Feature Opinion

20 Best Sets From Rocking The Daisies 2016, Part 1

After the garbage is cleared, the stages dismantled and R2-D2 and C-3PO safely packed away, we’re left with the lingering memories of the music, the gauntlets thrown and the hearts won at the year’s Superbalist is Rocking The Daisies. With over 200 acts having graced over 10 stages, we broke down who left the best impressions and why.

Card On Spokes

Multi-instrumentalist and electronic wizard Shane Cooper appeared on the line-up of the Headspaza stage Saturday afternoon as the artist behind the moniker Card On Spokes. ‘Sunwalker’ kicks off the set, whilst Bonj Mpanza provides smooth vocals as she stands alongside Cooper. In this manner, both live instrumentation and electronic material is included in the set to cover an almost multi-explorative landscape of sound in a captivating and wholly transcendental fashion. It’s a sonic backdrop welcomed by the lucky few who’ve discovered the arguably small stage’s peripheral location, saturating the entire space with finely produced sounds of an immaculate calibre. Cooper’s keen attention to each changeover structures a feel-good assemblage of melodic pulses that offered attendees the opportunity to close their eyes and enter the attained journey of sound Card On Spokes so sublimely arranges. – Marike Watson

Matthew Mole

Noticeably luring one of the festival’s largest crowds, Mole, along with the refreshingly dynamic aid of Josh Klynsmith’s (Gangs of Ballet) live drum contribution, displayed all-too-familiar characteristics of an unblemished and effortless performance of songs recent and aged. Not to insinuate minimal work goes into his carefully-constructed live repertoire, quite the contrary really. Jumping frequently between keyboard, guitar and the crowd’s barricade, hauling his dad onto stage for a heart-wrenching performance of U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ as well as closing off with an exhilarating, visual drum antic with his devoted audience, the songsmith’s devotion to developing the notoriously predictable singer-songwriter live dynamic couldn’t of been more clear. – Timothy Kohler

Grassy Spark

Undeniably this year’s most hyped group to perform at the festival, Grassy Spark effortlessly blend peppy brass melodies with Josh Riley’s forefront vocal stance and Yanick Bathfield’s secondary languid vocal lines. Never short on energy or engagement, a nervy start was inconsequential as soon as they hit their stride halfway. Highlights included the appearance of Bonj Mapanza for a jazzy rendition of ‘Love To Share’. But the energy changed palpably when Khaos Kotterell appeared for the reggae-rooted ‘Feel It’ and then Rude Bobo Boss’s addition on album-closer ‘Mona Lisa’. A classic set to prepare us for Foster the People. – Tecla Ciolfi

Beardyman            

Darren Foreman’s (aka Beardyman) voice alone forms the primary instrument of use that he twists, loops, and electronically manipulates in order to create an all-encompassing sound similar to that of a full band. He admits after a few minutes how most of his equipment somehow broke before the show, allowing him only the use of one small device to entertain the audience assembled below. His quick impressive use of technological effects makes it seem as if everything is in order, travelling across various sonic genres and style to create distinct identifiable sounds remarkably curated through vocal samples alone. Foreman is comical and charismatic as he charms the audience, generating a collective impression of awe and elation within the crowd that could’ve easily continued listening to his experimentation if only the stage manager hadn’t called. – Marike Watson

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Diamond Thug

Setting their set in motion with a collaborative contribution from Friday afternoon’s MC, Diamond Thug effortlessly provided a fantastic antidote to the overstimulation that festivals infamously bring. The band delivered a whimsical, free-from-angst set and, despite a slightly fluctuating vocal performance, the group yielded a familiar array of crowd-favourites as well as unveiling a spherical, beautifully-layered and well-received newbie. Amidst the audience’s incessant demand for ‘Long Way’ and an abundant amount of familiar compliments for Chantel Van T’s distinctive vocal tone, Diamond Thug’s idyllic and sincere nature paved way for a more-than pleasant afternoon ahead. – Timothy Kohler

My Nu Leng

The only fault I can find with this performance is that it was after the Rudimental DJ set. That meant that the high-energy rinse-out session preceding did little more than set this performance up as a bit of an anti-climax in comparison – if you were not there specifically for My Nu Leng. That being said, it was definitely in the top 5 electronic performances of the weekend for me. Dark and rolling basslines, pitch bending melodies and coercive off beat rhythms pulsating through a Bedouin tent is exactly how I envisioned my night culminating. – Angela Weickl

Desmond & the Tutus

In somewhat of an honorary slot, beloved indie-rockers Desmond & the Tutus closed off Daisies’ main stage in a playful and heart-warming manner during midday Sunday afternoon. Old favourites are performed as the group comically moves about the platform without restriction. Their charming quirky style is well received, garnering a large mass of bodies around the stage to dance away the festival’s approaching finale. A brief power-cut interrupts the set as it near its end, bassist Nic humorously asking the crowd if they’re as drunk as he is before the final few songs are played. ‘Pretoria Girls’ is dedicated to those in the audience whom have felt “the warm embrace of a boeremeisie (an Afrikaans girl)” before the song transforms into a quick surprising cover of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’. – Marike Watson

Gangs of Ballet

There aren’t many South African pop rock acts that put on such colossal and gripping performances on the same level as these Durbanites. This year’s Daisies saw one of Gangs’ most explosive and spirited sets yet, not to mention their near-expected yet enthralling live collaboration of ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ with Matthew Mole’s chart-topper ‘Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine’. One of the most distinct facets of this particular performance was neither the three-piece’s bewitching, humbling presence nor their flawless expertise, but their variable ability to effortlessly deliver their sets according to the atmosphere and occasion.  In this case: thunderous, grateful and full of confident zest. – Timothy Kohler

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PHfat

Flickering visuals display the newly-shaved head of Smooth Mike as he enters the hip-hop playing field in bolstering dramatic fashion. A dynamic level of movement in reaction to stage antics alone is ignited within the crowd as bodies huddled closely together in a sea of ceaseless oscillating motion. Mike fully engages with the energy he faces, moving about clad in an oversized plush coat as old favourites ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Jump’ are performed. Mikhaela Faye makes a brief appearance during the set, fervently greeted by the audience as she provides jazz-inspired vocals for ‘The Whip’. An inexplicable, yet comical Celine Dion interlude manages to filter into the set, marking PHFAT’s performance with an additional unique flavour. – Marike Watson

Wandile Mbambeni

Even on a relatively more humbling stage than others, Mbambeni’s jubilant and earnest performance on the Green Village’s Hemp Stage made for one pivotal and sobering. The songwriter’s comparably smaller, but enticed audience only grew and showed no signs of dispersing throughout his jazz-esque, soulful-folk set. Utilising a backline of incredibly talented and euphoric accompaniment musicians, Mbambeni’s performance ceased to halt even slightly. Even when the power briefly turned off on the command of his drummer’s last drum solo beat, Mbambeni and co. persisted unwaveringly, yielding an unforgettable, modest and buoyant show sobering even the most intoxicated, in the best of ways. – Timothy Kohler

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our Top 20 Sets list. 

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