On the 13th of March, The South African State Theatre hosted the first edition of their acclaimed annual #SASTfringe series. This series feature has gained prominence over the years for not only providing platform to the fringe and unorthodox of our music scene but also for putting the spotlight on those who often find it rare to come. In recent years, the #SASTfringe stage has featured the likes of AZAH, Mandla Ntlaks, Gina Mabasa, Dudu Makhoba and PdotO to mention a few on both LIVE and online editions – given COVID restrictions – of the show.

The first edition of this year’s series was hosted in partnership with Alternative music community platform ,ALTBLK, and the independent artist management and booking agency ,Akum Agency, and featured Umle, Leomile, Sibusile Xaba and Urban Village as the acts who got to perform for audiences on the famous State Theatre Opera theatre.

shots by Unarine Ramaru

The day’s affairs began just after the two o’clock mark when the Gqeberha based duo, Umle, took to the stage performing in Pretoria for the first time post the release of their Nduduzo Makhatini produced album titled Abantwana Belanga. The duo reimagined songs from the abovementioned album while also performing two unreleased offerings.

Given the nature of the day, audiences got to be entertained by music mixed and played by Akum Agency founder Jess White on the Opera balcony in between events while upcoming acts concluded their rehearsals.

shots by Unarine Ramaru

Second act of the day at 4pm was Lesotho native, Leomile, accompanied by a 4 part backing team which in it featured The Muffinz member Kekelingo on both cajon drum and backing vocals. Leomile got to live perform songs from an upcoming project for the first time ever to what she referred to as “a special audience”. She did however also make it a point that she performs some familiar songs from the album Pula Molomo including ,Lerato Le Fedile and Mantsopa, both to which she gave compelling explanation prior to performing. Her set could easily be equated to that of a goddess.

Shots by Unarine Ramaru

Next up was Sibusile Xaba who was intro’d onto the stage by his two offsprings. His hour long performance left the audience in dead silence and in complete awe. If anything his was a spiritual awakening and healing of sorts and nothing short of perfection.

By now the legendary Dj Bubbles had taken over the interval entertainment duties from Jess…

Shots by Unarine Ramaru

Final performance of the day belonged to the band extraordinaire, Urban Village, who blessed the audience with their synonymous multi layered folk offerings. Members Tubatsi Moloi and Lerato Lichaba‘s entertained villagers with their undeniable stage chemistry while Tubatsi also showed off his multi-instrumental abilities. The band payed ode to “dark skinned black women” with the song Dindi, and also took time to pay tribute to a fallen fan of theirs. They put on a performance worthy of summing up a perfect day!

The #SASTfringe continues next week (19 March) with former Rhythmic Elements group leader and vocalist Mackenzie Matome, Mathapelo Masilela, Nhlanhla Dube and Le Mphendulo all talking to the stage.

Tickets sell at R80 per show and R200 for a day pass to all four shows.