Feature Opinion

Turn Up The Bass On That Ukulele Solo, Please

Johannesburg and Cape Town are constantly battling it out to win the title of “South Africa’s Raddest Place Ever”. And just like the USSR and the USA had that completely irrelevant “Space Race”, Joburg and Cape Town’s battle revolves around “who can be more pretentious?” This, naturally, is much more important.

Every Joburger wants to move to The Mother City to pursue the “South African Dream”, the ideal where a perfect life would consist of having a Vida latté every morning, a Craft Beer with a gourmet hot-dog in the afternoon and shots of tequila for supper. The fast-paced nature of Johannesburg evidently reveals itself in the lifestyle there, as on the weekend, people literally go bat-shit crazy in order to make up for the monotonous as hell week which they’ve just had.

Nothing is mellow about Johannesburg, everything is done at Usain Bolt speed and the music highlights this. Almost every popular gig is an energetic rave-up, everything is “UNS UNS UNS UNS!” and there is no time to take a chiller – it’s “go hard or go home.” This wouldn’t be that bad if there were a variety of options in terms of gigs to choose from, but there essentially isn’t. Rock bands struggle to attract an audience unless they’re a big name in the industry, the relatively unheard of bands have to settle for performing in front of an audience far from capacity and this is not what they deserve. There are also hardly any “alternative only” sort of places in Joburg which grates the tits of every rock ‘n’ roll aficionado there.

Cape Town’s rock scene is a level higher, mainly because of all the Michael Ceras there having nothing better to do than to start indie bands. The underground indie scene is thriving and there is a much bigger appreciation for start-up bands as opposed to Johannesburg. People have a “finer taste” for almost everything and they’re not afraid to show it off, it’s literally impossible for a Capetonian to go to Joburg and not be overly-critical about the wine or the food or the weather or the MDMA. Generally, when Capetonians arrive in Joburg they automatically assert their “connoisseur of good music” status, they would claim that they, “can’t really feel the bass” when the building is literally shaking because of the bass or they would nonchalantly give other party-goers tips on how the drummer of the band could improve his technique – like who died and made you Neil Peart?

Now obviously not all Capetonians are like this, but those that are all “pseudo-connoisseur” are having an influence which is growing like organic, gluten-free seeds. There is an overwhelming sense of ennui in Joburg and the general consensus is that Kaap Stad is the place to be, but is it? I mean, there is a demand for good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll music in Joburg but there are only a handful of places that support this demand. The occasional rock gigs that are hosted at some venues aren’t nearly as packed as the electro or drum n bass gigs AND THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE, MAN.

The rock scene is growing however, and eventually Johannesburg will rise up to Cape Town’s level. In the future, maybe we could all just live in harmony and maybe, just maybe Joburgers and Capetonians could be less critical of each other and be more critical of Durban.