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Rocking The Daisies 2015: A Sonic Pilgrimage
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Rocking The Daisies 2015: A Sonic Pilgrimage

Picture of Mirac Rasch
Updated: 23 November 2015
Rocking the Daisies (Daises/RTD for short) has rooted itself as a seminal aspect of South Africa’s music industry, luring big, international acts to the sandy shores of Cape Town and the humid climes of Johannesburg. For those who could not attend Daisies this year, this article should serve as a cautionary tale – grab next year’s tickets quickly. For those who could attend, walk down memory lane, one last time.

Thursday, October 1

Arriving at the picturesque Cloof Wine Estate in Darling, attendees were greeted with a sense of sober excitement of what the weekend holds in store. Cloof Wine Estate was transformed from a working wine farm into the venue for a sold-out music festival, housing approximately 22,000 fans. Once inside, the awkward determination of waddling bodies trying to find the perfect camping spot was apparent. Over-encumbered by the amount of alcohol and supplies they were carrying, the people struggled to get situated. When the set-up was complete, the party commenced as the orchestra of beer cans being opened and the drunken words of neighbors could be heard all around.

As night consumed this small valley, the campsite stage came alive. The main festival ground remained closed until Friday, which made for a more intimate night of getting to know your neighbors and fellow Daisy-goers. The smaller the stage, the bigger the performance and this was especially evident on the first night. Standout performances included The Pranks; stealing the show however was Retro Dizzy. Dizzy, paying homage to their psych-rock influence stepped up the tempo for the entire night, leaving the audience with a thirst for more.

Moving to the opposite side of the camping area and musical spectrum, attendees found the Bridges for Music stage. The House music and monotonous bass gave sound to what looked like an orgy of lethargic bodies dance-stomping to the slow-ish tempo. The tempo and volume were perfect for chatting fast enough for a couple hours of dance. Many people skipped Thursday because they thought the real party started on Friday, when the main stage opened – this could not be further from the truth.

Strummer, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Strummer, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

Friday, October 2

There were two types of people on Friday: the fresh looking entrants who just made it in and the people nursing their hangovers from Thursday’s jol. While walking haphazardly through the crowd, minds started to sync with the collective consciousness. Party mode got enabled, as everyone started sipping their room temperature beer, heeding advice to drink through the hangover (which never seems to work, until it does).

Dam dock, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Dam dock, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

The gentle morning sun turned into sweltering heat by midday as everyone gravitated to the dam and main stage, all pining for shade. What really made a difference was the recurrence of artificial shade-trees placed near the main stage (a feature that was lacking last year). Friday was pleasantly brought to life by young up-and-comers, Forefront. The mood was changed with the whimsical dream-noise embrace of Medicine Boy and followed by veterans Bed on Bricks.

Medicine Boy, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Medicine Boy, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

The music progressively got more upbeat as the day carried on. Jeremy Loops, the quintessential RTD performer, drew a massive crowd and was a highlight of the local line-up. He was succeeded by Fokofpolisiekar, who delivered a great performance. The Cat Empire performed, and many loved their show – but it was lacking stage presence in the honest opinion of some; this year, they seemed as if they toned it down a bit. Nonetheless, it was great to see them play live.

The Cat Empire, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
The Cat Empire, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

The Electronic Dome sported some of SA’s best EDM DJs, who were accompanied by vivid and entrancing visuals. Festival-goers were like moths to this vibrant and magnetic electro-light – they never stood a chance. Friday’s Electro line-up would make any EDM junkie quiver in anticipation; P.H.fat and Sibot + Toyota stood out as great sets.

Niskerone’s set, with the surprise appearance of DJ INVIZABLE, was in a league of its own. While the big names were attracting the big crowds, the smaller stages such as the Nu World Beat Club and Hemp Stage catered to the niche side of the local music industry. These smaller stages are important, as they create variety, spreading out the 22,000 fans at Daisies evenly.

Haezer, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Haezer, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

Saturday, October 3

By Saturday Daisy-goers were weary of the fact that the weekend was drawing to a close, and because of this, they threw caution to the wind and embraced the day with a newfound mentality for excess and debauchery. Once strident budget regulations were nothing but a distant memory as you started sipping on those brutal fruit slushies (IDGAF).

Crowd, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Crowd, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

Grassy Spark proves to be a crowd-pleaser as they rocked their 2 o’clock set – but it was not until Al Bairre treaded on stage with their Tie Dye tops, that the party started. Their music perfectly complemented the final rays of sun; before descending into darkness with a barrage of light shows and rock anthems. The sound quality was professional for the most part at Daisies but was difficult to make out the words during aKING’s set.

Milky Chance, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Milky Chance, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

The breaks in between shows were unbearably long (or so it felt), but when the faint guitar strumming of Milky Chance was audible, the crowd erupted in a joyous cheer. The collective euphoria was palpable, and the bass-boosted sound effects added a dynamic that got everyone dancing and trying to sing along to the incomprehensible lyrics.

Placing Jack Parow after Milky and before The Kooks was a daring move that ultimately paid off. Parow kept the masses jiving to his zef tunes before finally giving way to The Kooks. It was, honestly, not their best show. This year’s lackluster performance lacked energy and excitement and was overshadowed by the thought of an entire night (and morning) of great DJs.

The Kooks, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
The Kooks, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

The team at Rocking the Daisies thought of everything! Besides not having the time visible at the main stages, everything else was organized. There were battery chargers, a huge variety of delicious foods, a floating dock in the dam, a silent disco, and the option of paying for tickets in monthly installments. There were three trash exchange points, well maintained portable toilets, showers, basins, a daisy tent for the ladies, and even live screenings of rugby.

Dag Dronk, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Dag Dronk, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

Everything your heart could desire was provided; this was, however, also a problem. Spreading itself so wide and thin resulted in not being able to fully cover the basics. There was an issue during The Cat Empire’s set, in which the music cut out; it did so again, twice, during Milky Chance’s set – unacceptable from a festival of this caliber, an error that creates a reputation, which could hinder attempts to bring in bigger, more demanding acts. Word of mouth can be your Thor’s Hammer or your Achilles’ Heel – reputation is as convertible as currency.

Despite the minimal mishaps, the issues were addressed quickly and did not dampen the general mood of the festival. The beautiful thing about Daisies is that people attend for different reasons. Be it purely for the music or just to party for four days straight with friends. RTD2015 was almost flawlessly executed and masterfully organized. Much respect to the team behind the scenes.

Dancing, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere
Dancing, RTD2015 | © Pierre Rommelaere

Search #decadeofdaises and #rtd2015 on instagram to see what everyone got up to; you may even have accidentally photobombed someone, somewhere!

Below is a fan-made video of RTD2015.

Cover Image courtesy of Vetman Design and Photography

Article images courtesy of Pierre Rommelaere Photography

by Mirac Rasch