about East London. Hell, most people think it’s a suburb of Port Elizabeth. It’s a small colonial town like a hundred others in South Africa, slowly rotting away under the mismanagement of squabbling leaders.

But there’s some serious hard-rocking talent down there in Slummies. Zondernaam, Ward 11, BEE; these are all some of the top-notch bands that deserve some attention.

But you’ll never hear these bands. You’ll never hear them, because they – and a hundred other small bands – are being drowned out by the cookie-cutter noise of the five bands chosen by SABC 3 to represent “the SA Music Scene” this year.

Young people leave East London in droves, like apathetic cattle wandering off to greener pastures. If you’re one of the few to stay behind, you’ll probably end up in a dead-end job, flirting with alcoholism and generally loathing your very existence.

And as we all know: if there’s one thing that breeds good music, it’s self-loathing.

East London Live Music Scene

East London’s my home. I’ve lived here my whole damn life. I’ve travelled across South Africa, attending some music festivals, playing in others, and I’ve come to realise: East London is home to some of the best bands in this country.

It’s a nest of talented, restless artists trying to escape. Ignored, shunned and misunderstood, we have no recording studios and clubs don’t have sound engineers. There are no music schools or teachers. Everything we know, we learnt by ear, by heart and through pain.

You’d think our local radio stations would give us some love, but no. They gleefully embrace the hard, white crap dropped from on high by the Almighty SABC. Except for the obligatory Christian station, but don’t get me started on them.

It’s a frustrating existence. Play in crappy bars until you can afford to record a crappy demo. Send it to some radio stations. They might play a song or two. Lather, rinse, repeat. Album after shitty album, we are ignored, overlooked by all the big labels and ripped off by the small ones.

But this is where real South African rock ‘n roll happens, folks. These guys don’t give a fuck about impressing a label. This is where musicians have fists fights with the sound guy and kick holes in the monitors.

East London Live Music Scene

Mic stand, minutes before being thrown at the sound guy

This is where whisky guzzling brutes with steely guitars and arrogant smiles put their middle fingers up at the big cities and scream “You don’t know what you’re fucking missing!” Where instead of “Cheers,” they say “Motherfuck Jo’burg.” This, ladies, is the home of proper rock and roll.
This is the shit your parents were talking about.

And it’s happening in… East London.

This town is a cesspool of forgotten dreams and broken promises. No, wait, it’s like a demon’s penis that Satan is gently stroking. And this infernal hamrocket is just about ready to blow its load right in South Africa’s eye.

Like a rock and roll facial. Yeah!

*Dylan Mugabe is the lead singer of East London rockers The Transkei Cowboys.

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  1. so now what? says:

    Do any of these impressively original bands have demo tracks downloadable somewhere on the internet to facilitate their discovery?

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  2. Pieter says:

    What a load of shit. What was this article about? There’s hardly any talk of music in this thing. Surely these guys are in bands to make ‘music’? Or have we really reached the stage where where you come from is more important than what you’re playing? Fuck this.

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  3. Blah says:

    Look at me, I’m here in the corner. PULEEEEEEAZZZE notice me! *cries in soup.

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  4. Kief says:

    Ive been there, ive seen it, its a fucked up town with some fucked people but some awesome bands. You 3 cunts are obviously from jhb. Do some fucking research you dicks.

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  5. red says:

    Cool article. Good read. Nice to know there are places other than Cape Town fueling the fire. Jozie has been a fail station for years. A city full of pissed of metal heads trying to hold onto its last bit of sunshine.

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  6. restless says:

    Brilliant article

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  7. gareth says:

    Never been a big fan of scenes in general, at the mo there are great bands coming out of Jozi as well as Cape Town, and from my days living in Slumtown I can tell you that there have been some great musos that come from the land of Frieslands and Shamrock pies, in fact one of my fav acts in the 90’s was Trip who sadly never left and yes I believe that if they got some exposure they could have gone really far, but that being said Sabbath hail from Birmingham, so no excuses Lads go show em what you got.

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  8. Righard says:

    Aren’t Not Even the TV from East London?

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  9. Kak. says:

    Whine,whine,whine. This piece lacked everything I expected it to have. The names of these bands? No. Web references to any downloads? Na.ah. I’m an EL resident and I (& everyone else) need a way forward to recognise the ”talent” you speak of.

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  10. Mugabe says:

    Its just a piece on my perception of the east london music scene. Its tongue in cheek entertainment and my fucking OPINION. If you want to find out about bands that kick ass, get out there find them and then fucking tell the world about it. But dont piss on my parade, im not here to spoon feed you with links. Everybody calm the fuck down and go smoke a fat one. Jesus H Christ.

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  11. j rotten says:

    Before we climb into Mugabe, he is doing a lot for local music, but Dildo tell us bout the new acts coming out of the projects, would be nice to be able to check out some hot talent instead of some lame arse cover act at the poeslander.

