Loveglove vs The Nude Girlby Max Barashenkov / Images by Jan du Preez / 22.11.2011
Saturday in Stellenbosch, it seems, was a bring-your-horse-to-town day. Wherever you went, the smell of manure followed. Evil tongues might whisper that it is exactly this scent that attracted Arno Carstens here tonight, but who would listen to such heresy? We sit, noses over whiskey tumblers, in the backyard of Aandklas while the legend sound-checks inside. We’re waiting to receive the glory that is the R30 chicken strip platter and he is throwing his prima donna weight around, putting the sound engineer through his paces, making the whole show run late. In these woods, Carstens is nothing short of an idol, a monument to a simpler time, before all these kids got into Fokof and the Bellville bore-rock explosion.
The Black Market Riots are first and pose that terrible (for a music writer) dilemma of a band that does nothing wrong while doing nothing right. They play with the misguided conviction and fervor of a band that has never looked past the NME Top 20. The first track might have been a single if it didn’t suffocate due to the reliance on over-used chord progressions, vocal hooks and bass/drum breaks. The second sports a damn catchy indie-dance ‘breakdown’ that gets a few feet shuffling, but only for about a minute. Their songwriting does contain some fresh choices, but the formula of timid-verse-explosive-chorus-timid-verse-interesting-break-explosive-chorus gets old by the forth song. In short – refer to the discount ‘rock’ section in Look&Listen. Yet, considering that they cater to an audience that seeks in music something pleasant to the ear and mildly arousing, they’re not a bad band. A soundtrack, perhaps, to the post-jock generation – flirtations with emotions mixed with angsty outbursts of man-strength.
Loveglove Pyrotechnics kick off with a Zeppelin-esque groove of such intensity that most ‘big’ bands can only envy. For half-an-hour, Aandklas descends into bluesy rock ‘n roll madness, an orgy of frantic stage antics and superb musicianship. Oh, the sex of those old-school riffs played from the heart! Oh, the energy and unity of their performance! Oh, glorious glorious Discordia! You watch them with the joy of discovering a young band that has already found and perfected their place in the aural landscape. They make you want to follow them on Avontoer this coming December. They make you, unashamedly, want to be a fan. The frontman, Dimitri Lovecuts, while still somewhat raw in the vocal department, is a fiend to be watched – dramatic, engrossing and, at the same time, tongue-in-cheek. He struts and spazzes, demanding your attention, caressing everything from his own crotch and mic-stand to other band members. Robert Plant on crack comparisons refuse to leave the tongue. The high-pitched wails of bassist Crossfire Versache (who comes from money) are the stuff girls’ orgasms are made of, a perfect complement to Lovecuts’ all-out pandemonium. The rest of the band are on par, rocking out in the most infectious of ways. A complete stage-light failure mid-song might have deterred another band, but these swamp creeps only seem to kick it harder, with only the occasional camera flash to light-up their freak out. After the adrenalin high of Loveglove Pyrotechnics, it feels almost a shame to dampen the mood with Carstens and Co.
The Springbok Nude Girls are veterans and anyone who says that they don’t do what they do extremely well is a fool. They perform their rock ‘n roll with unquestionable polish, with almost meticulous precision, yet, to a cynical mind, they lack any new connection with the crowd. Most people tonight are here to see a legend and no subjective opinion can take away the furore the 200-plus crowd bestows upon them. But legends don’t capture the mind or fuel evolution. The Nude Girls survive off memories more than anything else, their sound simply lacks anything fresh. Arno, it seems, has forgotten what small shows are all about. He sings, creased but appearing young, with a jerky edge to his movements, above the crowd. After the intense engagement of Dimitri Lovecuts, the idol appears pale and hollow. The Nude Girls finish their set with the practiced disappointment of a band that, once, played bigger stages. Are they still fun? Yes. Will anyone buy their new EP? Probably not.
*All images © Jan du Preez.