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Heavy Alternatives

The Maths of a Niche Revival

by Max Barashenkov / Images by Luke Daniel / 18.11.2011

Cape Town, it seems, is at the foot of a ‘heavy alternative’ revival, an ugly blanket term for music without mass appeal – anything from punk to metal to hardcore to rockabilly to experimental-blues-rock-n-roll. More and more people, driven by boredom and the homogeny of the scene, are willing to sweat it out at smaller shows, to experience rougher and fresher sounds in smoked-out pubs where there is no room for the glamour of lights, big stages and real money. While it is tempting to sing songs of DIY madness, of drunken unity, of inspirational diversity, this current trend is a peak to be scaled cautiously – sure footing in the music industry is hard to find. For a sustainable ‘heavy alternative’ scene to exist and to grow, several depressing facts need to be highlighted and kept constantly in mind, by both the bands and venues.

Jolly Roger

Argument 1: The Empty Crucible of High Schools

As much as we hate to admit, the foundations of our being and character are laid out in the formative years of high school. This, in many ways, can also be said about music preferences. The sounds and songs that we smile and bleed to in high school will remain with us forever and will inform the evolution of our music tastes. The rugby captains and teen nymphs don’t listen to metal, don’t trawl foreign blogs for obscure bands and, if they do shave a hawk for some initiation, they sure as hell will never introduce it to wood-glue. The likelihood of their sudden conversion to something more meaningful than the 5FM Top 20 is slim. It’s the losers, the fat kids, the pimply-faced wierdos that, in the future, will form the ranks of an alternative scene and, as it currently stands, they are deprived of the environment that would facilitate that. They simply have nowhere to belong, to feel like themselves – the slut-race of See You Next Wednesday at the Assembly is hardly a welcoming place for overweight geeks.

Seven or eight years ago, the high school gig circuit flourished, but now it has been drowned out by hard electro and easily-digestible indie rock, trampled by the cash-cow of dubstep, replaced by a scene that is much more about appearances than substance. All-ages shows have disappeared, dismissed due to the logistical nightmares associated with underage drinking. Yet, if a niche movement is to survive, the high schools are exactly where the, however idealistic, efforts should be directed, exposing a new generation to heavier, non-standard music. Looking around at such recent events as the ‘Punk Revival’ at the Kimberly Hotel or the string of punk-metal gigs at the Jolly Roger, there are a scant few young faces to be seen, the crowds consisting mostly of those who indulged in the music years ago, in their high school phase. If this trend continues, the revival will die in its infancy. So far, there exists only one public entity, something that can be easily accessed by the high school contingent, that is actively promoting local and international heavy music – the Danger Zone, a show on the internet station Zone Radio. From a three-hour Wednesday night program, they are expanding from live transmissions to shows and gigs and it is exactly these kinds of undertakings that plant the seeds for a fertile scene.

Jolly Roger

Argument 2: The Phantom Audience and the Starving Bands

Getting fucked and spazzing around to dirty rock ‘n roll, we tend to forget, in the carnival of like-minded faces, that Cape Town is an incredibly small pond – the number of paying feet-through-the-door and throats-to-be-liquored is severely limited. Out of the estimated hundred thousand white – as much as we throw the Rainbow Nation farce around, the rock scene remains a predominantly white affair – youth between the ages of 16 and 25 that reside in Cape Town, only about 10%, a mere ten thousand (an estimate that is backed by the average attendance numbers at RAMfest – around 6 or 7 thousand, including the outlying areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Worcester), are predisposed to heavy alternative music. These are, mind you, not all punks and metalheads, merely a group that is open to the idea of attending a niche gig. Considering that only a third of them will go out, the bands and venues are competing for an audience of about three thousand on the prime nights of Friday and Saturday. Spread that number around the twenty-something entertainment options – from concerts, to clubs, to bars – and your optimistic ‘good haul’ is a mere 150 people for a punk or metal show. The reality is far more dreary than the statistics, but the 150 number should be the benchmark to dance from, to curb the hubris that could see a venue or band fail. Careful management, communication and healthy, controlled competition are the only things that will make a gig circuit catering to such a small number sustainable.

