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The Highs and Lows: Rocking the Daisies 2019

The dust is settling on yet another Rocking the Daisies as the cycling shorts, fanny packs, and inordinate number of African-print shirts (which formed the basis of the admittedly diverse fashion trends of 2019) are being folded away for next year’s jol.

And since I’m still running on caffeine, three hours of sleep and a buzzing brain, here’s a little recap on the best and worst moments of the festival’s 14th installment.

High: Tash Sultana

I’m going to go ahead and kick things off by stating the obvious: Tash is a rampant, jaw-dropping psych show. She shreds guitar, mandolin, even a pan-flute; and grins, throwing pixie-ish glances into the crowd as she moves seamlessly through a complex live looping station. Her comfort zone is bundled into that portable set up and the performance result is sensational.

Low: No chill space

This was the most accessible and intimate RTD I have been to in years. The walks between stages were delightfully bearable and Main Stage was a 2-minute skip from the campsite. That being said, a gaping gap has been left in the space that the Green Village once occupied – a couple of scrawny trees and a heaving beach hardly being an alternative for a lo-fi chill space for midday naps and inspired talks.  

High: When The 1975 featured the Greta Thunberg collab

A hour into the pop-rock phenoms’ set and Matt Healy, decked out in a floral skirt and black leather jacket, clears the stage to screen a staggering collaborative track with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. And say what you will about 16-year-old but there’s no denying this girl has a voice and she is using it. Listen.

Low: Missing BCUC

I’ll admit this is partly my own fault, but also who schedules one of SA’s biggest names at 2:45 on a Friday afternoon? These guys scored themselves a slot at Glastonbury this year, they deserve a crowd. Nevertheless, according to scavenged opinion, they delivered a fiery opening for the festival so I’ll suck it up.

High: Sho Madjozi

The femme presence was strong this year and I’d be repping it all day long if I could. Friday afternoon and Sho Madjozi is shredding a Main Stage slot, braids whirling, lurid rag-skirt flying. She has earned her title as Xitsonga kwaito queen and rightfully so, having done damn well for herself – right down to John Cena jamming to her hit of the same name on the Ellen Degeneres Show recently.

Low: Saturday’s weather went from 0-100 real quick

From a blisteringly sunny day garnering a heaving throng at the dam, to early afternoon howling winds (classic Daisies to be honest) which whipped up sand and sunshine and sent the crowd in droves from the bopping Beach Bar scurrying for shelter. Not a vibe.

High: Getting to hear Biggy play “Dames” live

That track we all love to hate, which spawned everything from national feminist outcry, to memes and remixes. I don’t know where this guy came from or how he managed to coin a song which has all but become South Africa’s new pop-culture anthem, but catching it live and watching the crowd lose their minds was actually pretty pivotal.

Low: Genre balance over the weekend

I’m all for getting down in the heaving crowds for rap gods PHfat and Cassper Nyovest – and let’s not forget the late-night fire Russ ignited – but Saturday’s line-up was all but drowned in hipnhop. Let’s spread the genres out next time, yes?

High: Talks at the ladies campsite

Fiery Head of Marketing Zethu Gqola first formed the Ladies Camp Site in 2018. The female-only camp created a place for women wanting to escape the unfortunate population of #NotAllMen men (I’ll vouch for this), as well as a social and networking space. Gqola held talks with a handful of guests on Saturday, including Noxolo Mafu (deputy editor at Cosmopolitan SA) and Beckie Sugden (UK powerhouse agent who’s represented the likes of Russ and Anderson .Paak), as they shed light on being women navigating the cutthroat media and entertainment industry. I’d like to see a whole lot more of this.

Now boasting a polished, condensed environment as well as blatant diversity within the line-up and attendees (about damn time) Daisies has emerged from the clunky growing pains of an industry remodel – and we can ruminate on the so-called glory days gone by as much as we want (I stand guilty as charged) but Rocking the Daisies 2019 pulled off something inspired and we’re here for it through all the stages.

All images courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool/Tyrone Bradley.