Who stands Guardianship over Cape Town metal?

Antonio Manuel ROAR Gandalf's Tranchtown

There are many names and faces who, over the years, may or may not have been eligible to such a title. Even today, we believe that more than one person could be credited as a ‘Guardian’ of sorts; somebody whose day-to-day business and life is so intertwined with the local metal community that their presence now brings advantage to many, and their departure would ricochet across all levels of heavy metal circles in this city should they suddenly disappear.

“The alternative genre has always been a passion of mine and the metal genre plays a large and important role in it. Therefore, without metal there would be no Gandalf’s.” ~ Antonio Manuel (owner, Gandalf’s/ROAR/Trenchtown)

And so it is that in this article we would like to celebrate the proprietor behind the longstanding venue/s located at 299 Lower Main Road, Observatory, near Cape Town. Antonio Manuel, who we described as a ‘Guardian’ in July last year already (original article here) following the ‘Metal Band Braai’ which he sponsored and hosted, has been a part of the entertainment and nightlife industry for most of his adult life. He opened up his Gandalf’s venue at this address in 2000 (unofficially in 1999), and with it’s medieval theme, the venue instantly attracted a shadowy presence of Goths and other alternative sorts. It catered for all of them and including our precious heavy metal community until the opening of ROAR in 2006 at the same address (upstairs) which has since been the home of heavier live music in the city, characterized by it’s low cost to bands and fantastic sound.

Does owning a live venue mean that somebody can be called a ‘Guardian’? Well, we would probably dispute such a notion. However, Antonio’s involvement and commitment runs deeper than only that. At last year’s ‘Metal Band Braai’, where Antonio sponsored meat for all band members who attended, and plenty of prizes for fun activities, he announced a R5000 prize giveaway to be offered to one band in the following year. This prize has since grown! Rallying to Antonio’s leadership and call for action, additions to the pot include:

R3000 worth of gear

…from Paul Bothner Music, The Musical Instrument Specialist stores.
(Visit Paul Bothner Music online)

Free demo recording

…at the acclaimed Burning Tone Studio, celebrated for such recordings as Megalodon‘s Darkness In Sonance, Infanteria‘s Isolated Existence, Zombies Ate My Girlfriend‘s Retrocide, Arc Reactor‘s Post Modern Construct and more.
(Visit Burning Tone Studios online)

Free media kit

…from Heavy Metal Panic, including: 1x Interview and EP review, 1x free photo shoot by HMP and Leon Shoots You, 1x free single artwork designed by Sherlic, their in-house designer (Sindulgence ‘King Behind The Wall’ artwork, amidst others).
(Visit Heavy Metal Panic online)

Free private strategic planning workshop

…from www.metal4africa.com with editor and SummerFest/WinterFest mastermind, Patrick Davidson (also guitarist for metal bands Mind Assault and Terminatryx)
(Visit Patrick Davidson online)

We wanted to know from Antonio… why?

“For a long time it felt like metal bands were slowly slipping away. We had more metal bands breaking up than new ones forming. Many of the fans and band members had broken away from the metal genre to join the popular ‘in’ crowds.” ~ Antonio Manuel

Antonio Manuel Trenchtown BraaiAntonio has been encouraging, sponsoring, and advising bands for years, and as often as he could. He decided eventually that he could make an attempt at assisting more than just one band at a time, involving everyone so that the metal community could be strengthened together.

“I started last year with the first Metal Band Braai in an effort to bring metal bands together and network. It worked but was still just not enough. The next step was the Metal Band Bursary idea, to incentivise bands not to give up, and offer them some of the recognition and praise they deserve. I was hoping that with this, more bands would finally start marketing themselves; promoting their shows without having to be reminded, as well as gigging regularly with local and possible national tours, launches and releases, posting regular band updates, multi-collaborations, fan-base interactions and all the other little extras needed to create a lasting band brand.” ~ Antonio Manuel

In addition to this drive, Antonio has also committed Gandalf’s and ROAR to host underage shows again from time to time – which any business person will know is dead loss to music venues which rely on liquor sales to keep the doors open – with the assistance of Zain Domo of UnScene.

We also wanted to know if all of this investment and effort was paying off, in his opinion, and as being positioned in the fairly unique role as venue owner being passionate about their business, people, and genre-orientation as being more than ‘just business’.

“The immediate future for metal bands is definitely looking very bright, especially if they continue the way they have been over the last year. There has always been those one or two bands that have done the work that is needed to get themselves out there, but over the last year I’ve seen almost every single band constantly gigging and promoting themselves. This is why it was so difficult choosing a winner for the R5000 bursary.” ~ Antonio Manuel

In addition to the main prize having been swelled up as described earlier, Antonio has also thrown in an extra R1000 prize for each of the following newly-created categories: ‘Best Newcomer’ and ‘Most Consistent’.

The winning bands will be announced tomorrow on Saturday 16 May with the grand finale event (facebook link here) featuring an array of live bands, many of whom have been the most active in this venture. We expect that this will be one massively festive show!

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