Sporadies Nomadies – A Reminiscent Musical Journey

Written by Dee Theart (@deetheart)

Photography by Marius van Wyk (@StanleyJune_)

When Francois van Coke, Pierre Greeff and Hunter Kennedy announced a series of acoustic nationwide shows entitled ‘Sporadies Nomadies’, my first thought was: pretty damn clever. The thought also lingered in my head that this was possibly more of a money-making scheme than an actual musical endeavor. In a timeframe where none of their bands has released any new material very recently, this seemed like the perfect solution to bring out a new product comprised of old material to a crowd of ever avid fans that will buy tickets for anything that includes the trademark van Coke name. However, what happened on stage at The Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria surpassed my expectation of just another average VanFokTasties show.

As the crowd seeped into the cosy theatre, I anticipated seeing masses of teens and students, dressed in tight jeans and band shirts. Instead the crowd was more mature, in looks and age. Judging by the long queues at the bar, everyone was still there to party, although in a more classy style. Francois eagerly mingled with the crowd before the show, looking festive with a probable drink or five already in. Later at the bar when the show was already supposed to start, he urged the bar lady on for a quick last drink before getting on stage. Maybe the nerves kicked in for the type of show that lay ahead. This was a theatre and not a noisy pub venue where they are used to playing, after all. 

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Francois van Coke by by Marius van Wyk

And then it happened. A sold-out show, four chairs, mic stands and mics assembled upon a still empty stage. The crowd seemed restless, awaiting the nostalgic ride we all came for. As Francois, Pierre and Hunter made their appearance, the crowd went wild. The moment was here. The brilliant guitarist, Jedd Kossew, and skillful percussionist, Sheldon Yoko (the new Die Heuwels Fantasties drummer who is apparently not a money wolf), were also there to accompany the trio of legends, but that was kind of beside the point and their presence shimmered away as the show went on. A swear word and a clumsy greeting from Francois, and the show could take off at last. Hunter introduced the first song of the evening, ‘Hemel Op Die Platteland’, as Fokofpolisiekar’s first song ever and the very first Afrikaans song that managed to get accepted for 5fm’s playlist. That was enough to get every audience member excited and let the reminiscence settle in. Myself, and I’m guessing every audience member, felt a tad emotional thinking back to the time when this song was released. Just like these three icons on stage struggled through hardships and eventually grew up, so did we. But we were also there when it all started and it feels like yesterday and not yesteryear. The legend that is Fokofpolisiekar gripped us all in some sort of way. 

With each song the plot of the Sporadic Nomadic chronicle thickened. Pierre took over the story from Francois, who took over the story from Hunter, who took it over from Francois and so forth. The band evolution from Fokofpolisiekar to Lukraaketaar to Van Coke Kartel to Die Heuwels Fantasties was illustrated with the carefully selected set list and a behind-the-scenes storytelling element. The show’s title (also a track title off Fokofpolisiekar’s first full-length album) highlighted the show’s concept perfectly. Untold stories were shared, memories were relived and hilarious band moments created a ripple effect chuckle throughout the theatre. Some tales created a stir amongst the musicians as they playfully fought with each other about whose rendition is the real deal. 

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Hunter Kennedy by by Marius van Wyk

It was interesting to hear the three’s voices almost become one as they took over parts of the various songs that we are not used to hearing in the original music. Francois, Hunter and Pierre all had a chance to shine and they didn’t hold back, passionately showing off their unique musical and vocal abilities. Looking around the crowd seemed appreciative to hear the music they love in a more chilled out style. Every word came to life like never before. There was shouting, sing-along and heads bobbing, but the music became the core of the night. As the night drew to an end, there were so many more songs that could have continued until the wee hours of the next morning. To name but a few hit songs, ‘Sonrotse’, ‘Tygerberg Vliegtuig’, ‘Dis ’n Land’ and ‘Passievol’, did not form part of the night’s repertoire. It just came to show how part of us these four bands’ songs have become over the years.

Yes, it is always refreshing to hear good new homegrown music. But sometimes it is even more refreshing to be reminded of the long road we have walked in this crazy local music industry. The stories and songs of ‘Sporadies Nomadies’ is one heck of an intertwined South African music industry story that will hopefully be retold in years to come. 

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