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The Lottery Tickets


by Andy Davis, image by Kate Davies / 01.11.2010

This started out as a review for the Lottery Tickets’ debut full length album Occupations, but it’s not really fair to use them as a crowbar to pry open the psychology that fuels the glut of Cape Town’s suburban indie rock outfits. Because Occupations is really quite a good little record and it certainly offers something fresh to a scene that is largely typified by bands that are better at emulating their heroes’ sounds than actually breaking new ground musically.

The problem, let’s start there, is that this release is stuck in a milieu. A movement emanating from the upper middle class suburbs of Cape Town, that bespeaks a cloistered reality of economic alienation and globalized media consumption. Drop the name of an indie rock band from Cape Town: The Plastics, Thieve, New Holland, aKing, Holiday Murray, The Pretty Blue Guns, The Sleepers etc. Without getting caught up in the minutiae of their differing “genres”, their “creative” output points to a global fashion dictated by the television and blogs like Pitchfork. The lyrics, the music, the whole cultural production of all these globally inspired indie imitators render themselves almost entirely irrelevant to the social moment of being alive in South Africa now. And while many of these acts might be technically sound and talented musicians, as The Lottery Tickets certainly are, their product is invariably creatively suspect and largely unimportant. It just doesn’t register. I mean what the fuck is happening that causes young, privileged white laaities to produce such generic international sounding rock? And the sick thing is they do it well. They’re good at it. It’s just lacking in originality and relevance. It’s as if these kids don’t even recognize that they’re living in Africa. They could be seemlessly transplanted to Sweden, Denmark or Melbourn. Their heroes; bands like Interpol, The National, The Pixies, The Smiths, The Killers, The Kings of Leon, REM, Dinosaur Jr and Arcade Fire. It’s as if they’ve never heard of James Phillips and the Cherry Faced Lurchers, Tananas, Sankomoto, Johannes Kerkorrel or even Johnny Clegg, the Springbok Nude Girls and the Blk Jks. Not to mention genre-shifting 80s acts like éVoid and Via Afrika. They’re all pursuing this false dream, racing down a dead-end street where the peak of their success is necessarily the brick wall of being a good, original cover band – like The Parlotones, Prime Circle and Just Jinjer.

The Lottery Tickets

And yes, sadly The Lottery Tickets, hailing from Somerset West, are defined in this context. Under “genre” on their Facebook page it says: “Something Bear Grylls would have on his iPod.” A statement that succinctly locates them slap bang in the middle of the DSTV belt and thankfully points towards a sense of humor. There is no doubt that they’re talented and can write songs – their sound varying between sing songy Stone Roses-like verses and Primal Scream type rock out abandon with shouty vocal choruses and anthemic rock strings. It’s good shit if all you want to do is jump around. If you’re looking for a soundtrack for getting boozed and hooking up, and you want it to sound “international” and be tight, I give you The Lottery Tickets. But if you’re looking for the anthem that defines your generation, if you’re looking for music that resonates with your life and is at once musically and lyrically engaging, if you’re looking for something more, that imprisons your zeitgeist and captures that suburban meme you’re living and motivates you to respond… well I don’t think you’re going to find it on this album. I mean, unless you’re the bassist in a Cape Town indie rock band.

What I don’t understand is why these kids don’t take their inspiration from their direct experiences. The ‘burbs in 2010 is full of fascinating subject matter, chock full of fucked up experiences. We’re literally surrounded, hemmed in on all sides and up to our neck in concepts like disparity, deprivation, white guilt, fear, electric fences, maids called Gladys, paranoia, conspicuous consumption and closet racism. We have a lineage of incredible and interesting music styles, a melting pot of influences to draw from. But this, this fixation with globo-indie-rock is stale. This love affair with mimicry, this production line of mediocrity that can only, ever be average…

Now I’m just being a poes. I really didn’t want to use this review as a platform for swinging a cricket bat at a whole scene. Especially considering that this is their debut album. It’s not fair to make The Lottery Tickets my soapbox for attacking an entire scene, especially when there are others far more complicit and worthy of this criticism, but there you go. Hopefully they’ll get better and strive for relevance in both their sound and their lyrics. Although Track 7, “Trophy”, is a keeper.

Either way, there is one example I hold dear and roll out for occasions just like this. Back in 2002, a band called New World Inside sent me a demo. It was atrocious, embarrassing. The fashion of the time was emo punk pop, and their attempt was a laughable simulacra stuck somewhere between the Offspring, Green Day and Blink 182 – but really they sounded like a luke-warm version of Tweak (remember those whiney faux-punk Joburg goofs?). New World Inside was made up of Hunter Kennedy on vocals and Francois Van Coke on bass.

A few months later they would go on to become Fokofpolisiekar and produce As Jy Met Vuur Speel an EP that would kick what we know about Afrikaans culture in the balls, and become the voice for an angry new generation and in the process spawn an entire industry. The Lottery Tickets, can rock their instruments and entertain, but do they have what it takes to be relevant and true to their social moment?

*Image © Kate Davies.

32   9
  1. Anonymous says:

    fucking sweet!

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  2. Matt says:

    Nice pics!

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  3. Mike says:

    I don’t think the Lottery Tickets and The Sleepers can be, or deserve to be, lumped in as part of the Cape Town indie DEvolution?! The Sleepers especially are nothing like any of the other bands you mentioned. You should have included The Dirty Skirts though.

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  4. dan says:

    shit we need new music venues-club mahala??

