Foul Play presents Moshpit, was an event unlike most, bringing big energy backed by even bigger sound

I know it’s only February but it feels like live music is back in a very big way this year. There’s something in the air – perhaps a hunger to reconnect with each other, and with the art of live performance. Pair that with the always-immaculate vibes of a First Thursday on a hot summer’s day, and you’ve got yourself a JOL.

Anyone who attended Moshpit this Thursday at District will understand why I capitalised the word jol. It was all big energy and even bigger sound, backed by a diverse line-up of hip-hop, electronic, punk and hyper-pop.

I actually don’t know how they managed it, but there was a 20-something speaker set-up fit for a full-blown festival, let alone a four-wall dance floor. I feel like events in Cape Town often fall flat due to bad sound, but the organisers seriously out-did themselves here, and it paid off. Glue Factory also did an epic job of the lighting, projecting trippy reflections and abstract patterns around the space.

Hosted by Foul Play, featuring Hanna, PHfat, K.Keed and Internet Girl, the night got off to an unexpectedly slow start with Luc Veermeer on the decks. His set was a warm-up of sorts, but to tell the truth it felt too tame for a night labelled Moshpit. I think fewer radio hits and a harder, darker selection of tracks would have better suited the energy of what was to come.

Hanna was first up and she completely stole the show. She commands the stage in a way few young artists in this country can. In the two years that she’s been releasing music, she’s curated a self-assured yet sensitive persona that shines in a live setting. Her words smack with truth, fostering an intimate and spontaneous space where anything can happen.

“Top Ten” was the highlight of her set – a blistering collab with Kay Faith that made for an appropriately dirty segue into PHFAT’s performance.

To say that Zietsman shook the walls of District is an understatement. “Apparently the speakers are only at 70%?” he says mid-way into his set. “Let’s take them to 100 and see what happens.”

The growl of the bass was enough to transport you somewhere else. The place was sweating. JungFreud (Nonku Phiri) joined Zeitsman on stage a few times, an incredibly welcome surprise, and each time the crowd went absolutely mad for it with “If He Can’t Dance” a surefire highlight of the set.

But things still felt a little too tame. District wasn’t nearly as packed as I thought it would be, which made it difficult for the mayhem to gain momentum. People were coming and going, staying for a song and then leaving again. The energy the artists were bringing simply was not being reciprocated by the audience, which is a real pity, because the night could have been something special had things been different.

K.Keed followed with a bold display of hip-hop finesse – makes sense why she’s currently the most streamed female rapper on Spotify. Everything was explosive, her voice bare of production, almost a scream, her eccentric knack for verse culminating in the perfection of her flow. It was a spectacle to witness so intimately, “WHAT I DID” a standout moment of the entire night.

Internet Girl closed things off with an equally fiery mix of bedroom pop and punk. It was transcendent in a way – the racy guitar lines never left a moment’s silence, synths echoing as in fan favourites “forever” and “bitter”, making for 20 minutes of bliss, albeit short-lived.

I’m inclined to say that this was a night of could-have-beens, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. So much came together in such an epic way: the sound, the line-up, the overall curation, the energy from every single person involved, all of whom deserve all the praise they can get for putting together an event unlike every other run-of-the-mill party the people in this city flock to. I just can’t help but think that the night would have lived up to its name had the crowd been there for it.