Gig Review: Van Coke Kartel @ Arcade Empire

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For the last couple of months, I have patiently awaited one of the most anticipated shows of July 2017, and no, I am not talking about the start of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. I’m talking about the start of the final tour for the band Van Coke Kartel.

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Back in 2008, when MK89 was still a thing, I was introduced to the sounds of Van Coke Kartel. Although back then the only songs I knew were “Wat Het Van Ons Geword?” and “Verdoof. Vergiftig. Verskoon My”, but throughout the years I got into their albums more. I was extremely saddened when I heard that VCK will be disbanding, but the fact that they would have a final tour was a silver lining.

(In case you were wondering, the photo above was taken by Henno Kruger in December 2010 when they were promoting a new music video at Tings an’ Times in Pretoria).

The first of their last six shows kicked off at Arcade Empire in Pretoria on the 14th of July, and I am honoured to say “I was there”.

The night had an array of acts to entertain us before VCK graced the stage. I Am was up first. They are an alternative pop band, which appeals to a lot of different people. The crowd started to fill the main stage area to listen to the sounds of these four Pretoria guys. Although they are new to the scene, I Am can certainly hold their own on a shared stage. (Catch them on the 5th of August at Aandklas Hatfield when they perform with Red Helen and Newton Knife Gang.)

Deadline surprised me. I haven’t heard of them before, but a friend of mine was beside himself, even before they came on stage (I took that as a sign that they must be good then). And they certainly were. They had a big crowd engaging with every song they performed. Even I starting jumping around at a point. Deadline will be launching their debut album, Black Wolf City, on te 14th of October at Arcade Empire. If you haven’t checked them out by then, be sure to be there.

I have a soft spot for The Sweet Resistance. All the way from Cape Town, they classify themselves as an alternative pop rock band. Tash, the female lead vocalist, added some much-needed diversity into the night. People swayed to their rhythmic, melodic anthems. The longer their set went on, the more people started filling the room. The time for Van Coke Kartel to make their long awaited appearance crept closer…

The main stage area was packed. People started chanting for “Van Coke Kartel!”. The crowd when absolutely crazy when Francois, Wynand, Jedd, and Jason took the stage. I swear the guy next to me even cried. I felt like I was thrust back into high school, but it was a happy nostalgia. I could almost not hear Francois van Coke over the sound of the crowd screaming every song word for word, but that didn’t matter. I screamed right along with them. It all felt so emotional. With every song that ended, the crowd just got louder, almost in hopes that Van Coke Kartel’s set would never end. Even a little part of me hoped it wouldn’t. But, as with most great things in life, this also had to come to an end. It was the end of an era.

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Van Coke Kartel’s music will live on (I’m listening to them full blast as I’m writing this). They will forever occupy a section of our memories. “Met ‘n soen op die wang het jy ‘n toekoms mooi beplan”, and it is with that kiss that we bid you farewell Van Coke Kartel.

Photo Credit: The Image Engineer – www.imageengineer.co.za

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