Jolly Roger

The need for promoters and venues to be critical in their selection of acts is extremely crucial now, from a financial point of view – we cannot afford an explosion of garage punk bands, however enticing that sounds, that flood shows with shitty quality and poor performances, putting audiences off. A niche show should be an occasion to look forward to, a memory to treasure. While bands like Half-Price and Crossfire Collision have a certain throwback appeal, they are not the bricks from which to build something new. Now, at the beginning of the backlash to the commercial dominance, is the time to throw support behind emerging bands, to seduce a new crowd with the swagger of the Great Apes, to work them into frenzy with Dead Lucky, to challenge them with the Bone Collectors and Sixgun Gospel. The attempted success of young bands is as perilous as ever. While the audience and venue pool remains small, the number of niche genres has blossomed with the advent of the internet and acts will only survive if they manage to bridge the genre gaps, to have, at this early stage, a unifying alternative appeal. Considering that there are only three or four venues that will host young talent of this sort in Cape Town and that no person will come to the same venue more than twice a month, the need to not get stale, to tour, to produce EPs, to make the recordings freely available online is apparent.

The Jolly Roger

CASE STUDY 1: The Jolly Roger Model

Perhaps it is fitting that one of the new focal points of the heavy alternative scene opened up not in the up-market area of the CBD, but in the warrens of Plumstead. Going to the Jolly Roger, even for the first time, feels like coming home – no pretense, no ridiculous cover charge, just like-minded people having a good time. Open only for a few months, it has already attracted a fair share of attention with line-ups that have scarcely been seen around the Cape Town woods for the past few years. Its model seems to be working and presents in itself an interesting scenario of a brand, in this case Sailor Jerry rum, successfully tapping into a certain image by creating, through co-finance, a space where the scene that embodies that image can exist. The Jolly Roger, functioning as a normal pub during the day and on nights when there are no shows, hosts a lot of free gigs, a strategy that has worked well so far in terms of drawing a crowd, but has to be cautiously continued due to the above mentioned numbers – reduced significantly by its location, catering basically to just the Southern Suburbs. On a full night it can draw up to a hundred people, cashing in an optimistic estimate of R12000 from the alcohol sold, a figure that, at this point, does not make it a stable paying venue for bands, who get a cut of the bar profits. While its very existence is inspirational to a scene that for so long had nothing to be excited about, it will take a major effort, an open conversation and creative collaborations – such as the Jolly Roger and Danger Zone partnership – to make it sustainable.

Heavy Alternatives

Heavy Alternatives

Heavy Alternatives

Heavy Alternatives

Jolly Roger

*All images © Luke Daniel.

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  1. Vundu says:

    Some very good points there. The Jolly should look at doing one under/18 gig a month, on a Friday night, free entrance, and sponsored (to recover lost revenue). There are plenty of decent bands that want to play to high school audiences – these are the guys that will be your fans for life.

    One more thing on the Jolly – sort out the sound. Its kak.

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  2. Boney Rol says:

    You hit the nail fair and true, Max – the economics of alternative music in RSA is mostly stacked in favour of SAB Miller, and it’s a very small pond. Most of the bands cited know each other well, have played together several times before and will play together again – often for the same audience members.
    However, a perspective you may have missed is that bands like the Great Apes, D.Lucky (or even the humble Bone Collectors) would probably not be making such unmarketable music if they believed there were a real option of gigging and selling it for a full-time living. The fact that one can discount money as an incentive leaves one free to concentrate on other incentives – trying to put on a live show that people will remember, trying to make music that challenges or surprises people, most of all making the music that WE’d want to listen to and party to.

    The fact that it doesn’t pay to play in the alternative/punk-blues/whateverbilly scene is maybe what has led to it’s recent (relative) vibrancy – take away the mercenary incentive and people will play for love, fury, sweat and passion instead. Otherwise we may as well resort to composing those catchy-as-syphilis 5FM choruses that go ‘do do do de doooo my baby got bloo shoooes’ and sling dat shit to MTN and Black Label…..

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  3. Koroviev says:

    What you say is true – the money thing as incentive. Yet bands cannot survive without it, not as people, but as an entity – records need to be made, tours must be planned, merch must be printed…

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  4. Vundu says:

    Real bands need real jobs, or in some cases, rich parents.

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  5. nero says:

    “the rock scene remains a predominantly white affair”

    This would also be a good place to start growing the scene. How are niche genre’s going to be healthy if a large potential target audience is ignored? There was a stage when house music was niche, but people behind the scene pushed it to new audiences and now its one of the strongest genre’s in SA.

