Review: Design Indaba MusicFest 2015


Designi Indaba Music 2014The 2015 Design Indaba MusicFest certainly epitomised the expo’s main themes: creativity and innovation. Alongside a conference, film festival and creative showcase, the music component of the event took the form of a chill-out and wind-down area, ‘The Design Indabar’, and a faster-paced after-party at The Side Show.

Grolsch in hand, delegates and design-enthusiasts alike mingled at The Design Indabar – a grassy area outside the CTICC lit by the setting sun as it peeked through the high-rise buildings of the foreshore. The music accentuated the city idyll perfectly as Original Swimming Party’s mind-wandering tunes opened the event on Wednesday or Rose Lombard’s dreamy, jazz-mixed DJ set finished it off on Friday. More exciting though, was the party at Side Show on Thursday.

Angel-Ho – a.k.a. Angelo Valerio, who uses his alter ego to highlight class, gender and identity issues – started the night off with thought-provoking performance art. Equipped with swords, blonde wigs and cultish gowns, he sent distorted phrases such as “the rainbow nation, it’s a fake conversation” echoing through the club. The show was backed by tribal- and industrial-fused sounds that created a somewhat disconcerting darkness, something the next act inverted completely.

Making melancholia cool again, just-gone-blonde Amy Ayanda sang about hazy Sundays in a style that was reminiscent of Björk. As the backing beats progressed slightly, her cold, melody-mastering voice slid into the pace seamlessly. Hers is the smooth sound of a crying robot, handling emotion for the first time.

Next up was internationally acclaimed Ghanaian rapper, M.anifest, who changed the mood drastically. Livening it up a notch, the crowd was in top form when he started chanting “You’ve never known joy if you never had to suffer” in his ultra-rhythmic, bongo-drum-backed rhyme tongue. If you can talk of a rapping voice like you do of a singing voice, then M.anifest has it for sure.

Again, the audience was presented with a shift in genre when the shoegaze-inspired Sakawa Boys took to the stage. With two guitars and a rocking bassist, they were not only loud but sophisticatedly vanguard as they merged ambient electronica with raw, melodic noise and fuzz-box psych. Yet another entirely unique experience was multi-media and performance artist Nástio Mosquito’s captivating set. Interspersed by provocative videos of, amongst other things, a woman eating dog poo, he owned the stage with mesmerising Angolan Portuguese melodies, a deep Shaggy-like voice and an unknockable showman’s presence.

As the much-anticipated Daddy G of Massive Attack played a DJ set that integrated hints of reggae, electro and dub step, the night was slowly coming to an end, but not without leaving an enriching memory. What we took home from the Design Indaba MusicFest was a state-of-the-art introduction to artists who live the spirit of novelty and innovation, with every performance a distinct achievement to remember.

Christine Hogg

The Design Indaba MusicFest 2015 took place 25 to 27 February 2015.

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