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Gangs Of Ballet album Launch Tour - Rivertown Shed

 Gangs Of Ballet - Rivertown Shed

When I heard that Gangs of Ballet will be launching their new album, Form & Function Part 2 at the Rivertown Shed, I was like, where the hell is that?  I was in for a nice little surprise. Upon arriving at The Shed, we noticed how much parking there was, bonus! No driving around the city on a Friday night looking for dodgy parking.

The Rivertown Shed is situated across the road from the ICC (on the other side, not where the old Tilt used to be).  As we walked up to the venue we were met with some rad urban street art occupying the one side of The Shed wall, top to bottom. Always a good sign.  The excitement starting bubbling within as I began to realise it was quite a big warehouse. Oh yes, a warehouse party! LOVE THEM.  As we walked in, there was a cool retro pop up coffee tuk tuk done by Exploring Coffee.  A nice different concept to have a rock gig, that little tuk tuk would prove to be quite significant later on……

Walk straight to the bar. Need beer. Much to our dismay we were told that unfortunately the venue was unable to secure the liquor licence in time for the gig.  Damn, what a bummer. But that was not going to stop Durban.  People turned up in the droves to support our local favourites.

ISO - Rivertown Shed

As we got backstage, ISO, the opening band, was setting up and getting the sound check done.  Super excited to see these guys play, especially at such a fitting venue.  The performance these guys put on was incredible. Their stage presence was nothing short of stellar, the way they feel their music while performing is quite something to watch.  They jumped and jived and the crowd jumped and jived, the lighting was amazing and the theatrical smoke at the end was the perfect closing.  ISO is a well experienced band and it shows. And the one guy let me sit on their road case backstage for the whole night, thank you ISO!

As soon as the band comes off stage, we duck outside for a quick smoke break.  While out smoking, we get chatting to a bloke about the venue. He mentions he works for the guys that own the venue and they are shooting the gig so they can start promoting the venue for more nights like this one.  Two words. HELL YES.  Durban so desperately needs a good venue to host bands and one big enough to fit all the adoring fans we have here.  Let’s all pray that this kicks off, Rivertown Shed will be perfect for many events, covering all aspects. Just need to sort out that liquor licence first…

Al Bairre - Rivertown Shed

Next up, Al Bairre took to the stage with their happy go lucky vibe. God, I love this band. And so does the whole of Durban apparently with the way the crowd went crazy as they stepped on.  Al Bairre has had major success and they have a massive following here in Durban and it’s no wonder with that catchy, love infested groove they have going on.  Sporting their trade mark tie dye shirts, Al Bairre got down and dirty with it, displaying impressive acts of bum wiggles and stage hand stands.  Talk about high energy. Wow. They belted out most of their popular songs, while the love sick fans sang along to each and every word. The excitement they bring to a gig is infectious, honestly if you having a crap day, please just go watch a video of Al Bairre live, it’s almost life changing.

Gangs of Ballet - Rivertown Shed

Finally the headliner graces the stage, Gangs of Ballet.  Originally from Durban, you can see they are in their zone.  Gangs of Ballet were well worth the wait, with a down to earth demeanor that simply filters all the way down, you almost feel like it’s a bunch of your buddies playing for you.  Interactive and intimate.  Apologizing profusely about the booze situation, Brad connects with the crowd with ease as they break into the first song, the crowd absolutely loves them.  Gangs of Ballet rocked and rolled the stage with their set and at one point Brad even got off the stage and continued to play his guitar while walking through the crowd. What a legend.  What a show.  Thank you for a wicked night, thank you for a wicked venue, thank you for having UNDERGROUND PRESS and thank you for the CD! Can’t wait to have you all back soon!