    The same could be said for dubstep and drum and bass. Because those audiences are more mixed they are able to punch above their weight and attract numbers which are much larger than they should have.

    Non-white people are as likely to enjoy alternative music styles, which means there must be an untapped market of black “heavy alternative” fans. The recent success of Cold Turkey is a good example. They are playing underground electronic music to a large and diverse crowd and are attracting people to their events who were not previously part of the Assembly/Fiction electronica scene.

    Go find the fans.

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  6. Mike D says:

    Good article dude 🙂 Very good point about the school shows and all ages gigs.. need to get those going again! They were once the lifeblood of the scene, and the youth of today are slipping fast into the dangerous world of dubstep.. If we lose them, goodbye scene.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    How is max qualified to give this advice? He hasn’t done anything for any scene except be critical. His best reference is his own nostalgia, when he was still in high school. Has he even thrown one event? Booked one band? Stop judging and start doing. Talk is easy. And from someone who just talks a lot, but does very little, these guidelines are irrelevant.

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  8. Joshua Grierson says:


    Max used to be in a band.

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  9. Fred Van De Venter says:

    Hi max.
    As owner of the Jolly Roger I appreciate your comments and views. I think you have hit the nail on the head when say that the target areas for the future of new bands are the High schools which would be able to cater all age groups. Unfortunately, in the pub industry, selling liquer, is the main source of revenue and that because of the laws governing the sale thereof limits us to 18 years and older.

    The Jolly Roger has been tranformed in a relatvely short period of time, from having “one man” artists performing on week ends to a shared community of older generation (“Lang Arm”) local supporters who never numbered more than fifty and had the choice of going to any of the surrounding pubs offering the same thing, to the venue it is now..

    I think this has come about mainly because of my son Delon’s ( of Three Chord Theary fame) influence and the carry over from the Wynberg Sports Club gigs which he used to organise, Those were a big success because of the all ages scenario.
    However since he has moved to Canada nobody has really taken over that spot and continued to have gigs at that venue there has been a growing need to fill this void Souther Suburbs.

    He organised a once off Three Chord Revival gig at the Jolly Roger which was such a sucess that It started the ball rolling.for my venue.. I was convinced that what he put into action should be contineud if my business was to survive
    This roll has now been under taken by my stepson LeRiche who has done a trmendous job in putting everything in place and supportd by Dave Harris of SMD sound.

    I am aware that there are a host of things that can be improved upon and will be attended to as and when finance becomes available. Rental is not Cheap(R20000) a month. That and all the other overheads that go with running this business is restrictive as what I could pay bands. The % of turnover is the only fair way that I can reward them for performing. They are,however, given the the choice of either having a cover charge at the door or the % of turnover. Most go for the latter.

    At this stage I would like to take the oppertunity and say thank you to you and everyone else that has supported The Jolly Roger so far. I am open to any constructive critism and welcome any comments.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Everyone used to be in a band. Half the problem is that they think this makes them entitled to professional opinion. Max was in a crap band, so crap his own band members didn’t want to jam anymore. Being in a band is different to engineering a scene. What have you done for your scene lately, except piss on it? And do some ‘math’ ? Gandalfs covers most things you mentioned, from all ages and more (as you remember well, I am sure, back when gigs were ‘cool’ – back when you were sixteen) and yet no huge scene has flourished because of it. Now we got another venue 15 minutes away (ruining bands sound with that terrible system) and you are expecting the same. Do more, talk less. And once you have done something, then come back here and tell us all how to do it.

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  11. The ghost of Dimitri Tsafendas says:

    The irony of your statement, Anonymous – is that you’re the poes doing all the talking, behind the “Anonymous” tag.
    Max puts his name to all his ramblings.
    Why don’t you tell us who you are, so we can ask: what the fuck have YOU done, for the ‘scene’?
    Those in glass houses, maybe?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, maybe. Except I’m not writing the article. I’m not instigating the discussion. Hey max, when last did you buy local merch from a band. Maybe a cd, a shirt? When last did you pay to go watch a band out of support, not cause you were getting paid to review them, not cause you could turn a night out into some petty income by feeding Andy controversy? Yeah. As usual is sailor jerry, great apes, personal bias, blah blah blah.