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  5. Hey says:

    You know what. I think it is lazy and a bit of a cop-out to not even bother to get in touch with the band you are review to ask them a few questions about the record they made. The most journalistic “work” that was done here, besides listening to the record, was to got to facebook and over-analyse a “sounds like” box. Anyone can do that. You owe to your readers to put a little more effort in. Send a bloody email, meet the band for a beer. Well fucking done mahala, really

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  6. Anonymous says:

    To each his own. I think a lottery tickets show is above your average cape town indie show. These guys are the most humble and don’t have this I’m in a band and better than you vibe about them like some of the bands mentioned in this piece.

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  7. Bruce says:

    So instead of musicians imitating the bands that they like, they should just imitate the ones that you like? (And pretend that their parents are poor)

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  8. Kate says:

    who wants to listen to songs about “disparity, deprivation, white guilt, fear, electric fences, maids called Gladys, paranoia, conspicuous consumption and closet racism”? talk about a buzz kill.

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  9. Hey says:

    Robbie (guy who writes the lyrics) in this band also wrote this http://bit.ly/9ouxvK which went to the grahamstown festival this year. Have a look. http://www.artsblog.co.za/?p=1427
    Perhaps if you had bothered to take them time and do your research, you would have been able to write a more engaging less idiotic sounding article

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  10. WhistleWhile says:

    Fucking kak review. Have you ever seen The Sleepers perform? If you think The Sleepers are an indie rock band, you definitely can differentiate between genres, which of course renders you useless as a music journalist. I know two of the members of The Lottery Tickets, and they put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this album.

    As ‘Hey’ mentioned, why don’t you get input from The Lottery Tickets? Why do you say you don’t want to use this piece as a platform to deride the industry and then do it anyway?

    Jeez, it seems Mahala journo’s are out to fucking kill the spirits of musicians, especially those in Cape Town.

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  11. bear says:

    Great review! The scene does suck and this band is nothing special. I saw them 2 weeks ago, and they did not impress me. Such ‘normal’ artistic people.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    a few things:
    first, to the guy above: why the fuck should a journalist have to meet a band to form an opinion on their music. Every potential ‘listener’ out there doesn’t have this luxury. It’s unfair that you’re encouraging some biased opinion, cause it’s just a fact that it’s harder to write critically for a band who you have met and hung out with. The album should do the speaking, when it comes down to what was initially intended as a review.

    Secondly: i love how the guys already calling the review kak have already outed themselves as friends of the band.

    Thirdly: Although I agree The Sleepers are’t remotely indie and have found themselves in this article by a lack of understanding or definition by the author, it does give us the chance to comment on them and say: Boy, do they suck?? What the fuck is going on at that camp? INdividually, they’re solid enough muscians, but what a cluster fuck of arrogance and whine.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    lol, the guy who writes the lyrics also wrote some play, why didn’t you include that shit!!!
    how is that remotely relevant to their album release?
    you fans / friends have weird ideals.

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  14. @anonymous says:

    A lot this review deals with the absence of explicit “South African Experience” themes on the record. Furthermore Andy assumes that this omission is because of some sort of cushy-suburban-easy life-ignorance. So yeah, a play has nothing to do with the music but it if you are looking at something much larger (the identity crisis in middle-class white za youth) then perhaps it does make some sort of sense. Maybe not. Mahala is such a shit storm sometimes

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  15. Andy says:

    Ok first things first, this is not a review… it’s a reaction and a polemic. We’ll do a review of the album soon. One that actually breaks it down song by song and just refers to the music. This is about a broader societal theme – that none on the rah-rah chearleaders care to comment on, but instead choose to jump to the defense of the band.

    Secondly the critic has no compulsion to “meet the band” and discuss anything with them. They pushed the music into the public sphere, I listened to it repeatedly and had this reaction. An interview would’ve been nice but it’s certainly not a prerequisite to my having an opinion.

    My argument remains the same. The Lottery Tickets are a talented band. As are The Sleepers, The Plastics, New Holland et al. They should just push their boundaries a little bit further than straight “organic emulation” of the music they like. Is it too much to ask that cultural production be relevant ?

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  16. Mary-Anne says:

    that the guy wrote a play about “the identity crisis in middle-class white za youth” is interesting, relevant even, but there if there’s nothing in the music that captures that idea, then the music falls victim to exactly the point he was trying to make in the play…

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Also: every artistic piece is weighed individually and doesn’t need to take into account the breadth of an artists entire scope to find relevance.
    Thats up to the artist.
    You dont get to say, ‘Yeah, didn’t quite do what you were looking for there, but you shoulda seen his other stuff!’

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  18. @anonymous says:

    thank god it didn’t because nowhere has this band ever offered themselves as the martyrs of the south african youth experience 2010 (copyright). this article just feels like it is making assumptions about young people in za who fall into this generation / age / as being culturally detached from their environments via dstv / station wagons / suburbs / whatever

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  19. timmy says:

    Mahala is the ‘Julius Malema’ of music articles…

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  20. just anotha prick in the mall says:

    one can hear the cloisterd angst in music like this that comes from being brought up behind highwalls and not being allowed to play in the street-it gives me the cockroach blues

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  21. Anonymous says:

    “We’re literally surrounded, hemmed in on all sides and up to our neck in concepts like disparity, deprivation, white guilt, fear, electric fences, maids called Gladys, paranoia, conspicuous consumption and closet racism”

    While I agree that there are fuckloads of boring indie-rock bands out there, I have to disagree that there is a shortage of people who are inspired by the above mentioned things. The results of this inspiration vary greatly. Sometimes you get something that is mad original. Mostly you just get suburban white kids trying to sound like they care.