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  12. QueenBitch says:

    Well all I know is I suddenly have the urge to go check out slummies over Dec. Maybe Mugabe is the trying to create hype for the festive season. I liked the Transkei Cowboys, what happened to them? Drunk hooligans lol.

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  13. Gareth says:

    Well wether they like it or not people are aware of slumtowns music scene. Btw all rock n rollers drink for free at Raggies, Mugabe you biscuit,tjoon them, and don’t forget to wash that vinger.

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  14. fakt says:

    To “Mugabe” – any band that doesn’t have a sample of its music somewhere on the internet in this day and age is either fucking lame or fucking stupid. And if you’re too fucking self-righteous or downright schnoep to point us there while you’re championing thieir cause then you are doubly so. Is the Border region still notorious for inbreeding and stupidity, or have you cowshaggers decided to move on?

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  15. Mugabe says:

    fakt ====() <— that is my virtual knob. Suck it. Im not here to do your homework for you see big boy. Do your own fucking research and come to your own conclusions. This is a piece about my personal experiences and the shit I see from time to time. Im not here to punt fucking bands and create fan bases. Doos. And who the fuck still uses the term "Border Region"?

    Gareth – Free Booze at Raggies to rockers? Are u fucked in the head? I run a business not a charity. I might give deserving bands a small bar tab but so would any bar worth its salt that wants to keep its bands happy.

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  16. Mugabe says:

    Heres a link, it reflects my feelings on internet bands and the myriad of “online profiles” that arent worth a dick in a dime bag.


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  17. Mike says:

    Hey Gareth, yeah, i also remember the days of Trip. Super talented muso’s for their age. For me, they were the only band really doing great original music. Lead singer had bags of stage presence. Matt Black had their moments too. But for me, Trip had something special. Wrong town/country for them though.

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  18. Mugabe says:

    Yeah i remember them, that singer was brilliant. If they were around today, I think the cards would unfold better for them. The SA scene was still a baby then. Bands like Snail, Turmoil and grungy Strange Brew. Matt Marais from Matt Black did an acoustic jam on Saturday night here, the old dog still has some magic left in him.

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  19. Aléz says:

    snail! peter breers!

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  20. anon and on and on and on... says:

    Dylan Mugabe gives me a boner.
    Come to Durban anytime my friend.

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  21. Gareth says:

    I feel like the sarcasm in my free drinks at Raggies might have been taken to seriously, for that you owe me a tequilla the next time SGQ are in town Mugabe. Also looking for a decent support act for december, let me know who we should be looking at. Shot Beespoes, till december then. G

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  22. Mugabe says:

    lol aaah that gareth! be more specific, i thought you were the gareth that comes in every friday and bitches that the beer is warm. He thinks im made of money. Now worries dog balls, im still waiting for you fuckers to book a gig at Raggies. You havent rocked a party, till you’ve rocked the pit, bitch.

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  23. Mugabe says:

    i got the order reversed, im supposed to book you! my people will be in touch with your people. Moer it bru.

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  24. Gareth says:

    Befuk bru, will definately pull in for a dop over december, but first prize will be jolling the pit. Keep fighting the good fight bruvv.

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  25. nooooo says:

    Dylan, you are a child.

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  26. Anonymous says:


    Surely instead of feeling sorry for themselves because “clubs don’t have sound engineers” and there “are no recording studios” in Slummies, these bands should do something to change that shit. Ever heard of DIY? It got the punk scene pretty fucking far.

    While I admire your cause and the cause of many of these bands, you make it sound like there really is no alternative and these bands are cursed to an oblivion of being the unheard of and ignored. Maybe they should be more proactive and get a proper scene up and running before bitching anymore. Or maybe, in reality, their music just reeks of mediocrity?

    I dunno, you tell me.

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  27. Bobo the clown says:

    what a load of shit! Whining and then blowing smoke up your ass. Maybe if you stopped wallowing in your own self pity your bands will get noticed! You are an embarrassment to East London.

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  28. Mike says:

    East Londoners try and better themselves. C’mon. Thats not something we do around here.

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  29. John D says:

    Hey, nice to know someone remembers us (Snail).
    I was on bass, Peter Briers vocals & lead, & Jay Kruger on drums & later Dave van Wyk.
    I miss those days 🙁

    And yes to someone’s previous question, Not Even the TV is from EL.

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  30. Gareth says:

    Great to see a thread up on East London music….. I remember all those bands, they did rock. Anyway guys if there any bands looking to record I will be willing to help out where I can,I have a little 16track, It wont be a “Geffen” demo but it will be very decent quality. (Oh I wont charge – but max of 4/5 songs at a time and when I have the time as I am currently just started my own band.

    Also any bass players and vocalists looking to join a grunge / alternative band give me a shout.
    Last of all, if ANYONE has a copy of the old Mattblack songs – PLEASE can I get a copy I still have the cover but the tape snapped – I have been looking for years now…LOL


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