Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kirstenbosch Gardens Concert

After surviving the overwhelming sensory experience at Mzoli's braai on Sunday, we headed over to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens for a late afternoon concert. The laid back environment was the perfect complement to the earlier chaos.

Kirstenbosch is located on the opposite side of Table Mountain from the City Bowl, about 30 minutes from downtown in an affluent residential neighborhood.  The 5000+ capacity hillside venue is absolutely gorgeous, rendering the quality of the performing artists almost a moot point.  But they get some pretty good acts.

The mountain is the star of the show at Kirstenbosch 

The funny-shaped hill slopes down and to the right

In between Mzoli's and Kirstenbosch, we briefly stopped by our wonderful boutique hotel, the Derwent House.  The staff provided a blanket, a picnic basket and two lawn chairs for us.  After walking to a Kloof Street grocery store and buying some wine, cheese and crackers, we had everything we needed to enjoy the concert.

A fun crowd, but not quite representative of Cape Town

We saw a performer named Jeremy Loops, a likeable 29-year old guitarist and folk singer. Jeremy had a sizeable and loyal local following, and was playing in front of the largest crowd of his career.  The main feature of his act is that he lays down some background tracks early in the set, e.g. crowd chanting and his own falsetto voice, then loops the tracks back in layers to create a full sound without needing any accompaniment.  Hence the name "Jeremy Loops."

Jeremy uses his left foot to do the loop thing

Early in the show, Jeremy mentioned that he had woken up that morning in Johannesburg and discovered that he had lost his voice.  Talk about bad timing!  After chugging honey-laden beverages all day, his voice had recovered sufficiently to sing the first couple of songs pretty well.  However, after that, it was clear that his vocal chords were nowhere near 100%, as his voice cracked even during the banter between songs.

He’d have given the guitar off his back for a full voice

Luckily, the crowd was on Jeremy's side, and he improvised well to adapt to the situation. For his birthday the previous week, one of his friends had given him a children's musical toy that played various ditties such as "Row, row, row your boat."  He brought it with him, and had the crowd sing along to create one of the loops.  Everyone had fun, and the background tracks helped cover up his weakened voice.

We won’t be surprised if she’s on stage in a few years 

The crowd poses for a photo taken by the performer

Jeremy also had a few musicians backing him up, including a hip-hop singer with good energy and personality.  When he plays smaller venues, Jeremy is probably a one-man show, so it was fortunate for him that he wasn't going solo that day.  In any case, with the expectations properly set and the weather and scenery ideal, everyone had a great time.

The band begins to hit its stride 

Including the warm-up act, the concert only lasted from 5 - 7 PM, due to local noise ordinances.  Unlike most music venues we've been to in the world, the majority of the crowd stuck around for a while after the concert ended.  There was still enough light for another hour or two of Zen on the lawn, so no one was in too much of a hurry to leave. We stayed until well past 8 o'clock and finished up our bottle of wine.

Another view of Table Mountain

The next time we visit Cape Town, we plan to hike the trail from Kirstenbosch to the top of Table Mountain.  We ran out of time on this trip to complete the quest.

"Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream."

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