This past Sunday (the 1st of December 2013) I made my way to the Johannesburg edition of Synergy Live. It was the second time that this festival was held in Gauteng. The event was held at Bassline in Newtown (right next to Mary Fitzgerald Square) and started in the afternoon.
Our trip to the festival from Pretoria was a mission and a half. We drove to Crocodile Creek (off Malibongwe Drive) in the Northern Suburbs of Jozi, thinking the event was still being held there. We merely followed the directions that were posted on the event’s page on Facebook. I have to admit that I should checked the tickets that my friends had printed out before embarking on the journey from Pretoria, this would have saved us a LOT of time. We eventually arrived at Bassline around 3 PM and immediately headed off to the bar for a cold one.
The first act I caught was Naming James. After them it was time for ISO (who got the party started), Gangs of Ballet (who completely blew me away with an excellent live performance), Desmond & The Tutu’s (who took the party up the next level) and Zebra & Giraffe (who proved that their still one of the best live acts in SA). I also caught my first ever PH Fat performance (featuring Mr Sakotumi from LARK). PH Fat’s stage presence was absolutely awesome and they got the crowd going before the crowd could chant “Jump Motherfucker, Jump Motherfucker, Jump”.
The last two acts on the main stage (which was located inside the Bassline venue) were UK rock band Everything Everything and US rock band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I have to admit that I was quite impressed with how unique Everything Everything’s set was – I have not seen or heard a band like them before. They blew the crowd away with their friendly stage personality and excellent live performance skills. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus didn’t impress me that much, but it’s probably because I’m not THAT familiar with all their songs. They did have the crowd dancing before you could say “Face Down” and the lead singer was interacting with the crowd a lot during their set.
There has been some backlash from people who attended the Johannesburg edition of Synergy Live 2013. Some of the complaints that were posted mentioned the stages being reduced from 3 to 2, the band stage being moved indoors at Bassline, unfriendly staff, overpriced / understaffed bars, security assisted muggings and bad sound during the Red Jump Suit Apparatus set.
Well, here’s my assessment: I have to admit that the event didn’t nearly match the awesomeness of last year’s event (which featured the Prodigy and was held at Riversands Farm). More than 8,000 people showed up last year and less than 2,000 people showed up for this year’s event. I was disappointed to find out the festival was moved to Newtown. I am aware that you can’t do live shows at Riversands Farm anymore, but the organizers could have chosen a venue in a safer area. Newtown is not the safest area in Joburg, especially if you need get out of there around midnight on a Sunday night.
I do understand that events need to make money, but the alcohol was a bit on the pricey side. I’m not used to pay R34 for a single J&B and water (it costs R13 in Pretoria by the way). I had no issues with service at the bar or at the food stalls (which was very well priced for a Joburg event I might add).
I was able to take photos (even though there was no media pit), but the stage lighting could have been a little bit better. The sound for the majority of the acts were fine, with the exception of Red Jump Suit Apparatus. For the first 3 songs I could not hear what the lead singer was singing, but it did improve as their set progressed.
Did I have a good time? Yes I did, the vibe was lekker. Did the staff mistreat me? No, there were very friendly and helpful. Did we have security issues when we walked to the parking area? No, there was adequate security. Will I go to next edition of Synergy Live next year? Yes, but the organizers will have to address the issue with the location of the venue for the event and look at pricing their booze more reasonably and to provide better lighting that will aide band photographers.
Did you attend the event? What did you think of Synergy Live 2013 Johannesburg? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here. If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, feel feel to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is Caring.
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Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant and co-founder of SA Music Zone