University is a place where diversity reigns. Not only in the make-up of the students, but also in their taste in music. Some of you will be instructors of this musical education, others the receivers, most of you both. However, all will converge in different corners of the city to revel in their chosen delight. Find yours with Perdeby’s guide to places that suit your playlist.
The playlist: Alternative, indie, rock, electro.
The place: Various venues regularly host a number of live gigs so you’ll be spoilt for choice. An amazing array of bands frequent Pretoria and you’ll undoubtedly cultivate a love for local music. From Taxi Violence to Lark, Arcade Empire will satisfy your alternative, electro and rock cravings. They also happen to have fantastic food, great drink specials and the ambience of the place is electric. You can find this alternative alcove on the corner of the N4 and Hans Strydom Drive. It can get a bit overcrowded but it’s worth every drop of perspiration. Arcade Empire also offers themed parties which cater to most crowds, so keep an eye out.
Mokha Rock Lounge, found right next to the entrance of the Pretoria National Botanical Garden, is a great venue for live gigs. The venue is relatively small but there’s an outside deck overlooking a pond when you need a breather. It is, after all, at the botanical gardens so it’s pretty, which increases throughout the evening due to the reasonably priced drinks.
Firkin, in Centurion, caters for alternate live music as well. From big acts such as aKING to the lesser known musicians that play there, you can generally find something of interest going on, even though you might have to travel a bit further.
The playlist: Hip hop, commercial house, pop.
The place: DropZone. Also known as The Final Quest because that’s where party goes when all the other places have closed and no one else will tolerate your boisterous behaviour. This is also the time in the evening when you’ll crave that commercial song you supposedly loathe when sober. And your friends are just as guilty, make no mistake. Jam to some golden oldies, hip hop, house and some rock: it rotates throughout the evening except on nights with themed parties.
Every place in the Square has something to offer but some are better than others. Make your way to OppiSquare for some deep house woven in between the commercial tracks. The dance floor is a tad cramped but then any space that isn’t dedicated to the masses at the bar qualifies as a suitable place to bust a move.
For some more hip hop and R&B go to Cofi Hatfield. It’s a little more expensive than the Square but if this is your scene, you won’t mind when the groove starts to seduce you.
The playlist: Hard rock and metal.
The place: Aandklas is a place of mystery. Mostly because you never know how you get there, you just do. It’s inevitable and it’s become a beacon to those subscribing to the rock scene. Just pay attention to how people in DropZone dress compared to those in Aandklas – there’s a reason it’s just outside of the Square. It’s a haven for students during the day and a mecca to those gathering at dusk between the walls that pay homage to everyone from ACDC to iconic comic book heroes. People have literally gone through the roof (head first) whilst rocking out on the tables in true Aandklas fashion. Look out for special events that happen throughout the year, such as the National Cleavage Day party or the regular quiz nights.
Though Pretoria is home to many a live gig, you might have to travel a bit if you want to kick it up a notch. The Rock Shack in Centurion is one of two places you might want to consider for your metal fix. It’s like a hardcore version of Aandklas (it even looks a bit more dodge) but the drinks are cheap and the music is committed to pleasing the metal and hard rock fanbase.
Factory Nightclub (also in Centurion) won’t disappoint metal lovers who make the trip. It’s a big venue with an underground vibe which makes the live gigs here spectacular. If you love some good, hard rock and roll with some local flavour, look no further. There are also themed parties held throughout the year and it opens on Saturdays as Club VAMP, a Goth industrial nightclub – so there’s bound to be something on offer to rock your anarchist socks.
Illustration: Gustav Reyneke