Beloved to Cape Town metalheads is their “last stand” position at 299 Lower Main Road, Observatory. Known either as Gandalfs or ROAR, depending on whether one ascends the stairs to the upper level or not, the establishment has been there since the early-2000s and seen countless alternative feet cross it’s smooth-trodden threshold. Whilst the downstairs Gandalfs has always catered to the more flamboyant alternative sorts, an upstairs venue was soon opened and initially named Mordor, where grisly hordes of metalheads would gather and headbang into the small hours. Mordor soon mutated into a live venue, re-branded as ROAR, and has been the number one stronghold of Cape Town’s live metal scene since.
Always, the driving force behind this little conglomeration has been a man well-known to pretty much anybody who has been there: Antonio Manuel. A casual looking, well-tempered fellow (unless you bring trouble to his doorstep – be cautioned) with a welcoming grin stamped permanently to his lips; Antonio has transcended the role of merely a venue-owner rather to the stature of ‘guardian’ to the local alternative scene. From initiatives such as Foosball and down-down competitions to free pies and coffee to sober up at closing time, right through to hosting a free (food sponsored by venue) braai for band members, Antonio always has some trick up his sleeve as to how he can give something back to the scene which sustains his business and to nurture a new generation to carry tales into those chapters of Cape Town alternative history which remain as yet unwritten.
Antonio’s latest commitment is a R5000 cash bursary to one local metal band as gift from Gandalfs – something he wishes to forge into an annual tradition. Metal bands are invited to submit from all around the country. The R5000 will not be awarded lightly, however! Whilst entry criteria are reasonably easy for most bands to place a bid towards the prize, the band who takes it will have had to work for it, and be able to display a busy roster of activity and progression within the local scene.
Bands can visit the facebook event page created for this purpose to submit and explore the full details. Submissions remain open right from the present till 01 May 2015, but we suspect an earlier start may secure a stronger bid.
We contacted Antonio with a few questions for the sake of better understanding where he’d like the money to go:
“The band need not have even ever played at Gandalfs/ROAR before. It is open to any metal band in South Africa, but I would need correspondence regarding bands from other areas.” ~ Antonio
We wanted to know if this would be focused on upstart bands, intermediate, or also established acts:
“The idea is aimed more at the up and coming bands to offer them that little bit of an incentive to persevere. However, I will be looking at more established bands as well, but will be more critical of them.” ~ Antonio
We wanted to know if the R5000 cash was the whole sum of the prize, or if there would be any add-on’s, perhaps for example, a consultation session on business or cashflow principles where the band could learn some tricks.
“I had originally thought to just hand over the cash, but offers are coming forward from industry people who might be able to sweeten the pot.” ~ Antonio
What remains clear from chatting with Antonio is that between now and May 2015, there is a lot of momentum to still be gained on this idea. We at M4A encourage all metal bands across the country to visit the page and seriously consider if they could not gain from this initiative, not only in possibly winning the prize, but also in getting themselves geared towards greater activity in their local scene.
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