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It was a late winter’s night on Cape Town’s famous, and often infamous, Long Street and rain has been threatening the whole day.

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Now, when rain threatens in Cape Town we all know what that means for any live event: very low attendance. But we didn’t feel any of the stress and trepidation that normally accompany a concert, especially one organised in the cold and wet of a Cape winter. In fact, we were pretty chirpy and rather excited.

This cheerful chirpiness stemmed from the confidence of knowing that we have a sold-out show. The excitement, however, originated from something even more special and profound. We were hosting the country’s first crowdfunded public concert and were in the process of making history and laying down a new marker for the music industry. (I say “public” because we did a few secret shows prior to this one). Instead of approaching sponsors, as would normally be the case for an event like this, we simply told fans that they control the situation. If enough people pledge, we can do this. What we promised was something unique and magical, and by pledging fans took ownership. This became more than just a concert, it became a rallying point. It gave us all a common cause: Music.

I know that might sound pretentious and even pompous, but a digital era of social media may have connected us but it hasn’t necessarily brought us closer. What does bring us closer, are real world connections. And music can do that. Music that is unfiltered and undiluted by side-shows and extravaganzas. Music that demands focus and music which is not resigned to be in the background or act as mere entertainment. Fans who are fatigued by this treatment and who crave something more — something of substance and importance. Artists who are not bigger than their art and because of this can elevate themselves and everyone else to a place high up in the sky and redefine a space that is steeped in a painful history of slavery and forced religion. All of this combined to create a night that nobody who was present at the Slave Church on 40 Long Street, on a cold late August night, would soon forget.

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Now let’s be honest, we all know that Capetonians aren’t known for punctuality. But when the doors opened an hour before the music was meant to start, the audience already started to arrive, eager to take their seats as stakeholders and co-owners of an event that was theirs as much as it was the artists’ or the organisers’. The excitement and expectation was tangible and the feeling that this was not going to be just another show was evident. And believe me, this was not just another show.

When we started to plan the event, we knew we needed the right artists. People who share an independent spirit, who is daring in their art, who has a dedicated fan following and who’s work is of the highest standard. How hard could this be? But Derek Gripper, Sannie Fox and The Brother Moves On fitted the description like a neatly trimmed glove. Each artist was as eager as we were to make this show a reality and a successful one at that. Each one played their own set, interspersed with collaborations, some of which had to be rehearsed via Skype from different continents, that left an audience with already high expectations in awe, and there were guest appearances by percussionist Werner Von Waltsleben and violinist Galina Juritz that added to the unexpected nature of the night. It was art that mesmerised and intrigued, that pushed back the boundaries of genre and challenged our notions of cultural borders. For two and a half hours we were theirs and they were ours and when the rain finally came a little before midnight, it was soft and gentle and somehow made sense.

 

Gerhard Maree

Founder

*Read reviews of the event here and here.

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All pictures by Malherbe Pelser

For more pictures click here

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