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Updated: Oct 8, 2018

Photo by Henry Engelbrecht

A sunny Sunday at a picturesque venue, along with a promising line-up was enough to amp up the excitement amongst Liefde By Die Dammers.

The morning was off to a bustling start with echoes of Martin Bester’s set serving as background music to the folks braving the lengthy que and long walk from the car. Nonetheless the energy in the air was tangible and we were all soon scurrying for a sunny spot to enjoy all the music that awaits us. We were greeted by an enormous stage glad in its Sunday best.

I was sceptical about Bouwer Bosch’s set, but how he proved me wrong! His tales about his days in Potch had me hooked from the get go. He was off to a smashing start with “Sy klink soos Lente” and kept our attention with a captivating stage presence and witty humour. Hearing people sing along to some of his hit songs like “My Eks(kuus)” gave me goosebumps. “If you don’t know who Bouwer is, he is married to Leandie Du Randt ” confirmed Schalk Bezuidenhout, the MC for the day.

Photo by Henry Engelbracht

Bongeziwe Mabandla was next and is an artist that deserves more credit than he was given by Liefde By Die Dammers. Mabandla recently won the SAMA award for the best Alternative Album and that in itself shows the man deserves some respect. He hardly started his set when oblivious festival goers stood up, thinking a walk to the bar might be more fruitful. May the music gods have mercy on their souls! I was amazed by his use of an African language to create such a potent dose of folk music that transcends cultural barriers. He effortlessly intertwines infectious drum beats, electric guitar and acoustic guitar to pack a truly proudly South African punch. He proved that less is more in most cases. His set was raw and thought provoking and even more, he had no backing tracks to support his set. I applaud his enginuity all the way and urge everyone to give this young man a listen!

Next up was Koos Kombuis - an icon who needs no introduction in most South African homes. He arrived in his signature blue Crocs, bandana and a drink in his hand. As it was my first time watching the legend live, my expectations were not quite met. With a few obscure song choices and unfiltered use of language, it might have been a bit risky so early in the morning at a family friendly event. All that aside, he encompassed the spirit of the day and assisted in a wedding proposal! Talk about love at Liefde By Die Dam! If you consider he has been around the industry longer than most, and is still in such high demand, I do need to tip my hat to the fact that he still performs HIS way. No frill or fuss, all Koos, all the time.

Photo by Kurt Sassenberg

Karlien van Jaarsveld quickly got a few bums off the ground and dancing along and most surprisingly, converted a few haters! However, the sound desk definitely made a few - if not more - haters. They struggled to get Karlien set up in her monitors resulting to her having to continuously close one ear in order to hear herself. The sound goblins were running amuck during her set but the band still gave it their all on stage. In a surprising twist of events, Karlien ended her set with two old school hits and had the crowd on their feet with “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics and “Jump” by Van Halen.

Photo by Kurt Sassenberg

Elvis Blue took the sound complications in his stride and he proved once again why he won Idols South Africa in 2010 with a landslide. His vocals were on point with each song and his humility shone through each time he interacted with his fellow band members, knowing that his performance would not be the same without them. Elvis Blue managed to get a seemingly dull crowd to sing and clap along and even throw their hands in the air like they just don’t care with some of his top-selling songs like “Toe ons jonk was”, “Spore” and his latest release “Die Berg”.

During the break, a fight broke out right in front of us with children in the surrounding area. I was disappointed in the security, since there was not one security attendant to be found, but luckily Pierre Greeff and Die Heuwels Fantasties hit the stage just in time and everybody jumped up to have a jol. A true testimony to the power of music! With songs from early albums up to their latest album released in 2017, fans shouted as one man and demanded that “Leja” simply had to be sung. “Pille vir Kersfees” also had the crowd going and Francois van Coke made his first appearance on the stage with “Sonrotse”. All I can say, is that cousins cause havoc when they are on stage and Van Coke had fans throwing beer jugs to see how many he can catch and kick. I can simply say that Die Heuwels were definitely Fantasties.

Photo by Kurt Sassenberg

The day was almost over, but it was clear that they saved the best for last, Francois van Coke. Not one person was seated and Van Coke did his signature stage dive by the second song. Amids a bit of miscalculation on how high the stage is and how far he has to jump, Van Coke quickly recovered and didn’t miss a beat in the process! Hunter Kennedy joined the band on stage to sing “Skyn Heilig” and Van Coke dedicated “Toe Vind Ek Jou” to his wife, Lauren, and their daughter, Alex, who was present at the show, but then came a big treat… The Francois van Coke & Vriende EP features a brand new collab with Die Heuwels Fantasties (Ek Lewe, Ek Belowe) and the crowd could witness it live for the first time! This was an awesome preview of what fans can expect at the Francois van Coke & Vriende show on 15 September!

Photo by Kurt Sassenberg

Schalk Bezuidenhout featured throughout the day as the MC, but as an avid follower and fan of Bezuidenhout I was disappointed. The few jokes he made garnered some laughs, but it seems like my expectations were just too high. Nevertheless, he ended the day with some “sweet” words: “Dis dit. Daar is niks meer oor nie, gaan nou f*kken huis toe”. As Dammers left, blankets were collected and the #LiefdeWen campaign was a success.

Organisers can be mighty proud of a sold out event of this scale, and for the most part it was another successful notch on their belts. But eager crowds will hopefully not stop them from trying to improve year on year. They delivered a seemingly diverse lineup and the venue is exquisite, so let’s see how they top it next year!

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