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  13. Christ Power! says:

    Community. Where’s the community? Even in the comments thread its opinions vs opinions. This because of that. Its almost a sense of conservatism that is not needed in an underground scene. People should go to shows to listen to music and jam the fuck out. The Durban Horseshoe and folded arms is prevalent all over SA. People need to drop their agenda’s and niche preferences and enjoy whats happening, not criticize everything because it “could have been better this way”.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    I know there is an army of 16 year olds just dying to watch sixgun gospel. Pinup girls and anchors on their arms as they drink sailor jerry exclusively. Bows in their hair and rockabilly in their cd shuttles. This is the new underground? I hope not. But surely it proves how organic the whole thing is, as max tries to champion a new trend, from an outsiders point of view, with no hands on experience, and trying to use math. This impending boom is just another cape town trend gaining momentum, hardly a rising up of the underground. It’s been marketed and targeted. Groomed. It’ll pass. When it gets too popular max can start spitting nostalgia again and saying how things used to be.

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  15. Christ Power! says:

    Hey! Give Max some credit! His reviews are constructive indeed:

    * Hated on pretty much every band at Oppikoppi
    * Hated on Contrast the Water’s US efforts.
    * Hated on Cape Towns effort for a scene revival

    I dont know what else has been written by him, but im sure its in a cynical, similar fashion. These thread arguments are exactly what the writers aims for in these articles.

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  16. Brian Green says:

    Isn’t Neshamah doing a Revival? Give me that old time religion, give me that old time religion, give me that old time religion…

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  17. Max says:

    Dear Fred – thank you for your comment, I appreciate it.

    Dear Christ Power! – I believe you completely mis-read both this article and the Contrast the Water article – neither were ‘hate’, at all. I do not think that this article shits on what is happening right now, unless I’ve totally missed something in writing it.

    Dear Anon – Fair enough, I have not organized a show and I’ll be the first to say that I’m a no good musician, never aspired to a career in that at all. Yet, I have been going to music events every weekend for the past 7-8 years, it is my primary form of entertainment, so, in that time, I have managed to pick up a thing or two from observing trends and behaviors and speaking to various musicians and venue owners. Despite your clear personal vendetta, you do raise a point that I believe should be addressed:

    It is true that Gandalfs has existed for a very long time and has continued to host metal/punk/alternative shows. But, I’m afraid, no revival, no movement could ever have started there – the reputation of the place is tarnished, the number of people who (for various reasons) have said ‘I will NEVER set foot in Gandalfs. Only if a really good band plays’ is countless. Thus it is important and inspirational that new venues, like The Jolly Roger, are opening up, giving heavier/new bands a place to play, besides ROAR/Gandalfs.

    Dear Brian – you might laugh, but I would pay money to see Neshamah live again. But only if Joshua plays guitar again.

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  18. Brett Allen-White says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Max, and for supporting and believing in what we’re doing with The Danger Zone.

    If you’re in a South African alternative band that wouldn’t get aired on more commercial stations but have recordings and believe you”ve got sounds that need to be heard get hold of us on Facebook and we’ll see if we can sort something out.

    Also, wouldn’t you think that by writing articles like this, Max is stirring up interest in the scene? Better the devil we know…

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  19. James Bondage says:

    Anonymous. Hmmm. Is that the Latin name for cowardice?

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  20. Matt James says:

    Cool article Max!

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  21. Zam says:

    Not sure ow to start this thread.

    I’m froma band called The Carniwhores, and we’re tryin to build the joburg side of the underground scene. We organize our own shows, and have helped them mighty fine bone collectors & peachy keen come up here and jam (and look forward to going down to CPT to play with them)

    We’re also looking to bring Great Apes and The Pitts up here next year.

    I have done exactly what anon says I need to do to “qualify” to comment.

    So here it is: Max is bloody right. Regardless of what he’s done or not. I couldn’t give two shits what he’s done for “the scene”.

    I’m in the scene now because when I was 14-16 I had blur magazine and with it all ages skate shows. Bands like The SlashDogs (who I revered, and now play for), Fuzi, The Narrow and the likes got me involved. But I never would have if they didn’t get featured in local media and played all ages shows. Campus radio also gave them platforms to preform on air. All of it helped. As for venues, here in JHB there where way more “pub” style venues where bands cold preform, without beig charge exorbitant overheads (cool rubbings here charges R4000 to host a show). The alternative scene throughout the world is based on DIY shows, youth markets and “family”-style relationships between bands.

