Archive for the 'Gig Reviews' Category

12
May
11

Album Launch: Taxi Violence – Long Way From Home

Awhile back I bitched and moaned about how South African bands are a bunch of limp dick unclefuckers who need to man the fuck up and play some dirty, sexy rock music already.

Well, I’m happy to say I can add one band to the list of SA bands I actually like and that band is Taxi Violence.

I saw them live at Mercury a month or two back when they did a seriously killer cover of “Riders On The Storm” with We Set Sail. I was well impressed not only with the cover, but also Taxi Violence themselves who, much like Queens Of The Stone Age, have breathed life back into old school 60s / 70s rock and made it unapologetically badass.

 

 

Then, about two weeks back, I ran into George (frontman and vocalist) at Mercury and did this thing I do when I’m drunk when I shoot the breeze with people in bands like I’m catching up with an old highschool buddy.

It’s a test because some people in bands think they’re God’s fucking gift to the planet so I talk to them like they’re normal humans and they either act like I’m a weirdo and run away or they shoot the breeze back and we end up having epic discussions about music and the South African scene.

George definitely proved to be a stand up guy and even invited me to check out the launch of their acoustic album Long Way From Home.

So J-Rab and I headed on down to the Plane-arium for an intimate showcase of what the Taxi lads have been up to and I was pretty blown away.

 

 

Old favourites like “The Mess”, “Devil ‘n Pistol” and “The Turn” sound like they’ve been taken apart and rebuilt from scratch, a refreshing change from most bands who just swap electric guitars for acoustic ones and serve up warmed up leftovers thinly disguised as an album actually worth listening to.

Their acoustic rendition of “Heads and Tails” is particularly noteworthy both on the album and when they played it live. It was pretty hilarious us all reclining on our seats in the Plane-arium with the stars wizzing overhead because whenever Taxi got the crowd bopping your seatback would start moving in time to the music as other people sitting in the same row literally “rocked” out. “Heads And Tails” produced that effect immediately.

They’ve also shot a new video for the song, which they opened their set with which sadly they haven’t uploaded to their YouTube channel yet, but look out for it when they do, it’s a very cool take on the Groundhog Day premise and, in keeping with the song, asks the question if you knew the dice were rigged, how would you play the game?

 

 

One of my songs they played was their new track “Long Way From Home”, about a country boy hitting the big city, a dreamer who “Followed the buzz until he hit the hive”. It’s got an upbeat, bluesy / rock flavour played with bright, jangling guitars and tambourines that reminded me of some of the earlier Supergrass albums.

I’d highly recommend checking out Taxi’s FB page for their upcoming gigs so you can get a chance to hear their acoustic set and, if you’re lucky enough, getting a picture with the square-headed mascott that adorns the new album cover.

 

 

So big up to George for the invite and the guys from Taxi Violence for a killer gig and for hooking me up with a copy of the new album. It doesn’t look like it in the picture below, but I was really stoked to get the actual, physical album. I think that’s the first CD I’ve been given in about 5 years.

 

 

-ST

21
Feb
11

The Tiger Hits The U2 Concert, Has The Time Of His Life

I wouldn’t call myself the world’s biggest U2 fan, so it’s safe to say I went in there with pretty much zero expectations and had my mind blown in every conceivable way.

 

 

J-Rab and I hit the Cape Town stadium at about 4.30 to beat the (non-existent) traffic and make sure we got into the VIP lounge that Nokia very kindly provided us with tickets for. Problem was the lounge only opened at 6pm so we bought a couple of beers and killed a bit of time wandering around the stadium and checking out THE CLAW.

 

 

THE CLAW has gotten a shiteload of press over the last two weeks and for good reason. It’s possibly the single coolest staging rig I’ve ever seen. It’s colossal and looks like it could get up and start walking like some giant killer spider-robot, blasting the audience with intense death rays at any minute.

We got a lot of pics of it before it was all lit up, much to the dismay of one of the security guards we had a chat with who was like, “You’re not allowed to take pictures.”

“What?” I said, “We’re allowed to take pictures?”

“No,” he replied, “not allowed.”

“Ok,” I said, and took some pictures. He smiled at me, I smiled back. What a rad guy.

