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Three months shy of his 30th birthday, Guy Buttery has already played at The Clapham Grand in London, The Living Room in New York, the Big Day out festival in Australia and he is about to embark on an international tour to promote his fifth album, the live one everyone has been begging him for.

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A cast of eight young and beautiful women adorned with bright red lipstick and black clothing could be rather intimidating. Are they going to give exactly what the title suggests – everyday bitching in female circles?

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WhatsoninCapeTown was invited to the press launch at The Market Bar of Cape Town band Woodstock Mafia’s debut album Defiance. We had a chat with bassist Ryan Matthews about the album and the band’s plans.

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Prettiness and sadness lie side by side, with a distinct dark and surreal undercurrent. The eponymous pout is occasionally made into a smile but it is a thin line, black and stitched up. The girl’s eyes well with tears, which often overspill. Skeletons, skulls and cobwebs are common motifs. Ditto rainbows and clouds and large coloured rain drops. These are about daydreams, after all,

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Seeing that Vans is such a massive brand worldwide, I was expecting to see a lot of in-your-face advertising and merchandise selling… perhaps even a ramp with some skaters nailing some tricks. Not so. The brand itself was inconspicuously promoted, with only a few not-so-strategically placed stickers and Vans sneakers dangling from what were supposed to be telephone wires. This was surprising at first, but then it dawned on me that this night was not about the brand, but about the music. And who wants to be force fed a brand when there are some of South Africa’s hottest acts to enjoy?

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The singular highlight of the work is perhaps the blending of opera and traditional South African styles. For the most part the choir remained still and upright, but occasionally they broke into an empassioned toyi-toyi and at one stage a dance of joy that spread even to the soloists and the conductor.

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But the highlight of the evening was without a doubt guest speak Stafford Masie. Best known as the former CEO of Google Africa, this successful technology futurist shared some inspirational thoughts and insights as well as a number of entertaining and enlightening anecdotes from his life and the world of business, technology and human ecosystems

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The concert area was chockablock full, the skies were clear, the air was fresh and the Kirstenbosch plants were well fed (seeing it had rained the whole morning). Everyone was relaxing after a great weekend in Cape Town – even a little 4 year old girl behind me was singing along to the Parlotones’ first song, ‘That’s Life’, at the top of her voice.

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From extreme electronic noise to subtle whispers via fusions of traditional music, field recordings and sudden psychotic screams. All of this is melting together in and outside the festival venues with an openness, acceptance and encouragement to push through social and artistic challenges.

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A group of young girls, glittering in a sea of pink and white ballet paraphernalia, pressed themselves up against the glass wall of the studio to better see the dancers as Li guided them through a barre and centre, occasionally interjecting with phrases such as “don’t be stingy with the fondu” or “extend and 6 and 7 and pas de bourrée.”

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With the trees as a stage backdrop and the stars adding a twinkle that stage lights could never muster, a production of Les Sylphides could not ask for a better stagehand than Mother Nature. This non-narrative piece sees the beautiful, mythical Sylphes (spirits of the air) dancing to works by Chopin, enhancing the already esoteric air of the works themselves. With no storyline to follow, the audience merely has to sit back and enjoy the beautiful music and the equally beautiful dancers.

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The dancers’ movements do not complement the dramatic sounds of Verdi’s original opera in a traditional way. Un-stretched feet, frenzied arm swings, high-energy jumps and moments of stillness and torment punctuate the already emotion-filled soundtrack. The chorus of empty black souls stand by, as Violetta’s almost nude body disfigures and writhes about in a contorted manner.

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If you like your comedy dry, witty, sarcastic and a little bit dark, then I urge you to check out Marcel Lucont. No review can capture the essence of his razor sharp wordplay in the poems that he recites – melting together prosaic concepts around unlikely topics such as erectile dysfunction or the joys of not shaving. That his material is intelligent and well thought-out is indisputable. That it ranks with the best in world became evident when he brought home the gong for Best Comedy Show at the World Fringe Fest 2014.

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But even more than all this, what set Artmode apart from other events and exhibitions in Cape Town’s creative frenzy was its aim not just to make the art accessible but to make the artists themselves accessible. The general perception of artists is that they hide away in a tiny studio, keeping to the company of clay and canvases and classical music. Artmode set out to bring this wonderful group of magic makers into the public space.

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A magical and fun production, perfect for the festive season. Veronica Paeper’s choreography picks up on the nuances of Prokofiev’s famous score, retelling the iconic story with clarity, beauty and humour.

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The energy of his songs and his banter was palpable, and his comforting voice rolled from one song to the next, ranging from gentle vibrato to raw and bold quavers. He can even parody an operatic soprano, spotlessly at that. He made the songs we all know a whole new experience by playing around with the lyrics and the sound to suit the context. His mistakes melted in and became humorous elements to the conversation of the show.

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In the role of Noach, Lee-Ann van Rooi’s bellowing voice never fails to captivate the audience, its sturdiness resonating with her character’s refusal to give up hope and her will to remain sane and structured. Dannelene is a strong character that is only strengthened by van Rooi’s powerful stage presence. Her failure to falter, her insistence to retain and repeat her memories, and her undying Christian faith all come together as the guiding force that kept her afloat in times of engulfing trauma.

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The audience is treated to Contemporary, Ballet, Flamenco and African Dance pieces, all of which showcase the impressive versatility of the dancers as well as giving credit to the training of the teachers and choreographers at DFA.

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In between the well-loved songs, thigh-slapping laughter and sneaky stabs at Cape Town culture, there are sombre reflections on the things that make us human. The Cat’s Meouw raises the issue of the pointlessness of expectations – especially those of parents who dominate their children’s psyches (even from across the ocean).

Don’t miss this one – you’ll leave entertained and uplifted, and perhaps go to bed knowing that, once we let go of our expectations, happiness can be found in the smallest things.

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Bursting with energy, Bobbert and McIlroy never lose their vigour as they perform upbeat physical comedy and continually surprise with off-the-wall characters and costumes as well as synchronised choreography rich in 90s clichés.

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Spending an entire evening listening to a wind band might not seem as attractive as hearing a full orchestra in concert. To some, it might even seem painfully exhausting. One might think the complementary, soothing sound of strings would be missed. When the WindWorx ensemble announced their tenth anniversary concert, however, with guest appearances by the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble and Stadskoor Tygerberg, one look at the varied programme, featuring pieces ranging from Handel’s “Halleujah” chorus to the Star Wars theme “Duel of the Fates”, suggested that this would be a performance well worth attending. We were not to be disappointed.

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The theme of female sexuality in Salome makes for a fascinating debate in itself and it’s worth going to the opera for that alone. It’s also brilliantly performed.

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“Bouwer is well known for his stark and shocking stage designs and Marat/Sade lives up to this, providing a visual spectacle that echoes in the memory long after the curtain drops.”

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