Saturday, March 14, 2009

Neelsie Geraas Innie Gat: Ashtray Electric, Zebra & Giraffe and aKing

In association with MFM 92.6, Woordfees and Coca-Cola Zero 12 March 2009 I bet you never thought one could have a totally memorable night out in the Neelsie of all places. Think again! For the third year running, MFM 92.6 made it all happen, and the night was as successful as always, with smooth proceedings proving thorough organisational skills by all involved, especially the MFM Crew. And the best news [for the student sonder cente]-- entrance was free! Perhaps a little cruel to tell people to arrive at 6, I felt the crowd getting restless after sitting around for more than an hour. Nonetheless, MFM DJ’s Luca Vincenzo and Jörg Nänny kept the good music flowing, and Masters of Ceremony SeanO and Marika [from MFM’s Breakfast and Drive respectively] distracted all with giveaways and interactive competitions. Finally, at 8pm, Ashtray Electric stepped on stage, and the night began... Though I doubt many were there for Ashtray Electric more than the other two bands, I am inclined to say they played the best set of the three. Playing our favourite old tracks like The Swing and Quite Overstared, the band also gave us a taste of some new stuff, due to be on their new album [which is coming your way soon] and shot some material for their upcoming DVD, the idea of appearing for a second or two on a video of sorts always getting the groupies panting. Frontman André Montgomery got into the vibe as always, jamming in his usual quirky way, and overall the set flowed without any mishaps and with a crowd thoroughly entertained. Zebra and Giraffe has had mammoth commercial success, with their hits topping the charts countrywide. Though I recognise frontman Greg Carlin’s enormous musical talent, especially considering that he brought into being the entire Collected Memories album but for the help of a session drummer, I find their live performances quite dull. Musically near-indomitable, their show lacks the life that makes the live music experience different from simply playing a CD in the background. The lead guitarist is adequately energetic, but the rest of them are quite uninspiring. Their cover track did nothing for me and while I enjoy their music immensely, their live shows hardly live up to their on-air success. Last up was aKing, and what on earth happened here? Well, to begin with, they did not soundcheck along with the other two bands earlier that afternoon. I understand that they have done this live performance thing countless times, but I thought it a bit arrogant that they thought themselves above this basic procedure most bands view as obligatory. Secondly, they used their own sound guy. The sound up until then was quite fine, with the usual odd request for ‘More vocals please’ and so forth. But aKing had major issues, most prominently near-inaudible lyrics. Understandably frustrated, frontman Laudo Liebenberg profanely voiced his unhappiness. And yet despite this, aKing’s popularity carried the band through a bad gig, coupled with a surprisingly appreciative crowd. Safe as Houses was met with roof-lifting shouts of excitement, and everyone filled in where sound engineering failed Laudo’s vocals. This was aKing’s worst gig I have ever experienced, and yet their crowd remains loyal as can be. It goes to show just how esteemed they are as musicians. aKing is usually exactly the same every single time to the point of tedium, so I guess at least this one broke their oh-so-boring trend.

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