    Anon, you just sound like you have a personal vendetta against max. Why don’t you give us your personal view on what a scene needs from your experience? I’m happy to hear the advice, regardless of your criteria.

    Ps. It probably is a good idea for mahala to try organize shows under the magazine’s brand. Exposure “street-cred” can only come from it, boosting the magazine’s reputation.

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  22. Zam says:

    Sorry for all the spelling/grammatical errors. Auto-correct and a broken keyboard lead to mishaps i’m afraid

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  23. Craig McKune says:

    I like drinking beer and playing and watching noisy music – and even this comment has intellectualised it too far.

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  24. Boney Rol says:

    Mmm….i’ve never been to ‘Cool Rubbings’, Zam, but it sounds like they offer a fine service. Will pop in when next I’m in JHB.

    Actually, Zam brings up another point, namely that bands in this scene are also supporting each other quite heavily – technically they’re competing, but effectively they’re all working together in a kind of disorganised symbiosis. I wear Zam’s shirt, he wears mine. It’s Ubuntu-billy. Or the ubuntu boogie?

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  25. Kevin R says:

    haha shit…max just can’t win!!

    don’t worry buddy, no one cares about the comments column anyways except to get a few laughs 😀

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  26. cathy says:

    Most of the”live Music scene” bands are very amateur so unless you want to dumb the nation down which is the usual approach and pretend our garage bands “rock” you should appreciate a cynical but honest opinion.

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  27. Katy Holmes says:

    Max writes an article that calls for scene unity and is accused of sowing division?

    This scene is going places, man.

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  28. cathy says:

    What scene – Cape Town is simply too small, if there can only be one event at at time that is remotely successful

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  29. MrChavcore says:

    nice article my russian friend! i do have one thing to add though. maybe if everyone stopped giving a shit about what “scene” they belonged to and stopped worrying about genre’s and the way other people looked things would be a lot more cohesive in cape town? its like battle lines have been drawn and nobody wants to cross them. at the end of the day it is possible to be a fan of indie/electro/punk/metal/hip hop and still retain your identity and integrity. its not about the music people listen to or how they choose to dress, its about their attitudes to each other and growing a common sense of unity and direction that will be the thread that holds the “scene” together.

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  30. David Harris says:

    Hi Max,

    Personally, I think your article was interesting, but I think both you and those commenting above need to know a few more details:

    1. The Jolly Roger is not about politics (in all forms), aggression, mainstreams, undergrounds, “headline acts” or scenes. Yes, we do attract members of what appears to be a ‘scene’, but this is simply an inevitable by-product of the bands we enjoy staging (not just alternative genres, by the way).

    2. Fred Van De Venter, Le Riche Meyer and myself (under the banner of SMD Technical), teamed up with the intention of staging bands for both our own enjoyment, and for those residing in the southern suburbs area. There was never any desire to compete with other venues, resurrect any scene, get in to heavy debate, or produce legends. We just wanted to help Fred better the venue, give the locals a cool place to hang out, and bring real live music to the area (in which we all grew up and still reside). All in the name of good times.

    3. I have been supplying a majority of the equipment (except the main speakers, my car can only handle so much!) and my own services free of charge since we started this, and carry on doing so until such time as the venue starts to generate sufficient income to invest in their own equipment. To date, we have been through 2 loan PA’s (which would suddenly disappear on a Friday when it’s owner would decide it’s needed elsewhere) until we finally managed to build the speaker stack that currently stands in the venue. Yes, it’s not the best gear, but it works. I have been in this industry for 15 years, and I am seriously impressed with what we have accomplished with absolutely no capital to invest, and shitty gear.

    4. For those of you bitching about the sound, sure it’s not the best, so how about we charge you at the door so we can finally make a little profit and throw some cash in to sound gear? We believe our ‘free entry’ model, together with our ‘20% band payment’ scheme is fresh, fair, and proof that we do this for our supporters, guests and bands. Unfortunately, this is not exactly a winning formula for the venue, but we stood by this because we believe in this system, in the hope that it will at some point generate profit, which in turn could be reinvested in new gear. Oh, we now have a new engineer to look after all things technical in my absence, and he too is covered by the venue. Neither the punter nor the bands pay for the use of the venue, the engineer or the equipment.

