Cape Town Electronic Music Festival 2016 has come and gone. One of the most anticipated festivals in the city has once again taken to the stormy seas to tame this volatile city’s sonic landscape into something party goers can appreciate and relate to. With Cape Town being a diverse and multi-faceted melting-pot of cultures, sub-cultures, trends, traditions and styles – both visually and musically – the task of appealing to every specific audience in this city is almost impossible. Yet, year in and year out, the organisers have attempted to create a hub for all these pockets to be contained for the last two years under one roof at the iconic Cape Town City Hall. With some mixed opinions of the success of this year’s festival, we take a look at some of the aspects which have influenced the outcome of the festival.

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With the entertainment bill consisting of 40 acts, one can imagine the mammoth task of putting these acts into place is daunting. First off, two of the main acts on the line-up had to be replaced within the last week or two of the festival, due to unforeseen circumstances out of the organiser’s control. Cateran, the ConnectZA winner, replaced DJ Rolando and Okmalumkoolkat was replaced by Angel-Ho and Dope Saint Jude, a local duo making big moves and representing a truly unique aspect of Cape Town culture. Catastrophe averted.

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On Friday, the auditorium was taken over by a barrage of world-class techno acts, with Kyle Russouw and Robin Would as a perfect opening for the main stage. Boris Brechja expanded on Chloe’s control of the musical palette and kicked off the first major highlights of the weekend. The terrace was held down by local favourites within the techno and house scene and the club stage was sent into drum n bass chaos with Chee’s neurofunk belters. But with the club stage two storeys above the rest of the festival, it seemed some people didn’t make it all the way, and the new addition to the festival seemed less full than expected on its first night - for the most part. The hot and stuffy “club” environment didn’t do much to keep the people on the floor for very long either. That being said, Boris Brechja dominated the first night, convincing many of his booking as the main headliner on Friday. Nothing could compete with the power and energy of that monstrous set.

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Main day Saturday was the big one; the anticipation was high from the first few sets on the terrace despite a slow start – as can be expected. The first major transition on the terrace came at a bit of an abrupt stop/start, moving from the euphoric sunset house music of Adam de Smidt to wham bam slam dunk old-school underground hip-hop, confusing a lot of dancers who were in the bliss of the previous set. Party-goers moved to the adjacent auditorium where Driemanskap started the first live performance of the weekend. So maybe it was an intentional jolt created to restart the mood, especially seeing as the hip-hop DJ on the terrace, DJ Real Rozzano, would be opening for someone he knew more about than anyone – he even jumped on the mic and introduced the Cape Town legend - DJ Superfly. Superfly stepped on in God-like fashion and reminded a lot of people what being a DJ is truly about, while playing an awe-inspiring throwback rave set in true old-school style. All this before Ralf Kollmann brought sexy back to the terrace with a groovy house and techno set, giving the people what they'd been frothing for all day.

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After Petite Noir's first performance in Cape Town, all focus was on Sibot and Toyota by 11 pm. This was followed by the set of the weekend from DnB icon Goldie. It was a spiritual and electrifying experience which ended with a personal favourite from the Brit, Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ - not forgetting ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ which threw the crowd into mayhem - he also introduced many to the meaning of underground soul music, with the contextual use of these closing songs. Exhilarating and educational, this was one of the best CTEMF moments to date.

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Sunday was special in so many different ways. The numbers weren’t as high as the previous nights but the energy was particularly infectious. The weekend had already been amazing, but the vibe on Sunday was like no other, all the way through Nightmares on Wax’s sundowner set to the very end of Harri and Dominic’s beautiful closing of the festival. What contributed to this the most were the people in attendance. The Sunday line-up wasn’t going to pull masses, except those with a full weekend pass; but those who experienced the come down leg of the festival felt the love on this day more than any other. It was a day for purists, not looking for the bells and whistles or the epic lighting programming; just quality selectors with an ear for keeping the flow moving from the first DJ to the last.

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What’s particularly interesting is that the quality of the acts they booked and the management of the line-up defines their identity as a multi-cultural, multi-faceted festival who are trying their utmost to bring something fresh to the table. Each festival brand has its own feel – or vibe if you will - which is depicted by their target market and the sub-cultures within, that in turn affects which artists are booked to perform. CTEMF, however, strives for a much broader appeal but still pay close attention to the quality acts in between the more popular genres, and that’s what an inner city festival should really be about; digging deeper to showcase local talent and also giving people bang for their buck with top-class international acts.

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All in all, the festival encompassed many genres, attracted many different people to the City Hall, exposed some new faces to the scenes within Cape Town and showed off their taste for quality internationals. Integration, inclusion and a great love for music and its many cultures are the key points of CTEMF 2016, and Cape Town is truly blessed to have such a dynamic festival within its CBD.  

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Keep an eye out for our full #CTEMF2016 gallery and after-movie coming soon. 

Photo Credits:
Migal Vanas Photography
T.MIA Photography
Jude Webb Photography
SkyNet Media

Special Pulse Radio thanks to Sunshine Co for always having us covered with the right gear!