    I would rather get an honest and fresh perspective on an old/overdone concept like breakup than some poes trying to sound relevant and singing about closet racism.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    When was the last time you saw The Sleepers play? Doesn’t seem like indie rock to me…

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  23. snapper says:

    is it okay for sweden, denmark and melbourne to be interchangeable, but cape town must be original, relevant, socially concious?
    valid points about what YOU look for in music (i pretty much agree) but it might be like complaining about checkers not selling spare tyres

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  24. Andy says:

    I can’t expect more from Melbourne or Sweden… but I do from Cape Town. Maybe I’m just old fashioned and overly nostalgic about “The Struggle” when culture actually meant something and changed lives… and then again I’m wrapped up in this culture, so I hold South Africa to a higher standard.

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  25. Liz says:

    What an absolute load of shit dude. First of all yes, fuck indie, this scene is a joke, we’ve established this. Everytime i see a floral dress headband wayfarer slut with a straw hat shorties boating shoes wayfarer dickhead i wanna vomit…overdone and KAK!!! This is just how it is, ” thank you for your blog…. ” But anyway what the fuck does this have to do with The Sleepers?
    Ive seen a lot of mahala reviews where you bitch about no originality and back in the day and blah blah, u fuckin slate so much, but you dont even know what you’re on about. You are in no position to give an opinion if you’re gonna lump the sleepers into the same category as the Plastics…ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF MATE? Maybe listen to the bands first before you write some more bullshit…. And instead of constant slating, can anybody at Mahala actually write a decent review? So far ,ive seen you praise Sleeping at the popes, and slate the Sleepers, now this makes me think you ..( ive seen this comment here before…) definitely have a cunt for a brain.

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  26. Duke says:

    The Lottery Tickets have successfully managed to compose some of the most tasteful and catchy tunes on the scene to date, using the ideal amount of bare musical minimalism with just enough intricacy to keep the crowd moving. With a live performance that is both epic in delivery and humble in resolve, they have truly set a benchmark in the South African music scene. Definitively, their music is grounded in the very same zeal and fervency as that of the members themselves.

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  27. Andy says:

    “Without getting caught up in the minutiae of their differing “genres”, their “creative” output points to a global fashion dictated by the television and blogs like Pitchfork.” – OK i get it, Sleepers fans don’t like being called “indie rock” – but really whazza fucken difference progressive folk rock, indie, it’s fucken minutiae, same scene, same background, deal with it.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    @ Andy.

    Out of interest have you seen the Sleepers live? I know that Mahala has been offered and been given many a guest list slot only to not have the journalist show up. It would be interesting to hear what they/you have to after attending a show like saturdays.


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  29. Andy says:

    Anonymous… We’ll cover a Sleepers gig soon. When is the next?

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  30. Anonymous says:

    okay: we’ve established the sleepers aren’t indie, but they are kak.
    lets move on.

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  31. wigga in tha nude pile says:

    So, the comfortable white middle-class bands living in Cape Town’s southern suburbs would benefit culturally by travelling a little further from their familiar turf and drawing stylistic inspiration from more outlying areas in their country. Yes, on the face of it your argument does have some weight – but let’s extend that a bit further.

    The biggest cultural phenomenon at play in the media and in music at the moment is globalisation. It’s no longer just the city or the country you inhabit that delivers inspiration, but the activity of the whole planet. And just as greater cultural sharing across a nation can promote understanding and harmony, the planet-wide equivalent should hold even more true.

    Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn these indie kids for what seems like a “myopic” or displaced approach to music, when some evidence also points to them casting a much wider and inclusive gaze on activity that they use for inspiration. Much of the more interesting “indie” music made today draws from a very eclectic set of sources, certainly more eclectic than the approach taken by the likes of spliffed-out 340ml or the immensely disappointing genre that is “kwaito” (what held promise 15 years ago is now dull lifestyle-orientated house music, nothing more). Go to ANY major cosmopolitan city across the planet and you will find enclaves of intelligent and broadminded young people making more internationally-sounding music that could quite easily be termed “indie”.

    Oh, and the closing remarks about the stuff from the northern suberbs is rich. Take away the Afrikaans lyrics and you’ll find that their music is a lot more derivative, dull-thudding “rock” retreaded crap than anything made by the indie bands you have chosen to malign.

    And we shouldn’t see the criticism expressed in this piece as being exclusively confined to music. It’s just as relevant in the area of politics, business, administration and economics. There is a growing chorus of critcism that seeks to demonise the attitudes and behavior of middle-class white South Africans as if it was the source of so many of the problems that we deal with in the country today. Much of this backlash comes because people from these communities are not afraid to criticise some of the idiotic and manipulative things that are said and done under the guise of African culture. Much of this criticism is based on what is now proven to be internationally successful and benficial, not just the preference of someone living in seclusion in Kent or Bishopscourt.

    International inspiration for local challenges. Take it to heart people, the real myopia may exist closer to home.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    Andy, your comment on “the scene” seems pretty cockeyed to me. “Where is the novelty to help me write something – music really isn’t my thing.”. Taking aim at a generation grown up listening to the mulched and tossed sounds of the internet, and complaining that their creativity doesn’t fit neatly into your extended-list-of-things-i-totally-know-about comma club. You and max should save up for some sort of music-appreciation retreat.

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  33. Adam says:

    @ Andy,

    The Sleepers play Synergy and 11th December at Zula Bar.

    Apologies for not putting my name on. Got to the submit button too quickly.


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  34. verbalkint says:

    This article was dead when you lumped The Sleepers in there. Your opinion is invalid.

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  35. Somnambulist says:

    Misinformation, initial refusal to admit to implicit ignorance, minor backpedalling.. where have we seen that before, oh right, just another day on Mahala then.

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  36. Anonymous says:

    Hahahahaha! I’m sure you assume Hugh Masekela stepped out of a bush with face paint and a loin cloth playing trumpet that sounded like american jazz by accident.