    5. Still on the sound issue, people also need to understand the audio dynamics of the venue, the equipment, the bands, and the on-stage sound. Newer or heavier bands tend to enjoy higher volumes when on stage, which directly impacts on the over all sound of the event in this small venue. This gets a lot deeper technically, so just take my word on it for now! We do work hard at controlling this, but I can’t afford to leave a digital console or effects racks in the venue free of charge, as I require them for my own (income generating) gigs. I am currently in the process of purchasing new monitors, amps and cables for the venue, and we have just been (very kindly) given a new set of bass bins and mids/ tops, so things are slowly moving in the right direction.

    6. Tomorrow night’s event, with The Danger Zone’s live broadcast from the venue, is the first time a 3rd party has sponsored financial assistance. Although I have been supplying all the required equipment and technical services at my own expense, there are other costs that need to be covered, and Sailor Jerry has been kind enough to offer help on this particular event. Although Le Riche and myself have worked tirelessly to get this venue going, it is all pointless with out the support of those attending the shows, the bands, The Danger Zone presenters and brands like Sailor Jerry and SMD Technical.

    7. Lastly, if you haven’t already noticed, TJR does not have any ‘bouncers’ or security staff. We find that our guests, bands and supporters are well behaved and all round good people. Yes, we do encounter little issues here and there, but this is quickly and smoothly handled by TJR staff and those who frequent the venue. This is no scene, this is just awesome people having an awesome time.

    People may say what they wish, and we always appreciate constructive criticism. But those with all the negative comments need to understand where we have come from, how we have grown, and what the Jolly Roger is all about. It’s been flippin’ hard work for all of us, but it’s paying off, and we are grateful to our supporters, our bands and the media.

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  31. Drunken Miscreant says:

    Well, as a fairly regular Jolly Roger floor crawler, I have to be honest and say that Im reluctant to see the place associated with any ‘scene.’ One of the things that keeps bringing me back is the fact that the crowd tends to older (well, as clubs/pubs go, say late twenties) and generally over that kind of territorial squabbling. I go there because Im going to a see a rad assortment of bands, some of them surprising, have decent drunken rants with interesting folks, and dance like a monkey. Thats it.

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  32. Craig McKune says:

    I fucking dig the Roger. Sound’s up and down. Band’s are up and down. Vibe is good and dirty. Beer is cheap and cold.

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  33. Le Riche Meyer says:

    We are well aware of the of our short comings at The Jolly Roger, and we are working on it.

    The Sound will be sorted out in the next couple of weeks as we are in the process of buying gear.

    As for a scene or a revival, The Jolly Roger will not be a venue to ever just host “heavy” music, whatever the fuck that means, we will continue to host bands playing music, all kinds of music

    @ David concerning security The Jolly Roger does have security and pay a hell of a lot of money every month for security. They don’t stand in front of our doors, like over grown ugly monkeys, but they are stationed behind The Jolly Roger and they are called REDCELL SECURITY.

    @Craig Mckune thank you, it’s people like you that make us enjoy what we do.

    @Max you cheeky Russian.

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  34. Urk says:

    fuckin a.

    i can associate, thought it was one of the least cuntroversial articles to date. but that slimey shitbag anon creeps the fuck in and pisses on it. unbelievable. howeve, 1 thing is clear: most of us seem to get it. have a blast, explore, and develop your own opinions and taste.

    if i disagreed with anything (aside from that annoying tosspot) it is that a Ssubs venue caters only for the area. back in the day (and still now) people come from worcester and milnerton and fishhoek to town. if you biuld it, they will come…

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  35. Le Riche Meyer says:

    That is the dumbest comment that I have heard, “that the the jolly roger only caters for the southern suburbs”

    We have had bands play at our venue from all over the Western Cape, even as far as Stellenbosch and Paarl, these bands have supporters and followers based in the same home town as them, that have come along to watch and support them.

    We have bands from all over the country playing at The Jolly Roger in December, that have friends and followers touring with them that will be coming to The Jolly Roger.

    So just because you’re lazy ass does not get out, it does not mean that other people don’t

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  36. Cami Scoundrel says:

    Viva la alternative, Viva la Jolly Roger! The ‘scene’ is not dead, hasnt died, has been going since the 70’s. Sure it gets smaller sometimes, it regenerates. But after having gone to Fuzigish’s album launch at Cool Runnings Fourways and having over 3000 people there, I will always have faith in the fact that hard work and perceverence pays off for any band. Grow your own following and the scene cannot dissapear. Great article Max, keep it up.

