We spend too much time trying to delineate between things as opposed to finding the points of convergence. A question that is often asked of artists is what genre they consider their music to be in an attempt to both box and contextualise what it is they create. Reference points are great, as long as they aren’t used to divide or create a negative otherness. Being a fan of a diverse array of music, one of the things I enjoy are mashups of different genres because, when done right, one is taking the best from all sides and creating something else. Also, they tend to demonstrate the similarity of spirit/creative spark in the creation process.
Heinken Symphonic Rocks is, in a way, a live mashup of classical, rock, hip hop, pop, dance, etc and the Joburg leg took place on October 6th on the distant outskirts at Carnival City. This was its 3rd year and is a pet project of Andy Mac, lead singer of the Cape Town rock group Macstanley (formerly Flat Stanley).
The format is essentially contemporary artists performing with the 65-piece orchestra conducted by John Walton who was also at the heart of scoring and arranging the music. This year featured: aKing, ChianoSky, Zolani Mahola (Freshlyground), Van Coke Kartel, Toya Delazy, Ard Matthews (Just Jinjer), Tumi & the Volume, F*ofpolisiekar, Macstanley, Zahara, MiCasa, and Ed Roland (Collective Soul).
Loved the concept. The production spared no expense. The music was awesome. It did seem to lean towards Afrikaans rock bands, but the beauty of good music is you don’t always have to understand the words. The only gripe I really had was that the orchestra, especially the string section, often felt overwhelmed by the electric guitars and drums, particularly with the higher tempo tracks. And the brass section could have stood out a bit more. It was on the songs with ‘space’ that one experienced the best mixing of the classical and the contemporary. I still contend – albeit as a mere music fan – that the best use of strings in music have been by Barry White and the RZA (particularly on Wu Tang Forever).
But, it was well worth the experience and three hours well spent, even with the trek to Brakpan. My favourite performances were ChianoSky, Zolani Mahola’s performance of I’d Like, Ard Matthews with What He Means, Tumi & The Volume, Zahara, MiCasa and F*ofpolisiekar. This is more to do with songs that resonated with me than quality of performance so, all in all, every artist acquitted themselves wonderfully, including the orchestra.
I’m definitely looking forward to Symphonic Rocks 2013, even with the really long Twitter hashtag #HeinekenSymphonicRocks