The South African metal and rock scenes are relatively drama free but when the shit hits the fan you know it is going to turn into a real tella novella. This week it was announced that newcomers Jasper Dan would hit the stage as opening act for Iron Maiden and the sparks flew! The general consensus is that the band is too unknown with too little experience to fly the South African flag high. Then there are the added comments that it is not even the South African flag, rather a confederate flag that is proudly displayed on their stage.
Photo by Jamie Henry
The man of the moment turns out to be Simon Foulds who has been the center of much criticism for his "Battle of the Bands" shows held at Rumours Lounge in Johannesburg. Fans and musicians alike believe it creates a platform for artists to be extorted and two-bit bands to get 10 seconds of fame. The Battle for Maiden was another of these attempts. Barney Simon commented that nearly 30 bands entered this competition. If my gut is anything to go by, if this was such a well organised event the influx of bands would have been much larger. Foulds refused comment on the matter.
Simon also mentioned that Jasper would merely be a warm up act early in the afternoon. Big Concerts confirmed that the official opening act for Maiden would be British metal group Raven Age. Then why does everyone have their knickers in a bunch? The problem at hand is that a "Battle" with an outcome like this sets a precedent for more to follow. A sub-par act is associated with a production of an international scale. Even if Maiden never even see or hear of them, it certainly dumbs down audience expectations. If fans dish out hundreds of rands,do they not at least DESERVE top class entertainment from the get go? The biggest outcry has not really been towards the band but rather at organisers for not choosing someone more agreeable. Agreeable does not always meen safe, or well known. In this case rather a band that has put in the blood sweat and tears and falls within the target market. Here is a performance video of Jasper Dan at their recent slot at Splashy Fen (also a Battle based outcome):
(This video went from 58 views on Monday when I shared it to 628 views this morning)
I reached out to Jasper Dan and this is their reaction to the debacle:
"We are just like every other band trying to start out. We work hard at every gig we get. We have been a bit surprised by the reaction especially since most of the "haters" don't seem to even know who we are or have heard us live."
So here are the facts:
1.Bands were not paid to play at the battle for maiden. (No word on what happened with all the door money)
2. Jasper Dan is a very new band and simply entered a competition. Give them a break.
3. Jasper Dan will be performing long before any of the real action happens so chances are very few people will actually watch them.
4. Battle of the bands is a really bad idea for anyone. It is not your "big break". There are only losers.
5. Everyone now knows who Jasper Dan is.