By Temnotfo Mvubu
I had missed Veli’s call. That’s how it all started; with a missed call. We had been talking about Sound Storm all week and he had texted me earlier about us heading down to House on Fire to check out the vibe. So I figured, 7:56pm, missed call, it must be a confirmation. I quickly returned his call and in less than 15 minutes I was hobbling my way out of my door and into the car. I wish I could tell you that we got there in time, but I suppose after doing an impromptu road trip to Sgombeni and having to locate ATMs, it’s safe to safe we arrived eventually. And man was it a jump.
This past weekend the team headed down to House on Fire to watch the top 10 finalists of this year’s Bushfire firefly competition battle it out for three glorious Bushfire festival spots. The competition which is in its second year now is a genius platform that serves to unearth the country’s musical gems. What started as an open call back in March, narrowed down to top 20, then finally top 10, all came together on Friday night, May 4th in the ultra-hippie atmosphere of Malandelas. The two hosts for the night,King Terry and the beautiful Lady Zee brought their fiery energy and spunk. And so did the finalists too,who were actually nine instead of ten. Louisa Cardosa, the tenth finalist, didn’t perform at Sound Storm due to unforeseen reasons. However, the remaining finalists: Young Grixxly,Sasha,Jayden Z,Mzwaa,Ezamaswazi,Uzy,Miss Trophy,Ncwiki Flex,and Street Cooper made it a night to remember.
The night was a balanced mix of all genres, blended with a good crowd and topped with great weather. Memorable performances included Mzwaa who brought us all into our feels with his smooth sounds,Miss Trophy who gave me a nostalgic oldschool Kelly Khumalo feel with her sultry moves and vernac lyrics and the cool kid,Ncwiki Flex who stole the show by inviting Zoe Genesis onto his set to help him perform their romantic collaboration I miss you. Their saucy moves and feel good trap vibes brought the house down and had me personally congratulating the boy on how far his music has come. On another interesting note,Zoe genesis,was actually part of the firefly competition but never made it to the top 10. Still,the singer songwriter came out to support her people.
If the Sound storm could be given an alternative name,Squad deep would’ve been a fitting description because every finalist had their very own squad out for the night just for them. And being in that amphitheatre,it wasn’t hard to feel the support radiating off of everyone. I recall at one point finding myself in the middle of the dance floor, swaying under the warmth of bright lights,completely oblivious to my mandate to document and instead, caught up in my urge to experience the moment. Unfortunately for one of the finalists,Sasha,not even her squad could help her find a voice after she lost it right at the start of her set. Still,the girl must be commended for her ethic in how she continued to perform regardless.
The night eventually came to a close and Ezamaswazi,Mzwaa along with the talented Miss Trophy were heralded as the winners of the competition. After Which,South Africa’s own rising star,Londie London took to the stage in her gold and silver ‘badgalrihrih’ inspired outfit and had everyone jumping to her stellar performance.
In a country where the arts are still seen as an extracurricular activity rather than a lucrative and possible career choice, platforms like MTN bushfire firefly are opening so many doors that were all along closed. And not only that, but such initiatives are helping to bridge the communication paths between the youth themselves.
Music, like any form of art, is fluid. It can mould into the form, colour and demographic of any place and any time. Music is an experience that allows us to share our stories and us with each other. And the finalists were representational of that. Their musical genres flowed between Hip-hop, RnB to neo soul and the amazing afro jazz. A flavourful mix of good sounds fuelled by the hunger to come out on top. One finalist that wore that hunger on his sleeve was the boy Young Grixxly,who stopped his set towards the end to give us a freestyle verse that had industry veterans like Mozaik and Krtc giving a standing ovation.And while I sat in the amphitheatre allowing myself to take in every performance I had the privilege of watching, I realised how much growth our local music scene had undergone and had a epiphany of how further it was yet to grow. After a chilled night in the company of great people,I retired home to reflect on what I had just witnessed at the Sound storm. Uncontainable levels of talent spread out over a generation that has its eyes on the world as its prize. The doors have been opened. and although only three acts will perform at this years bushfire,there’s no stopping the others now. We look forward to watching them all get to the top. Their time is now.