Cape Town’s Local Talent put to the Test

Inez Patel


Zula Bar has become one of Cape Town’s best spots for music lovers to go watch their favourite local bands. Just the other night Zula hosted the talents of Bicycle Thief, Peachy Keen and Fire Through the Window.

Although the night started out a lot slower and emptier than expected, by 10pm Bicycle Thief finally took the stage. “If We Pretend” was their first song that kicked off the night with a strong rhythmic drumming beat. The serene and smooth texture of lead singer Tim Lester’s voice, while being a contrast to, complimented the stadium rock sound of the band. Along with their catchy melodies and really exciting guitar riffs, these talented musicians know how to give a good performance. They gave an honest impression that they were giving their all while really enjoying their music.

Following this act, Peachy Keen showed up with a performance that blew me away. Their integration of country style vocals, rock backing and a hint of the 50s kept the audience engulfed. Described by one audience member as being a “really interesting mix”, this band is most certainly something I will keep looking out for. The general atmosphere of the band is very different, apart from the incorporation of a gorgeous double bass, with their rather fair mix of male and female counterparts they are definitely creating a revolutionary musical atmosphere. Their song “Shot a Man Down”, which they’ve just released a video for, had the audience simultaneously doing some form of dosey doe dance and a 50s twist and shake. As these talented musicians shout out to the audience “I wanna see you rock ‘n roll like you’re in the 50s” you hear the groovy plucking of the walking bass line emanating from the double bass. It’s all just such a fun vibe being created. They embody their act completely, from the singing to the instrumentals to the women’s cute matching red Dorothy-type shoes. A performance I will never forget.

Although they were supposed to be the main act of the night, Fire Through the Window seemed to have lost their ‘fire’.  Their music in general was not awful and it might just be that they had a tough act to follow. Yet many of the audience members had in fact agreed with me that they did not put on a very striking performance. Fire Through the Window has been doing really well in the local scene and so a part of me thinks that their performance was lacking because of the unbalanced sound. It was very difficult to hear the vocals over the other instruments. Besides that however, there was something else missing, one audience member when referring to the lead singer said bluntly that “her persona is shit”. As much as I’m very much for successful female musicians, Sinéad Dennis did not have the vocals to stand out and seemed to focus more on twirling her hair than putting on a good show. The one song that did manage to get some excitement out of the crowd was, as the band said themselves, “easy to sing along to, it’s just do do do”. This doesn’t seem like much of a compliment as the music of this song does not show off any special musical talents, as can be noted by the simplistic lyrics.

So that was it, three bands performing on a Saturday night in Cape Town. Is it something I would do again? Sure. At the end of the night, I went home and listened to Bicycle Thief’s new album Ammunition that the band had handed out and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the live performance. The songs I downloaded from Peachy Keen took me right back to their fun performance. Unsurprisingly, listening to Fire Through the Window’s stuff recorded was a very different experience. It seems as if they might not be one of those bands who perform as well as they can record. In my opinion it is really important for bands to give performances that are as good as their recorded music; a good live performance is unforgettable and is ultimately what keeps you going back.