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  37. K.C. Royal says:

    You know what, TJR is doing a great job. I am so glad to see the days of ‘pay to play’ behind us, and TJR really comes out and supports a wide genre of ‘real’ music.

    Being a member of the rockabilly band the Ratrod cats, I must say that from a rockabilly point of view, and knowing that TJR actively supports rockabilly, it is a genre that is ‘in fashion’ at the moment. Dispute being around for decades, many 17 years olds are now into it because its the ‘it thing’ right now. While i am glad that people are coming to shows and the scene is growing, it wouldnt never ever grow into something bigger and better without clubs like TJR!

    Have we personally played at Assembly or Mercury? No! Would we like to, ofcourse yes. But, having said that, its the smaller bars/clubs/venues that can hold 50 or 60 people max where most overseas (USA/Europe) rockabilly bands play, and I am proud that CPT seem to be moving in the direction where alternative is becoming sustainable because more clubs are becoming open to the idea! We have some ways to go still, but hell, we are making some progress!

    TJR is a prime example of what clubs should aim to be. There are a few other clubs in CPT that are also open minded like TJR, like Purple Turtle, Hok11, etc, but we do indeed need more!

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  38. K.C. Royal says:

    And Zam and Boney raised a good point, bands are competing againist each other, but supporting and playing with each other at the same time. I mean, Ratrod Cats have played with The Pits a dozen times, 6 Gun Gospel as well, we have been in talks with The Carniwhores (Zam, we need to chat more too), we’ve played with Them Tornados, Peachy keen and have been trying to organise with Bone Collectors for ages (nug nug, wink wink, Boney!). The fact being that almost all the bands that are implicated within this post have had some or other dealings with each other.

    The fact is, we all support each other, we play with each other, we get on, we enjoy each others music. There is competition, but at the same time theres a lot of cool band members who always invite a band to join them or inform them of a ‘big’ show they may be able to get in on. It reminds me of the close knit circles of the grunge days, with everyone playing with each other and supporting each other and only a hand full of a certain genre existing.

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  39. Mishkaness says:

    Cami, we must chat at some stage about marketing the scene as a whole, as well as ideas for yours. I specialise in marketing to students, and there are a couple of ideas you can use that cost next to nothing and often can yield returns. I can also give you pointers on what you are doing and how to make it more effective.

    On another note, as someone who used to be in the scene and played for bands and attended the gigs, I can say that what eventually put me off of it was the fact that it was a scene that was undyingly critical of all other scenes and the people in them, and sought to isolate themselves in contemptuous elitism and that essentially made me unhappy to associate myself with. Recent gigs I’ve been too haven’t had that vibe about them though, so mute point I suppose.

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  40. Cami Scoundrel says:

    mishkaness would love to hear your ideas on marketing, as a musician and a long time events, and band manager, scene photographer and reporter I’d honestly like to throw the ropes of marketing over to those who know what they’re doing. it’s tiring organising shows and playing and doing the coverage. My main gripe with the alternate scene as it stands now is the lack of exlpoiters (ie the link between the bands and the fans). Without mags like blunt, and promoters and booking agents solely looking to encourage the underground scene musos start taking alot of strain and it kills our creative drive.

    I agree that the criticalness of the scenes is shitty, but the more positivity we put into it, the less of that there shall be? or perhaps thats just the idealist in me praying for a better world.

    Thanks Mahala for the forum to start bridging these gaps, and making networks happen.

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  41. Gus Warden says:

    So i heard HIGH SCHOOLS being addressed.

    Check out this video of stills i took from a rhythm workshop i hosted last week (the day i first read this article) and check the vibe… these kids ARE the new scene (most 15/16/17) and are dying to play there first live show.. thinking all ages show next yr april, and the 12th of the 12th of the 12th on that rooftop space on long. dont steal ideas, hang and share

    note, we do not want to corrupt young minds with shows of heresy, anarchy and halloween – we want to teach good art from bad art.. this video is by no means good art, merely a docu of what ive been busy with sibce febreuary. getonthebus


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  42. Samuel says:

    garage punk bands…. hells yeah!!

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  43. CurtisHamS says:


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