On the 15th of May this year Spoegwolf was supposed to play at Snowflake in Potchefstroom. It was booked in my diary, and I had already made plans to go but then Covid-19 cancelled every show in sight.
Fast-forward to Saturday the 14th of November, and I get on my bike to take a trip out to the North West to finally see the show I’d so been looking forward to six months prior. With limited-capacity events allowed under lockdown level 1, shows with actual crowds are a thing again which meant that Spoegwolf were back on form.
It’s difficult to describe the exuberance and craziness of a Potch crowd. Add to that the fact that this is the first live event for most of the people in attendance since the beginning of the year, and the night ends up being even wilder than any of the Spoegwolf shows I’ve attended there before. It’s a fantastic start to the series of gigs they have planned up here, and for a moment it almost feels as if the isolation we had to endure since the start of the lockdown in March was just a bad dream.
A lot of catching up is done after the show, and the Sunday morning we part ways again. The band travels to Hartbeespoort to play a gig at Dozi’s before heading back to Cape Town, and I wake up very early to ride home, pet my dogs, and then go to Park Acoustics in Pretoria.
Friday the 20th of November I meet up with the band at the Atterbury Theatre for a show at one of Pretoria’s best venues. Due to Covid restrictions the theatre is at half-capacity, but the spirited crowd quickly makes up for that. It still amazes me how many people know pretty much all the words to all the Spoegwolf songs, and tonight is no exception.
As we say goodbye we discuss the long weekend that still lies ahead of them. The following morning the band will drive all the way to Ficksburg in the Freestate to play at the Iona Cherry Festival, then drive back to Johannesburg to be on a flight to Cape Town at 6:00am the Sunday morning, to play at Nooitgedacht in Stellenbosch that same afternoon. I stand amazed at the work ethic and dedication.
On Wednesday the 25th November I meet up with lead singer Danie du Toit at the Kleinkaap Boutique Hotel in Centurion for one of his solo acoustic performances there. The songs from his poetry bundle Warmer voor die Tuimeldroër, and the stories behind the songs, has the crowd enthralled. I hear girls sobbing. I shed a tear or two. But wow it’s good to be back.
On Friday the 27th of November we are back at the Atterbury Theatre for another gig there, the first of three shows in a row in Pretoria. The crowd is a little bit different from the week before, perhaps a bit older and more reserved, but that magic is still present. Every Spoegwolf show is different. Every Spoegwolf crowd is different. Every Spoegwolf show has a different kind of magic, hidden in all the special moments between the band and their fans.
The Saturday’s show is at Platteland in Centurion, one of my favorite venues. An added bonus is that I get to see lots of people that I haven’t interacted with since March, which makes it feel like a proper reunion. Again the band gives it everything, and the show ends with the loudest screams for an encore that I’ve ever heard.
On Sunday the 29th of November I wake up feeling a little bit broken, but I drag myself to the Voortrekker Monument for the final show of the weekend at By Die Fort, a new series of concerts started by Henk van Der Schyf and his Park Acoustics team. I am pleasantly surprised when I arrive there, because it’s clear that this is not just a knock-off Park Acoustics. The layout is different, the look is different, and the vibe is fantastic.
I didn’t think the show could get any better, because if I were in a band and this was my third gig for the weekend I would have one eye on my watch already, to make sure that I make that check-in time at the airport to fly home and rest. Also, I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. As soon as Spoegwolf started playing, the limited-capacity crowd at Die Fort didn’t feel like one anymore. They were treated to what I think was the best show of the series energy-wise, something I’m sure they will never forget.
I go home tired and very happy, with great memories of great shows and thousands of photos to go through. As I drive down the hill at the Fort I am reminded of the words of the legend photographer, Sean Brand, that started all of this for me, “En ek kan nie ophou kyk nie.”