By Shannon Wilson
I was relieved to step out of the driving rain and into Champs Bar. Grahamstown’s weather had been miserable all day. The lights were dim, a couple of middle-aged men were playing pool, the stage was set but empty and the bar was lined with people. Feeling a bit out of place, I ordered a vodka lime and water and scanned the room, my eyes searching for the band We Set Sail. I spotted them, four men sitting in the corner, each with a draught in their hands.
Lee Thompson who plays the trumpet and flugelhorn for the band, introduced me to the band members: Breda Wiese, Richard Brunyee, Marne Gelderbloem and Jaoa Luis Lanca Henriques, who plays the guitar and will be joining the band in Johannesburg. The Animal Tour started in Cape Town and moved through Plett and Port Elizabeth before arriving in Grahamstown.
“The crowd in PE was kiff,” said Gelderbloem, “but there was a power outage in Plett, so we had to play acoustic for a while. Then we kicked it off when the power came back.”
At 10 PM, it was impressive to see such a substantial crowd at Champs Bar on a Tuesday. The stage was lit purple and green, while the rest of the bar was dark in order to spotlight We Set Sail.
Gelderbloem began strumming his guitar, inviting the audience’s attention. By the time the rest of the band joined in, the entire bar was captivated. The music kept the locals at Champs entertained; the students and/or fans were enthusiastically swaying their hips to the beat – most of them with a drink sloshing dangerously in their hands.
The ‘Animal’ tour will continue on to Durban, then Joburg and back to Cape Town, before finishing with a secret show. Then in mid-July We Set Sail will be travelling to Denmark to play in an international festival and continue touring through the Scandinavian countries. This will be their first overseas tour and they will be playing a total of 20 shows in 23 days. Brunyee – who the band teases for being a ‘geek’ – says he is looking forward to the tour.
Brunyee and Gelderbloem were writing songs and throwing ideas around before founding the band in 2006. Although the members have changed with Wiese joining in 2013 and Thompson just recently – Gelderbloem, who is moving to Denmark in the near future and Brunyee, who now lives in Denmark – have continued writing the songs for the band.
We Set Sail are hoping to write a couple more tracks for a new album in the time that they are all together and are optimistic about the band’s future.