    Pff, Relevance? Sure some of these bands are young carbon-copyists but i’m certain that if 3 million rich people didn’t flee the country, this ‘scene’ – hell, the whole industry – would have a lot more support. Give these kids a reason to take the ‘scene’ seriously and the might surprise you.

    Kudos to Wigga in tha nude pile!

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  37. Pop Music Slut says:

    Middle class white people that make music for the most part aren’t influenced by our local music or culture. Just face it. They grew up with their eyes overseas taking influence and being inspired by musicians from elsewhere, its classic escapism, and isn’t that what music (at least on one level) is about? As long as it’s honest, and it’s not glaringly obvious that the band is ripping off another international band, who cares? If you don’t like it, rather go find something you like and focus your energy on that rather than making it sour for those that do enjoy and support it. It’s the typical case of the kid that feels excluded and now needs to spoil it for those that do enjoy it.

    We don’t have a scene because people like yourself can’t be responsible enough in their critique to focus on what NEEDS to be done to improve it for everyone. You’re ultimately being selfish and attention grabbing at the cost of this “scene” you deride.

    There are many musicians on various levels in their growth as artists that are all trying to find their way through this mess to hopefully produce something worthwhile. But instead of recognising this, and supporting musicians helping them to develop themselves, you insist on carrying on with this vindictive nonsense to grab clicks and cause division.

    I think the reason musicians never find their feet in this local scene is because it gets still-born every few years in cycles as every new generation inspired to play music by their heroes gives it a whack and consequently gets nailed repetitively by negative shit like this – or taken down by dishonesty and lack of ethics from the people that are actually able to make a difference.

    If you want to see change, get out there and start being part of the solution – inspiring people is far more effective than poisoning the well.

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  38. roland says:

    are we to infer from this that a muso or band is actively supposed to distance themselves from the music they know and love in an never-ending quest to forge a new and different sound, a heady fusion of styles and genres producing a cultural hotpot of our city’s potent blend? something distinctly ours? musical bobotie?

    cos we have a fair few acts that actively pursue that style of genre-surfing, and generally end up with 5-7 piece, politically correct blends of race and gender playing afro-jazz-fusion-yodel-ska-hop. which is fine if thats what you like.
    me, i don’t.
    i like rock music. i like stuff that reminds me of the records my daddy played me. some of it is really, really same-ish and dumb but i like the way it makes me feel, i like dancing and drinking to it, and i like bands that replicate the same feeling. they don’t have to SOUND like AC/DC, for example, but if i want to get off on the show, a band at least has to offer me that same sweaty stupid energy (and chances are, they love the same records that i do, and probably picked up the guitar to learn some of the same songs that made ME want to play). so yes, many bands do sound like other bands that you’ve heard before. but if they remind you of a band you love and their show would give you pleasure, then thats a more than legitimate reason to support them without demanding that they rethink the wheel.

    ultimately, there are only so many possible permutations of the musical scale, and they’ve pretty much all been tried. some of them, when applied correctly, can make rooms or even stadiums of kids jump up and down, drinks spill, feet are stomped on, boobs jiggle. other permutations will hush a concert hall and lead the devoted and meditative listener on a journey through time and space that borders on a religious experience. these basic chord structures have been used and reused and reused for centuries, and i’d wager they’ll still be around in 2110.
    with any luck the dresscode will have changed a little by then….

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  39. Xavier says:

    The question of whether creative output that seems to ignore the wider Apartheid and Post-Apartheid context is relevant in the South African milieu is a valid one. But this has to be counterbalanced by considering what the experience of the artists is. The fact is, is that the majority of bands in the wider rock genre in South Africa are middle-to-upper class. All art is derived from the influence that the artist takes from a variety of sources. Nothing is new in and of itself.

    With globalization and increased access to international content, it seems irrelevant, for instance, that the Arcade Fire’s album “The Suburbs” is about somewhere in North America- it seems like it could apply to any relatively wealthy suburb. People will increasingly continue to derive from international sources and for the majority of people in the upper classes the Strokes, the Mars Volta etc. are far more relevant to their experiences than Johannes Kerkorrel, Miriam Makeba or Johnny Clegg. It would be a sacrifice of integrity for an artist who cannot comprehend anything about or has not been affected by an event or an issue to write about it from an authoritative position. The one glaring error the writer makes is to forget that aKING, for instance, has been increasingly using elements of “African” music in their releases and it is a practice that can and has been criticized, since it might seem disingenuous.

    I agree that there is a lack of music that speaks to our national situation. But what exactly is that when there is such a myriad of experience? And how can we sing about that in a genre that is foreign to Africa? The next question is, do we need to? Sometimes art can just be for art’s sake and sometimes it can be more about personal, emotional experience. Just because it does not seem to address the political context doesn’t render it deficient, and you cannot know what the artist is saying about anything if you don’t look at the lyrics or intention behind the work. Yes, there is much growing and improving to be done in our industry. We have, however, come very far and this piece casts aside the hard work of a often relatively high standard of several diverse bands far too glibly. It is easy to say there is something wrong, but it is incredibly difficult to offer solutions which the reviewer fails to do here and which, I would argue, the majority of these bands struggle with on a regular basis.

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  40. Roger Young says:


    It was one gig that I didn’t make, an acoustic gig, I’ve already said I’ll be at the next one the moment it coincides with when I’m in CT. And I’ve told you, albiet briefly, what I think of the tracks you sent me. Considered opinion takes time. But, and this is too all The Sleepers fans, just for one second consider what this article is about, Andy may have offended you by lumping The Sleepers in with the The Plastics but the general idea behind this criticism is valid, The Cape Town Suburban live music scene takes it’s influence from outside South Africa in the hope that they will succeed outside South Africa but the South African acts that are making it overseas take their influence FROM here; Die Antwoord, Blk Jks, Tumi and the Volume, Culoe De Song, Kwani Experience, et al.