Once they opened the VIP lounge, I was so excited I bounded in there and immediately ordered two suitcases (what?! They didn’t have any tequila ok?) and a couple more beers. Nokia really pulled out all the stops – for the next two hours I was like a kid at Christmas, munching all manner of froo-froo finger ding-a-lings, taking goofy pictures with J-Rab and drinking suitcases like there was no tomorrow.

 

 

At 8 they closed the VIP lounge and we headed upstairs to catch some of the Springbok Nude Girls set, which would have been a lot better if the sound was sorted out. As it was, it sounded a little like the guys were playing underwater which is apparently an old trick that’s been used for years in the industry – the headline act gets the killer sound and the supporting guys play through amplifiers made of rusty tin cans.

After the Nudies finished up, J-Rab and I went in search of some more free drinks and were immediately drawn, like moths to a flame, to this mesmerising green light that was glowing at the Heineken VIP bar.

“What do you think that is?” J-Rab asked in awe.

“I dunno…” I replied, “but Jeannie D’s in there so it must be important.”

“Go see if you can get us some free drinks.”

“Roger that.”

I approached the security guy at the entrance with the kind of total confidence only 7 suitcases can give you and proceeded to walk straight past him.

He gripped my arm like a vice.

“Where’s your wristband?”

“Right here brother,” I said, proudly displaying my white Nokia lounge VIP wristband.

“That’s the wrong colour,” he said, sternly.

“What! I’m the wrong colour?! What the hell is this, the Apartheid Bar?”

“Your WRISTBAND is the wrong colour.”

“What in God’s name are you talking about?”

“It’s white. It’s supposed to be black.”

“So it’s the REVERSE Apartheid Bar? Man, I can’t wait to blog about this unfair discrimination!”

“Please step aside sir, this is for people who were invited to the Heineken bar ONLY.”

“Cool. Whatever. I’m too white for this bar. It’s cool, I understand…”

As I was sulking off to tell J-Rab the bad news, I saw a MAJOR flaw in the security setup. White blocks.

 

 

They were at the perfect height for sitting on and then, when no one was looking, casually swinging your legs over onto the other side and then casually standing up and WAPOW! You were in the Heineken Reverse Apartheid Lounge.

The second both J-Rab and I had executed this security-defying manoeuvre we whipped out the camera and took about 15 pictures of ourselves pulling more goofy faces while we talked to each other in very snooty voices indeed because we were in the HEINEKEN LOUNGE BABY!

 

 

We swanned over to the bar to start klapping some more free drinks and very quickly froze in our tracks. The people here, they all had cards. Heineken cards! And these cards, you had to produce them to get the sauce – no card, no sauce. J-Rab and I hovered at the bar, furiously trying to think up some way to beat the system when who stepped in front of us? Liesl Van Der Westhuizen, that’s who!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, Liesl V, Schmiesl V, who cares. Well, I’m here to tell you that Liesl Van Der Westhuizen is a fucking cool person. The second her and her boyfriend stepped in front of us she turned around to apologise for cutting in front of us to which I calmly replied, “No sweat. We’re not even supposed to be here, we slipped past security to score some free drinks but apparently you need a green card or something…”

“Do you guys want some drinks?” she said, without even skipping a beat, “We’ll get you some!”

And that’s how we ended up drinking in the Heineken bar for free with Liesl V. Until security kicked us out. That was kinda embarrassing. But we met up with Liesl outside again and they got us a SECOND ROUND OF DRINKS!

What a lovely person, seriously. I don’t care what anyone says about her, Liesl is cool in my books. She helped a Tiger out so I’ll have no more Liesl-bashing on this site thank you very much. Um. Not that there ever was any to begin with, but yeah. Just so you know.

 

 

After that U2 took to the stage and THE CLAW came to life in a multitude of colours and images and flashing lights. Unfortunately by this stage J-Rab and I were about twelve sheets to the wind so it’s hard to recall the exact details of the concert, but I can confirm this much – U2 put on an INCREDIBLE show and no, I’m not just saying this because I was there and you weren’t.

About halfway through the set, J-Rab and I somehow managed to get into the outer golden circle to get some pics from the ground just in time for them to play “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “One” which, I’ll be honest, was an emotional moment for me. It’s my favourite U2 song of all time and hearing the guys play it live right there in front of us was intense.

