Symphonic Rocks review

I heard about Symphonic Rocks last year but didn’t get to the actual concert. The whole idea really appeals to me, I love orchestras. When I watch a show at the Artscape I always sit in the gallery so I have a clear view of the orchestra. Watching each section or instrument coming in at the perfect time, it’s magical and inspiring.

So this year I made sure I had tickets to Symphonic Rocks at Grand West. It was a lineup of some serious South African artists supported by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. It started with Crash Car Burn, a band I’ve heard of but I don’t really know their music and certainly haven’t seen them live. They were pretty good, but I felt they drowned out the orchestra. So the first act made me a bit apprehensive that the orchestra was going to be very background but it was only that act and the closing act, Zebra & Giraffe that were so dominant.

The other acts adapted their sound to be a bit more ‘unplugged’. Arno Carstens was really good, as was Ard Matthews, both performing very well known tracks which sounded beautiful with the orchestra backing. Flat Stanley and Loyiso were also good but I didn’t really know their music. My favourite, which really took me by surprise and impressed me was Tumi and the Volume. I’ve never heard of them, and when I realised he was a rapper, I was skeptical. But it was brilliant! As he started rapping you could just feel the doubt washing out of you and being replaced with respect. I’m busy trying to buy his Album online as I type this.

The big screens were great for seeing the artists close up. My only suggestion would have been more time showing the orchestra and less the bands. It seemed to be about 70% focus on the bands, but really the orchestra is the interesting part. Well, for me anyway.

The show is going up to Joburg for the 7th of October and they get two additional acts, Zolani from Freshlygr0und and Locnville. If you’re in Joburg, get a ticket!

They want to make it an annual event, and I hope they do because I will go watch it every year.

There is one major problem though, and I call it major because it really did detract from my experience. I mentioned this same issue in my review of Riverdance. I think the solution is to have separate areas. When you book your ticket, you have to read the following checklist, and if you answer yes to any of the questions, you go to a special section separate from everyone else:

  •  Will you arrive late and disturb everyone finding your seat after the show has started?
  • Will you drink several beers before and during the show so that you have to go to the toilet several times during the show?
  • If you decide you need to go to the toilet, will you just go randomly instead of waiting for the end of the song/set?
  • Will you push past everyone in the row while they are still clapping at the end of the show so that you can avoid the traffic jam in the parking?
  • Will you leave your phone on max volume so that everyone can hear it ring in the middle of the show?
  • Will you answer your phone and chat loudly to your mate during the show?
  • Will you sit and sms people how rad the show is so that the bright screen of your phone distracts the people around you?
  • Will you chat to your mate the whole way through the show?
  • Will you chat loudly to the person sitting two seats away from you all the way through the show?
  • Will you start slow clapping for the show to start one minute past the scheduled time?

If a person answers yes to any of those questions, or even has to think about the answer, they should be in a separate section from the rest of us.

Seriously, I had people chatting NON STOP the entire show. As if whatever inane comment they want to make is so important that it can’t wait until the end of the show, or even the end of the song for that matter. There are people performing who have spent a large portion of their lives mastering a musical instrument, not to mention the many hours practicing for the show and you can’t keep quiet for a few minutes. How very embarrassing. Not to mention the people around you have have paid good money for their ticket and now have to listen to the show with the drone of your voice in the background. Inconsiderate beyond belief.

I think the ushers need to start enforcing some theatre etiquette because really, I can’t pay that sort of money for a show to have it ruined by some inconsiderate lout.

2 Comments

  1. anib October 4, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I also found the rock bands overwhelmed the sound of the orchestra but I blame the sound guys for that. The vocals were too loud as well.
    I dont think you can stop people talking though. People talk… and it’s hardly noticeable with the loud sound anyway.
    Still, I wont go again. I went to see the orchestra play rock and I couldn’t hear them. That was a pity.

  2. Dax October 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Yes, I agree, the vocals on the rock bands were too loud.

    On the other point, I disagree, the talking is very noticeable. The concert was not as loud as a proper rock concert and the orchestral sounds are subtle and nuanced, easily destroyed by the blabbering of inconsiderate people.