What Goes On Tourby Kate Crew / 18.01.2010
Summer ’09 spat spam as the folks from De Plate Kompanje bombarded everyone in cyber space with promises of madness in preparation for the MK 4de Avontoer. Come the 26th of December a multitude of music lovers boarded busses, containing 10 local bands and set forth with the aimed of becoming the soundtrack to the summer for 5 coastal towns.
The day of departure saw an assemblage of skinny-clad lads and ladies anxiously waiting on the arrival of our transportation. Arrive they did, two hours late for the scheduled exodus. Once bus bound it became apparent that we, the tour attendees, had a similar objective: Escapism in all its (in)glorious forms.
That Saturday gave birth to the eagerly anticipated Groot Gees Rock Fees, held in Stillbay. Soaring temperatures had me convinced that the the bar fridge exceeds all other inventions, but the line-up was tight enough for me to retain sobriety. “Professional capacity”, I reminded myself. The management team seemed content as the event pulled a respectable crowd. The crowd seemed less pleased when management failed to manage. The gig was behind schedule and the whole shop was set to close at 23:00. It’s called Stillbay – go figure. As the sun set the clouds gathered and presented a piss party. The sound booth was exposed and when attempts at covering it failed miserably they, the management, decided to call it a night with two more acts to go! Don’t get me wrong, if the night was to conclude with Prime Circle’s groaning fading into oblivion I would’ve gladly excused my drenched self, but those acts were the Beloved of Belville. As aKING and Fokofpolisiekar headed behind the stage to fetch their instruments the crowd turned rowdy, and rightfully so. In order to avoid physical harm I escorted my disappointed self to a sodden tent and listened to the disorder die down as Day 1 drew to a close.
Day 2 – 8 presented yet another variation on the theme of unpredictability. Well-respected bands overwhelmed me with contradictions concerning stage dynamics and their unprofessional approach to performances. The reason the local music industry has “so much potential for growth” has nothing to do with its infancy in comparison to that of First World countries. Our status quo is the direct result of the lack of commitment from a lot of musicians. Shit, the last leg of the tour saw us hit Sandbay with a bassist in hospital, on a drip, due to alcohol poisoning. Each to their own I suppose, but in the exact same way that it is incorrect to blame Apartheid for corruption, it is unfair to blame our Industry’s second-rate standard on anything other than mismanagement and a lack of professionalism. Sigh.
It wasn’t all bad. Straatligkinders’ act was a pack pleaser and had fans on their feet night after night whilst Tidal Waves and Mr Cat & The Jackal pleasantly surprised me with their daring diversity. Strange how the absence of commerciality brings forth a breath of fresh air, however short lived. Honourable mention has to go to newcomers Die Tuin Dwergies and Baarmoedergevoel who impressed me with their consistency.
Irrespective of sporadic musical incompetence, Avontoer consists of a fair share of traveling and camping. With this comes a whole array of outlandish habits… or so observed by yours truly. When on tour it is considered acceptable to: point and laugh at a naked Durbanite doing the ‘bus aisle boogie’ on the way to Steers, smoke (whatever you please) in a confined-space-with-a-serious-lack-of-ventilation, rinse kitchen utensils in dirty dishwater for others to use, gladly fork out R5 for a cup of instant coffee every morning and live by the policy that privacy is a privilege rather than a given right.
All images © and courtesy of JP Hanekom