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Music to take you home – South African bands at their best

Afrikaans music isn’t just catchy sounds or relatable lyrics – it’s the background to a way of life. When you’re headed into the rusted red South African sunset on a dusty road, with the windows down and the summer heat on your neck. Or when you’re around a campfire under the open stars. In a bar with your friends on the sokkie dance floor. Sharing a beer on the train tracks with graffiti on the concrete. When you’re far from home, or longing for one.

That’s when Afrikaans music becomes the notes that tie you down and give magic to the moments you’re creating. Listed below are some of the more current South African bands that all generations of the country enjoy. And don’t be puzzled by the unique names – it’s just the plat op die grond (down to earth) way of these people.

Droomsindroom (Dream Syndrome)

Their look and feel is relaxed, hip, and youth-loving. Living a good life and just looking for a good time, this brother duo blows away the blues and inspires optimistic smiles. Kirsten and Kyle Schlebusch delivered the massive hit “Hey Sonneblom” (Hey Sunflower) to Youtube in 2022, where it’s since gotten over 2 million views.

They’re whimsy and dreaming and impart this vibe to their listeners as well. At the same time, they’re not trying to impress anyone, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We just do out thing and we know people will love it.”. Get their traveling schedule and snag a ticket to this dreamy duo’s performances here.

Spoegwolf (Spitting Wolf)

We’d say they’re not really spitting wolves, but that’d be a lie. The shock factor is a big part of both their music and their live shows. The more unconventional, the better. The hoarse, slightly off-key tone of their vocalists almost grates your nerves, but resonates with your baser emotions instead. They poetically, and often gruffly, state with music what we all inarticulately experience.

Originating from Paarl, the group is made up of Moskou du Toit (drums, percussion) Chris von Wielligh (guitar, piano), Albert van der Merwe (bass guitar, vocals, rap), and Danie du Toit (vocals, guitar). They started off in high school, and have since improved their name from Ysterkoei (Iron Cow).

The song Glenda from their 2015 album, Somer (Summer), refers to an activist, stripper, and teacher in SA, and the record was named Best Alternative Album at Ghoema Music Awards. While most South African bands certainly are alternative, especially to a foreign ear, Spoegwolf definitely takes the cake. So come have an unconventional slice in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Europe in 2024.

Die Heuwels Fantasties (The Hills Fantastic)

The members all originate from other South African bands, and Die Heuwels Fantasties is a mellowed, beautiful rock mix of all of them. Hunter Kennedy ( Fokofpolisiekar [Fuck Off Police Car]), Pierre Greeff (Lukraaketaar), Fred den Hartog (Thieve), and Sheldon Yoko (Die Gevaar [The Danger]). As of 2022, they’ve launched eight albums and four EPs independently under their own label, Supra Familias.

Hunter’s former band, Fokofpolisiekar, rhetorically and passionately interrogates the crisis of existentialism. Controversial thoughts are dragged from their dark corners into the light, even if they may be ugly or disturbing. Due to the uncensored, blasphemous and offensive content, Fokofpolisiekar is not for sensitive listeners. Luckily, this quality was drastically toned down for Die Heuwels Fantasties.

The band originated with social drinking, and so they’re best appreciated with a beer and a big, buzzing crowd. To get a feel for the members, they were asked what item they couldn’t live without. Pierre rationally mentioned his computer, Fred admitted his underpants, and Hunter honestly stated Rizla rolling papers.

Tickets for their Amsterdam performance on 12 July 2024 can be purchased here.

Die Piesangskille (The Banana Peels)

Although not the most famous on this list of South African bands, the Banana Peels smoothly slid their way onto the playlist of many a young South African adult. The student duo admits that the “naming ceremony” was actually quite unimpressive. “We were busy writing a song and we realized that we needed a name. Coincidentally a banana peel was lying on the floor…” Daniël revealed in true student fashion.

Their first album, Almal Gly (Everybody Slips) attests to their unique talent and outstanding voices, even for their young age. The genre can be loosely lassoed as an indie pop fusion, but like all South African music (and people), attempts at neat labelling is futile.

Their motto is “Don’t take yourself too seriously and forget what people think of you”, which seems to be the take of most South Africans. While they made further waves with their songs, they stay true to their principles and take things as they come. Daniël says they want to keep the band going after graduation, and see where the road leads in the meantime.

Van Pletzen

From the relatable lyrics to the smooth vloekery (cussing), Van Pletzen satirically sings about the nostalgic things in life. But two songs later, they drop an island vibe – the type of song you’d crack the first beer on while the fire spits to life. And the very next beat is verfblik rap – tacky, but a vibe. They’re all over, so cater for every type of kuier.

The iconic duo behind this diverse array of music is none other than Peach Van Pletzen and Matthieu (Makkie) Auriacombe. They’re headed for the Netherlands the 24th of May this year, so grab a ticket and get a taste of the unabashed music this duo makes.

Looking for more musical fixes?

Inge Strauss