The only thing that is constant is change. – Heraclitus
As humans, we often struggle with change and how to incorporate this change into our status quo. As someone who thrives on consistency, focus and clarity, change is always difficult to adjust to. At the same time, I feel I’m slowly figuring out how I best deal with change. It seems, whenever change is presented to me, I assimilate the change into myself, figure out the new path and proceed forward on said path, gradually letting my mind catch up to the new path.
This past week was a dramatic week for us in Cape Town. With the loss of a dear friend in George Bacon, as well as the closing down of Mercury Live (a popular live music venue), it seems somewhat difficult to truly know the best path forward in that sphere. A large reason for this post is to explore this change, work through some of the feelings I have around it and (hopefully) arrive at a rational conclusion.
How I met George Bacon
Since I was a kid, I’ve always known what I’ve truly loved; technology, creativity and music. Having started my musical journey playing classical guitar, I somehow saw a large gap between what I was playing (perhaps between my technical musical ability at the time) and the music I enjoyed listening to. I then also discovered that most of what I was listening to was international music, largely commercial rock and very “far away” from me.
While interning at an I.T company here in Cape Town during high school, I was asked; “so, have you ever heard of Hog Hoggidy Hog?”. My answer was “no”, to which I was promptly played something incredible. The music was freeing, energetic and frankly just wonderful! I was then informed that (to my delight), Sean (one of the directors of the I.T company) is the bass player and that The Hogs are a local band! This was the beginning of my journey into local underground music.
Several years passed and I was fully enthralled. Now attending at least one (mostly two) concerts a week, I loved everything I heard, had made many new friends and was deep in the thick of the local underground music industry. This included being an active member on kerpunk, a local underground music community website. This was in an era before Facebook existed, meaning local community websites with forums, gig guides and band profiles had popped up for various nations worldwide. kerpunk was this for South Africans.
When Brandon announced he was shutting down kerpunk, action needed to be taken. This lead to a chat between George and myself over a drink at the bar in the middle of the games and entertainment area of the Canal Walk Shopping Centre (why not make the meeting place interesting, right?). George knew my passion for website development and discussed with me about getting something new online to keep the online punk community active. This resulted in zapunx, a website dedicated to the underground music scene in South Africa.
Gif Appel Festival
Through the years of running zapunx, I became even more involved in the local music community, behind the scenes. Running events, managing bands, promoting events and doing press and media coverage. This was my way of being involved in the music scene and giving back, without playing in a band (as much as I wanted and still do want to). Giving back in the way I knew how, with the skills I have.
This resulted in me being invited by Adii Pienaar to do press coverage for the Gif Appel Festival in Stellenbosch. So my mate Shane and I spent the weekend in Stellenbosch, listening to awesome bands and taking loads of photographs. Adii and I chatted more here and became friendly.
Over the years, Adii and I kept in touch here and there. I followed the projects he was working on and quickly noticed his involvement in WooThemes while witnessing the launch of Woo in 2008.
Through several years and the alignment of the stars, I was offered a job at Woo. The rest, as they say, is history.
Back-tracking these events, George played a significant role in getting me to where I am today. Whether he was aware of this or not, I’m forever grateful for his involvement.
Knowing George and working with him on the Hog Hoggidy Hog website redesign (recently done) was a wonderful experience. Being privileged enough to have witnessed his energetic live performances, as well as his relaxed nature in person is an incredible gift. George is a guiding light who helped many of us in the South African music industry to grow, discover who we are and walk the path we wish to walk in life.
Saying goodbye to Mercury Live
As one of Cape Town’s premier live music venues, Mercury Live (formerly The Jam) gave many young bands the opportunity to hone their skills, grow their fan base and to stand on the shoulders of the giants in the local music scene. While rich in history and filled to the brim with passion, the owners made the decision to close their doors, due to financial constraints and a perceived lack of interest from local concert goers.
I’ve witnessed a myriad of bands on the stages of Mercury Live over the years, from local new-comers and stalwarts to international bigwigs such as Lagwagon (USA) and Cooper (Netherlands).
It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to Mercury Live. You are missed.
It is said that even the greatest of journeys begins with a single step. With the tragic loss of George and the closing of Mercury Live (and them both happening so close to one another), it seems that many are accepting that the local punk scene is dwindling. As the word “underground” denotes, I feel this implies we’re constantly evolving, shifting and morphing along with the music lovers (an example of this is how we’ve moved from printing CDs to largely releasing music online as a primary source).
As someone who is eager to be as involved with the local music scene as possible (and trying my best to find time wherever I can), I feel it is important for us to not lose faith in what we have and what we, as a collective, have created. The music scene lives within each of us and is what we make of it. Growing what exists today, in honour of those who have come and gone before us, is the best we can do to sustain the community we’ve crafted on passion.
Stay strong and stay true, music lovers. Music beats within each of us, whether we choose it or not. When next you feel the need for guidance, take your pulse and you’ll feel that… your inner music.