While we uncovered some of South Africa’s musical delights in our guide to Johannesburg that metropolis’ music scene is nothing in comparison to Cape Town.
The second most populous city in the country is home to a music scene that is on the verge of something special.
Cape Town has the traits of a successful music city. Small, but also community minded musicians are welcomed into a diverse scene.
As rising musician Petit Noir puts it to Huffington Post, “Because Cape Town is so small, everyone interacts with each other. Whatever you do, you will always feel welcomed. People are very chill”.
“The music scene in Cape Town is very small but diverse. There are lots of bands around. Because of how Cape Town was designed, different areas have different sounds,” says the musician.
Cape Town is small in comparison to Johannesburg, but its size is its blessing. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the city’s music scene just by heading to the CBD where you’ll stumble across the majority of the best venues.
Another promising facet of the city’s music scene is the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (which made it into our list of the 16 best international boutique festivals). It puts local electronic musicians side-by-side with some of the world’s best.
As the festival continues to grow it will undoubtedly push the city’s music scene further into the limelight.
Cape Town’s international exposure may not have reached further than its starring role in the Oscar winning documentary Searching For Sugarman, but it’s only a matter a time before its up and coming musicians start to make a notable impact on music culture.
Read on to discover our 11 highlights that all music fans should check out in Cape Town.
Witness the Country’s Best DJs at Cape Town Electronic Music Festival
South Africa’s music scene continues to grow and while we detailed the best of Johannesburg here, this electronic music festival demonstrates that niche audiences are being catered for. While local acts are given a great chance at increasing their popularity this event also brings DJ’s from across the world. While only in its third year the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival continues to grow as an integral player in the development of the city’s music scene.
Cape Town Electronic Music Festival was also included in our Best International Boutique Festivals feature, which you can read here.
Experience the Local Music Scene at The Assembly
61 Harrington Street
Radio station, party hangout and one of Cape Town’s foremost music venues this establishment has grown quickly since it opened in 2007. Local and international musicians and DJs play here regularly while their online radio station promotes the up and comers of the city’s music scene. Check out their website for its great coverage of Cape Town’s music scene.
See Petite Noir While You’re In Town
Yannick Iluga is the man behind this misspelled French moniker and he’s managed to gain coverage from The Guardian and Pitchfork. His compelling and unique sounds are invariably the reason why and it won’t be too long before every blog and music website picks up on this rising African star. Before you hit up the remixes through his Soundcloud page watch the video for his percussive driven track ‘Noirse’.
Purchase More Than Just Rodriguez Records at Mabu Vinyl
2 Rheede Street
This record store has been the best of its kind in Cape Town since 2009. However its owner Stephen Segerman got a taste of the fame that will define the store for a long time in 2013 via the Oscar winning documentary in Searching For Sugarman. Mabu has a large selection of vinyl, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, videos, books, t-shirts, comics, magazines and turntables on offer.
Have Some Craft Beer to go Along with the Live Music at &Union
110 Bree St
A penchant for wine and craft beer has many labeling this venue as a hipster haunt and they wouldn’t be wrong. Punters sit on benches under umbrellas in the freeform gazebo and fall for the local musicians as they play unplugged sets. The shows run from Tuesday and Wednesday from 7pm and they’re free!
Listen to Fever Trails an Exciting Local Producer
Nicolaas Van Reenan has been making music in Cape Town under different monikers for a while now, but Fever Trails is undoubtedly his most exciting project. He only just recently released his self-titled debut single which is home to an intoxicating and alluring beat before it builds into a frenzied production of ultra cool sounds. Fever Trails is definitely one producer to keep an eye out for.
Obsess Over Records at a Vinyl Digz Hangout
No this isn’t a record store; it’s something way cooler. Run by Soul City Movement this roof top party takes place across numerous locations in Cape Town. Sticking to old-school house and techno the DJs only play vinyl with those in charge of the music selection being some of the city’s biggest record collectors. There’s generally a different theme for every party, which ensures that Vinyl Digz never loses its zest.
Experience Diverse Soundscapes at Cape Town World Music Festival
“The World Music Festival is a shift in the traditional festival mode, and sets itself off in the pursuit of beauty through variety.” That’s the mission statement of this event and they have delivered since 2012 with a variety of local and international acts spanning various genres. Up and comers can be discovered here as well. Held over two days across inner city venues this festival accurately showcases the diversity of Cape Town’s music scene.
Hear Local Artists in the Very Trendy Tagore
42 Trill Rd, Observatory
Low-lit and stylized with art and décor that symbolizes the country’s political and music heroes and is an avant-garde haze of creativity for some of the city’s most creative artists. It’s tiny and with sets kicking off at 9.30pm the place fills up quickly If you manage to get in make sure you sample some of the traditional cuisine on offer.
Experience Christian Tiger School‘s Dream-Pop In The Flesh
Dream-pop chillwave psychedlia is the aim of this duo’s game with the act incorporating South African sounds into their sonic DNA. Their brand of electronica seeps through your ears with engaging potency. They’ve opened for a large number of international acts such as Little Dragon and A-Trak and performed across the country. With an appearance at SXSW in 2014 their star is only set to rise even further.
Discuss The Best of Jazz at Future Nostalgia
79 Buitenkant Street
Think of Future Nostalgia like you would a good book club. DJs, record collectors and music lovers gather each week to listen to the vinyl chosen by five respected music enthusiasts. The venue in The Mahogany Room is yet another reason to hit up this event. The establishment is an intimate space, which regularly hosts the best of Cape Town’s jazz scene.