UB40 at Durban Botanic Gardens supported by Grassyspark

UB40 Botanic Gardens 

Durbs proved that not even heavy rains will stop them from enjoying UB40’s second concert in the country.  Oh and did it rain. On a chilly wet night, Durban welcomed Grassyspark and UB40 at the Botanic Gardens, the oldest public institution and Africa's oldest surviving botanical gardens, oozing with character. There was a 20 minute delay due to heavy rainfall just as the concert was about to get underway. This was the first gig Grassyspark has had in Durban and I was just wondering what on earth has taken you guys so long? I think I can safely say that the 031 absolutely loved you guys! 

 Grassyspark Botanic Gardens

Grassyspark is a Cape Town band, made up of seven members, incorporating many different instruments including the sax, trumpet and the trombone.  They describe their sound as a blend of ska, funk, rock, Latin and reggae.  All I can say is that their performance last night was on point.  The vocals were crystal clear, perfectly timed and the way the band grooves together was just magical to watch.  One of the best things about the show was how they interacted with the crowd.  It’s clear that Durban would have them back any day, so please guys, don’t be strangers!

Another thing that stood out was the uniqueness of each and every song, each song sounded totally different to one before but at the same time blended in with the overall performance, Grassyspark definitely showcased their diversity on stage last night, something that sets them apart from the normal run of the mill band.

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After Grassyspark had warmed up the stage, we were graced with the legends UB40.  The opening song was Here I Am, originally done by Al Green in 1973.  UB40 covered the song and it peaked at number 7 on the billboard charts in 1991.  Memories just came flooding back when I heard this song, I have been a diehard UB40 fan since I was a kid. Such bliss.

For about two hours the reggae group from the U.K treated their Durbanite audience to a diverse set from their impressive catalogue of albums.  From the outset, Ali’s vocals and crisp delivery was evident on every song.  Astro took center stage for a few songs here and there while the whole band was displaying their love for the music and especially their audience! It's obvious they enjoy entertaining their fans.

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As the show was coming to an end, the band walked off stage, only to return to the crowd chanting Red Red Wine!  James Brown got behind his drum set and proceeded to wow the crowd with an impressive drum solo, followed by an incredible six song encore.  The conclusion of the night was definitely a highlight when, finally, the long awaited song of the night was performed. The iconic Red Red Wine.  Watching this song being performed live by UB40 was mesmerising. It brought chills. 

Despite the rain, this was an incredible show, thank you once again to Big Concerts for your hospitality and having UNDERGROUND PRESS.

ROXETTE Live at Durban ICC

ROXETTE'S supporting band was WATERSHED, a firm South African favourite. They have had great success both locally and internationally and their music is easy to listen to, and most age groups enjoy their sound. I spotted a teenager in the front row singing along to one of their hits, which, I must admit surprised me!

Watershed Roxette Durban ICC 2FEB2016

Photo Credit: Alastair Fraser

The energy onstage from these guys was nothing short of amazing. Its clear WATERSHED absolutely love performing for their fans. Craig Hinds, the lead singer, jumped between keyboard piano and his guitar and even the drummer, Howie Combrink, left his secure spot behind the drum set to sing, play guitar and wait for it…continue to play the drums from the behind the mic using a foot drum! All at the same time! This band definitely displays versatility at its best. The crowd loved them and I was super impressed at their skills…

Craig Hinds Roxette Durban 2FEB2016

Photo Credit: Alastair Fraser

ROXETTE are one of those bands mostly everyone has heard of, they have been around since the mid-1980s and have had some huge hits, they were the first band I chose to love and the first tape cassette I ever purchased. I knew every single word to every single song. The fact that I had the opportunity to see them live was yet another dream come true for me, even if I am not really into that genre of music anymore.

I kind of knew that this concert would be a tad bit different. The reason for that is ROXETTE'S lead singer Marie Fredriksson. Back in 2002 she underwent surgery to remove a malignant brain tumour. It has been a long recovery for the platinum blonde of 56 years old. I am sure many thought she was not going to make it, but she did. Her voice has lost nothing, and although she is clearly physically frail, and sat on a stool the entire show, I felt that the concert did not lack at all in oomph and passion.

