Culture, Music, Sport
Expensive Shit

Expensive Shit

by Dave Durbach / 30.03.2010

One can only imagine the brains trust at Control Room, FIFA’s official events coordinator, in their boardroom in Beverly Hills…
“Right, FIFA wants us to throw a big music concert to open the soccer World Cup. Who’s gonna be there?”
“Well, what music do people like down there?”
“Who cares? Let’s just take three of most bankable, ubiquitous stars in the world: the Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, and Beyonce.”
“No, no, Beyonce’s busy.”
“OK then we’ll take Alicia Keys. She can’t dance but at least she’s kind of black.”
“Nice work. That’s the headline acts out of the way.”
“Book them, and they will come.”
“Jesus, don’t you ever get tired of saying that?”
“Nope…”
“This is the World Cup though. What other languages are there?”
“Umm… Spanish?”
“Perfect! Why don’t we get that Colombian skank Shakira in the mix, she’ll do anything for a quick buck.”
“And what about the ladies?”
“She’ll do ladies too.”
“No, I mean for the ladies.”
“Oh… Why don’t we get someone who no one in South Africa has ever heard of, singing in a language that no one there understands?”
“It’s so crazy, it just might work… Does that mean we can charge prices that no locals can afford!”
“Doesn’t it always?”
“Now we’re on the right track!”
“So, who we gonna get?”
“How should I know? Ask the cleaning lady.”
“Que? Me gusta Juanes!”
“Juanes it is then!”
“But Africa’s a big country… They must have a few of their own musicians.”
“I’m not sure, but I think I saw some in Europe…”
“Everyone loves Amadou and Mariam. They’re married, blind and very cute.”
“Are they from South Africa?”
“They’re from Mali, it’s right next door”
“And there’s that Touareg band. I can’t pronounce their name so I’ll just write it on this napkin….”
“I used to drive a Touareg!”
“Sweet! So that’s two… Who else is from Africa?”
“What about that woman who mimed so well at the opening draw?”
“Johnny Clegg?”
“No, the other one.”
“Sure, we’ll get her!”
“And that other guy from Mali with the famous father?”
“Why the hell not?”
“Thing is though, I’m not really sure if any of these people are from anywhere near Johannesburg…”
“Why don’t we just ask some real South Africans what music they like?”
“Why bother? That’s what Google is for!”
“…OK, it says here there’s a band that sold out at the Coca Cola Dome and endorses KFC. I love Coke and KFC!”
“Hmm… the Parlotones. Look at this video of theirs on Youtube – aren’t they incredibly shit?”
“I know, right!? But they’ll make everybody else look good!”
“Good thinking!”
“What about that guy from the Dave Matthews Band?”
“Dave Matthews? He’s a bit out of our price range.”
“No, that Vusi guy with the high voice.”
“Whoa, careful now – I heard he’s actually pretty good..”
“It’s OK, we’ll put him alongside that band from Secretly Canadian.”
“The BLK JKS? But how will their music sound in a half-empty stadium?”
“Terrible!”
“It’s a deal! Let’s eat!”

And that was that. A few phonecalls, some greasy handshakes and cash advances later, and the line-up for the FIFA World Cup™ Kick-Off™ Celebration™ Concert™ was done and dusted. Roll the presses.

Meanwhile, in a country far, far away, people have been left scratching their heads in confusion, convinced that they were the ones who were supposed to be hosting the thing.

Fair enough, this is meant to be an African World Cup, not only a South African one, but wouldn’t it have been a good idea to get artists from the countries who are actually competing in the tournament – legends like Manu Dibango (Cameroon), Femi Kuti (Nigeria) and Alpha Blondy (Ivory Coast), for example?

And when it comes to the SA acts, surely the powers that be could’ve done better than camp Brit-pop posers and shoegazing, wall-of-sound experimentalists?

If Germany could showcase scheisse like Upper Bavarian drummers and tenor Herbert Grönemeyer in 2006, then surely our humble nation, with one of the richest musical cultures of any country in the world, should be allowed to do something similar?

After ongoing stories of FIFA strong-arm tactics, internet-only ticket sales (in a country where only a few have internet access or credit cards), Chinese made Zakumis (when the textile industry is being mothballed), gags on critical reportage, no accreditation for Mahala journalists and many others, stab-proof fan vests and sky-rocketing domestic travel costs; South Africans are starting to wonder if the Cup is really all that it’s cut out to be. On Sunday The Observer in the UK called this debacle, “the latest blow to South African pride”. One thing’s for sure, the honeymoon is over – the business end of the WC is in full swing.

This time around, it’s local musos who’ve been left smarting. Guitarist Condry Ziqubu, formerly of bands like the Flaming Souls and Harari, and a big-selling solo star since the late 80s, was bleak. “Here is the World Cup coming to Africa. This is our chance to showcase South African music, because this thing is going to be shown all over the world. The world should see us. We thought this was going to be an opportunity; unfortunately we were taken by surprise. I’m not saying that no musician should be invited, but the majority should be South African. You cannot have only three (local) artists. 80% should be South African musicians.”