    The other thing that a lot of CT acts seem to misunderstand is the difference between being influenced by and being derivative of.

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  41. Katoey says:

    Evoid were so awesome. Whatever happened to them? Andy maybe chase them up for an article??

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  42. Xavier says:

    As for anonymous saying that the Sleepers are “kak”, I’d like to question what he bases his or her judgment on. This is a band who uses a variety of theoretical tools in their composition (odd time signatures being one of the more prominent ones), has a solid stage presence, a cohesive image and intelligent, carefully composed lyrics and, very importantly, they make catchy music that is a mixture of several influences. What out of that makes them a bad band? Of course, if you said you don’t like them that’s okay, but making qualitative judgements that aren’t based on the band in question’s qualities renders your argument invalid.

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  43. Roger Young says:

    @Xavier I think it’s pretty clear that when someone says a band is kak it means they they don’t like them.

    And you know what, I’m tired of the “odd time signatures” card being pulled.

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  44. Xavier says:

    Thank you for your input Roger. It is highly unlikely that someone will say a band who they like is bad, that is obvious. But there is a difference between saying something is bad because you can negatively assess various aspects of the music or saying you don’t like something because of subjective taste that isn’t based on anything measurable. And even without my odd time signatures “card”, you’ve failed to address any of the other factors I mentioned.

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  45. Somnambulist says:

    Roger, don’t be purposefully obtuse now. We all know that many of us often dismiss something as being bad just because we don’t like it.

    It’s actually becoming increasingly more and more difficult to discern whether someone thought something was, indeed, truly rubbish or whether that person just didn’t like it. ‘Kak’ is a painful catch all right now.

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  46. Roger Young says:

    Okay, granted but you have to realise that that is how 95% of any audience processes AND articulates the music they encounter. The gist of what I’m saying (oh god I’m going to sound all Simon fucking Cowell now) is that if the band doesn’t grab someone, it just doesn’t and no going on about how intelligent their use of time signatures is is going to help.

    Asking someone on the comments board to give a precise description of why they called something is kak is pissing in the wind. But it’s fair to say that ALL they know is that they didn’t like it.

    People don’t take the time to discern between “really rubbish” and “I didn’t like it” if it doesn’t get them within the first few songs they’re outta there, rad time signatures and clever use of ukuleles or not.

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  47. Art says:

    You know what i think? A foot long calamari sub from Spar is just a bit much calamari goodness..
    That and I am SO BORED!!!!!!!!

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  48. Anonymous says:

    There’s probably some secret view counter that they’re not telling us about that’s making the site money so they’re hoping we keep posting. Just ignore it. I’m sure Andy, Roger and co all know their writing sucks.

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  49. WhistleWhile says:

    @Roger Die Antwoord? Original? Not really? They are carbon copies of themselves. They reference so much international material, sounds and artists that it’s like a musical collage. Yes, collage. Roger Ballen, District 9 and standard radio-quality hip-hop beats do not make you original.

    I also forgot to mention how sad it is to see the old Fokofpolisiekar/Bellville Rock City mention there. Whenever a band gets derided, they come back with Francois & Co. and how they are the Messiahs of the SA scene. Fokofpolisiekar is pretty much any American post-hardcore/punk band, but with Afrikaans lyrics.

    Nothing is new. Nothing.

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  50. Somnambulist says:

    @Roger – Sure I get that, but it gets fucking irritating when I ask someone what they thought of x band [or book, or movie for that matter] and I’m greeted with “oh god that was sooooo crap”. Then it turns out that the thing just wasn’t post-goth-prog-nu-folk or about vampires!

    There is so much on offer in our city on a daily basis, and so we’re often quite spoiled for choice. I like to make an informed decisions on what to spend my time and money on, obviously favouring that which is apparently interesting / good / worthwhile over whatever else. That is the only reason why I care whether something is deemed, to use the parlance, ‘kiff or kak’.

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  51. Roger Young says:


    I didn’t say Original I said Successful but……..

    “Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso

    And we know how much shit he stole from Africa and Japan.

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  52. Roger Young says:


    Yes and you have the right to demand that from a reviewer but Xavier was demanding it from someone on a comments board. So, you know, I reacted accordingly.

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  53. Somnambulist says:

    Roger, seriously now, how can you moan in one breath about how local bands are trying to ‘make it’ internationally by emulating the international trends, but that actually the bands that are really making it don’t do this… and then go on to admit that, well, you know those bands might not actually be that good because they’re not actually original. Then you moan that local bands aren’t original enough.

    What is your point then?!

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  54. Roger Young says:

    I didn’t write the article. I’m just responding to the comments.

    Here’s the deal, I don’t care what and where your influences and musical ideas are from as long as you transpose them in way that speaks to me.

    But if you want to make it internationally don’t do something that every band internationally is doing or was doing three years ago.

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  55. And now? says:

    Making it internationally? Where did that come from – haha

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  56. Anon says:

    I agree with Art. I consider this critique irrelevant and a complete bore. The most entertainment I have gained from following the link to this site is from the comments, congratulations for getting a DIALOGUE (vomit) going Mr Davis. I am so bored with DIALOGUE. How about a chat?

    Perhaps the problem here is that you are bored. Perhaps we are all bored? I do not care to listen to music based on South African issues because I think that those issues are as stale as this piece of literary crap.

