[Face Jackson insists on being the best dressed in a room. PHOTO: Samara McQueston]

Every other month, the SGT Pepper bar on Long Street is transformed into The Funky Bazaar — a kaleidoscope of local bands, DJs, and vendors. Offering a curated night of Cape Town artistry, The Bazaar is a labour of love organised entirely by the local band, Face Jackson

“The reason we started [The Funky Bazaar] is we see there’s a lack of bands performing — there’s only a few select venues. But we know there’s such a diverse appreciation for that music,” Face Jackson’s lead singer Riccardo Da Naya explains.

The first event was held in October of 2022, and did so well that Face Jackson knew they had to keep it going. The band invited us to experience their second Funky Bazaar on 17 December. Let’s explore what they had in store. 

The Funky Bazaar
[Riccardo Da Naya finishes setting up the sound booth for a long night of DJ sets. PHOTO: James Browning]

A space of colour and bodies

No corners were cut when transporting SGT Pepper from central Cape Town to the Funk Dimension. Bead curtains mark the portal to a vibrant den of bohemian fabrics and LED colours. The space is inhabited by mannequins beaming light from their eyes, standing under a checkered linen ceiling.

Outside on the balcony, you can find the Face Jackson banner grinning above a comfy nook of cushions. Back inside, you’ll find mannequin bodies up on tables, fitted with markers and signs encouraging you to get to work with them.

The Funky Bazaar
[The mannequins quickly filled up as drinks softened people’s reservations. PHOTO: James Browning]

The white mannequins still bear the marks of the last Bazaar, giving you glimpses of the crowd that came before, and making you feel like you’re part of more than a one-night party. The marker mannequins, and the djembe nestled among the cushions outside, add an important touch of interactivity.

They provide conversation starters and between-act activities, but they also do something more. Being encouraged to reach out and become a part of the decor, interacting with previous attendees, and changing the canvas for those to come all contribute significantly to The Funky Bazaar’s sense of community and continuity.

An old-school rock opening

The first act of the night was the up-and-coming Keanan Eksteen. The Kraaifontein-born artist’s career only kicked off in March 2022 with a single launch at District, but he’s already spent a month overseas on a solo European tour and played a sold-out gig at café Roux in Noordhoek.

Keanan Eksteen
[Keanan Eksteen in the middle of one of his many big finishes. PHOTO: James Browning]

“Our objective is to procure quality music, all the way through,” Riccardo told us on the night. That goal got off to a solid start with Keanan Eksteen’s style of old-school rock ‘n roll focused through a modern lens.

Eksteen and his band’s showmanship easily filled the modest stage with adamant limbs, swinging guitars, and some running on the spot for good measure. The crowd definitely needed a break after this one. Luckily, The Bazaar had some other rooms to visit while you recharged.

Vendor ventures

Part of The Funky Bazaar is collaborating with small businesses to flesh the event out into something more than just a night of music. This time, The Bazaar was hosting Cape Town-based tattoo artist, Lilo, and CBD vendor, Cannabliss.

The Funky Bazaar
[The Bazaar absolutely nailed the atmosphere for the tattoo room. PHOTO: James Browning]

Lilo’s temporary studio walls were covered with her own art and dressed with some moody red underlighting. Alongside hand-poke tattoos, Lilo was also doing henna designs and selling screen prints of her work.

In the room next door, Cannabliss had set up a stand, which was being manned by Face Jackson’s own Ray Morgan. They were selling a wide variety of CBD oils, edibles, vapes, and body products.

Lilo
[Lilo at work on her first tattoo of the evening. PHOTO: James Browning]

It’s great to see this collaboration between event organisers and local businesses. Not only does it elevate the event itself, but it’s also a perfect way to bring more eyes to local artists and vendors. Hopefully, this element of The Bazaar continues to grow and becomes a fruitful space for artists, merch and small businesses like Cape Town’s many thrift stores.

Jamming is compulsory

Face Jackson was the second band of the night, though it seemed that most of the crowd was still recovering out on the balcony from the last fast-paced act.

Not to be outdone, their lead singer leaned out the window and firmly called everyone inside with promises of rad tunes. Those who couldn’t be convinced over the mic were pulled in by the group’s opening grooves.

Face Jackson
[Face Jackson inspires a little mania in the audience. PHOTO: Samara McQueston]

Once they get going, Face Jackson’s infectious energy can make dancers of the dead, and it wasn’t long before the crowd was fully invested in jamming along. There’s something to be said for the band’s crowd work, which makes their performances feel like a shared experience, not just a stage act. 

Their eagle eyes spotted a birthday girl lost in the dancing mob, and wasted no time in getting the whole venue in on a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. 

A rocket to the party

After some time to cool off in the evening air, there was a lineup of three DJs to keep people moving through the night.

First up was DJ and event organiser Rain, opening the dance floor with some deep house. She was followed by a bumping techno set by producer and DJ, Maske, whose original tracks that can also be streamed online. Both acts had gathered a throng of new blood to the dance floor that showed no signs of thinning as Rorschach Ric closed out the night.

The Funky Bazaar makes a persuasive argument for its formula of live acts to get people rowdy, a venue full of playful ambience, and DJs for people to blow off steam until last rounds. “I think a lot of people just wanna party for the most part, we all wanna party, and this is a good rocket ship to take us to the party,” Riccardo remarks. 

The Funky Bazaar
[Cool off outside and let your overconfident friend try their hand at the djembe. PHOTO: James Browning]

“I think the main thing for us is to be renowned for the quality of the music that we procure, and the funky, cool atmosphere that we create,” Riccardo tells us.

If that’s the destination, there’s no doubt that The Funky Bazaar is on the right path. Through prime cuts from the local music scene, seasoned with top-notch decorations, Face Jackson has crafted a cosy, cohesive party.

Dates for the next Bazaar are not yet confirmed, but the bi-monthly schedule puts the next event sometime in February. We look forward to defacing more mannequins and seeing where Face Jackson can take this budding community. 

Author

​​I write about the tech sector in hopes we can find human-centred alternatives to the mess we’ve made for ourselves. I get involved in the music scene because leaving passion unpursued is a sin. When my feet aren’t busy on the sokkie floor, you can find me chasing silver linings.

1 Comment

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