CTEMF 2013 review by CTMS

CTEMF ’13 Review

Written by : Andriques Ché Petersen

Photography by : Stephan Bester

Despite not being able to see most of the acts over the weekend, working late on Friday and a Fingers In The Sky gig that same night, and transport issues this past Sunday, the 2013 edition of the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival proved to be a fun yet somehow confusing experience.

Crowd Shots

By Stephan Bester Photography

After a meeting with my manager, I rolled out to the V&A Waterfront for what was plugged as an essential experience to fans of Cape Town electronic. How do you host a huge festival at a shopping mall though? You clear out a few parking lots and erect some porta-potties, apparently.

To be fair, the space was minimal, and was utilized efficiently, but somehow I expected more from the organizers. Something was missing from the get-go, everything seemed so glitzy, for lack of a better word, it seemed shallow, and that is a major problem facing our dear city’s EDM scene. I hate that acronym: it’s short for electronic dance music, but I’ll use it for the sake of not having to repeatedly explain what I’m referring to. The scene lacks grit, while most EDM parties float unnoticed under the radar of the so-called mainstream clubbing scene in the mother city, promoters often have the idea that emulating the glow-stick rave culture of the states is the only way to throw a good party.

But, before I digress way too far off the matter at hand, I repeat, it was too clean, too pretty. Perhaps my time spent inhaling second hand smoke in Gandalf’s on a Thursday night has made me biased, but I expected a bit more underground than I got besides the music. And perhaps it was the fact that I was rolling solo that evening, a party is usually a party with friends. And I’m not the kind to just make friends.

Sibot 3

Sibot by Stephan Bester Photography

It was well after dark when I arrived, and the glowsticks and bright, LED screens were projecting a warm atmosphere behind the main stage Sibot had just brought his set to a conclusion. He recently released his latest EP Magnet Jam through the MAD DECENT imprint label Jeffrees. This man has been at the forefront of South African electronic for years and live, never leaves any chance for the audience to catch their breath.

Lark by Stephan Bester Photography

Lark by Stephan Bester Photography

Next up, and I assume there was a change to the line up from the last time I took a look at it while I was researching the festival, was Lark. Before I proceed, full disclosure is necessary: in my eyes Lark can do no wrong, even when Mr Sakitumi plays sideman to the ever ethereal Inge Beckmann. From older tracks from Mouth of Me like ”Tricksy” and “Cradle of Cable,” to newer releases from last year’s Gong is Struck full length. But no matter how much you can love them on record, nothing, and I stress: nothing, can better Lark live.

 Up next was Cape Town Drum & Bass veteran DJ A 33, who co-hosts the weekly Tempo D&B nights in Town. With his smooth mixing and spastic whicky-whicky scratch technique interspersed with sub-sonic bass and epic beats, the audience area (parking lot?) started getting packed for the man most people were, I assume because I was, there to see him. Niskerone.

The dreadlocked bass demon took to the stage and a chill of anticipation scuttled through me. This guy, this guy, by himself, introduced me to bass music at Synergy 1. AT my first festival, I was turned onto sub bass by this man. And here he was in front of me again. A few metres away, I exaggerate quite a bit, he was really far away (sad emoticon), stood the man that turned me into a bass whore. I’m a dj now, because of this guy. He tore up, he killed it; blew away every single soul there. There was not one moment where any of the few hundred people in attendance weren’t moving in some way or another. Some people moving in more unique ways than others, but still, moving nonetheless.

CTEMF 2013

By Stephan Bester Photography

Niskerone, who knows how to say his name properly (does anyone really know?), came up front to address us a collective lunge was felt from behind, everyone wanted, no needed a piece of this man at that moment. I was satisfied, elated, you could call it an out-of-body experience if I wasn’t screaming my lungs and heart out at that moment.

Then he ended off, with a track produced by High Contrast, “Emotional Vampire,” that he plays so much and is so synonymous with a Niskerone set that it might as well have been his. After it dropped, I was done, I didn’t need anything more from the night.

To end off the night, was South Africa’s electronica golden boy, and Steve Aoki’s newest signing: Haezer.

Although I could see he had a steady following and his Haezer tinged brand of big-roomy electro house, some of it has an almost dutch house feel to it, I wasn’t as fully engaged with as Niskerone had latched onto me. Haezer is an attention grabbing act, high energy, high dance factor. And as much as he would come to the fore with interacting with the crowd, I felt like he was up front to be praised, rather than see if we were having as much fun as he was.

I left it three quarters into his set, slightly unimpressed that I didn’t hear anything very different from him since his “Anarchy” days. So I decided to take the mini trek back to my car where an aged man had promised me he’s take care of my car, and without seeing him anywhere I turned on the ignition and rolled off. Honestly, I don’t exactly know what I thought of CTEMF 2013. Perhaps a little less emphasis should be put on being “cool” and hip and flashy and more onto providing an enjoyable experience, this time not in a parking lot.

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