 

 

Not sure if I was cool with all the Nelson Mandela / Desmond Tutu references and imagery that we were bombarded with and the snippets from interviews with both of them, I just think it’s a pretty obvious ploy to get the crowd all gooey with emotion (it worked like a bomb).

But I’ll let it slide because U2 have always been a political band and have actually done a lot of good in this world. Also, in all fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a band play in this country and NOT mention Nelson Mandela or Desmond Tutu in some way so I’ll reserve judgement on this one.

It was a brilliant experience and an amazingly well-executed concert. Big up to Nokia for making it all possible, you guys spoiled us and we really appreciated every second of it, let’s be pals forever.

In closing, here’s a pic of THE CLAW in its full glory after a massive CONE of TV screens extended down towards the stage like it was going to tractor-beam the band into space.

 

 

Good times Winking smile

-ST

13
Oct
10

Gig Review: The Show Must Go On (Queen Tribute Show)

You gotta dig a guy like Freddie Mercury. It’s practically a law! Not only was he a musical genius and a phenomenal singer, but the man was rumoured to have once thrown a party so wild it had midgets roaming around with trays of cocaine strapped on their heads for guests to schnarf off.

 

 

His life was the stuff of legend – he wore crazy outfits, he had the stage presence of a young stallion and he sung some of the most memorable rock songs and ballads of all time.

Just watch the passionate vehemence with which people act out the coda (“I’m just a poor boy from a poor family…”) of “Bohemian Rhapsody” before last round gets called at the local bar and you’ll know that for as long as there is music, there will always be Queen. And so it was with realistic expectations that I went on a Thursday to the opening night of The Show Must Go On at the Roxy Revue Bar in GrandWest Casino and to be honest, it was exactly how I imagined it – a lot of fun, if you’re 45 or older.

Click here to read the whole enchilada…

-ST

10
Oct
10

Rocking The Daisies – A Photo Journey

“Sarah?”

“Yes, hi…?”

“Hi, we’ve just arrived so um, where can I pick up my ticket?”

“Come meet us at the Nokia tent, we’ve managed to get you media accreditation, so you just need to head over to the tent and we’ll meet you there.”

“Ok, cool. But, um, how do I get in?”

“What…?”

“I mean, do they have my name at the gate or something?”

“No, your ticket was –“

“In the mail Olga sent me? Yeah, I printed it out but left it on my desk, total fuck-up.”

“Ohh… kaaayy…”

“Can we make some kind of plan?”

And BAM, there we were, 20 minutes later with Sarah slipping me a media band and me walking through the glass-Nazi security check-point and straight into Rocking The Daisies at around 12 midday on the sunniest Saturday you ever did see.

 

 

Thank you Nokia, seriously. You guys are the shit – bailing me out when I forgot to take my ticket with, fuck yeah. You guys made my festival possible.

As for the festival itself, fahk, where do I start? I was seriously impressed.

From the outset, I could see we were dealing with a different kind of festival, one where they take care of the details. It was everything from guys with wheelbarrows helping you lug your shit around, to the heavy emphasis on environmental friendliness and recycling and even something as simple as the exclusive loos (we never used any, but I’m sure they were a huge relief to people who didn’t want to face the possibility of opening a porta-loo door and finding… AN ANACONDA!).

We set up our tent in an area that soon became overrun with shirtless charnas, about 6 or 7  in total, who had the most hilarious collection of crusty old tents J-Rab and I had ever seen. They were actually pretty funny fuckers, but J-Rab and I didn’t really hang around much after we’d set up camp, it was like a sauna in our tent, the kind of day where the horizon shimmers and all you want to do is find a giant body of water and float in it with a bottle of cold beer.

We hopped from one island of shade to the next, people-watching and sipping on the waterbottle full of ice-cold vodka and lime we snuck into the main arena.

 

 

We caught a few New Holland tracks which I remember thinking sounded pretty cool, but we didn’t stay for long enough for me to give them a decent write-up. We were more focussed on beer at this stage, that and tracking down the Captain Morgan people who were filling up our now-empty “water-bottle” with free premixed Captain and coke.

