I came to know about the concert quite late (Friday night actually), and I am glad I went. Similar in concept to the Kirstenbosch concerts, Rocking the Garden was at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens at Emmarentia Dam. It was certainly not as scenic as Kirstenbosch, but it did have a very cool family day atmosphere with an absolutely fantastic lineup of bands. They also did not have a restriction on cameras (which is quite rare for concert these days) and thus I took the opportunity to take a lot of photos.
Overall, I think the band timing could have been better. This was effectively a family day out; and thus one would expect the really popular family bands such as Freshlyground to play earlier; before all the kids nod off to sleep and people start leaving. Given the band line-up, I think it may have been better to have a band such as Freshlyground earlier in the day before getting into the more "Adult Rock" bands.
I arrived about 10 minutes into Ashtray Electric's set, and to be honest, they didn't really make an impression. I honestly cannot remember much about their set. Going back on my blog looking for another band, I see that I did actually see them live when they were starting out, and they didn't make an impression back then either :(
Bed on Bricks
I think I first saw Bed on Bricks at Obz Fest, and I have always rated their live performances. They combine good music with great stage performance and are a pleasure to watch. However, I don't think I have heard a single new song since 2005, and although their website claims that they were working on a new album, I don't remember any evidence of that.
Gang of Instrumentals
Gang of Instrumentals are an awesome crossover act - fusing afro-pop/Kwaito sound with Rock backing band. And it really helps that the musicians and the singers are really talented and take the opportunity to show off. Unlike other pop bands, the backing band is not just for support, but are allowed to really showcase their solo playing skills. The lead singer has a really great voice, and they are really a great band to watch live. And this performance was better than their last performance I attended at the Jo'burg Easter Festival.
The Mozambican band, based in South Africa has been around for quite a long time, and plays a combination of Jazz, Pop-Rock, Funk, cross-over music - and is actually great as a chill/laid back music. I haven;t really followed them for a long time, and except their last song, none of the songs were familiar to me.
I haven't really seen Freshlyground too many times since they exploded in the South African public consciousness and became globetrotters. Their music and on stage performances has definitely not deteriorated with all their fame, and the saddest part of the show was actually their rather short set - it was over too quickly! A great mix of old, and some (I think) new songs and overall a great stage performance.
I wasn't too sure of what to expect from Just Jinjer - they have after all been out of SA shores for the last few years, and although they have had a number of SA top singles, they haven;t toured since they started their US adventures. They are back in SA (and now back to being based in SA), and they really did a performance showing why they are one of the biggest SA bands, and why they did manage to break out into the International market. It was a mixture of great songs, great music and a great stage performance.