    Mentioned is the music of James Phillips, consider for a moment a few of his lyrics:
    “I’m a white boy who looked at his life gathered in his hands
    And saw it was all due to the sweat of some other man
    That one who got shot down in the street ”

    The other man is dead now and so is the music. We’re all trying to find a new way to express ourselves and words like this make little difference to the individuals you have mentioned. These musicians will carry on doing what they are doing regardless of a few harsh words because it is what they love to do. Oh jesus, I’m boring myself. BLAH BLAH BLAHALAAAA!

    What do you expect? Would you prefer to hear the same lyric repeatedly until the dirt is scraped off of the streets and hearts of the country? Would you like us all to travel through the karoo? Should we all pretend that the music we have listened to for years has not left a mark on what we create now? I’m struggling to make my point here… I understand what you are trying to say but there’s no point to your soapbox at present. Go listen to some music and stop pretending that you don’t just love the sound of your busy keyboard, consider a few other sounds, they are in abundance and that’s how it should be.

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  57. Roger Young says:

    And I never said they weren’t good, I just said that I didn’t use the word original. It’s not that I don’t think they’re original it’s just that that wasn’t the point of the sentence I typed. And they weren’t the only band I referenced, I was just responding to a comment (ON A FUCKING COMMENTS BOARD) that questioned my calling Die Antwoord original when all I had accused them of was being successful because they referenced the place they came from in a unique manner in their work.
    Wow, you prog rock fans sure like to argue minutia to death without actually reading what was written.

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  58. Somnambulist says:

    You sometimes seem to be labouring under the assumption that all local bands want to make it internationally. If you aren’t, then great…. because that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Playing music is a labour of love, something that is incommunicably fulfilling and enjoyable… it is not necessarily done to make money, or to be as popular as possible and enjoy the fruits of fame and fortune. Many, many bands are in it for the joy of it, so they neither care whether they have what sound is required to make it internationally, or whether they have masses of adoring fans.

    If just 1 person likes something, that’s a great start. I’d rather be an acquired taste, genuinely appealing to a smaller audience, than some insufferable shit spewing band like the parlotones. I think we can all agree on that.

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  59. Art says:

    I managed to finish that calamari sub by the way. And the only thing that is effected is the volume of my grumbling tummy.

    Along with that tastey, yet surprisingly salty dish, I came to realise that everyone thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong. Like I totally thought it was easy to quit smoking, but I didn’t listen. I lasted 4 hours.

    Now….. I am sorry, what are we talking about? because i couldn’t really be bothered

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  60. Raiven says:

    I wonder what bands will be cultural heroes in South Africa in 20-30 years time?

    Pivot question to a band: Why do you do what you do? If the answer lies somewhere between sex and fame then fuck it, they can do whatever they want. If the answer lies between social commentary and creating new, interesting music then I think South African’s definitely need to draw at least some inspiration locally.

    A record producer in London or New York will never sign a rock band from South Africa that sounds similar to what they have, because they could click their fingers and have 10 bands from the neighbourhood at their doorstep immediately. We should do it OUR way, or do it better than them.

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  61. mike says:

    do u want the river or the sea

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  62. Roger Young says:


    This is a pointless argument. I don’t even discuss bands that don’t play for the love of music. But to CONTINUE to play for the love of music means you have to play to an audience outside of 94.7/East Coast Radio and 5fm ain’t gonna pick you up unless you’ve had international interest. And like Raiven says; if you’re not bringing something something new or better, you’re fucked. And guess what none of the bands Andy has mentioned (with the possible exception of The Sleepers, my jury is still out on that) are doing that. A lot of them have promise, a lot of them are excellent musicians with mad passion and because they are young we let them be derivative in the hope that they’ll grow. And then when they don’t because no one pushed them, they end up being the dude who books the amps out at the sound hire company.

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  63. Jess says:

    Indie is indie. Pop is pop. Punk is punk. Hip hop is hip hop. Genres usually carry predetermined subject content hence why indie bands singing about their maid named Gladys and closet racism may come across as a bit forced. Trying too hard to fit out. Also if you’re more politically minded you’re more likely to get into punk/hip hop and start a band of the same nature. Just how the common folk love their pop and the subject matter it entails. It’s just one of those things.

    As someone in the comments put it, so you’d rather have bands copy local sounds than international ones? And as it goes originality does not exist. It’s all a big circle of conflicting ideas which is why sometimes it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the music.

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  64. Anonymous says:

    Jess has made the most sense so far from this web war!

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  65. Roy Keeser says:

    Im picturing 30 year olds with long hair arguing from a computer. anyway.

    Its not white middle class culture that is the problem with these bands. The difference is we are talking about the English white middle class…the notoriously no-culture English. I like being English in South Africa. Its the only ‘culture’ without an intoxicating patriotism. the notoriously apathetic English.

    i promise if Dirty Skirts and the Plastics moved to the UK or America they would make it too. Look how Australian bands have make it. Silverchair, Wolfmother, The Presets, Empire of the Sun and The Vines. They dont sing about a shrimp on the barbie.

    the focus of criticism for these CT bands can only be lyrics and if they sing with an accent.

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  66. Finally says:

    Amen to that Roy, amen to that

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  67. James says:

    Does anyone agree that the term ‘indie’ is the most depressing umbrella term, used generically by so many people for music projects that they just don’t want to make any effort to really listen to or come up with a better classed genre?

    By our insane criticism of the originality or quality of the Cape Town scene, are we saying that the rest of South Africa doesn’t matter? It should matter, but why is there no criticism directed north? Problem of originality in Cape Town, for sure, but has anyone ever watched MK to see the material that bands are coming up with? It seems the bands in Cape Town are at least trying hard, where the rest of the country is just a dirty puddle of European/American emanation and mimicry.