I remember swimming in the dam.

 

 

I remember J-Rab and me heading back to our campsite, dragging our mattress out the tent and under the shade-cloth the charnas had set up, staring at a blue, blue sky. Giant love affair…

 

 

We drank a lot of beer just lying there and ended up napping in the sun before heading back to the mainstage later that evening to catch Boo! who played a killer set.

Chris Chameleon’s vocals were clear as a bell, and, dressed like the Wicked Witch of the West, he rocked out onstage with a mike headset while banging out the basslines to songs like “Lucky” and “Champion” and getting the crowd jumping and rocking out.

Ampie was his usual, clownish self, thanking everyone like a kid in a highschool who’s buddies have all showed up to the garage gig he’s hooked up because his parents are away.

Him and Chameleon still have the same, infectious chemistry they always did, but Ampie did seem to be struggling to hold some notes on the trumpet and looked a little flustered sometimes. They’re not the 20-something punks they were when they first started, but they did an impressive job of rocking out like they were.

 

 

As for the Nudies, it was an interesting set.

They played all the Nude Girls’ classics like “Blue Eyes”, “Giant Love Affair”, “What Would You Say?” and the ever-popular grunge / alternative rock anthem “Bubblegum On My Boots” and for the most part, they almost sounded like the ground-breaking, energetic and charismatic SA rock band they were back in the late nineties.

Theo rocked out like a metal stalwart. He looks meaner than I remember him, meatier, like a man who’s seen and done a lot because, well, he is.

Arno looks like an only slightly aged carbon copy of his younger self. He looks like he’s taken pretty good care of himself, must be the Top Billing-type lifestyle he’s been living for the last 8-odd years.

As for his vocals, they were hit and miss. The man’s got a great scream, he always has, and when he unleashes it the earth itself shakes and it’s still as spine-shivering now as it ever was.

But it sounded like he missed more than a couple of queues and at times was missing notes completely, but I think people forget, especially South African audiences, is when you pay to see a band play live, you pay to watch their mistakes as much as you pay to hear the moments when everything comes together, the band explodes with energy and the crowd absorbs that explosion, amplifies it and feeds it straight back.

 

 

MASSIVE FAIL for bringing Jeannie D onstage while the band sung “Jeanie” though, that was a gag-inducing moment if I ever saw one.

The dfnniest part was right at the end when they invited ‘Sailor Jim” to join them onstage.

“Sailor Jim” wore a sailing hat and some kind of brown coat (if I remember correctly…?) and was a podgey, happy-looking kind of chap.

“Who’s that?” I remember J-Rab asking.

“Why, I have no idea… but judging by the hat, I’d say this is Sailor Jim.”

It was only ten minutes later, when he took his hat off, that I realised it was Ard from Just Jinja.

If I could have done anything different, it would have been to stay for Taxi Violence after the Nudies, but in truth my skull felt like it was going to split open at that stage, and we had no painkillers.

We passed out listening to the drunken revelry of the campers around us and their hilarious stories about running into barbed wire fences and finding strangers passed out in their tents.

There’s a lesson here kids, if you’re rocking a music festival, take a LOCK.

The next day this apocalyptic wind was blowing the walls of our tent in and out like a sails. We poked our heads out to see hordes of people packing up their tents while the sky got blacker and blacker and the wind blew all their trash around.

 

 

We stayed to check out Checked Zebra who were really good. Imagine Chili Peppers meets Boo! meets a punk / ska band (maybe like Sublime) and you get Checked Zebra.

 

 

We would have rocked out to their whole set, but the wind was blowing so hard it felt like we were in a cyclone, so we eventually headed back to camp, packed up and headed home.

 

 

The best part of any festival is the first shower you have back at home and the afternoon nap that inevitably follows.

You drift off to sleep, thankful for the little things in life like clean linen and a comfortable bed, and don’t surface until you’ve nailed at least a solid 2 hours, warm and safe while the clouds gather and rain down on the roof above you and the wind whips tree branches and kicks up clouds of swirling dust devils outside.

Rocking The Daisies was an amazing festival. A special mention goes to the guys handling the AV for the main stage gigs on the Saturday night. The camera work and visuals were professionally executed and looked pretty fucking amazing.

