Musically stagnant in Cape Town

One of the most frustrating thing about living on the other side of the world is the fact that it is so far away from so much good music! And I am in desperate need of new music.

I don’t want to belittle the SA music scene.  To be honest, I haven’t really had a chance to explore it fully, and there are a number of bands that I really want to check out. And of course there are the local acts that I am loving – I’ll have to do another post on all the great (and some odd) SA groups that are doing well.

But on a daily basis, I find it considerably harder to get access to new music that I like. There are a number of radio stations, but as far as I can tell they all play pretty much a variation on the Top 40 theme – some are a little more adult contemporary, some a bit more pop, some more Afrikaans (oh, how I dislike…more on that another time). The only one I can really stomach listening to is a pretty formulaic Top 40 station, 5fm. At least they have some good DJs and play the odd great song, plus their cheese of the day feature rocks. But I simply HAVE to turn it off after awhile – I can only hear Young Money’s ‘Bedrock’, Chris Brown’s ‘Crawl’ or Ke$Ha’s ‘Blah Blah Blah’ so many times before I go nuts….They actually have a tab on their website to show you the 5 new songs they’ve added to their playlist during the week – this gives you an idea of just how repetitive the daily tunes get. And even though they’ve got some shows highlighting local talent, they’re usually played late at night or on the weekends, never when I’m listening.

I assume that most of the music being played on the radio here, with the exception of the local tunes, is the same is what is on the Top 40 in the US, maybe a few months behind – Rhianna, all the American Idol people, Shakira, etc. Though there is probably some music here that doesn’t make the airwaves in the US, given that SA seems to be influenced more musically by the UK than the US, thanks to their proximity and the fact that so many South Africans travel to and live in the UK at some point in their lives. Also, there seem to be a number of Australian bands that make it here – I guess the proximity again.

As for concerts, there are quite a lot of local shows but really no one that I’m into coming from abroad to play. I guess SA is just too far away. The big US artist to visit recently was Kelly Clarkson (um, not for me). Oh, the Killers were here this summer, but it was sold out immediately. Other than that I can’t remember a single international act coming that I was keen on hearing. There are a ton of music festivals here in the summer, but they all feature pretty much the same cadre of local talent, and you can hear them play just so many times live before the thrill goes out of it.

The SA music scene has some good talent, but it’s not terribly deep.  And it is more of a pop, hip hop and dance vibe, not really much in terms of the kind of stuff I like (I’m not exactly sure how to classify what I listen to).

Ok, as I’m writing this I’m realizing that I’m just being a bit lazy. I know I’ve been totally spoiled being in MN where good new music just seems to drip from the icicles. Not to mention that I had friends and family in the US who were equally into hearing new music and sharing it around – I don’t really have that yet here. It may not be as easy to just turn on the radio and hear an awesome new track and know I can probably hear them live at some point, but there are some good bands here to be found. Hmm. I think I need to think a bit more about that and share the good tunes that I do hear here! But I still wish I had a bit more of a finger on the pulse of what is happening overseas in terms of new music to compare things to. Any ideas?


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