The word “glitch” stems from the German and Yiddish words, glitschen (“to slip”) and gletshn (”to slide or skid”), respectively. It’s quite the young buck in terms of words, springing into widespread use during the American Space Race in the 1950s. It has its fair share of definitions, but my personal favourite is in a July 23, 1965, Time Magazine article defining a glitch as a “spaceman’s word for irritating disturbances’.
Lucia Nomafu Nokonwabisa Gcingca
“Irritating disturbances” were given a new significance when the ever ambrosial Jimi Hendrix turned “Star-Spangled Banner” into a haunting cacophony of howls and jangles at the notorious Woodstock festival. It transported an entire nation to the mucky jungles of Vietnam, where they’d sent their children to die. The noise had arrived and, my stars, it was loud! It became a vital ingredient in the then mellowing genre of psychedelic rock, mother of modern-day psych-rock.
In the 20 tweens, the Cape Town alternative scene took to psych rock like geese to crime, which led to Psych Night in 2012 and created a space for psych-rock enthusiasts to both play and enjoy. Amongst those listeners were a young, self-confessed “emotional weirdo”, Ruan Judy Vos, the director of Glitch Culture. So drawn by the music and comradery that he’d sneak out to attend these gigs that he found moving and somewhat magical. It was all galvanised when he saw A Place to Bury Strangers live at 2018’s Endless Daze music festival. A few months later, on February 27 2019, Glitch Culture was born.
They aim to cultivate the hidden South African music and art scenes by creating a safe space for these entities to thrive. Noise Ex. was, in essence, a one-year celebration of the birth of Glitch culture — a two-day inner-city festival showcasing some of the city’s underground artists and musicians.
Things got off to a somewhat quiet start at the beloved Tiki dive bar, Surfa Rosa. A place where one is guaranteed to find a cold brew, a warm smile and a confidant riff waving through its punk gig poster drizzled walls. The (un)usual suspects were present… and down to their peculiar brand nonsense. Brickface and The Loose End provided a tight, impassioned backdrop to the evening. It seems most folks were saving themselves for Saturday eve. Most folks were wise, and I wasn’t so inclined.
A “glitch” that occurs once every four years and a much needed extra day to sort rent out. It came in blazing, reminding my dumb ass the wretchedness that comes with not being as wise as “most folks”. I slithered out of bed and straight to the bar, like the classy broad I am. I then trudged upstairs to the already swarming Evol where Yndian Mynah had just got the proverbial ball rolling (I prayed).
I’ve always found instrumental bands fascinating. As a writer, I can still appreciate the power that words hold and their uncanny ability to not only strike a chord with the listener but also embellish the music with a romantic familiarity. However, something is alluring about artists who let the music speak for themselves. Reminiscent of bands like Diiv and our very own Kid of Doom; we went on escapades we didn’t know we needed. It was a brief yet energising set that got the misty crowd ready for more.
They were followed by experimental Jozi 4 piece, Zoolake, who delivered a blistering set that juxtaposed noise and melody in a way that only a band hailing from Hate City can. There’s something about Jozi’s concrete abound streets that creates a certain dark, boisterous grime that fills one’s dirty little heart with glee.
Up next was Pxls, another four-piece, hailing from Somerset West (of all places). It also happened to be a soft launch of their E.P, E.P2. They played their distinct brand of art rock and languid melodies cradled by spooky basslines and an oscillating drum beat. They transported the now clammy crowd into a world of blissful doom.
After having a chance to head back to the omnipresent bar and have a blurry but stirring look at the art, I headed back for the final assault. Retro Dizzy is one band that purports Cape Town’s psych-rock scene like no other and is the most logical fit to end the festival. Forever playful and electrifying, they got the near exhausted whipped into a frenzy once more by delivering old staples and some surprises from their new album, Automatic Expectation. Everyone’s expectations were met and far beyond exceeded.
It was a beautifully orchestrated event filled with great artists and the most splendid people. My only critique of the festival would be the apparent lack of brown representation overall. I understand that the rhetorical triangle shows that the message will only attract an audience with whom the message resonates. I feel that putting feelers out there in the form of workshops and community enriching initiatives will help ensure that the next city fest will involve the entire city. The noise is ours, after all.
Glitch Culture is a collective comprising of:
Ruan Judy Vos | Director
Josh Rijneke | Head of Visual Arts
Julia Schimautz | Graphic Designer
Lauren Thomas | Photographer
Rosa Ballantine | Videographer