 

 

Next year I’ll definitely try get their on the Friday though, it all went by too damn fast.

You gotta do the whole hog if you want to truly experience a festival, next time I’m taking the leave and doing shit right, going with a huge group of friends, packing a LOT of tequila and possibly even hanging out with the bands.

Sky’s the limit I tell ya 😉

-ST

07
Sep
10

Gig Review: Basement Jaxx

Remember back in high school when school socials would roll around and you’d get all excited about rocking out at them and having the time of your life, and then the big night rolled around and you realised all it was was a bunch of bored-looking people crammed into your school hall wishing they could get their hands on some booze?

Yeah. In one, long convoluted sentence, that was Basement Jaxx last Friday.

 

 

I’d never been to the Waterfront Lookout before, but the name conjured all kinds of majestic imagery of an open-air concert venue with a perfect view of the harbour and grassy banks where concert-goers could drink in the sights around them while taking a break from the manic crowds dancing like their lives depended on it by the front of the colossal stage.

I pictured giant luxury cruise liners floating by the Lookout with people in tuxedos and evening dresses sipping cocktails on the poop deck while the moon’s reflection shimmered silver on the ocean’s wavy surface.

Instead I arrived to find a fenced-in patch of gravel next to a hall that would be awesome for bingo. At the one end of said hall was a queue seven people deep for a drink and the other a cramped-looking stage with a couple of big screens and lighting rigs.

The patio on the other side of the hall ‘looked out’ at the back-end of the waterfront where the ocean gently lapped random pieces of trash while the wafting scent of rotten fish rolled in misty waves over the people gathered there to smoke and stare in disdainful silence at one another.

 

 

I don’t want to sound like a whiny bitch here, so I’m going to gloss over the performances of all the supporting acts and just say that they were all really, really nice (if you eatlivebreatheshit 5fm) and that I definitely would have boogied on down to their phat and original beats had I spent the afternoon drinking rubbing alcohol / had a large portion of my brain removed.

Then the main act took the stage! We knew this not because they came out guns blazin’ and instantly blew everyone’s minds, but rather because like magic, the queues at the bar disappeared and we could make an earnest effort at getting plastered on overpriced Millers.

Basement Jaxx played with very little heart and the crowd could tell. Halfway through their set most people had already left to beat the traffic home. It was embarrassing.

Sure, there were moments when they rocked out and got the crowd pumping, but sadly they were rare. Most of their set comprised of remixes of other artist’s material (including “Sex On Fire” which, for me, was a definite low point) with one or two Basement Jaxx classics thrown in and a long-ass middle section of beats that went nowhere.

 

 

However, this is not to say the night wasn’t still awesome for me. Here, in bullet-point form are the parts I liked best:

  • The part when my buddy-down-from-joburg The Glaze lost his mind in the drinks queue, shoved his money into my hands, said he had to go outside for some air and then dropped like a sack of potatoes on the stairs in a dead faint. I missed the whole spectacle (CURSE YOU DRINKS QUEUE!) but reliable eye witnesses said he threw his arms back dramatically in the air and keeled over in a graceful backwards swan dive. Haha! Priceless.
  • The part where my buddy Barbarian took an entire MDMA cap in one go because he thought security was watching him crack it open to take a hit and then spent the next hour fighting to keep his shit together. He ended up going home with two girls he’d just met. Legendary.

So the evening wasn’t completely wasted, but you can pretty much bet your ass any parties that crop up in future with the words ‘5fm’ or ‘Waterfront Lookout’ in them will not be graced by this Tiger.

But hey, that’s just like my opinion, man. I’m sure this will no doubt be greeted by the usual slew of personal abuse my writing seems to attract.

I mean fuck. No one wants to hear it like it is. But that’s a story for another time kids 😉

-ST

07
Dec
09

Gig review: The Killers

South African audiences suck. We have absolutely no idea how to rock out and you can’t really blame us. Overseas there are hundreds of excellent bands playing every weekend and in places like London they are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to concerts and artists.

Not so all the way down in darkest Africa. Down here we get international acts maybe three times a year if we’re lucky, which is bad because what ends up happening is everyone buys tickets to go see whichever band has decided to grace us with their presence not because they are die hard fans of that band, but just because a big international artist has actually come down here to play.

