Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zebra & Giraffe at Kirstenbosch Gardens

23 November 2008 So here’s a new venue I have not yet ranted about, good or bad. And this one will be an all-positive assessment session. Yes, the sound was good, the technicalities were all there. But for a second, abandon your obsession with detail and let’s just say that the Kirstenbosch amphitheatre is stunning. And with all the happy hippies and indie kids running around, drinking wine and generally being merry, the vibe is pretty damn perfect. Now, onto the music itself. Zebra and Giraffe. What can we say? Well, this band burst onto the scene from nowhere. Even before they had ever played live, their single The Knife was at the top of just about every chart in the country, from community radio stations like Mfm to the big boys up at 5 and even MK, the band was everywhere you turned. And their first ever live performance was at this year’s Oppikoppi in August. How many bands can boast that? And there is no indication that this brand spanking new Johannesburg-spawned act is slowing down. Their performance, I must admit, is lacking just ever so slightly. Then again, they have only been together for a few months and so I have every faith that they will grow together as a musical act. A little more energy, a little more interaction, but I can not deny how at ease they appear on stage. Another note is a minor lack of variation. Though their individual songs are mind-blowing, there is little inter-song distinction and I got the sense that all of their songs kind of merged into one. Kudos for keeping the flow going though, I guess! Lastly the performance was fairly short. But as I’ve said before, this is not a criticism so much as an appeal for more, more, more! I refused to believe that their final song was the last, and spent some time sulking into my glass of red wine thereafter… A quick rant about frontman Greg Carlin. Did you know that he produced all the music on the album, but for some of the tracks’ drums? Yes, very impressive. All the brains behind a band with a standard that could leave the international music industry speechless, this guy blows my mind every time I hear Zebra and Giraffe. But he has a girlfriend, or so we hear. So, sorry to all the shrieking groupies. You may have to wait for another century or seven before we find another one like this!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

3rd World Spectator & The Plastics

Aandklas, 8 November 2008 Despite a disappointing turnout, for which I hold exams accountable, the evening was one of good, old-fashioned takkie-burning to great local tunes. Two awesome local bands, cheap alcohol and wonderfully greasy, dodgy pub food- what more could one ask for? First up was 3rd World Spectator. A fairly young act, these guys are steadily making a good name for themselves. Having recently come second in a band battle and doing well in the Road to V quest, these talented young musicians are making a good name for themselves. Having seen them a number of times, I can vouch that they are improving in leaps and bounds, growing together into a band I’ve no doubt will take the local music scene by storm. Theatrical, explosive, wonderfully melodic rock that speaks with intensity about everything from love to politics, these guys put on a show that had their audience jamming hard in appreciation of this poignant rock! With a vocal range one can’t even see the ends of, frontman Peter Crafford has an enormous amount of talent. It seems all his Idols voice-coaching paid off, and I for one think the local music vibe needs more guys like him. Truly talented and passionate, it stands to reason then that he is joined by a lead guitarist who makes others green with envy. I look forward to seeing 3WS on stage soon, hopefully alongside some international acts, to showcase what South Africa has to offer. The Plastics are a refreshing act in their own right. A little generic, I confess [we have in-car arguments as to whether it’s The Plastics or Arctic Monkeys] but their groovy rock is sure to get your dancing shoes skanking! Tightness could use some work, as could their attitude regarding the [lack of] crowd, but other than that I had a grand time. And for a three-piece these boys certainly fill the stage impressively! Having spent time with these guys off-stage, I must mention their great attitude to music overall. Positive, hardworking and almost desperate to get their sound heard, I was struck by an ethic too few bands possess in today’s industry. Overall, a decent excuse not to study but rather jam it up with lyrics and liquor. Let’s do that again!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Green-Eyed Monster

It seems the world has been bitten by a bug. It’s big, it’s green, and it’s making a helluva lot of money for people who are already too rich for their own good. Yup, the planet is ‘going green’. And it seems the music industry is no exception. This annoys me even more than when my hippie sister tries to explain to me why, despite my coffee tasting like eco-friendly shit, organic creamer is better than milk.
I actually wrote most of this a while back, without ever getting around to posting it. Since then I received a newsletter from Black Sheep Bleach, revolving around exactly what I am discussing here. When I received the newsletter I was invited to “judge away”. Really? So sweet of you, guys, to allow me to indulge in my favourite activity!
Black Sheep Bleach’s members call themselves a “green band”. And they’re planning on winning a Grammy in a couple of years’ time. Now, I’m not sure if they intend to win one using their “greenness”, but I can assure you that the amount of talent going around is not even enough to feed a starving African baby, let alone a Grammy. Between Tom Petty and a cover of Katy Perry’s already awful “I Kissed A Girl”, my ears were less than happy with me. But I digress…
What exactly makes them a “green band”? Well, they aren’t wearing hemp clothing which they made themselves. Their equipment was all bought from some place where all the other musicians buy theirs, funding some far-off capitalist’s Malibu mansion and creating job opportunities for 11-year-old Asian kiddies. They drive to their gigs just like everyone else and no, their cars are not electric. Finally, not even their lyrics revolve exclusively around the environment. All of the above, combined with the fact that “lol” was used in the newsletter, leaves me with one adjective for this: bullshit.
The argument is that they can not go everywhere on horseback or “play plastic guitars”. I thought plastic was bad for the earth too? Fair enough, their goal is to reach people and raise awareness, but I don’t see much of that happening either. Having seen this band play twice, I still leave my lights on when I leave my apartment, my geyser has never been switched off, I smoke, I drive everywhere and I haven’t the foggiest idea even how to recycle. Hell, even my horse excretes Carbon Monoxide or something. All in all, I am an environmental disaster, along with most other people on earth. And Black Sheep Bleach has not changed that.
Apparently the band has a “desire to be real and authentic first and foremost”. Well, mate, covers are probably a barefoot step in the wrong direction. Who knows, maybe their aim is to recycle the actual music. Their plan is to expand into a “full electric outfit early 2009”. Keyword: electric. At the end of the day, the eco-friendly fever has become just another capitalist endeavour in this money-driven, slowly dying world. Is it just me, or does electricity kill the earth too? Why else are we perpetually reminded to switch off lights and geysers? Then what it is that is so revolutionary about the electric car? And your 3500% marked-up organic food is often the same mass-produced stuff that is transported by the same gas-guzzling trucks. Oh, but it does have a pretty label on it that says “organic”. Just for the record, those labels were trees once upon a time too. My point is, it’s all one big, money-making paradox. Unless you are living on your own plot, with a house you built yourself from natural materials, growing your own vegetables and fruit, making your own clothes from natural fibers and living as minimalistically as we did back when we were still Neanderthals, “green” is something you can barely call yourself with a straight face.
Forgive my skepticism and brutality. But whatever your opinion of mine, you can not say I am not honest. I, unlike others, admit to what I am. “Green” I am not. Then again, I am not running around telling everyone that I am, and I certainly do not plan to win an award for being a fake hippie. Perhaps if there were a Grammy for being a bitch…..