Best Of 2019: Events & Festivals

It’s not easy being an event promoter. It’s a thankless job at the best of times so you really have to have a deep-rooted love for it otherwise there’s really no point.

And while we felt the absence of Oppikoppi hard, there were more than a few festivals that really stepped their game up this year. So, in no particular order, here are our picks for the best one-day events and festivals of this last year.

The Cure in Johannesburg and Cape Town

It’s no secret that I have all the love and time in the world for AMP Events. Andy Mac and his team consistently roll out high quality events and there was no shortage of just that in 2019 – from Francois Van Coke en Vriende to the Dire Straits Experience. But the jewel in their crown was fulfilling thousands of bucketlists by bringing The Cure to SA. I was fortunate enough to attend both gigs, each with their own unique high points. Plus a little Zebra & Giraffe reunion never hurt nobody. – Tecla Ciolfi

Pic by Laura McCullagh

Ghetto Sessions in Cape Town

Ghetto Sessions started out as a regular event combining music, food, fashion, art, and community in Khayelitsha, and has since become a movement, breaking down the barriers between the townships and the Mother City. It was only my second time in Khayelitsha and it absolutely shattered every single one of my preconceived notions. It was fabulous and friendly, it was inclusive and welcoming, it was white and it was black and it was all kinds of inspirational. Best part? These events happen monthly. Do yourself a favour and get involved. – Al Clapper

Ben Harper in Pretoria

Frequently bouncing between instruments during his solo performance at the Sun Arena in Menlyn, Pretoria, Ben Harper treated us to a soulful and intimate performance. Things obviously can’t get any better, right? WRONG. The Soweto Gospel Choir joining Harper onstage for a sneaky collab was the quintessential cherry on top. – Henry Engelbrecht

Rocking The Daisies in Cape Town

Rocking the Daisies has emerged shining from the clunky growing pains of an industry remodel and in addition of some top notch headliners (I’m looking at you, Tash Sultana) they pulled through some of the best local hip-hop acts to boot. There’s diversity splashed all over the line-up and attendees (about time) and they might not be whistling my tune anymore but they’re whistling everyone else’s. – Skye Mallac

Pic by Aidan Tobias

Culture Abuse in Johannesburg

San Francisco punk rockers Culture Abuse were a super late addition to the House of Vans line-up and there were a bunch of people who were pissed because they didn’t get tickets. So the beauts at Uncle Mothers hustled hard and roped the five-piece into performing at the make-shift stage at The Irish in Linden. It was the kind of party where the sweat drips off the walls, a proper rip-roaring punk riot. Can’t picture it? Tough titties you should have been there. – Tecla Ciolfi

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The 20th anniversary line-up of CTIJF was an expert curation of some of the best jazz, hip hop, and fusion musicians, both local and international. Plus the free workshops with some of the greatest jazz legends on the planet gave so many musicians the opportunity to engage with their idols and it was special. And after their first line-up announcement for 2020 we’re proper frothing for the 21st edition. – Al Clapper

Park Acoustics 100 in Pretoria

TATC has had our ups and downs with Park Acoustics over the years (our two-day online feud was the stuff of legends), but we kissed and made up long before this milestone event, thank god. This PA team have really put together something special here – any promoter will tell you that 100 monthly events in a row is a massive milestone. And the combination of BCUC, The Narrow and Jack Parow saw us celebrate in style. Big ups. – Tecla Ciolfi

Pic by Henry Engelbrecht

Endless Daze Festival in Cape Town

It was time for me to stop sleeping on the psych rock pilgrimage that many consider their favourite live music festival and to actually attend. The fact that I don’t particularly love psych rock music didn’t perturb me in the slightest, thanks to their most diverse lineup to date. But what really won me over was the ‘everyone’s welcome’ culture of peeps who require so much more than EDM to satisfy their musical cravings. Oh, and did someone say fashion? – Al Clapper

Fokof Sweet 16 in Pretoria

If you didn’t know any better you’d be forgiven for thinking that Fokopolisiekar are from Pretoria, what with opening a bar and playing a massive 2-and-a-bit hour set at Loftus to celebrate 16 years as a band. It was a long afternoon of heavy drinking (I blame Pretoria) so the details are a bit fuzzy but I did lose my voice and that’s always a good indication of a jol well-spent. – Tecla Ciolfi

Up the Creek 2019 in Cape Town

I’m a sucker for a boutique festival for numerous reasons: shorter queues by the bar, finding friends with ease, cleaner camping (although I hate camping) and, most importantly, fewer stages (read: bigger audiences). While I thought the line-up was a little copy paste-y for my liking, I guess they’re festival favourites for a reason. This year was pure class and it’s not difficult to see why UTC is the second longest-running live music festival in SA. – Al Clapper

Pic by Henry Engelbrecht