Actor Mabutho “Kid” Sithole, a spokesman for the Creative Workers’ Union rightfully asked in the Observer piece: “If we cannot use our World Cup as a showcase for our artists, what can we use? “

The union is planning a march on the offices of the Local Organising Committee at Soccer City on April 15th. Who knows what good this will do, however, as the LOC once again finds itself between a rock and a hard place, effectively powerless but to enforce FIFA’s holy mandate.

Ziqubu says he will support the march. “Obviously, I must be there. Every musician should really support it. We are being undermined. I don’t remember musicians leaving South Africa to go and play in Germany. For me, it’s not on. I think this march is going to be huge.”

At the Music Exchange conference in Cape Town last week, the idea of a “rebel” gig was mooted by industry heavyweights like Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse and others. One reportedly suggested calling it the “Fuck FIFA” concert. Mabuse told the Mail & Guardian that a rival concert would be about creating “opportunities for South Africans. Why should South African musicians be denied the opportunity to be exposed to the rest of the world, when those that already have been privileged enough to have opportunities get to come here and make money and then go?” he asked. “Are we going to be silent about this? Hell no!” In response to the exorbitant prices for the official gig, which range from R450 to over a thousand bucks, Mabuse said local musicians “must do concerts for free. We must go out and find our own venues on that day and perform.”

The South African Department of Arts and Culture recently issued a statement that it “supports the outcry from artists about the dearth of South African artists at the 10 June concert’”, adding that the line-up was “not fair’”.

Money talks and bullshit walks, straight onto a stage at Orlando Stadium. No wonder so many South Africans have got such a complex about playing indigenous music and feel the need to look abroad for inspiration and/or validation.

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RESPONSES (41)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Ludicrous… but not surprising in the slightest… when locals like Lucas Radebe were not even used for Bafana in any capacity over the last few years…

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  2. Andy says:

    Wha! Ludicrous is playing too… this is too much

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  3. Twinfinn says:

    A couple more things that really get up my nose:
    1. All schools are being forced to close for the duration of the WC. This, in a country where education and literacy is a real problem? How about we just close down the schools on match days in the cities where they happen, and leave us to decide when school holidays should be? Fuck you, FIFA.
    2. No permits are allowed to be issued for film or photo shoots in public in cities where matches take place, for the duration of the WC. So pretty much everyone in the film industry – crew, gear houses, actors – are assured of a solid month of unemployment. This, in a country where unemployment is a huge problem? Why don’t we deny permits only on match days? Fuck you, FIFA.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Lol Andy… thankfully not!

    Go Sipho Go… lead the ‘real’ local opener…

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  5. Andy says:

    Totally hear you about Lucas Radebe… man’s the most successful South African footballer in recent times, if not ever, in terms of what he achieved on the pitch and as the captain of a Premier League team – and his skill and expertise is sitting stagnating…

    He should run for president as far as I’m concerned!

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  6. the pragmatist says:

    Boo hoo hoo. You can speculatively role-play the selection team’s actions all you like, but one undeniable fact remains. South Africa does not currently have a musical act with the popularity and international appeal required to headline a concert of this magnitude. You can moan and whinge all you like, but the real shortcoming lies in our music industry and it’s inability to cultivate, groom and export talent to the degree that other nations have achieved. We are so pathetic that we get worked up into a froth when has-beens like Fred Durst get mildly excited by the refried hip hop of Die Antwoord, as if it were a monumental achievement. We don’t know what it means to aim high and to stay focused in a competitive world, and that doesn’t just apply to music. Time for South Africans to grow the fuck up and realise that its a big bad world out there.

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  7. sleaze says:

    Ah Hail Mighty Blatter Emperor for Life maybe there is still time to book Julie Andrews make him feel at home all this heat must be a bitch!

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  8. The JZA says:

    @ TwinnFinn, well said. But I think the government & municipalities deserve a special FUCK YOU for acquiescing to FIFA’s insanity.

    @ the pragmatist, you’re so right. It doesn’t just apply to music. Pragmatist is leaving the building. Windspeed 24. Aim high. Stay focused.

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  9. dave says:

    @pragmatist…This country has hundreds of artists who were left in the dark during apartheid, either at home or in exile, as well as a handful who are international stars in their own right (eg. LBM, Soweto Gospel Choir, Ray Phiri), and some younger pop acts who are more than capable. There’s no reason why this thing has to be an MTV pop concert – the WC is a soccer tournament, not a fashion show. Organisers should give credit where it’s due, then include some international pop acts as an afterthought. At the very least, local acts should be allowed to do something else, and we should be able to support them…

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  10. the pragmatist says:

    Jeez Durbach, you’ve just reinforced my earlier comments. You don’t promote a major event like the World Cup with a concert of nice-to-accommodate local performers that the rest of the world doesn’t know at all. Ray Phiri is as recognisable and sellable as The Black Eyed Peas? Get real.

    I’ll swing this debate around 180 degrees. It could be argued that there are too many second-string local acts at the tail-end of the line-up for the event. International visitors would like more bang for their buck, not some filler acts that FIFA swept up at a discount instead of more reputable and established international entertainers.

