Firstly, I must apologize for the lateness of this post, but I assure you, I have a LEGIT excuse. The Swine Flu floating amidst the airwaves of general Somerset West/Stellenbosch surroundings made it hard, nay, impossible for me to leave the house or do anything of value these last few weeks.
But before this whole flu pandemic, there was a time of peace; a time of tranquil beauty. A time in which close friends, all brothers and sisters in arms, left their homes and journeyed to Klein Libertas Theatre in Stellenbosch to see a… well… I’m not quite sure what you’d call them. And therein lays their appeal.
Die Antwoord sprung out of nowhere. They really did. Okay, so there was Max Normal and then Max Normal TV, but none of that really came close to the intensity and general vibe that Die Antwoord has so successfully captured.
It seems as if Die Antwoord have found a niche in the South African market; a gap somewhere between black, white and coloured people, in which to slip their hilarious skits, filthy Afrikinglish rap lyrics and super smooth attitude. The public are eating it up. I still maintain that another reason they are gaining momentum at such a rate is the fact that their album is available for free download and viral distribution, greatly increasing their coverage. Have you noticed the recent upsurge in aggressive Afrikaans wannabe-gangsters screaming ‘FOK JOU’ out their car windows? Die Antwoord has nothing to do with that…
Upon arrival at Klein Libertas I made my way straight to the bar and then into the building where the gig was to be held. One of the things I love so much about Die Antwoord is the effort they go through in stage-design and lighting. There had to be at least five strobe lights mounted at strategic locations on the walls and stage (if not more), smoke machines, and those SMART light things that like… change colour and shit bru; effectively making the venue an epileptic’s nightmare.
I walked into the venue to the sonic-genius of DJ Solarize, possibly one of the most interesting people I’ve ever not met in my life.
DJ Solarize (Leon Botha) was born with Progeria (rapid aging syndrome) but don’t let that alter your view on him. This guy ROCKS the decks like a jedi-master. Not only that, but upon looking into Solarize’s other projects, you will notice that he is all kinds of genius. No shit. Check his art out on Facebook – Leon ‘Solarize’ Botha I hope to see more of Solarize in the future.
Before long, and strategically placed at a point in the night where people are at a respectable level of drunkness (there is such a thing), Die Antwoord decided to make their appearance on stage, to the (adoring?) screams of about 200 Stellenboschians (official collective noun from now on).
Waddy Jones (now known solely as ‘Ninja’) and Yo Yo Yo Yo-landi Visser walked on stage, evidently in full character, ready to rock. Ninja took the stage with his back facing the audience and started with something along the lines of:
“I am black. I am white. I am coloured. I am English. I am Afrikaans. I am Xhosa. All FUCKED into one person.”
Despite the tongue-in-cheek-ness of it (only reinforced by Yo-landi’s cheeky: “whatever…” in reply) it was still pretty epic; not only that, but it also pretty much sums up their entire act.
Which brings me to my next point: this is not a band; so much as it is a performance. And I, for one, love it. It’s hard not to love it, or at least appreciate it. The characters these guys have all conjured up for themselves are so believable and genuine; whether or not they’re 100% ‘the truth’? Perhaps we’ll never know.
For example, Ninja, is just laaik, THE most hardcore, zef, gangsta-rapper this side of the equator, but every now and then (not often, mind you, these guys are GOOD at what they do) you can see him break character very briefly.
One such moment was half-way through their set when the band invited some crazy peeps onto stage for the most-zef-dressed competition; I’m not too sure how it happened, but a large topless guy decided, this would now be the perfect time to behave like a dick. So he hopped up on stage to start causing problems with anyone within reaching distance and eventually, inevitably, people got pissed-off; Ninja being one of them. Now there was the problem that there was a fat, drunken dude on stage, and the only feasible way of getting him off was to push him, which would also lead to possible future court cases. So the band was stuck with the mission of trying to get him off safely (obviously the guy wanted to stage dive… would it be any other way?)…
Needless to say he ended up stage-diving anyway, during which you could see a brief moment of worry in Waddy Jones’ and Yo-Landi Visser’s eyes. The crowd parted like a monumental divorce and he landed flat on the floor, stomach-first. No damage done.
I would just like to extend a big ‘FUCK YOU’ to that guy. You were inches away from landing on me. If you can’t behave like a human you don’t deserve to be one. Okay: rant-over.
All-in-all, the gig was pretty-much flawless. The sound and lighting was superb, the performance from the band members individually and as a group was amazing (guests included the pirate-like swagger of Afrikaanse romantiese rap superstar uit die rowwe gange van N1 City, Jack Parow, and new-comer, Isaac Mutant, probably one of the best flow-rappers there on the night).
Once Die Antwoord had left the stage to the grief of their dedicated Stellenbosch fanbase, the stage was once again populated by two guys wearing matching Steri-Stumpie T-shirts. I, for one, thought this was hilarious. They were the ‘Wedding DJs’ and I’m sure they were very good, but alas, I decided to revisit the bar, in hopes of re-lubricating my mouth after all the screaming during Die Antwoord.
Never a dull moment whilst at a ‘Die Antwoord’ gig, and I went home feeling satisfied, with the new ambition of learning Afrikaans better, in hopes of actually being able to sing along to their anthem-like choruses next time.
“Party, party, party, party, party, party, party!”
Die Antwoord, Doos Dronk
One question remains and that is: will they be able to maintain the hype they have so brilliantly created thus far?
Only Die Antwoord can answer that…