South Africa has a long history of producing world-class live performers, and now more than ever, more artists are taking the leap into live and showcasing their talent to the world. We take a look at some of the best live acts to have come out of South Africa’s ever-expanding music scene.
Long known as a pioneer in the experimental realm of house and kwaito/midtempo, Felix’s abstract approach to production has seen him release on Munich-based label Compost, as well as the legendary African Dope Records, since 2001. Much like his collage artworks, his music layers samples, like television recordings and speeches, with house inspired and atmospheric sounds to create thought provoking messages through his multi-cultural approach to South African dance music.
The Sibot x Toyota experience is like nothing else in South Africa. Beyond the mind-blowing visual appeal, Sibot’s sets are one of the best examples of what a live electronic set should be. Watching his fingers rapidly beat at the drum machine, it’s easy to tell how talented this performer is.
The power of the drum is the basis of Black Motion’s sets. Their unique style of DJing, with an array of percussion instruments at their disposal, brings the spirit of Africa to the world. Made up of DJ Murda and Smol, the duo has already appeared at Glitterbox in Ibiza and Defected Croatia 2017, with their Hï Ibiza debut coming up on July 15th. With a slew of hit singles and a the ability to completely own the stage, Black Motion are flying the flag for SA house music around the world.
Christian Tiger School
The unassuming duo Christian Tiger School have taken their experimental trip hop sounds around the world, even hitting up Sonár in Barcelona earlier this year. But what makes them stand out from the rest is the consistency of their live performances. Their improvisational style of playing makes every set unique, and their explorative approach allows their music to move and evolve throughout the night, allowing the audience to engage in the innovative atmosphere they create on stage.
Card On Spokes
Shane Cooper aka Card On Spokes is a musician first and foremost, and his blend of electronica and jazz elements speaks measures of his musical education. There are some eerie commonalities between Shane and British producer Bonobo though. They are both extremely proficient on the bass guitar and both create otherworldly electronica that lends a lot of its approach to jazz music. But Card On Spokes is a force of his own, who, one could say, meets the British maestro on a similar plateau of musical genius.
It’s easy to say that Thor Rixon is one of the quirkiest artists in South Africa, if not the world. He once had long hair, until he recorded the music video for his song “Fuk Bread” and shaved it all off on camera. He also tattooed the title of the song at the back of his head at the end, all while strutting a jive to his funky tune. And his incredible productions and skill on the trumpet—which he used to perform with Petite Noir at CTEMF 2016—make his live sets a truly unique, multi-genre experience that explores the mind.
Not all live acts are all smiley and feel good. In fact, the devilish rap group Dookoom bring the opposite. With Isaac Mutant as the frontman of the quartet, Dookoom believe that anger is a positive emotion because it creates energy and action, and they are in no short supply of energy when on stage. There shows are known to have a demonic, ritualistic approach, but are also politically fueled—creating an out of this world experience for audiences.
Showmanship is the name of the game when DJ Invizable takes to the stage. Dressed in a white suit with traditional African patterns on it with visor covering his face, he is a mystical creature that uses his original house tracks, flamboyant dance moves and keytar skills to wow crowds and take them on an interplanetary journey. Known for giving his all with every performance, Invizable is an attention grabbing artist who makes new fans at every gig.
Sean Ou Tim aka Mr. Sakitumi has played in many prolific bands in South Africa throughout his career, including Lark, Goldfish, Freshlyground, Closet Snare and Max Normal, and is widely regarded as the “go-to” multi-instrumentalist for live performances. In his own capacity, he takes to the stage utilizing his drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, sampler or scratching skills to create dynamic live sets that span a variety of different genres simultaneously. And his quirky and playful demeanor on stage makes him a pleasure to watch while playing live.
Ninja and Yolandi’s act started under aliases like Constructus Corporation and Max Normal, but it was the creation of Die Antwoord that really took the duo to stardom. Since first coming together in 2009, the band’s live performances have immersed audiences into their dark world of “zef” counter culture, bringing an immense amount of attention to their outlandish act. Not only is the act undeniably South African, it has become a culture within itself in the USA and around the world.
Equipped with his loop pedal, Jeremy Loops can create an entire song by himself. Using guitar licks, whistled tunes, and even sounds from children’s toys, he builds his live recorded compositions to a crescendo. And with a simple hit of the mic, to create a kick drum, he can turn a modest jingle into a stage-worthy experience. His DIY approach makes his sets incredibly human, and when using the crowd’s voices to enhance the performance, he perfects the art of crowd engagement in an instant.
The multi-talented duo Goldfish made their mark back in 2006 with their debut album Caught in The Loop. And 11 years and five albums later, they’ve opened for Fat Boy Slim, Basement Jaxx, Faithless and Paul van Dyk at various parties around the world. Their energetic performances integrate the saxophone, double bass, keyboard and drum machines into a frenzy of feel good, jazzy house tunes, which culminate at their avidly attended Submerged Sundays parties in Cape Town every year.
The lesser known artist known as Aragorn23 is a truly unique act that integrates motion detectors to create music. With the performer standing in the middle of the stage, he is able to trigger sounds and samples by moving specific body parts and using a loop function, music is created. Aragorn embodies innovation within the live performance arena, and is a prime example of South Africa’s cutting edge live electronic music scene.
Ryan Murgatroyd and Bantwanas
Ryan Murgatroyd has been releasing music since he was 16, and as part of Crazy White Boy he developed a knack for live performances, which included live vocals from Nonku Phiri. But it was with his solo career that his live sets began to take a life of its own, setting him up to perform at the ADE x Bridges for Music Boiler Room session last year, and the 15 years of Get Physical party in Barcelona this June. Alongside Blanka Mazimela, his live sets became the basis of Bantwanas, an act that celebrates African music and culture within a house/techno environment by incorporating live drums, vocals and guitars, as well as traditional African dancers.
Vox Portent is a one-man music making machine whose minimalist performance approach allows his downtempo, chillwave/electronica sound to take the foreground. As a young producer entering the South Africa’s electronic music scene, he has become a reputable artist since the release of his debut album Lucid in 2014, and has since played Oppikoppi, Fenomena and Churn Festivals. Under his Je Suis Ohne alias, he also uses his vocals as the focus of a more indie pop orientated sound—showing that Vox is anything but a one trick pony.