Synergy 2013 was the first year that I didn’t attend a festival for the whole weekend! Damn you work! And I didn’t realise that half the internationals were on Friday night so I lost out big time 🙁 Having said that, not camping is awesome LOL!
I have to start off by acknowledging that the set up and lay out of this year’s festival has dramatically improved. Last year I had to walk for miles with all my stuff even though we were VIP. This year I parked where I camped last year which made everything far more easy to access and required no massive missioning.
This year the rides, food stalls and market separated the two dance floors which meant there was ample space to avoid sound conflict. Last year the floors were really far apart so I didn’t bother going between the two, much. The Mainstay beach bar was also a nice edition to this year’s event, however, I didn’t know (and still have no idea) where the smaller secondary live band stage was so I missed We Are Conduit who I hoped to see.
The sound, lighting and visual production were spot on this year. Even though it was pretty breezy during Gangs of Ballet we could hear them loudly and clearly. My aim for Synergy 2013 was to watch all the non-Cape Town bands first as they’re less easily seen. I caught Wreslerish who has a new edition to the band – a female vocalist who sang beautifully. Her presence does change the dynamic of the music, not good, not bad, just have to get used to the new musical identity so to speak.
GANGS OF BALLET
For Durbanites Gangs of Ballet, the audience huddled together and sang along with them. I’m really liking GoB’s attitude as so often bands perform like they’re not in the mood. These guys give 110% every show and I appreciate that because being a paid musician isn’t a given, it’s hard earned and they show the audience that respect.
RED BULL ELECTRONIC STAGE
The electronic dance floor seemed to be the highlight this year. It was a lot more sheltered than the main stage, therefore, festival goers hid away from the wind and rain. I arrived during Richard the Third’s set and caught PHFat who have embraced their new duo status and always try to offer something interesting. This set they had Mr Sakitumi playing along on his bass guitar.
DO WORK TAKE OVER
The Do Work Take Over followed with RVWR, Leechi and Das Kapital. They featured hip hop dancers which I’m not entirely sure worked but I appreciate that they tried to bring something to the event. I’m never going to complain about creativity being exercised. MC Tan was their accompanying MC. I like his style but I’m not sure MCing is as at home with varied electronic genres as it is with drum n bass.
King South African American-dubstep style producer Grimehouse followed and didn’t play the tear out set I was expecting. He too embraced the outdoor festival format and played a varied yet fun set. Hyphen followed and did a great job, so much so that the MC in the Foreign Beggars DJ set gave him a shout out. That’s pretty nice on their part – which seems to be their MO since they partied until sun rise with the backstage crew!
FOREIGN BEGGARS DJ SET
I admit that I had my back up about a Foreign Beggars “DJ Set” after Synergy had advertised it as the whole band and after last week’s rubbish Fun Lovin’ Criminals DJ set at the Assembly. But DJ No Names and MC Illaman did an amazing job. They played a “proper”, varied drum n bass set not just festival jump up. Illaman has a fantastic voice (not all MCs have great sounding voices) and he did what all good MCs should do – listen and compliment spaces in the music. A gap in a tune isn’t always made to be filled with MC gibberish. Illaman brought great balance here.
Bruce Willis wrapped up the night with his darker style of drum n bass that was awesome. He’s really grown as a DJ in recent years and has fine tuned his sound. He did a great job.
My three notes about Synergy this year regard the food, alcohol and VIP. There were more than enough, large bars this year, I was stoked to be able to drink Hunters but, again (meaning Rocking the Daisies), no tequila. I don’t want to drink potency or apple sours or whatever that pink stuff is called. I don’t do drugs and would appreciate an adult shot for an adult. I like Jagermeister and tequila to be present please 😛
The other thing is hot food! I know the stalls are feeding hundreds but I went to Spur as I figured it was tried and tested. The fact that my burger was too cold for the cheese to melt sucked considering it was a cold day. Am I being too fussy now or is wanting hot food at a cold festival a reasonable request?
Lastly, Synergy Live doesn’t offer a media area which is a bit unusual in this day ‘n age. I hoped to report from the event but there was no place to chill or wifi available. This is a loss to the festival I think because I like to support events whilst they’re going on.
Overall, this is still my least favourite Cape Town festival venue. The line ups at Synergy Live are always top notch but I can only describe the venue as having bad feng shui LOL! There’s just something about it that isn’t quite right – apart from the fact that it’s a mission to get to (Sir Lowries pass and Houwhook pass aren’t great). I do, however, have to recognise and acknowledge that the festival is still VASTLY improved from last year. I feel like they’re almost set up to fail because Boschendal (the 2011 & 2012 Synergy venue) was so awesome that it’s hard to top. Synerg Live have definitely taken our feedback and tried to up their game, which they’ve done. This is all one can ask of a festival. Thanks for having me this year. Here’s to Synergy 2014, onwards and upwards!