Ten years is a very long time. Think of yourself ten years younger than you are now. Perhaps you were going through the awkward stages of puberty or the daunting high school phase. Or maybe you were still a toddler. Point is: so much happens in ten years. Growth, development, a few grey hairs of wisdom. SA’s esteemed green festival, Rocking the Daisies, aged well and this year, celebrated its ten years of rocking existence.
One of the main reasons why Rocking the Daisies is so successful and well-attended (a whopping 22 000 people attended this year!), is that the festival really tries to cater to every musical taste and liking. It really didn’t matter if you are into pop, reggae, electronic, rock, trance or swing, you would have found at least an act or three that tickled your fancy at the festival this year.
At the end of the day a festival is a personal experience. Nobody’s Daisies will ever be identical and I think that is what makes festivals so exciting at the end of the day. So instead of attempting to summarise the decade celebration of Rocking the Daisies, I decided to stick to the decade theme and award this year’s top acts in ten categories. My Daisies experience is not your Daisies experience, so if you attended this year, feel free to comment below who your winners in the various categories are.
New Discovery Act:
New discoveries are one of my favourite parts of attending festivals. There is very little chance that you will recognize all the acts on any given festival line-up (unless you are actually the person compiling the line-up, that is). The fun part is to read up on these unknown acts before the festival and then to go and watch those that correspond with your musical taste. This year I made a special mission to go and watch Manouche. I was totally blown away by their eclectic gypsy jazz. Anneli Thandeka Kamfer is a vocal power house to take note of.
Most Improved Act:
I saw The Liminals for the first time at Oppikoppi 2014 when they won a slot through a competition hosted by BOS. They impressed me then already with their energetic grooves, but what I witnessed on the Main Stage at RTD this year surpassed all my expectations. They have matured into a well-rounded act with presence and charm. I applaud them for taking themselves seriously as a band and for making the necessary adjustments to become a force to be reckoned with. This attitude will take them far.
Most Energetic Act:
Jack Parow is one of the busiest musicians in the country. However, this never stands in his way of putting on one heck of an energetic show each and every time he is on stage. He is looking fitter than ever, which is obviously a big part of the reason why he is so lively on stage. It’s always a big deal when an Afrikaans act gets selected for RTD, and with the performance that Parow delivered this year, I’m pretty sure he has secured his slot for upcoming RTD’s.
Best International Act:
This is a tough one, because this year’s internationals were all special in their own way. Milky Chance brought a mellow coolness and The Kooks a professional solidness, but it is The Cat Empire who managed to engage with the crowd the best. Many fans have been waiting years to see these Aussies live in action, but nothing could quite prepare us for the actual brilliance of this eight-piece act. Not even a burst fuse on stage could come in the way of their improvised energy as a band.
Best Rock Act:
There weren’t loads of rock bands to choose from at this year’s RTD (although the festival name suggests otherwise), but the iconic Fokofpolisiekar stood out by a far stretch. Together with Parow, they were the only Afrikaans act of the weekend, but it didn’t take much to get people of all languages, cultures and races up on their feet, singing along. Even the just-out-of-school-kids knew every word to every song – whether they actually understand the historic relevance of the songs, is another story. Nonetheless, FPK is like a good bottle of red wine – better and better with age.
Best Ska/Reggae Act:
Grassy Spark has been doing their thing for a long time in the local scene and they are finally getting the credit they deserve. Winning the local opening slot for Vodacom In The City in Johannesburg amongst some tough competition, is just another sign that these guys are destined for big things. Their set at RTD was electrifying from start to finish. The element I love most about Grassy Spark is that they combine sheer musicality with smart songwriting and high energy.
Best Pop Act:
Although he describes his music as indie folk, I think it’s still pop at the core and part of the reason why Majozi is gaining popularity like a wild fire. Sharing the same likeable quality that artists like Matthew Mole and Nakhane Toure possess, it was as if Majozi cast a spell on festival goers at RTD during his set. Keep your eye on this Durban boy, as he is bound to continue his musical victories.
Best EDM Act:
When a local act seems to be more out of the country on tour, than in their actual home country, you kind of gather they’ve made it big. HAEZER’s set at RTD blew minds and reminded us why we fell in love with his energetic sets in the first place. This DJ is ever changing and brought a brand-new show to the festival, with the visuals complementing every aspect of the show majestically.
Best Acoustic Act:
I saw a long-haired man on stage singing in a foreign accent and simply couldn’t resist the temptation of walking closer to the Main Stage. Peter Bibby was a breath of fresh air amongst a sweep of SA acts, before the big international headliners the evening. The Aussie grabbed the attention with his raw, honest (and somewhat melancholically humourous) lyrics and off-beat stage personality.
Best Comedy Act:
Humour is a very subjective matter. Either you find a joke funny or you don’t – simple at that. The Lemon Tree Theatre boasted with some of the country’s top comedy acts. In my (subjective) opinion, Lazola Gola stood out as the funniest. Making a name by opening for comedy greats, such as Stuart Taylor and Loyiso Gola, I think it’s only a matter of time before he takes over the headlining slots at big comedy events. He is extremely witty and his interesting views on seemingly tedious and insignificant things, made the crowd roar with laughter.
The awards would not be complete without mentioning Alababa’s pitas and shawarma’s as the weekend’s best food stall and RiCharge’s station (renting out portable charges) as the festival’s best initiative.
Seed Experiences, congratulations with the first decade of Rocking the Daisies! Here’s to the next ten!