    Also, the attitude towards white upper middle class artists from various privileged backgrounds is so unfair, and reeks of embittered critics unable to find better (real) shortcomings to speak of. There is a dangerous opinion that the only good work or art is the kind that came from nothing. Why does it have to be like that? Art – whether music, writing, design, dance, or anything – is channelled through people, their bodies become vessels only, and everything else (UNLESS INCLUDED BY THEM AS ESSENTIAL AND PART OF THEIR ART) must fall away. Forget about the musicians background – as long as somebody is being completely true to themselves, honest through their art, then they cannot be criticized because they came from a wealthy white family in the suburbs with DSTV etc, nor praised because they came from a poverty effected location. In the end those two musicians will find themselves in the same boat, they will acknowledge it themselves too, and the only people left working hard to create a historical separation between the two are the critics intent on stoking up these emotive fires so their blogs can make a buck.

    The musician is not the enemy, nor available to be compartmentalized. These are people doing creative peaceful things for their country and peers, they generally get along between themselves purely because they share a passion. The world needs more of these people. Our country, South Africa, needs more of these people. This blog is full of shit.

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  68. Ash says:

    “It’s good shit if all you want to do is jump around. If you’re looking for a soundtrack for getting boozed and hooking up, and you want it to sound “international” and be tight, I give you The Lottery Tickets”

    And this is a Bad thing?

    It’s honest.

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  69. Nick Frost says:

    I just want to comment. Don’t wanna fight about it, as it is counterproductive to what we as a South African industry are trying to achieve.

    I dig the Tickets. And even if I weren’t a friend of theirs, I’d still be a fan. I don’t care about their songs’ lyrical content. As long as I hear good melodies, solid structure and quality of final product, I’m happy, as these are the primary aspects I’d look out for in a South African production: thoughtful musicality, collaboration and passion respectively.

    I usually love reading reviews on Mahala, but lately the pieces I’ve read have sounded like the utterings of someone who hasn’t fully gotten over their breakup with the past.

    And this makes me a sad Nick.

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  70. hipsterbash says:

    all I know is, I can’t wait for the indie trend to die out so that CT bands can go back to playing actual rock music with proper loud guitars and non-dickish drums. I dont go to gigs so I can tap my foot and sing along to pretty, melodic cutesy little songs with “intelligent” lyrics about being an awkward indie boy in love with an awkward indie girl and living in the suburbs. I go to gigs so I can get fucked up, watch bands destroy stages and remind myself that I’m still young. fuck indie and its obsession with subtlety, understatement and intellectualism. this is rock music, not a fucking book club.

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  71. Jess says:

    @ hipsterbash

    shit dude, are people forcing you to go to these shows? i guess you’re oblivious to the other scenes existing in cape town

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  72. Tokolosh says:

    @ hipsterbash

    there is violence in your head. go to america.

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  73. Doctor L. says:

    I agree with this article.

    Very relevant. People gassed up. Knee-jerk reactions. When has it ever been cool to copy in art?

    Take a breath. Think about this shit.

    It seems like most of the visitors on this site are comprised of the so called “white, middle to upper middle class” contingent, the way mouths are foaming in this bitch.

    Prolly also explains why these Cape Town “indie” articles do so well with comments while dudes like Fuzzy can’t even break double digits with art that’s actually fucking original.

    People just need to accpet that we can’t all do this. It’s okay to be a fan, too. Really.

    And just because you’re white and wealthy and Capetonian or whatever, it doesn’t mean you can’t get the juice.

    Look at that fool, Ed Young. Show me a pastier, whiter, Capetonian motherfucker. Still, dude’s mad original–a brilliant, mad relevant artist, actually. He couldn’t have come from anywhere else. He owns the shit he does. It’s him.

    Turn off the TV and ADSL and get an idea of what’s breathing around you. You’ll be doper for it. That’s what I get from the article. Copying your favourite artists is some junior, starting out shit. You have to outgrow that and find your own thing, before you step out.

    That’s that. Say what you want–no one will really give a fuck unless you bring something new and captivating. So you might as well. And if not, put it down. You most likely won’t make bank or a mark with music, anyway.

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  74. Walter says:

    So off the mark it makes me want to stick my finger in my eye and swirl my brain around. Stone Roses? Primal Scream? To me, Lottery Tickets sound like a modern take on ’90s emo. Before it went all eye liner and slit wrists. It’s a globalised world. And what’s stale is your insinuations about how all South African bands should sound and what they should sing about. Why don’t you start a band and sing about “Gladys?”

    Did you watch this video?
    Made me feel something.

    “Let’s step away from the negative” – words to live by, no matter what country you’re from…

    Also, how the hell do you justify a paragraph this long on a website, type-os and all?


    “The problem, let’s start there, is that this release is stuck in a milieu. A movement emanating from the upper middle class suburbs of Cape Town, that bespeaks a cloistered reality of economic alienation and globalized media consumption. Drop the name of an indie rock band from Cape Town: The Plastics, Thieve, New Holland, aKing, Holiday Murray, The Pretty Blue Guns, The Sleepers etc. Without getting caught up in the minutiae of their differing “genres”, their “creative” output points to a global fashion dictated by the television and blogs like Pitchfork. The lyrics, the music, the whole cultural production of all these globally inspired indie imitators render themselves almost entirely irrelevant to the social moment of being alive in South Africa now. And while many of these acts might be technically sound and talented musicians, as The Lottery Tickets certainly are, their product is invariably creatively suspect and largely unimportant. It just doesn’t register. I mean what the fuck is happening that causes young, privileged white laaities to produce such generic international sounding rock? And the sick thing is they do it well. They’re good at it. It’s just lacking in originality and relevance. It’s as if these kids don’t even recognize that they’re living in Africa. They could be seemlessly transplanted to Sweden, Denmark or Melbourn. Their heroes; bands like Interpol, The National, The Pixies, The Smiths, The Killers, The Kings of Leon, REM, Dinosaur Jr and Arcade Fire. It’s as if they’ve never heard of James Phillips and the Cherry Faced Lurchers, Tananas, Sankomoto, Johannes Kerkorrel or even Johnny Clegg, the Springbok Nude Girls and the Blk Jks. Not to mention genre-shifting 80s acts like éVoid and Via Afrika. They’re all pursuing this false dream, racing down a dead-end street where the peak of their success is necessarily the brick wall of being a good, original cover band – like The Parlotones, Prime Circle and Just Jinjer.”

