The Parlotones leave SA – A Giant Mistake?

The Parlotones - A Giant Mistake
The Parlotones – A Giant Mistake. We ask if they’re making a mistake leaving home.

This weekend, The Parlotones are recording a music video. This is no ordinary music video; this music video will be filmed as they make their farewell parade through the streets of Johannesburg, the night before their last concert in South Africa before they leave to make their fame and fortune in the United States of America.

When they announced their plans to leave South Africa a couple of months ago, I got a message from an upset relative who has always been a fan of the band. She felt betrayed, that this band that has always claimed to be proudly South African, were now deserting us to live in the US. Her view was that The Parlotones were destroying all the work they had done to generate a pride in South Africa and that with their move they were damaging the environmental and anti-crime campaigns they’d encouraged South Africans to support. She asked how they dare to call themselves ‘proudly South African’ if they are no longer prepared to live here.

For many artists, the South African music industry is a very difficult place to make a living. The South African public, largely brainwashed by the media to believe that local artists are inferior to their international counterparts, are reluctant to give a local band the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their ability to entertain. The media and music industry tends to support artists who bring out middle of the road, safe music and the more creative and artistic musicians struggle to get their works exposed. For many South Africans faced with the decision to purchase an album by a creative, original, quality local band or purchase an album by a mediocre international act that gets hours per The Parlotones week of radio play, the international act usually wins. It’s a mind-set shift that needs to take place, one that won’t happen until the mainstream media starts actively supporting local music, rather than begrudgingly meeting the 20% quota requirement.

The Parlotones were an exception in that they were able to bring out music that was friendly enough for mainstream media while still being original and creative. Their very strong branding and instantly recognisable image and sound made them a hit with the South African public, but being a big hit in South Africa doesn’t guarantee success, given our unwillingness to support local acts in the only way that ensures their continued success, with our wallets.

A large number of South African artists are making a good living from their art outside the borders of our country for a variety of reasons. Many left South Africa during the apartheid days, some have returned, many didn’t make it back home. South African artists having found audiences that love and support their art have moved and settled outside of our country, but continue to sing (literally in many cases) South Africa’s praises. Some like Boo! are based here in South Africa, but have a larger and more loyal following in Europe. Others like Jonathan Butler have a large following in South Africa but only return home once every few years for a couple of concerts before heading back to their now home countries.

The Parlotones have always been very proud to be South African, and fly the flag high when touring the world and making a name for themselves internationally. Is it sad that a band like The Parlotones have to leave South Africa to further their career or should we be proud that they have become larger than the South African market? Only time will tell whether they will remain truly proudly South African and live in America as ambassadors to our country. Let us give them a chance to make it big and make us proud. Will South African’s continue to support them, perhaps support them even more? Or will we abandon them as we perceive they have abandoned us? Only time will tell whether their move will be good for the band and for South Africa, or whether they have made, a giant mistake.

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The Parlotones and their Production Company (Mushroom Productions) are planning a major farewell shoot for their fans in a parade format the night before the farewell concert at Ellis Park Arena. The band will start the Parade at Mary Fitzgerald Square on 11 January at 23h00 (gathering point) and end at Ellis Park on
12 January at 00h30. We will be shooting a video and broadcasting the Parade live to the worlds media. The concept of the video is the brain child of Eban Olivier a long time collaborator with the band and promises to be a spectacle in itself. The video shoot for the brand new single “shak e it up” will be the start of what is the bands last week end in South Africa for a while and will be released by th e time the band lands in Los Angeles. The concept will see the band performing on the back of a huge truck with convoys of fans in tow. The procession will kick off at Mary Fitzgerald Square and end with an exclusive performance of some brand new songs at Ellis Park Arena where the official farewell concert will be held on the 12th of January. We call on all friends and fans of the band to dress up, get your car, bike or skate board and come and join us to sh oot and be part of the shoot as we make our way through the streets of
Johannesburg with our 20+ cameramen along the route as well as in helicopters, shoot this amazing and fitting farewell to South Africa’s legends The Parlotones.

Etienne Shardlow

Etienne Shardlow

Etienne is a proud lover of South African jazz, and host of the weekly JazzE Radio Show on Bakgat Radio. He works as an IT Service Management consultant and trainer.
Etienne Shardlow

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