Armed with a bright pink Ryder Cup sweat towel, a more informed choice of attire and childlike anticipation, I arrived at City Hall on Saturday evening ready to rumble. The venue had smatterings of people in the Audiotorium and outside on the Terrace. While the crowd was still sparse, the energy was feverish.
The Uppercut Crew – comprising of The Alvhinator, Ed Weiss and White Nite – took turns treating us to their signature styles of breaks, bootlegs and beats in the main room and kept dragging me back inside with Kaytranada and Anderson .Paak each time I tried to make my way outside for Richard Marshall’s set. Marshall is pure class and no matter what time of the day or night you ask him to play he will deliver the goods and leave you buzzing in the afterglow. After a brief hiatus under the umbrellas near the food stalls, with the stark realization setting in that I was about to embark on a marathon series of stage hopping, I did my stretches before heading back to the Audiotorium for Moonchild.
Moonchild is a wild haired, booty shaking, arresting artist who offers no reprieve from the intense energy emanating off the stage during her performance. You could see the audience was both fascinated and confused by what they were witnessing. I’m torn away solely by the need to support JNN KPN as she opened the Mezzanine floor. From the outset, JNN KPN has set a distinct tone with her style and it has finally been rewarded with a most deserving platform. A considerately curated combination of gqom, electronica and techno saw her build a healthy dancefloor by the middle of the set, which is when my alarm signaled a scene change in the direction of Kid Fonque in the Audiotorium.
If I was ever asked to list a selection of artists that would best illustrate the sonic landscape of my personality, I would be hard-pressed to name a more appropriate combination than the line-up that encompassed the remainder of the night in the Audiotorium. I felt like I was captured in a vacuum, a safe space where I could completely lose my mind for the proceeding hours. And that is exactly what I did. Arriving in the Audiotorium to Kid Fonque dropping 2-step and footwork was like a movie. DJ Maramza teasing edits of Zaki Ibrahim tracks while we waited for the queen to take the stage was unbearably exciting. By the time Zaki took the stage my physical reaction to the anticipation was at odds with itself. Its definitely the first time I’ve had goosebumps while still drenched in perspiration, for a non-medical reason.
Practically in tears by the time Ryan Hemsworth took the stage, I freaked out at every sample he teased and screamed each time he played tracks that I have been DJing for years. At one point I found myself so overwhelmed that I ran to each one of my friends shouting, “RYAN HEMSWORTH IS THE DAFT PUNK OF TRAP!”
The dancefloor thinned out towards the end of Hemsworth’s set but rapidly filled up again when everyone realized it was time for the Kaapstad Naaier. It was my first time in the thick of a YoungstaCPT crowd, I’ve never been bold enough to dive in head first but I’m so thankful I did. The charming and engaging guy from the workshops was present on stage but with a slightly harder shell. Piercing stares, rapid fire fluid bars and infectious hooks had the first few rows following his every move.
Peanut Butter Wolf started his set off with a vox pop of Charizma, the late MC with whom he partnered in the outset of his career. What followed was a masterclass in hip hop and beats courtesy of the man who sacrificed a bulk of his own producing career in order to gift the world the likes of J Dilla and Madlib through Stones Throw Records. Several video clips were paired with tracks, including “Why You Always Lying” meme which just added to the spectacle.
Body weary, mind ablaze, I perched myself in the balcony seats for Cold Cut’s set. Such a crazy trip back in time to the days when The Independent Armchair Theatre threw Ninja Tune parties and I was still learning the significance of the music being played. At one point they dropped a Schlachthofbronx track and I immediately tweeted the guys to let them know. The only negative I could really highlight would be Cold Cut’s misguided decision to drop a very old Die Antwoord track.
Sunday at CTEMF is a reward for the soldiers. Not many can conquer all 3 days and those who try are often left in the dust along the way. By the time Sunday evening came around I was a former shell of myself. Mismanaged jol stamina, with my mind writing cheques that my body was unable to cash. In short, I failed miserably.
What can be unequivocally proclaimed about Sunday is that Bruce Loko lived up to all expectations completely slaying the Terrace in the evening and Julian Gomes handled the pre-headliner set with the style and sophistication of a seasoned professional. I’ve heard is said in previous years, how just when you thought the CTEMF weekend had shown all its cards, the closing artist pulls out the trump hidden in their sleeve. Ame was no different. Sonically pristine, with layered landscapes of devastating grooves washing over a room of soldiers who had earned this final reward.
Every year I walk away from this event wondering how they could possibly outdo themselves and every year the CTEMF team arrives with the answer.
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