Rocking the Daises was a success once again. Though I have not been to festivals overseas I have a hunch that Daisies ranks up there with the best. The festival had a pleasant variety of musical acts ranging from rock, to hip hop and electronica all of whom performed on various stages across the festival area. The Cloof wine estate is surely a gorgeous backdrop to hold a mega party. When walking up to the main area, far away from the campsites, you would walk into a carnival like environment with cool tents and tarps selling food, clothes, trinkets and memorabilia. The Lemon Tree stage where the comedians gigged was even styled after a big top circus tent.
They said it would be a cold weekend but standing outside at night and camping in said coldness was totally different to simply being told it would be cold. Although, some party mongers seemed impervious to the icy winds that blew across the Cloof valley. Astoundingly, many walked around at night in shorts and flip flops some barefoot even, their minds numbed by the vast amounts of substances they consumed rendering the coldness a non issue.
With the influx of attendees on Friday morning the queues for food and ablution facilities grew longer. As is the case at live events toilets and showers were in short supply and the festival became a balancing act between queuing and partying. With so many great acts to see we could never hear and see all of them without collapsing with fatigue but some of our highlights were the afro jives of Hot Water. Led by Donovan Copley these guys and gal are a perfect fit for the happy vibes of Daisies. They had folks dancing and singing warming up cold bodies in no time. Gangs of Ballet also continued to improve as a live act. They performed well and even dabbled in a bit of Muse to show off their hard rock tendencies. Though the Dirty Skirts have been quiet of late they came and showed all why they are a premiere band, the weird coolness of their song, ‘You are the Machine’ was the highlight of Friday night.
After the Skirts we headed over to the Red Bull Electronic stage where Jack Parow gave a cantankerous, funny and profane laden performance. He made sure he mentioned his disdain for Steve Hoffmeyer and anybody who holds him in contempt. Afterwards, the legendary Ready D took to the stage and weaved a magic spell, transitioning effortlessly between dub step, hip hop, house and R&B. The light show, lasers and graphics at the Red Bull stage created an exhilarating dance experience.
As the sun smacked you through your tent early Saturday morning we planned our day carefully and made sure we attended great acts like Goldfish and Dean Fuel at the ultra packed Beach Bar, situated right on the banks of the dam within the grounds. The fake sand gave it a true beach party feel. There was no cold under that Beach Bar tarp. The pulsating, thumping beats from the Bar competed with the bands on the Main Stage and at night water from the dam was sprayed into a column and cool images were projected onto the water vapour creating a stunning backdrop for revellers. As dusk settled the cold increased and we were hoping that Spoek Mathambo would warm us with a good stage act but alas what a disappointment. Live, Spoek’s music sounded just as weak as on recordings. During one of the first few songs the band and Spoek seemed to be having technical issues, Spoek was jumping up and down, walking back and forth but he looked disorientated and eventually left the stage. The band continued to play but they seemed to grow more confused as to what to do until they stopped playing completely. A few embarrassing moments later Spoek jumped back on stage as if nothing had happened and restarted the song.
Mathambo made no headway with the crowd forcing some chatter about the wonders of the internet, which was actually a set up to introduce a singer he seems to have discovered via the web. With this Spoek and his crew left the stage and forced us to listen to a solo female vocalist who clumsily accompanied herself on guitar. The whole affair was presumptuous and ill conceived as the singer was nowhere near experienced enough for such a big event.
Another disappointment was the British band Alt J. We were not knowledgeable about this group but we were open to listening to the first international band of the weekend. The main area was packed for the band but what we heard could not be reconciled with the large following we saw. The band’s songs were, to put it bluntly, boring and in that freezing cold listening to them became a painful exercise. Thankfully, The Hives had life in them and played a roaring set. After twelve a.m. headliners Skunk Anansie exploded onto stage and delivered a world class performance. They were head and shoulders above everyone else in musicianship and Skin showed many artists what a real front person is. We were mystified by the amount of missing bodies at the main event; while not empty, the Skunk Anansie show seemed to have less people than Alt J. We had to resign ourselves to the notion that the majority of the festival goers are under twenty five and most had not heard of the band or were only barely familiar with them.
Sunday saw many bleary eyed folks packing up and leaving but many stayed till the bitter end partying at the Beach Bar and chilling around the dam or in the camp area. Disconcerting was the lack of respect shown to the environment by patrons of the festival. There was an enormous amount of trash despite the availability of bins and dirt bags.
You are a changed person after a festival. Whether wasted or sober the experience of camping with friends, listening to good music and sharing conversation in extreme situations creates amazing memories. Congratulations to Seed Experiences for a organising a great festival.