Marie Fredriksson Roxette Durban ICC 2Feb2016

Photo Credit: Alastair Fraser

The sound and lighting, in my opinion, was awesome and I must say that I do not think they get as much credit as they should for being a lot more rock-ier than the usual pop rock band.  The lead guitarist, Christoffer Lundquist, jumped and jived up and down the stage along with his fellow band mates and put on a spectacular performance. Per Gessle treated the audience to a bit of banter and cracked a few jokes about the members of the band.

Christoffer Lundquist Per Gessle Roxette Durban ICC 2Feb2016

Photo Credit: Alastair Fraser

This performance too, was met with mixed emotions from some fans, I get the feeling many fans did not know about Marie’s condition and that she cannot be as involved or as on-point as she used to be. But come on guys, the woman had a brain tumour. Can we at least give her credit for even putting on a show for us, possibly the last tour she will ever do. It takes a lot of courage to get up on a stage and perform for thousands of people, now imagine you are sick on top of that too. I say she is an inspiring role model, by not letting a disease stop her from giving to her fans and doing what she loves. I am grateful I had the opportunity to see them live at least once.

Thank you again, Big Concerts, for taking me on another nostalgic walk down memory lane.

Photo Credit: Alastair Fraser

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Minority For The Masses Rocking Durban

It always brings an extra big smile to my face when I get to review a band from sunny Durban, my hometown.

minority for the masses

The Album, is the newest release from Minority For The Masses. It features remixed and mastered songs from their previous E.P's, as well as 5 new songs thrown into the mix. Making for a pretty epic 13 track CD.

This band started in 2011, and I truly think they have come a long way. Their sound is tighter, and the guitar riffs are just insane.


The band is made up of:

Jon Perry - Guitar and Vocals
Jake Blackwell - Guitar and Vocals
Matthew Baxter - Bass and Backing
Jarred Baney - Drums
With a guest appearance by Jared Gunston.

This album has a good 'jump around in your room, with your middle fingers up' kind of feel, with epic electric guitar solo's that allow for your air-guitaring to take centre stage!

Their 'Rise Against', mixed with 'Staind', and a dash of 'Skillet' sound is quite something, and I, personally, am very keen to watch the progress of this band as they grow within their own genre.


All their videos can be found on YOUTUBE

A Spliced Media Contribution

Interview With Durban Based Band, Life Below

Life Below Promo 7

So I've been watching this bands rise for the past year, and when their recent EP dropped, the urge to write about them and share them with the world solidified. 

Life Below is a Durban based 'pissed-off, up-tempo hardcore,played with a mouth of full of anger and a heart full of hate' kind of band.

For those of you who who don't know what that means, think of words like;



I had a chance to ask band member Steve some questions:

When did you guys form Life Below? 

As a unit we've been jamming together since 2014. We played our first show at the beginning of 2015 and have since hit the ground running. 

LB EP Launch 2Was it one of those epic movie moments where you all look at each other and say the same thing, or was there more of a process to the band forming? 

I'd say it was a bit of both. My first band ever was with Mitchell and Brendan. Fifteen year olds playing crappy death metal from a wendy house. We had the cops called on us almost every weekend, and things ended up fizzling out after a years worth of practices and no shows. I went on to play in various local hardcore and metal bands, and Brendan went on to form We Were Archers with James. After three or four years of waving the Durban hardcore flag things with We Were Archers began to wind down, and myself and Brendan decided that after knowing each other for over twenty years it was time we tried jamming together again. Brendan suggested bringing James onboard, considering the two of them had developed a shared mind when it came to writing music in We Were Archers. A little later Mitch came on board, I won't lie, it was a risk considering he hadn't done anything vocal wise since those wendy house days. But it definitely paid off. We knew we wanted to play something darker and more honest then any of us had done before, and from the first practice it was clear that that's exactly what this was. 

'Who' is Life Below?

