Last week, Vans South Africa enthralled guests with the House Of Vans pop up festival in Maboneng, Johannesburg. From skateboarding to a mini-museum, pop shops from brands like DEAD, and a plethora of fashion-forward fits, the House Of Vans experience was memorable.
The musical acts from Thursday night included sets from KDOLLAHZ, PatrickxxLee, and Gemini Major to name a few. KDOLLAHZ closed the show giving the crowd bops on bops of pop culture gems. As someone who pays attention to fashion editorials and the models in them, it was lovely to see the fashion community showing so much love to Dollahz during his set. One person even tweeted, "the queer babies are ALIVE RIGHT NOW!" To which K explained that his set was created for this community in particular.
Earlier in the evening, PatrickxxLee also took the stage. The brilliance of Patrick's music live is seeing how crowds engage with him. While he may not have as large of celebrity status as some of his musical counterparts, his music travels far and wide. More so, the "Achoo" muso has intense stage presence. A critique, however, would be that the rawness of his performance style compliments his sound, however, it seemingly leaves him tired during his set time.
On the other hand is Gemini Major, a well-respected producer, composer, and rapper. During his set, he invited Champagne69, Babyface Dean, and Tellaman to the stage. Champagne69 are ragers by nature, although when you hang out with them personally, their energy is far more relaxed. Nevertheless, they performed "Smoke," for the Vans crowd. Unfortunately, it was around this point that guests seemed a bit tired because they weren't nearly as responsive as they were earlier in the day. The beauty with Champagne, however, is that they can play off each other's energy. Whereas Babyface Dean and Tellaman as solo artists, even in the presence of Gemini as their collaborator, didn't quite knock this performance out the park as they have in the past.
Day 2 of House of Vans saw a completely different type of demographic. This likely has to do with more traditional styles of bands being on the lineup. Stage presence on Day 2 was disappointing, save for a few isolated moments. Often artists will have that one spurt of energy where they feel the crowd and the crowd feels them too. In the cases of Batuk and Morena, the aforementioned wasn't the case. Batuk, led by Carla Fonseca and Spoek Mathambo, has a fun, playful energy, to their show. While they performed, they screened some of the visuals they've produced over the years. Going on, they even went as far as welcoming crowd members on stage to dance to the music. Batuk's set was a party! On the other side of the spectrum is Morena Leraba, a true performance artist. I imagine that if he weren't a musician he'd be a full-time performance in the fine art galleries around the world.
If anything, the only concern I have about the lineup on Day 2 has to do with the segregation of demographics. For instance, genres of music in this region often indicate the majority demographic of its listeners. Thus having bands that tend more towards rock & roll in comparison to hip-hop acts almost immediately denotes that one crowd will be more white or black than the other. This struck me as abstract, however not nearly as harshly as the differences in demographics for festivals like Castle Lite Unlocks and Oppikoppi.
Day 3 was a big day with even bigger energy! On the lineup were acts such as Dj Speedsta, Stilo Magolide, Riky Rick, and more. The first act I caught was DBN Gogo, who played a brilliant set. Changing things up from strict hip-hop to other genres as well. Following up was Uncle Partytime. For those who don't know his style of entertaining, may you all understand that it is worth it to see him play live. Stilo Magolide followed Partytime's set and it was certainly a moment. On top of his high energy, I picked up a very Michael Jackson-esque movement on stage. Standing completely still on stage and staring into the crowd is both about exciting a crowd as well as catching one's breath. However, while both were true for Stilo, he looked powerful, like nothing could touch him...like he was in complete control. This was a sight to see.
.@CHAMPAGNE69_ said they were going to punish their set, and they did nothing less than that.— SlikourOnLife (@slikouron) August 24, 2019
Check out their latest EP, #808Therapy to stream their latest project. The song they perform below is "Play My Shit"#HOVJHB x #SlikourOnLife pic.twitter.com/57Uf2QITxd
Following this was Riky Rick, who stepped out in an ostentatious red hat paired with a fit that we'd generally expect from someone in the skating community. He seldom disappoints on stage, however, crowds need to understand that this is the man that asks "WHICH WAY?!" and expects movements. There is no time to stand still and pretty in the front row of a Riky Rick set. It is for this reason that we recommend you wear comfortable shoes and waterproof makeup because King Kotini is going to make you move. During his set, he was joined by Gemini Major to perform Ragga Ragga. The two have great on-stage chemistry, making the moment a treat to see.
A musical brotherhood, the content we like to see! pic.twitter.com/Vwc0j9Os7O— SlikourOnLife (@slikouron) August 24, 2019
Eventually, Kwesta brought out a full band and performed the kind of set that he expressed interest in when he said that he didn't seek to perform in nightclubs anymore. What was even cuter about the set was seeing Zingah backstage happily bobbing his head along to the music. As the show progressed, Slice Fredrico brought house, light amapiano, and hip-hop together with his set. In all honesty, having him go on after Riky Rick and Kwesta was a much-needed reprieve from the almost frenzy like movement experienced in the crowd. What was equally entertaining was seeing the artists enjoying his set backstage just as much as the crowd.
. @Zingah_LOTJ was getting his whole life during Kwesta's set!— SlikourOnLife (@slikouron) August 24, 2019
To close the show, DJ Speedsta took the stage and brought out some of his collaborators. First up being Espiquet, who also recently featured in the Sway Cypher at Castle Lite Unlocks. Seeing an artist perform in a cypher does little to display how they engage with a live performance, so seeing him put in the work to entertain the crowd was a positive experience for those who may only have seen his Sway Cypher. The thing about Speedsta is that he seemingly has the population of the kids on lock. He also brought out Una Rams to perform "No Stress," only to let him perform other songs from his 2018 EP, Wavy Baby. As the voice of the project, it was both nostalgic and energizing to hear the songs performed live, particularly how the crowd knew the lyrics too. Like Patrick, you may not fully know Una, but know that his time is coming if it hasn't arrived already. All in all, Speedy performed a fire set and the crowd can cosign as much.
Unfortunately, the headliner, American rapper, Rich The Kid missed his initial flight, so his performance was moved to the Sunday. Day 4 was meant to be a day to wind down, not for performances; however, accommodations were made for Rich's absenteeism. Granted, while he may have been jetlagged and tired, it was disappointing to hear the studio recording of his song louder than his actual vocals, more so that his energy was so low.
Nevertheless, South African hip-hop acts maintained their sense of fraternity by coming out in numbers to show love to Rich The Kid. Unfortunately, the "Plug Walk" rapper did not put on the kind of show would embed him in the hearts of his South African fanbase. Overall, House Of Vans was a brilliant festival and experience. On top of the music, the commitment to fashion from the festival goers was a visual experience in itself.