My third weekend since moving to Cape Town and American post-hardcore band, Our Last Night, is playing a show at Mercury Live. It’s a great lineup. But it’s four bands before the headliner, two of which are from Johannesburg. And it’s an early evening. I had headed out to Mercury the weekend before to watch the album launch of Zombies Ate My Girlfriend and the turnout was dismal. And, sadly, I have to say, Cape Town has developed a bad rap for having an unsupportive scene. But considering that the first Cape Town show for Our Last Night had been sold out and another show organised, I should have had more faith. And Cape Town came to the party - or rather, Cape Town came to party!
Although the sun had hardly set, I was relieved to find the crowd had taken to local alternative act, Last One Alive, like a flame to the match. They’re one of my favourite bands in South Africa at the moment and they’re as impressive live as they are on their EP. Even though the were the openers, they gave the crowd unfettered energy - and more importantly, they were just... joyful. And sometimes we need a healthy dose of joy and nothing else. Just a very good time, a nice crowd, a well-run gig.
Well, the November 16th, 2018 at Mercury Live can go down as a night of joy. The pressure grew and grew as the crowd filled out and people’s emotions swelled. Last One Alive set the standard high and the rest of the opening bands sustained it. In fact, it was a opening lineup that was uncannily perfect. The genres and styles were complimentary, the level of passion was high, the performances were nuclear. Every vocalist went forth and conquered.
Check out Claire Marten’s live photo coverage of the show in question.
The crowd were intrigued but a little dispassionate when the two Johannesburg bands played their sets. But this didn’t stop these two hardworking bands from giving their all. Being fresh off the boat from Johannesburg, I was eager to see Red Helen play again. I’m admittedly a massive fangirl and was perplexed to hear that they had missed their flight. I also grew a little sheepish to be wearing their t-shirt. But in the end, Johannesburg brought its magic.
You, Me and Harmony was supposed to have done a collaboration with Red Helen and I don’t doubt it would have really taken the show to the next level. Nonetheless, their set, with our favourite white lioness, Cait Ford, giving her all, was another example of why they have maintained so much respect in the industry.
As Red Helen’s replacements, OneDaySky gave an explosive performance. They were unbelievably present on stage, displaying their talent and prowess as one of South Africa’s long-standing post-hardcore/electrocore success stories. It was a great warm up for them as they were on the lineup to open on the following night.
Although I am new to the Cape Town scene, having last lived in the fair city 7 years ago, you can definitely pick up from a crowd when one of their favourite’s are about to start. The injection of Cape Town’s Atlantic South into the lineup, coming on in third place, pushed the heat up one more notch. The audience crowded the stage, pumping their fists and driving the band on. By this time, I was feeling relieved to be wearing ear plugs, but even so, my ears were taking a serious bashing. Totally worth it!
I was really glad to see the level of dedication of the crowd to the opening lineup. Admittedly, I have been seeing a trend of international acts drawing a really supportive crowd to our local venues. People are really amped to be there, to be seeing their heroes perform, knowing that they will recognise the songs and be in a good position to show how great South Africa can be as a destination for alternative bands. This was a particularly good lineup and I was grateful that the two Johannesburg bands were able to give Cape Town new music to fall in love with. The cross-pollination of bands from the two cities is so important for building the scene and giving bands something to work towards. With so few venues these days, as a band, there isn’t that much to look forward to locally, but knowing you can play for new audiences pushes you to perfect your stage performance.
Before OLN took to the stage, the crowd started gathering the last of their energy. A camaraderie developed, with the crowd singing along to the bad pop-rock hits being blared out of the speakers. There was a euphoric feeling amongst us and it’s no wonder, OLN is really such a feel good band. Their music is easy to know and easy to love. Their heaviness does not detract from their upbeat undertone, which they deliver with a tight performance. Who needs angst when you can choose... joy!?
Our Last Night’s latest video appears to be haunted by a “Ghost In The Machine”.
The crowd loved it. The band strutted out from the wings of the stage with the confidence of well-travelled musicians, high-fiving those in the front row and showing off their fresh faces. I don’t know how they do it but they come across as the type of people you want to bring home to mum. They’re really pretty, aren’t they? The set was buoyant, predictably well-paced, tight and fun. I know every band enjoys a good gimmick, and OLN’s is to send bassist, Alex “Woody” Woodrow, on a crowd surfing expedition to the bar. It would be eye-rolling if it wasn’t such fun.
The crowd loved OLN and OLN loved the crowd.
OLN have been good enough to come twice to South Africa to help to raise funds for rhino conservation efforts, just reinforcing their nice boy image. The first time they performed to sold-out shows, and it looks like OLN had another good tour of South Africa, thanks to Jam Packed Productions, just proving that you don’t have to have a label doing all the work for you when you work as hard as they do.
Talking of which, consider supporting OLN on Patreon and prove that bands can be successful as independent artists, playing the music they love and keeping it real.