Caught in the Spider’s Eyeby Andrei van Wyk / Images by Paris Brummer / 24.10.2011
The hair is more elaborate and the jeans are tighter. The air is boiling in The Alexander Theatre. There is a restlessness, an anticipation that builds for two hours before the set. Outside people are scrambling to get in. The entire building is crawling. Some guys shuffle awkwardly waiting for a clear cubicle in the men’s bathroom while the line for the women just gets longer.
The empty stage radiates a hollow echo as the drum sets and DJ gear rattle to the beat throbbing from the badly distorted hip-house music. Some in the crowd do the irony dance, but without any real commitment. Others just stand in the middle of the floor waiting for it to begin.
A dreaded, chubby guy stops making out with his inappropriately short girlfriend while lonely hipsters in blazers and Nike Airs begin to pay attention to the stage. The stage lights go haywire as colours jump, twist and turn. The strobes slow down as a dark ominous silence falls. A blue light from the back of the stage casts a silhouette of a dominatrix. Lark is a band synonymous with musical experimentalism in South Africa, with their invasive amalgam of IDM, jazz, opera and Dadaist tendencies, all wrapped in a simple pop structure. Inge stands in front commanding the stage, the audience enraptured. Fuzzy and Paul simply head-bang to the solid beat which is being laid down by Mr Sakitumi on the drums. Their performance is executed with a stochastic precision as every syncopation surprises and drags the senses down a rabbit hole. With songs such as “Cradle of Cable” with its fluid glitch beat and heavy synths, and “Tricksy” with its epic vocal arrangements, the band move through their set with ease.
Inge moans, crawls and screams with a vicious energy. It is clear, when looking into the crowd, that everyone here is in love with her. The set is largely made up of their old material. The new stuff, is peppered throughout and provides glimpses of what’s to come and sets the crowd on edge. The sound is a bit more tribal, intense in form and strikes a raw vigour that sets everyone on edge. As soon as the band finish and move off stage, the entire room goes silent. The sound of instruments being packed away embodies the depression of a crowd wanting more.
Double Adapter burst onto the stage with the self-same indie swagger and dangerous sense of imminent bereavement they unleashed on the crowds at Oppikoppi and Grietfest. I’m not sure I totally understand Johannesburg’s new found obsession with rave and house influenced indie dance. Acts such as Haezer, P.H.Fat and Spoek Mathambo have built massive followings and packed venues across the country with dance music that is both addictive but at often self-indulgent. The Apter brothers offering starts off strong with remorseless bass and a sadistic stage presence. Dan is jumping behind the mixing desk, sampler in hand, while Tim incites dance-violence from the crowd. You’re either on this bus or not. If you don’t buy the ticket it soon devolves into pointless noise put to a too loud and somewhat pretentious dance beat. The visuals blasting the words “Double Adapter” in two tones become monotonous and seems cheap. Their brand of hardcore electro with sexed up funk and profane samples sits well with those on the dance floor, others disappear into the darkness of the bar or high key light of the lobby.
Outside kids wait secretly round the corner for their parents to pick them up. The bass from inside pounds the glass doors. A soundtrack for those moving quickly to pay their car guards and go home.
*All images © Paris Brummer.