Life Below is Mitchell Harper (vocals), James Strachan (guitar), Brendan Meintjes (drums) and myself, Steven Ilbury (bass). 

How would you describe your music?

Pissed-off, up-tempo hardcore, played with a mouth of full of anger and a heart full of hate.

Where is your favourite hang out spot in Durban? 

As a band we tend to hit up food spots more then anything. El Hombre on Florida Road is our spot of choice. Who doesn't love a bit of Mexican? As far as nightlife is concerned, it's The Winston Pub. It's the only live music venue in Durban that matters, and the guys have really given us a home over the last year. Huge shout out to Matt and the crew for everything they've done for us. 

Where can people watch you guys perform? 

We'll be playing at The Winston on September 19th for the official launch of new EP "I". Joining us will be some killer acts: fellow hardcore outfit Brain Freeze, noise-makers The Sisters, one of my personal favourite bands Scrapyard Bones, and my live electronic duo Otyruru. It's going to be a fucking party. 

Can people download or purchase your music? 

We've just dropped our debut EP, which can be downloaded for free over atlifebelow.bandcamp.com. We've also recently dropped a new music video for our track "Cold Front". It was completely DIY, filmed and edited by ourselves, and is something we're really proud of. You can check it out here 

Contact deets? Facebook page?

For those looking to get in touch you can find us on: Facebook | BandCamp | Twitter | Instagram

Be sure to check them out and support your local acts!

Photo Credit: Phillip Wilson

No Aborted For Durban Fans

aborted 2015 july

Witchdoctor Records have regrettably announced that the show for Aborted has been cancelled due to the news that Live, the venue will be closing down and no other suitable venue has been found. 

As usual, if you are wanting to refund your money, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and your tickets are valid for the Johannesburg and Cape Town shows.

Two Facebook groups have been set up and aimed at travellers coming from Cape Town and Durban. Should you want to make use of the WDP bus service. Details below.



What Happens In Between: The Durban Music Scene


Sandwiched between humidity and sugar cane fields is a minuscule music scene. This is the music scene that belongs to Durban. Durban does not have a big bustling scene nor is there a lack of one, it is just stagnant. Perhaps, I’m being biased. If your choice of ear candy is Gospel, Kwaito and Boeremusiek then Durban caters for such. If your choice of ear candy is heavy metal, alternative live music and Pop then you better start seeking elsewhere.

That’s not to say that Durban has no talent. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve been running around the local scene for several years watching live music shows, supporting bands, writing about the local music venues and getting the word out about acoustic acts happening at the local pub and grill. During my time of doing such I have noticed something truly unique of Durban-grown talent. I’ve noticed that performers try twice as hard and face twice as much rejection than their associates in larger cities namely, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Why is this? While I reason finances are a common central issue there are also a few others such as; no fan-base growth, lack of supportive venues, no back-up from the Arts and Culture departments as well as absolutely no promotion or education of music.

There are many alternative/metal bands that originated from the shores of Durban but most of them disbanded due to a lack of support from a fan base and finances. Many bands never saw an audience after several live music venues closed their doors permanently. And of course, many musicians packed their creativity in suitcases and moved out of Durban to broader horizons.

Not too long ago, a little bit of hope trickled in. Live The Venue, The Red Door, The Winston and Jack Rabbits opened their hearts and door steps to Durban musicians. Could it be that Durban’s live music scene is able to reunite with it’s counterparts in other cities? Perhaps so. While these venues are pulling out all the stops to put the energy back into live music there is one main ingredient missing: fan-base growth. With a limited audience, there is limited opportunity and with limited shows there is stagnation.  No musician of any genre and style is willing to gamble in a music career that lacks an audience.

This is why I stated at the beginning that Durban’s music scene is miniscule. Loyal but limited.  Intimate but stagnate. It is just the way it is and despite coming from the sugar-cane fields of Durban, I cannot sugar-coat the truth about the Durban live music scene. 

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