All for Mahalaby Andy Davis / 15.06.2009
Rambling Bones, City Bowl Mizers, Nikhil Singh, THOTS, Manuvah to Change, the Otherwise and even Kid of Doom rock up to rock out for the Mahala cause in Durban! You shoulda been there…
It was Bob Marley who said when music hits you, you feel no pain. Building on that theme, we’re gonna disembowel and pull out your guts like a sausage with our sweet sweet music! Let us rip out your eyes and skull fuck you with our soulful melodies. We’re going to mash you up proper. With music, dude. It won’t hurt a bit. In fact, you’ll enjoy it. And that’s how it was at the Mahala Surf and Music festival in Durban on Friday night.
This review was always going to be ethically dubious, since we’re reviewing our own gig. But fear not, we’ll launch headlong into further obfuscating the blurry line between journalism and shameless, self-aggrandizing PR.
Did I tell you how much the Mahala Surf and Music festival rocked? In fact the vibe at our gig was so good, love, literally, dripped from the ceiling and oozed down the walls. People were so happy they just sponstaneously hooked up. Snogging on the deck and making sloppy polony sandwiches out on the beach. Swarms of decadent heathens bounced up and down frenetically in front of the stage, squealed at the bands and guzzled copious amounts of liquid refreshment at the bar. It was a calm clammy Durban night and the lights of the city winked at us knowingly from across the bay.
The main purpose of the gig was to collect surfboards for the Mahala Surf Co. Our non-profit surf company that collects and distributes second hand surf equipment to underprivileged groms who would otherwise never get a chance to feel the raw, undiluted joy of riding a curling band of energy as it pulsates through the ocean’s shore. I know, dude. I know… So if you brought your old stick to donate, you scored free entry to the gig. 20 of Durban’s finest did just that. The others gave freely their 50 bucks and supported the cause by getting loose. And in that same spirit of giving – all the bands performed for free.
The evening kicked off with The Otherwise strumming through an acoustic set, a steadily rising Durban outfit perfect for kicking off the evening’s festivities. Next folllowed a discordant guitar wailing in the night, thrashed by a man thoroughly enjoying the disjointed harmonies emanating from his fingers and vocal chords. Yes, even the king of strange rock n roll strange came to check things out. Nikhil Singh front man of the Wild Eyes and Hi Spider just happened to be in Durban and offered to play a guest performance. On stage he was ably supported by Sinead Turnham on vocals, tossing marshmallows at the front row. Nik provided the evening with a pivotal moment, upsetting the easy groove and edging up the vibe while making all the alternative, left-field leaning indie kids howl.
Manuvah to Change were next up. Two rising Durban bands on stage for the price of none. When Pocket Change and Manuvah to Land heard about the gig they got together and worked on a unique collab for the night. All I know is that the easy, folksy reggae with twinges of country and hip hop was a treat to the ears. When these guys record an album, it’ll be worth giving it a listen.
And then the evening started to get away from me. I love that moment when the thing you’ve been working on takes on a life of its own and starts rolling under it’s own momentum. There was no controlling this thing now. Too many people with their own agenda of getting down. Pocket to Manuvah to Change – or whatever they’re called, played a long mellow set. The perfect build up to Rambling Bones.
Fuzigish’s front man took to the stage to belt out some songs from his solo album, supported by a fun guy with a big beard who others in the music industry have described as a semi-deranged percussionist with a huge Brad Pitt tattoo on his back, allegedly. This guy’s name is Kevin Flee and he rocks the tambourine. Together they’re Rambling Bones and what follows is some of the sweetest, soul-infused acoustic bluesy, country, singer-songwriter alchemy you’d be blessed to own their album. Seriously. Bones is talent. Tara Fataar then jumped on stage for a rendition of the duet, ‘Baby Shoes’.
I remember standing next to someone in the crowd who suddenly twigged that Jay is the frontman for Fuzigish, and he started bouncing around screaming to his friends and whoever else was watching:
“That’s the guy from Fuzigish! That guys a fucking legend. I can’t believe that’s the guy. Fuck I should have told all my friends. This is so sick!”
Rambling Bones played much their debut album and then a few Fuzi classics – acoustic core. Making your ears bleed with pure aural delight.
Then out of the blue some young Durban Film Students, Sarah Dawson and her dude Matt showed their 5 minute film on the big screen about a robot who falls in love, or something like that. The snatches I saw between shovelling money into my pockets, swigging beer and swanning around the place like the king, seemed to have a really cool feel. A soft narrative honesty. Nice, quirky. Some exec from an ad agency hit him up afterwards, so maybe there’s a Mahala hook up story there. We generally take 10% on those deals. We’ll post the video on site soon.
More people arrived. The gig swirled. City Bowl Mizers took to the stage like racehorses strutting before the July. These guys are the shit and they know it. The only band to do a full sound check. And I’m glad to report that these boys didn’t waste it. They’ve got some well-polished rock songs in that repertoire. A new album would be nice. But more than a great band that pulls a cool crowd, the City Bowl Mizers must be given more love because they totally got behind Mahala cause; pushed, promoted and used all their weight in the Durban live music scene to make this shit happen. So thanks guys.
By this stage the running order was pretty loose. Tree Houses On The Sea were supposed to be next. But this other act called Per Cassette jumped on stage first to give the people a two track taste of their new album. It didn’t really move me, but then again I think hip hop is pretty much a bankrupt art form in its current incarnation. And for the same reason about half of Tree Houses On The Sea didn’t work for me. The other half was magnificent. Amazing melodies and interesting vocals. Jazzy, reggae style hip hop and grooves. But when the guys are spitting lyrics in the mike to a beat, I’m just yawning. They’ve definitely got some songs though. So let’s wait for the album.
Halfway through their set my accomplice Roger sidles up to me and says:
“Kid of Doom have just finished their set at Burn and are keen to come and play here.”
I’m like, “no fucking way!”
And he’s like totally, nodding and jumping up and down. And so for the price of a crate of Amstel Lager Kid Of Doom – those instrumental Pretoria kids – as in busy putting instruments back into being mental too to our little stage on the beach near the harbour in Durban – and rocked the fuck out of what was left of that early Saturday morning!
This is the only picture we have to prove Kid of Doom rocked up and played our gig out of the goodness of their instrumental hearts.
It was late, I was drunk.
Other drunk, smiling youths shook the kinks out of their joints on that dancefloor. We delivered 12 surfboards to the Umthombo project in Durban which teaches street kids to surf, the other 8 are currently strapped to the roof of the Land Rover as we head South to Port St Johns.