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  11. The JZA says:

    Switching to hollow points.

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  12. sleaze says:

    @Pragmatist having been to a world cup my money is that all the “international visitors” when they not at the match will be down the pub watching other matches. They are coming to SA to watch Tevez , Messa, Drogba et all not the Black Eyed Peas.

    also curious as since FIFA is a Big Mac fan will the Parlatones be allowed to put KFC snack boxes in their riders?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    yo it might not occur to you in the SA blogosphere but the kickoff concert is about global TV rights, ad sales, and breaking open the european-based mystique of soccer so FIFA can approach its final frontier: the USA (ie the american market) for WC2018.

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  14. AT says:

    Get over yourself Durbach. This is an international gig, not local episode of Idols. They’re obviously going to go with bands that they believe have international appeal and cover all their bases. Sure, there are some great local acts that probably didn’t even get a second thought, but honestly, it’s not FIFA’s role to break local stars on the international market. It’s their role to put together a good pop concert, one that will see adverts around the world snapped up in seconds. The people that FIFA wants to target are not those who want to go to a concert to discover new bands and talent. They want to go to sing along to gushing pop songs, wave lighters in the air, and get in the mood for a month of equally fake but glitzy festivities.

    What’s more – all you “pro-SA (and African, in this case) music because we deserve it” people should quit whinging and actually read the line-up. Vusia Mahlasela, Angelique Kidjo, The Parlotones, Amadou and Miriam, Tinariwen, and Blk Jks. Seems to me like a pretty decent, diverse, highly talented (Parlotones excluded) line-up. These people haven’t sat around waiting for handouts and for big-wigs like FIFA to roll into town giving opportunities to up and coming bands – these are groups (like them or loathe them) that do deserve to be there, and that are guaranteed to put together a show that excites and appeals to your average international viewer – which is what it’s all about, whether you like it or not.

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  15. sour says:

    “This is an international gig”………the level of self loathing is hilarious!yo why even live here if all you aspire to is “the big bad world” why not go live in new york and eat bagels every day instead of putting up with this riff-raff……u say we should all just be thankfull that the big baas’s are giving us peanuts…..souless maybe the way things are but to defend it?

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  16. G says:

    Anyone with half an analytical brain would have seen this coming from the moment SA was “awarded” the cup. Fuck, nothing that FIFA has done should be suprising at all. All the afro-optimists were so busy congratulating each other that the “first world” had recognised little-old-us down here in Africa that they forgot to engage their brains and see FIFA and their World Cup for what they are….money grabbing cunts who don’t give a shit about anything but their profit…..why the suprise now? Suck it up and stop whining…

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  17. anastassia molto says:

    Dear fuckin AT and the Pragmatist.
    music is half of the equation. the other half is infrastructure (media/venues/publicists etc)
    SA has more than its fair share of world class music. we just dont have the machines to publicist on an international scale. ie: events of the world cup stature.
    now we do, or almost did. unfortunately some portentous dick cant see the wood for all the trees and is holding the joystick.

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  18. sas says:

    worl cup in brazil??? BRAZILIAN ONLY.even if other acts come… so let’s just play everwhere and for free… nuff said. oh yes, and FUCK FIFA… although imagine you were at school… pretty rad not to go!!!!!

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  19. anastassia molto says:

    unless you are in matric and want to try get it over and done with without feeling the sting of failure.

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  20. sas says:

    all that time off to study …the repeat all that shit for 3 years before anyway … should be in there by then….

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  21. anastassia molto says:

    you mean you actually dont need to go to school in standard 8 and 9 because its repeated in 10 anyway. i meant grade 10, 11 and 12…

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  22. helge says:

    I tend to back Therese Owen on this one – TONIGHT (Daily News) 31 March 2010. This jorno is worth her muso salt!!

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  23. Sun Tzu says:

    @Sour: The fact of the matter is the World Cup remains an international affair however you cut it. No amount of “self-loathing” will change the fact the viewership of the games(billions worldwide plus the half-million odd fans who’ll be flying into SA)) is overwhelmingly, well, international!

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  24. anastassia molto says:

    half of what makes it fun for all the internationals coming to SA is seeing SA culture, but to be american and come here and see american..well its a little old and makes you feel like you’ve gone full circle.

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  25. mz fitz says:

    hilarious…

    i love this place

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  26. Musicman says:

    Absolutely agree with the article. FIFA is not allowing South African culture to be showcased. That includes South African soccer songs which are great and relevant to the whole WC and could have been sung by the whole stadium audience with a little effort and imagination.
    Who can I contact to be part of the concert Hotsticks proposes ?

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  27. goofyfoot says:

    Looks like a fair music line-up to me. All the African acts on the bill, well nearly all, are where they are in spite of the SA music industry, not because of it. With the whole hearted co-operation of the majority of South Africa, the SA entertainment industry, media and radio has been systematically kicking its own music to death for years. SA Music Week? Er….aren’t we in South Africa already? Portuguese music week would make sense. Now it’s the world cup and we want to know where our music is. Why should Fifa give a shit when not even SA does?

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