The Power of performance By Matthew Thomas

Ultra, Tomorrowland, Coachella… There is very little explaining as to what these words represent, and great emotion felt when said. These stages represent the arenas for the gladiators we know as musicians to help phase us out of tough times. The power in performance allows artists to trap all senses of our bodies in one setting; to form deeper connections with their fans; and to feel a beautiful freedom. As much as we have the freedom to stream and find vibrant music everywhere; with our studio approved headphones and speakers; and insane club environments, you just cannot match the experience of a big stage, with a big field, with a bigger crowd, and your biggest artist choking you with your most well-known chorus.

When a musician takes the decision to conduct a live performance, they are committing more than what was committed before – their voice. They have now committed their soul. Not in an illuminati type of way, gosh no, but in the same way a doctor commits himself to a surgery procedure. It is a moment for both the artist and the fan. For the fan to feel an intense admiration towards the artist; and for the artist to witness that deserved admiration for their commitment as a musician. Likes, hearts and clicks do not possess such substance of emotion, and to be honest, is very short lived. Social media and streaming platforms have truly made the industry as a whole better and more accessible, however, it has placed artists in a position where a live performance is not needed to survive or gain popularity. It has taken the connection in a strange turn from where the music bridged the admiration; to where character is now that bridge. There are still a great many musicians who perform on a frequent level, however, it has become less of what should be done, and more of what could be done. The fact is you can get ten times more album sales by adding ‘Lil’ as a prefix to your name and posting a picture of your birthday cake in the shape of a Xanax pill than actually making a good album.

Fortunately, in South Africa we have a great deal of concerts and talented musicians where the diversity of the nation has leaked straight into its artistic culture. Rap, hip-hop, indie rock, afrofunk, deep house, soul and gospel, and that sound that comes from Newtown on Friday nights. The prevalence of genres in this country is almost exhausting. Fortunately enough, performance is the foundation for artists in this country, there is no time for how fashionable you look or what you have to say on social media – it is all about the music here! CassperNyovest’s performance at the Global Citizen Festival empowers this belief. In the space of five years he dropped his debut album,Tsholofelo; released that banger of a track Doc Shebeleza; became the first person to fill up the Dome; and performed with Bey-Z. Five years. Five… That is the power of performance. That is where pure admiration is given and deserved, not because you have millions of followers online – music is not a political campaign. Unless you are Kanye West.

The music industry as a whole is not doomed, it is just reforming and growing – as is everything during this technologically evolving age. On one hand, social media and the internet has made it a lot more comfortable in finding new music and choosing what you want to listen at any moment. However, this should not place artists in a limbo where they can put in minimal effort, they need to fight for your love – don’t let that love come cheap. Heed the advice – make it a priority to see as many live performances that you are able to. And please do not forget, it is all about the music!

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