Thursday, June 12, 2008

aKing at Dorp Street Theater

27 May 2008 I hadn’t yet seen aKing live when I heard they would be gracing our little town with their presence. Having listened to their album (Dutch Courage) countless times, this was one gig I simply would not miss, come hell or History 214 exam. The atmosphere was exceptionally different to what one would usually experience at a live performance. Especially because of their esteem in the local music scene, one would expect a characteristically wild night, with excessive dancing, drinking and bad singing (from me, standing as close to the stage as I can without being arrested or something). But Dorp Street catered for a show that was ideal for the true aKing fans. The small crowd, all seated, remained hushed throughout the act, genuinely appreciative of the musical genius on stage. There was no shoving, screaming, having your toes crushed by some Afrikaner who has not yet realised that there is a reason he is a prop, not a dancer... And for the first time in a long time the alcohol went only from hand to mouth, rather than hand to all-over-my-(formerly)-white-jeans. The ambience was comfortably intimate, with a distinct air of awe from the tranquil group of fans. Even the lighting added to the character of the show. I was less than impressed with the sound, which kept failing- a bit of a killjoy, no? But I guess it happens, even to the best of us, and that certainly wasn’t enough to keep me from having a perfectly enjoyable evening. Neither did it seem to perturb the band, which simply picked up precisely from where they had been dropped, perfectly in time, as though nothing had happened. I always thought that doing a Fokofpolisiekar spin-off was a brave move, due to the expectations, if not stigma, attached to taking over from one of South Africa’s greatest rock bands. But aKing failed me not, with a first album that is hard to get tired of. Dutch Courage is a collection of tuneful rock, with straightforward- but simultaneously compound lyrics complemented by a voice that orders attention. And it’s even better in real life! Their live performance is scarily analogous to what they produce in studio, the band suffering no weakness when faced with performing on stage. But what impressed me most, besides for Hunter himself, was the energy. It was not overbearing so as to detract from the actual music, but it was there, so thick it drowned the room in a viscous layer of reverence. Hunter kept the crowd hypnotised with his alluring talent, never once slackening the grip he possesses so artlessly over his fans. I must be honest and say that some new work may be in order. As much as I enjoy what I’ve heard thus far, I am ardent for more! However, my avarice is simply a sign of appreciation and I do not doubt that aKing will please their followers with whatever they conjure up next.

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