What ends up happening is you get masses of people paying ridiculous amounts of money to go and watch bands that they don’t know very well.

In the case of The Killers concert that happened in Joburg on Friday night, I’m willing to bet that the majority of the people who went to watch them knew four or five of their songs, mainly the ones that play on 5FM and that was about it.

 

 

They also have no clue how to chill out and enjoy the vibe of a big concert. We arrived about 40 mins before The Killers went on stage, which was just enough time to get some drinks and start missioning through the crowds to find a good spot.

Predictably as we got closer to the centre, the crowds became more and more dense until eventually we came to a dead stop in a group of people who started shitting us out in a really bitchy, horrible way for having the audacity to stand amongst them.

People, this is a fucking rock concert, you cannot reserve a place to stand, what the fuck?!

Eventually we managed to squeeze past the douchebags and find a place to stand and moments later the lights dimmed down, a low, long, grumbling note sounded over the massive speaker system and in an explosion of lights, The Killers launched into their first song, ‘Joyride’.

A bit of a weak song to start with some might argue, but it was a nice and gentle way to ease us all into things and I think it worked.

The exact tracklist they played after that is a little blurry in my mind, but I know ‘Bones’ was in there somewhere in the beginning and that they rocked out for the first three tracks and then played two totally obscure tracks after that and the energy in the crowd dropped instantly.

 

 

To the band’s credit, they played every classic Killers’ track they’ve ever written. ‘For Reasons Unknown’, ‘Spaceman’, ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘Human’, and ‘Mr Brightside’ were all belted out passionately and executed with such precision, you’d swear you were listening to the CD…

But rest assured, this wasn’t Milli Vanilli we were watching, as perfectly as the band played, I picked up a couple of tiny slip-ups here and there – proof that it wasn’t just a backing track we were listening to.

What quickly became apparent watching them live though is that Brandon Flowers (the lead vocalist and frontman of the band) IS The Killers. Take that man out of the band and all you’ve got is a group of dudes who look like ageing session musicians, the kind of people you’d expect to see on stage playing U2 covers at The Rustic Theatre on a Sunday afternoon.

Mark my words, the next step for ol’ Flowers will be a solo career. He’ll drop the rest of the band, strike out on his own and make an album that, surprise, surprise, sounds exactly like The Killers.

You heard it here first 😉

There were a couple of little touches that I really liked. One of them was when they killed all the lights in The Dome and Flowers and the guitarist Dave Keuning stepped under a single spotlight and sang ‘Falling In Love With You’ (the Elvis track).

 

 

I also liked the bit when Flowers sat down at the end of ‘Spaceman’ and played the last chorous on the piano, just him on his lonesome. The man can sing, that’s for damn sure.

The only song I think they butchered completely was ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, which was really sad, because like I said in my previous post, that song means a lot to me. They opted for an acoustic guitar and piano instead of the electric and synthesized kind and played the song half a click slower than they do on the album.

The result is that it sounded more like a funeral dirge than The Killers’ track we’ve all come to know and love.

Other than that, it was a solid concert, and yes, I feel like I got my money’s worth. As for the rest of the crowd, who knows what they thought of it all. A lot of my friends who went to the concert were surprised by how unenergetic the crowd was, but as I mentioned above, this is fairly typical of South African audiences.

There were people standing next to us that didn’t so much as nod their heads for the entire concert. They just stood there and watched in a kind of silent, catatonic daze.

Nice one guys. No wonder international bands avoid us like the plague.

 

 

However, the real question here is has my faith in the band been restored? After watching them play live are they back in my top ten list? Well, the answer to that question would be ‘no’.

More than anything, I feel a sense of closure. I’ve bought all their albums, listened to nearly everything they’ve ever recorded and seen them play live.

I’m happy to say adios to The Killers. In five year’s time I’ll probably dig out some of my personal favourites again and play them on a lazy afternoon, but the danger of listening to any band too much is that their music loses it’s meaning for you and thanks to the masses of radio play this band has gotten, that’s exactly what’s happened to them.

They killed The Killers. Those music execs out there in dreamland, they killed The Killers.

Those bastards.

-ST




A Word From The Kind Folks At Nokia

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