Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rocking Against Racism

Ubuntoer II: Die Helde, Zinkplaat and New Holland with Tidal Waves Tings ‘n Times, Pretoria, Wednesday 18 June 2008
The evening began with my getting lost. As usual.(I am beginning to see a pattern in my writing here.) I found myself alone, in Sunnyside (the siff, dangerously dodgy core of Pretoria), getting frantic and teary-eyed, with little idea where I was and even less of an idea as to how to get where I was supposed to be. Oh, and did I mention that I was sporting stilettos and a My Little Pony t-shirt? Not ideal. But thank goodness for family and technology: a long and tearful cellphone conversation with my brother got me to Tings ‘n Times. Regrettably, I missed New Holland’s performance but from what I hear they have only improved since I last saw them which, trust me, says a helluva lot! Plus I spent the last night of the tour having many shots with TeeJay, which made up for missing their show and assured me that he is still as kiff as ever. I must add here that the Gauteng crowds suck. At least, compared to the Cape crowds they do! They just kind of stand there, fairly still and eerily quiet, gaping as if they have never heard good music before. (Judging by the revolting garbage played in their clubs, perhaps they haven’t.) By the time I had paid exactly twice as much as I would in Stellenbosch for my usual drink, I was considerably unhappy. But, not to be stopped, I grabbed hold of every familiar, Stellenbosch/Cape Town-based face there and together we made sufficient noise and squeaked sufficient takkie, as good supporters should. I am a fan of Die Helde and their live performances have yet to let me down. With enough energy to keep their chilled yet vibey Afrikaans Indie rock very much alive they took the stage with an easy grace, live shows being nothing new to them. Their sound is as accomplished live as on disc, and I had as good a time as always watching these boys perform. Tidal Waves is a Johannesburg-based band that had me instantly captivated by their music. The five-piece had the dull crowd jamming to their sounds, hailed to be “Original music for original people”. Their music is a funky reggae that will doubtlessly get your dancing shoes skanking, especially when you get a load of their proper Afrikaans treffer, “Lekker Lekker Dans”! These talented musicians jumble in some powerful rock, ska and nostalgic blues to sing about war, poverty and the government with an engrossed enthusiasm that captivates their audiences. A fitting band to have play for the cause of raising awareness about racism in South Africa, theirs is a sound you’d be unwell not to enjoy, with bewitching vocals and sheer gift that will get their tunes desperately stuck in your head. Zinkplaat is without doubt one of my favourite local bands, thus watching them was the highlight of my evening. Not only are their lyrics hypnotic in their simplicity, but the sound that this band emanates on stage is pure energy, pure art. Words struggle to explain watching Basson and Bertie face-to-face on stage, playing to one another, entirely lost in their own soulful universe. It is the utterance of a magnificent conversation, without saying a word. Their connection and talent, not to mention Beer’s remarkable skill on the drums, is what brings their music to life. Watching them renders me speechless, electrified by memories of Bullybeef and campfires gushing through my South African veins. Despite my strong dislike for the place, I had a superb evening rocking against racism. Yes, I arrived late and shaken and the crowd was not nearly as cool as the ones in the Cape. But seeing these guys perform made it all better. I even spotted a pair of gumboots and that, with the music, almost made me feel like I was back home. Despite the shoddy Gauteng crowds, it appears that the Cape’s musical exports are universally awesome.

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