The venue is full by 5:15pm as Holiday Murray kick things off a little earlier than scheduled.
They deliver a solid performance and do well to warm the stage up for Jeremy Loops who, in all honesty, is the reason most of us are here.
My friend Mvelase and his bottle of Chardonnay are my companions for the event. Mvelase – like a good majority of people scattered over the large lawn – has never seen Jeremy Loops perform before.
He lets out a curdling shriek as Jeremy sound checks his harmonica to the tune of ‘Shosholoza’. I resign myself to being deaf by the end of this.
Jeremy launches into his special brand of loop-woven folk through first track ‘Down South’. No warning, no introduction, just one high-pitched hook that heads and shoulders instinctively bop to. Children clamber, almost over each other, to get a good spot right in front of The Loopster as the walkway in front of the stage becomes a bizarre underage mosh pit.
Kirstenbosch roars as he delivers his harmonica intro to ‘Power’ but there’s something amiss. Afterward Jeremy confesses that he woke up this morning without a voice. Ah sweet, sweet timing. He points out his mom and dad in the audience before assuring us that his vocal situation won’t dampen his performance, in fact, he’s going to give it his all. He proceeds to teach the overly enthusiastic crowd about the different effects his pedals produce (namely delay, deep voice and his cutesy lady voice), giving them a taste of each one. Entertaining and educational? How you gonna top that??
He cracks out his lady voice for new track ‘Lonesome and Blue’. “This is the only love song I play,” his honey-soaked voice squeaks into the mic as many teens gawking at him fall in love for the first time. He loops the screaming of said teens into the song before Jamie Faull (sax) and James Hall (violin) join him to give the track more depth.
He hits the wrong pedal mid-track and we’re smacked with a bout of “deep voice” but all’s forgotten when he brings out a multi-coloured kid’s toy. A ginger kid on his dad’s shoulders gets very vocal and it’s the ‘Shosholoza’ sound check all over again. Jeremy asks if we should make up a song quick. Who the hell’s going to deny the Piped Piper of Kirstenbosch?
The Fisher Price-ish contraption starts playing ‘Row Your Boat’ and I conclude that Jeremy’s taken “Loops” a little too literally here. But wait… people are singing… THE WHOLE OF KIRSTENBOSCH IS SINGING. And Jeremy’s beat boxing. We’re making a song people. He turns to look for support from his band and in a nanosecond rapper Motheo Moleko is there. Who knows what he’s rapping about, but it’s working. Jamie Faull crashes back onto stage with a nice little sax solo and by now, majority of the garden is on their feet.
They follow with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Howling’, ‘My Shoes’ (where people are religiously rapping along to Motheo’s bit) and ‘Where Did You Go?’. By now the bottle of Chardonnay is gone and Mvelase has evidently gotten his groove on. Then Jeremy breaks, his voice on the brink of total implosion, to point out Fernando the goat to his left – the mascot his sister and her friends had made the night before. Fernando falls over moments after Jeremy has drawn attention to him.
They launch into ‘Only The Good Die Young’ with freelance percussionist Ronan Skillen on a didgeridoo unlike any I’ve seen – custom-made baby. The end of this track is met with resounding applause and as Jeremy asks us if we’d like another track the guy next to me bellows, “ONLY IF THE DIDERIII OKE COMES BAAACK.”
They close with a cover of a traditional American gospel track, aptly titled ‘This Train (Is Bound For Glory)’. Holiday Murray joins in the onstage festivities along with Two Minute Puzzle and the rest of The Jeremy Loops Collective.
Five minutes later I glance at Twitter and already, tweets of adoration and praise have kicked off. And rightfully so. It’s also quite mind-blowing when you realise that a band with no radio play and no CD in any mainstream outlets, just pulled 5000 plus people on the weekend of the Argus Cycle Tour – a weekend where Cape Town normally shuts down.
He asked us to be quiet so he could hear his loops, we were silenced. He asked us to put our arms in the air and keep them there, we obliged. He told us he could barely talk but we wanted an encore. Or four. When a band has a milestone performance that marks their turning point, it’s special to witness. Sunday was that for Jeremy Loops.