19 September 2008

More Tonic, Please.

18 September 2008
Gin, Greenside

email checkerr

On one of those whims that catch us every so often, I decided to go to the trendy Gleneagles Road in Greenside.

"Why?" You may ask.
I suggest to look up the word "whim" and understand.

After circling the block twice, looking for parking, we squeeze through the single glass door into a hot, sticky, tiny cavern, filled with people and chairs and enough paraphernalia to start a riot. Once inside, a contrast greeted me: the music, thanks to Mr.checkerr started out with indie-pop throwbacks - The Strokes, The Hives, Blur and Digitalism. It all went over well with the odd crowd, seated in their odd seating-arrangements. Good music, but strange people and a stranger venue. The evidence that this is a "Lounge Bar" or something equally pretentious is ubiquitous. There is dancing room for perhaps twenty people (if that), but space enough for huge tables, chairs and Ottomans. Here too were people who frequented "Lounge Bars". They were dressed like they planned something special - make up was bright, t-shirts were too tight. Also, unintentional rhyming is cool again.

Projected on the back wall were Mr. flickerr's stop animation graphics. They jumped and moved so fast, seizures would have been a common dance move. Yes, it was intense, but awesome, like a shot of adrenalin to the system, enhancing the music blasted out near my vantage point. Neon and action figures featured prominently as things moved into electro territory. The music and visuals really worked well together, which isn't surprising, considering Mr. flikker and Mr. checkerr are related. Had they not complimented each other - they would have been the worst sibling pair ever. Yes, worse than Cain and Abel.

The dancers had a good time, and so did I. But I left, slightly unnerved by this new scene. Everything in this street was too clean and the people didn't even smell that bad. Maybe I hate their cleanliness, but maybe it was because I didn't actually know anyone there.

I think that's more likely.

16 September 2008

The Dearth of the Art...th.

One thing we've notice here: there are very few good bands from Joburg.

We started this blog as a mouthpiece for the music-scene of South Africa's largest city, the hub of the continent's economy and the place with the biggest Nelson Mandela statue. But week after week we seem to be seeing great bands, from everywhere but Joburg.
Is the pressure of living in this place draining the creativity of its citizens? Is there such a thing? And surely bigger cities - London, New York, Tokyo - have more people, and more congestion and more soul-sucking - but that hasn't stopped awesome bands from emerging, has it? No.

Five Men Three Missing (now Five Men Five Missing) were the premier local, nay, national band. But they too have disappeared - lost to the ever multiplying hoards of Pretorians and Capetonians. Not to say that I don't dig those people, I do - my reviews of Cabins and Kidofdoom were more marriage proposals than anything - I just want to see more indie bands from the places I know. I'd like to walk around Wits or a shopping mall (How wonderful! How spiritual!) and see people in bands that enthralled me that weekend.

But alas, it is not to be.

15 September 2008

Just Don't Do Anything.

6 September 2008

Nike Freestyle Relaunch Party Thang - Alexander Theatre

Fire Through the Window

The Beams


Data Takashi

Oh, how we llove the corporate sponsorship! To hook us cool kids in, Reebok or Nike or Puma got "online" with "facebook". There they advertised a seemingly awesome gig, featuring bands all the way from Durban (Fire) and Cape Town (The Beams), plus Pretoria's finest (Kid) and Joburg's favourite DJ (Data Takashi). All of this - but wait! There's more! The shoe sponsors were giving away free pairs of their produce.

Oh, such promise.

I'm really only bitter because the shoe giveaways were only for girls (because real men like walking around barefoot). I'm also bitter that, in order to win the said shoes, you had to dance the hardest in front of the band. So, in order to be a winner - one would have to: (a)be a female; and (b)dance to music as if you were enjoying it thoroughly.

This posed a problem. As a male, I was automatically excluded from the draw. I also didn't really feel like dancing to Fire Through the Window or The Beams. Had I been born, say, with a vagina and with the ability to dance enthusiastically to music I didn't particularly enjoy - I might have some shiny green shoes on today.


The Alexander Theatre, it seems, is now the be-all and end-all of venues in Joburg. I've been there at least once a month for the past three months. Its like that kid you went to school with who you now see fairly often, but you wish he wouldn't talk to you. I don't mind it, I just don't have much to say.

Fire Through the Window, who also played at Oppi were up first with a similar set. It was all winks and coy smiles from the singer, and rock-guy action from the boys - who seemed to be having a good time. Although there was a misstep during "Nothing Compares 2U", the Sinead O'Conner/Prince cover, everything else went according to plan. While fun and cute, they are somewhat novelty-driven - where everything is explained by a ironic cheer or smile, and no-one asks any questions. Not much is missing, the indie-pop is cheery and singable, and they carry their songs well. I just didn't really like the music very much.

Next, were the Beams, all the way from Kaapstad and who started brightly. After the sunshine of Fire Through The Window - the Beams filled the cavern with smoke and something seemingly more intense. With synths and cowbell breaks, and heavy-bass driven riffs - they seem to cross the gap between indie-rock and electro funk. With more energy than you could shake a Eskom executive at, singer Paul jumps and squeals and pounds his keyboard like a man on fire. His voice, somewhat reminiscent of The Cure's Robert Smith, veers wildly, as does his dance-act (which includes much thrusting). Listening to their studio work, there is a level of subtlety that is lost when they take to the stage - however, the energy exuded seemed to make up for the difference. A good performance, yes, but the actual songs could do with more breathing space.

Finally, in high spirits (or perhaps just high) strolled Kidofdoom - who took to the stage as the closest Joburg got to a hometown band. We here live in the hope that one day soon Joburg and Pretoria will melt into one, forming a megatropolis - Jotoria - so Kidofdoom can belong to our city. Tonight they eased through Space Walk and Doom Tumour as well as the Super Mario cover they've made famous, with a sense of fun and, well, sex.

As noted by those around me near the front, both Richard and Barend spent most of the show violently thrusting their guitars and crotches before the fits of laughter took over. The band didn't even skip a beat when a rather slim gentleman got on stage, whipped off his shirt and swung it around his head. The stage invasions, the thrusting, the man with no shirt - they didn't detract. The show was awesome. I love Kidofdoom. To one friend who complained their music was "depressing" I offer two rebuttals. Firstly, you haven't seen them in fun-mode. Secondly, your face.

14 September 2008

This Just In

The new TV on the Radio album has, like anything worth caring about, been leaked.

This, however, has given us the ability to give everybody's favourite Williamsburg-Nigerian-indie-funk-noise-do wop-soul band a listen. Something to follow Return to Cookie Mountain would have had to be special; having listened to Dear Science a half dozen times so far, its safe to say that TV on The Radio are still ,very special. Oh yes.

Just know, should you be waiting for September 23, that you will be happy and warm inside; safe in the knowledge that despite their major-label switch, Tv on the Radio still kick it like Michael Jackson.

01 September 2008

And We Have Lift Off

This is the New Loud Rockets at The Crazy 88. Now this band had all the energy Desmond and The Tutus could provide and more, you couldnt help but dance you heart out and swing you long locks(one of the perks to having dreds)around until your shirt was drenched with sweat. Then of course came the end of the song and you realised you looked like a greasy contruction worker, you began to look around feeling very self conscious but just then you heard them introduce their next song and you just didnt care anymore, whats a little...ok a lot of persperation if your having fun. Besides you cant not like a band when their bassist lookes like Luke Wilson in the Royal Tenebaums.....the resemblence is uncanny