Review: Littlegig

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LittlegigThe first event of its kind in Cape Town, the inaugural Littlegig was held in a heritage building in Gardens to dazzling effect.

Stepping off the street and into the building, guests were immediately greeted and shown around.  The venue, styled like a giant Manhattan loft, was completely open-plan, with a stage at one end and tables and chairs spreading out from it. Littlegiggers were dressed up to the nines, and the waiters not only looked dapper but were incredibly proficient.

The unique concept of Littlegig is to have three live acts who have been meticulously sourced for their talent, each playing a set of just 25 minutes – essentially the cream of their output – to an exclusive audience of 200.  Guests pays a premium for the tickets, but are well rewarded with a minutely curated gig in a unique venue, with top quality everything, including unlimited drinks and tasty little snacks continually circling.  A modern day Great Gatsby but in miniature.

Saturday’s line up saw three acts with varied styles which still fitted together well, each bringing their own very unique sounds to the table.

Bongeziwe Mabandla was the first to take to the stage after guests were seated and the lighting had changed from a warm white to dramatic reds and blues. He was mesmerising. Think folk with a distinctly African flavour, coming from a one-man-one-acoustic-guitar team with a good dose of stage presence and buckets of charm.

When his set ended, the atmosphere reverted into social mode for a 30 minute interval, during which a suitably serenaded audience mingled. During this time, as during the actual performances, waiters stole gracefully through the crowd with trays of drinks. No expense had been spared. Everything from fine wines and whiskies to freshly squeezed lemon cocktails was available and seemingly unlimited. Some of the bolder guests were even sipping on tequila. Add to this some hot chips cooked to perfection, and Lindt dark chocolate at the end of the night, and you have a roomful of people who have been made to feel very extravagant for the night.

The second set was Original Swimming Party, a three piece band with an interesting blend of electronic and instrumental music. The guitarist and vocalist dabbled with effects while the third member was on decks, presumably putting it all together.  During the set, an impressive and delightfully weird display of moving imagery took place on displays that were integrated into the front of the long desk which doubled as their musical pulpit.  It was a highly interesting and fun performance both to watch and to hear, producing a different kind of music which marries traditional and modern art forms.

Finally the crowd was treated to a performance by Madala Kunene, the long-time South African folk and blues guitarist who has been called the king of the Zulu guitar. The old master’s songs were characteristically hypnotic, the perfect match for the crazy, bewitching allure of the evening as a whole.

The event being as successful as it was, Littlegig is – we hope – here to stay. Decide now if you want to be one of the 200 for the next gig as the tickets will not hang around long. Whatever the lineup, wherever the venue, it will certainly be a night you won’t soon forget.

Rory Appleton

The inaugural Littlegig took place on 27 September 2014.  Further events are planned for Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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