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  75. Andy says:

    Straight up Doctor L – where you been?

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  76. Question... says:

    “Maybe I’m just old fashioned and overly nostalgic about “The Struggle” when culture actually meant something and changed lives… and then again I’m wrapped up in this culture, so I hold South Africa to a higher standard.” –

    Andy, serious question out of curiosity: How old are you?

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  77. @Doctor L says:

    You obviously don’t read mahala very often. The general rule is: The LESS comments, the better the content. Breaking double digits with comments?? I’m glad that Fuzzy got the words he did, not this nonsense, and by the sounds of things, his show went really well, so yeah

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  78. Andy says:

    Question, I am 34.

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  79. Mick says:

    Nooo! The Pixies..!? Those kings and queen of psychotic Spanish tourette’s and deathwish wetdreams cain’t be Indie (in the current, limp sense) can they? Please no. And mista Young, ‘Clever with a ukelele’ should be a t-shirt!

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  80. Andy says:

    I know Mick… doesn’t seem right but look here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indie_rock and if Wikipedia says they’re indie rock… who you gonna trust? 😉

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  81. Mick says:

    Wiki shmiki ekse.. some uncharacteristically diabolical hipster prob typed that fluke!

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  82. wigga in tha nude pile says:

    “Turn off the TV and ADSL and get an idea of what’s breathing around you. You’ll be doper for it”.

    Yeah, cultural isolation like in the old days of Apartheid. Let’s go back to blinkered, inbred notions of culture where we’re convinced that we’re “dope” (who the fuck still uses that word anyway?) even though the rest of the planet thinks we’re ridiculous. That will make us globally competitive and prevent the Chinese from colonising our economy and our media in record time. South Africans need to wake up to the fact that there are global forces at play which dwarf our recent political emancipation in scale. To those who want a better life for all, it’s time to realise that this cannot be done while ignoring where the rest of the planet is heading.

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  83. random says:

    For what it’s worth, I think the article made a brilliant and pertinent point. The debate that follows is also (with the exception of a few shit brains) quite revelatory.

    If making a point and sparking a debate was what was intended, then it was well done.

    PS, Wigga rocks. (but I say ‘dope’ all the time.)

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  84. JZ says:

    Sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll. Let’s just take it back to that for a moment, shall we?

    I get the sense from the rabidly defensive fan comments (and from watching bands, oh yes) that so many of these musicians want to be praised just for making an effort. It’s all earnest and meaningful and such hard work. Someone said something back there about blood and sweat….

    Come on, being in a band is NOT hard work. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.

    Watching most of these bands feels excruciatingly similar to fucking that first 16-year-old boy: you endure it because, let’s face it, he’s making an effort, and you’re sort of friends. He’s trying to do it the right way, the way he thinks other people do it, and it seems to mean an awful lot to him. He doesn’t look like he’s enjoying it, but the applause afterward makes him smile. Hopefully, with some encouragement, he’ll get better. Hopefully, eventually, you won’t need to be drunk to forget how bored you are.

    There’s no love or lust. There’s no excitement. Just time signature changes that he read about it in a book somewhere. Oh, and hard work. Yay.

    If you’re in a rock band in South Africa, you’re unlikely ever to make much money from it or even become particularly famous. So why work so hard? Why not have fun? Play, invent, do something no-one’s ever heard before. You’re not going to lose fans (clearly, because they already like you), you’re not going to lose any more money to the venue than you already do. People might even fall in love with you, instead of just thinking that you’re nice.

    And if they don’t, at least you had fun.

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  85. George Bacon Egg and Cheese. says:

    what were we talking about again?

    do it for the lulz and GTFO.

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  86. Asimov says:

    Nice article Andy. Just a slightly different point of view: I bet if an SA ‘Indie’ band released a song like Evil by Interpol (for example) no one would care about their influence. Everyone (perhaps you too) would be saying how fucking brilliant they are.

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  87. Andy says:

    I guess it’s all about excellence. It’s just so hard to be excellent when you’re copying heroes instead of striking out in a unique direction

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  88. Bruce says:

    I think this entire argument could have been avoided if “Indie” bands were to admit that what they are playing is essentially pop music.

    Not that there is anything wrong with playing pop music…

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  89. MittenMan says:

    I would have preferred two articles,

    but I found the article inspirational,
    I just wanna pick up an instrument and make some
    sounds that sound like my experience of the things around us.

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  90. 'badi says:

    U nailed it: thank u…

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  91. trol says:

    All bands suck nothing is cool except Damn Right they are da bayst

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  92. Andy says:

    a ha ha… just wait for our Damn Right damnation

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  93. lex says:

    a review is not an article, it’s a review. it’s opinion. it’s not an interview, therefore it’s not necessary to get the band’s input.

    the band’s input is the album.

    excellence and sounding like someone who has already been excellent is not the same thing

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  94. DJ Bob says:

    Kak name, The Lottery Tickets.

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  95. Ash says:

    haha, “DJ Bob”


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