Mercury 21 March 2009
Nothing like a hot summer’s day at Newlands, watching people covered in green paint and South African flag speedos, while we annihilate Australia, to get everyone besides the Ozzies in a mood for a party! And what party than a birthday party? Well, how about a birthday party to celebrate the one-year anniversary of a magazine that has done what few others have for the local music scene? Cheers to that!
I was told by a handful of people to check out Heaven Underground, and by their praises I was eager to do just that. Disappointment reigned as I watched a band with average, whiney vocals, music that is not notably innovative or challenging to produce, and overall a sound we’ve all heard- and tired of before. I was shot a look of disbelief when voicing this after being asked my opinion by someone who was clearly a fan. I am quite sure it was one of the band members’ fathers.
I have been a devoted follower of Pretty Blue Guns since I first saw them live. Frontman André Leo’s raw, powerful voice, combined with some gruff bluesy-rock always makes for a show worth watching. But for the first time, I was bored. Their show has remained the same over time and I for a band that has played live as many times as they have, something lacks on-stage. Notwithstanding a below par performance, the new material shows potential and I await the next album without expecting to feel let down.
Every local band who is at all interested in mastering live performing should watch Taxi Violence and take notes. One performance is never the same as another, and they are always spectacular on stage! Bursting at the seams with passion and vigour, just watching them renders one short of breath. Their set has been mastered to flow flawlessly, the music tight and the entire show coercively gripping. It is rock and roll in its purest form- untreated music, spiked with gift and intensity that has the crowd salivating for more. Frontman George van der Spuy had his audience hanging on every word and every sound emanating from the small stage, even when he was not waving R50 notes around. Likely South Africa’s best live act, and on what other stage will one see a man, dressed as a woman dressed as a devil-whore, sporting a strap-on? Unforgettable stuff!
The venue was full, especially with Assembly’s Fokofpolisiekar and Springbok Nude Girls gig sold out! Though the MC was possibly the most boring human being I have ever seen on a stage, due gratitude was shown for something that started twelve months ago as a mere eight pages by an Australian returning to his homeland after many years away. Today it is a well-distributed magazine that is doing wonders for South Africa’s music scene that has so much potential. Hats off to Mike Smith, a man who has paved a way for the underground to stride without being devoured by the mainstream industry that threatens to destroy the rarity that is music made for love, the way we like it.