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Despot Acoustics

by Dela Gwala / Images by love.hate.music / 09.04.2013

It’s Sunday, I’m sharing a blanket with a youth pastor and marvelling at the fact that you can get Jack Daniel’s in a beer bottle. Bare-thighed and skinny-jeaned legs dangle from the edges of the Voortrekker monument. There are girls with two-toned hair jangling their drinks and shoulders around at the top of a tree. The last time I climbed this hill of Afrikaner pride was the best new year’s eve of my life; my hoodie was soaking up rain water and Yolandi Visser was screeching “jou ma se poes in a fish paste jar” from the main stage.

This is the part of the story where I’m supposed to call Afrikaans “the language of the oppressor” like a good and respectable black girl. Instead I’ll say that hearing it always brings on the realisation that I’ve come home. It’s the language that comes out of the mouths of some of the people that I love. I grew up in a suburban wasteland where it was used to discipline toddlers and cause scenes in shopping malls. My begrudging fondness towards die taal has nothing to do with a forgetfulness about the system of old. Apartheid always was and will forever remain heinous bullshit. Jolling at a colonial monument is generation average’s chance to smirk at history. At Park Acoustics, the old men in their khaki suits and knee high socks congregated high above in a corner. The outcasts in a fort full of people that included a bald white woman with Africa tattooed on her head.

“Dis baie warm maar dis Sondag so ek het mooi aangetrek.” Apparently, Gazelle’s dictator gear is not built for sunny weather. Like always, every inch of DJ Invizable’s skin is covered, but that doesn’t stop the people around me from taking a stab at guessing his race and ethnicity. The general consensus was that he’s an Indian Jew who also happens to be Zulu. Or a coloured man in the witness protection programme. Turns out he’s a white man who goes by the name of Nick Matthews. Between shouts of “Pretori – ja ja ja!” Frontman Xander Ferreira was begging and pleading for a sound crew member to come sort out his mic. Technical issues aside, without all their usual smoke, pomp and back-up vocalists, it felt like the “Lim pop” pioneers were operating at half mast.


Before the synth-pop despots hit the stage, The December Streets wandered from the foot path to take their place in front of the great tree. Four years ago, at Tings an’ Times, guitarist and vocalist, Tristan Coetzee’s barefootedness had made an impression on me. And now apparently they have a song about it (‘Who needs shoes’). His naked feet made another appearance which evoked a pang of hometown recognition. Their set inspired the loudest sing-a-longs of the day; one for their TUKs anthems ‘Fire through the window’ and another for that forgettable Lumineers song (hey-something something- ho). Another cover that had people cheerfully bungling the lyrics came from Moving House – Lana Del Rey’s ‘video games’. A lot of sultriness goes MIA when that song is performed by a man.


I’ve been known to say that Cape Town is my home and Pretoria is just the place where I grew up. But being forced to move back to Centurion has made me unwillingly concede that I have a soft spot for this place. There may be too many mullets and spiked up biceps within a 1644 km2 radius but there’s something reassuring about the flip-flopped feet that haunt Hatfield square. I may mock Pretoria but it’s just self-deprecation because I know it’s mine.

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* All images © love.hate.music

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