In 2011 Pretoria was blessed with the opening of an amazing live music / party venue in East of the city (where the old Foundry Fly Lounge used to be). Arcade Empire opened its doors in the first half of the year and tons of music loving individuals started flocking to the venue on a weekly basis to get their live music fix. I can’t recall every single night that I made my way to this gem of a music venue mostly because there were copious amounts of Jagermeister and tequila involved, but I do remember that I always had a good time.
2011 was a great year for SA Music and Arcade Empire brought us the best of it. Today I’m featuring no less than 30 photos that were taken in Arcade Empire’s old venue in 2011. Hope you enjoy this bumper trip down memory lane.
In April 2011 aKING had a gig at the Lusitoland festival in Johannesburg which caused them to arrive a bit late for their gig at the Empire. This did not stop the Pretoria faithful from partying their asses off though (at R12 a Black Label and R18 a double and mix this was simply not impossible).
In May 2011 Alan! Let’s Move On, Fire Through The Window and Isochronous (now known as ISO) played a gig at Arcade Empire. It turned out to be an awesome gig at which I gained renewed respect for SA Music. I was still taking photos with my old Fuji camera and my Nokia N8, so some of the photos might be a bit blurred.
In June 2011 I made my way to an amazing electro party featuring Minx, BBB, Crossman and Phizicist, Double Adapter and PELUSSJE at the Empire. I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of electronic music, but I do love a good party. The venue was packed and the vibe was absolutely awesome.
There were girls wearing funky glasses and crowns, people wearing all kinds of masks and things, and plain old folks (like your’s truly – although those who know me would most likely disagree). At one stage we were standing in front of the decks, and dancing our asses off and Guy Stanley snapped a photo of me staring someone with a panda mask as they walked past me, truly epic.
In July 2011 Machinery, Zebra and Giraffe and Taxi Violence played a sold-out show at Arcade Empire. Modern Blues act Machinery might have been slightly unknown in the Gauteng scene at the time, but that doesn’t mean that they were not impressive. Zebra and Giraffe blew the crowd away with an excellent live performance and Taxi Violence revved up the crowd into rock mania mode and showed everyone just why they are one of the best live acts in the country.
Later in July 2011, Greg Matthews, Mrs B, Foto Na Dans and ISO performed and blew away the Pretoria faithful away. Greg Matthews (who studied at the University of Alberta in Canada) played an acoustic set (which was supported by Eben Groenewald) to get the evening going. Mrs B dismissed all the critics who gave their “Milkshake Revolution” bad reviews (like Chris Roper), Foto Na Dans impressed everyone with their energetic performance and ISO charmed the crowd with their epic set.
A week or two later Ashtray Electric and Wrestlerish played at Arcade Empire. Wrestlerish had the crowd singing along to their songs in no time and Ashtray Electric rocked the crowd to the max with their unique eclectic sound.
In August / September 2011 I watch Shadowclub, Planet Joy and Arno Carstens played at the Empire. I think it was the first time that I watched Shadowclub perform and they simply blew me away. Planet Joy were also impressive and Arno Carstens mesmerized the crowd with his performance. The night is a blur (maybe because of those tequila and Jagermeister shots I told you about earlier).
In August 2011 Zebra and Giraffe and Van Coke Kartel played at Arcade Empire as part of their Haal Asem Kwagga tour and completely blew the crowd away despite the fact that the animals experienced some sound issues. The venue was packed and I think that this was one of the best sets that I’ve seen by Van Coke Kartel at any live music venue. On the same night Springbok Nude Girls launched their “Apes With Shades” EP which resulted in the crowd acting like they were moshing in the mid 1990’s. It was epic.
In Late 2011 Bittereinder played at the venue and had the crowd dancing in no time with their unique blend of Rap ‘n Roll Their set also featured Richard Brokensha (from ISO) and I remember thinking that things could only get bigger from there for Bittereinder (who were working on their second studio album).
Arcade Empire also played host to an amazing Halloween Party in October 2011. The headlining act was Taxi Violence and the crowd went absolutely apeshit when the made their way onto the stage. I vaguely remember George van der Spuy pulling a bloke on stage and pushing him back into the moshpit below his feet. It was a crazy, but amazing night.
In November 2011 The Smoking Mojo’s, Aidan Martin and the Black Cat Bones played a part in the Gun Powder Plot gig. All three of these bands satisfied the old school rocker. I had a smile on my face for the most of the night. It was beautiful. Just ask anyone else who was there and they’ll tell you the same thing.
In December 2011 I watched Yoav perform for the first time ever at Arcade Empire. It was the first time that he performed in Pretoria and truly one of those special nights that I will not forget. I still remember sitting at the bar listening to him doing a soundcheck in the late afternoon. Truly epic.
Well, there you have it. I hope this trip down memory lane was a pleasant one for you. Delving into the past brought back some really good memories. If you’ve enjoyed reading about Arcade Empire in the old days, feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is Caring after all.
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