Park Offby Tim van Rensburg, images by Arno Oosthuizen / 28.09.2010
I lived in Pretoria for two and a half years from 2007 and never experienced anything like Park Acoustics. As far as I knew, there was nothing like this going on back then. Although, back then I lived in a heavily cannabinoided fantasy world. So perhaps I was not as aware of the goings on as I should have been. What I do know is that Pretoria definitely needs more lazy Sundays with live bands in their beautiful gardens.
I arrived late, unfortunately. So I missed SoulJah and only caught the last 2 songs of Aanklank, an Afrikaans female duo, playing acoustic guitars and singing pleasantly. Don’t let the ‘van Rensburg’ fool you, I only have the capacity to understand one language at a time (I’m singlelingual) and since I’m writing in English it’s safe to say most of their lyrics escaped me. I did enjoy the music though; it seemed to travel around the gardens like the breeze. Inducing calmness while I drifted towards a cold beer and some shade. I was pleased to hear that the sound quality was better than the last time, and they had put up some of that stretchy psychedelic shading used at trance parties. It would give people a chance to get closer to the music instead of hiding under the trees, and watching from afar like stalkers.
But when I arrived there were very few people under the shade in front of the stage. Most were lounging around on picnic blankets under the trees. Pretoria has always been synonymous (at least to ‘those Joburg types’) with neanderthal-style brandy and coke piss ups. I think that it’s an outdated stereotype. Judging from my day at Park Acoustics I would say Pretoria has grown out of it. Frisbees whizzed about like saucers exploring strange phenomenon on a planet thought previously to be devoid of life. “Captain it appears this planet is ‘peopling”. Aanklank were finished and Voodoo Child was stepping up to the plate. As I watched people started to rise from their blankets and, as if in a daze, they moved towards the stage. It was easy to imagine a robed man weaving between the blankets poking the herd awake with his crook and guiding them towards the stage. It was Voodoo Child’s metaphysical shepherd; a creation of their music, reinforced by the crowds love thereof. By the time they started a large part of the flock was up front and ready to mentally migrate to the music.
I had planned to see Voodoo Child at Oppi, but anyone who’s been to Oppi knows that plans are a joke. After Oppi the people who did see them insisted I had missed out. After Park Acoustics I now know this to be true. The music was fresh and exciting, so much emotion and feeling was present in their performance. Lebo affectionately referred to us as ‘Parkies’ while they took us on an hour long journey through their repertoire. When they played “Megalomanic Attack” you could feel the energy in the air. You couldn’t help but dance, couldn’t help but move your body to the sound of the music. The energy of sound waves travel by a rapid transference back and forth between potential and kinetic energy. It seemed as though the macrocosm was reflecting the microcosm because we were all oscillating in a similar way. We were no longer human beings; just complex collections of molecules vibrating along to the cosmic giggle.
I was confused. Why were there so few people? Yes they did run out of beer before the end but I expected a lot more people. I also expected a wider demographic in terms of age and race. At one point a guy came around with a clipboard and forms to fill out. They were feedback forms regarding the event and one of the questions was: “Which artists would you like to see at future events”. Flipping through the pages I saw a few for Goldfish, Prime Circle, Freshly Ground etc. More of our “mainstream”, lots of radio play type acts. As much as I hate things going too commercial, it might be interesting to have a big crowd pulling force there. As a way of introducing more people to a lazy Sunday of live bands in the beautiful gardens. I just think that when Voodoo Child played “Come Together” they should have had far more people there to join in that experience. More people need to be herded into this luscious green pasture of auditory pleasure.
Okay enough with the sheep metaphors. Tumi & The Volume don’t suit that analogy. Not with Tumi’s lyrics. Not with the perspective you have to attain to understand them. It’s that “take a step back and look at what you’re doing” kind of experience. Tumi reminds me of why I loved hip hop music back in the day. I was never very musically adept; I couldn’t pick up the feeling of a song very easily. Hip hop helped here by providing subtitles to the music. I started seeking out better and better lyricists, because that was the aspect of the music which appealed to me. My fallout with hip hop was due to two things; the genre’s rabid embrace of commercialism and the broadening of my own musical horizons. The reason I love Tumi & The Volume is because they offer a twist on that; their conscious lyrics and their compatibility with my now broadened musical horizons. “I can’t decide if it’s the money, that make the people go outta control! I can’t decide if it’s the money, that put a little price tag on your soul!” Their passion really shines through in their performance. I can’t wait to see them again when they’re back in November. I must say I was offended to hear that the French got their hands on the new album before us; then again they did pay for it.
*All images © Arno Oosthuizen.