Party Townby Hugh Upsher / 08.07.2013
The Carnival Court is essentially a converted living room. There is a fireplace at the back-end of the 20cm high stage. This makes it an ideal space for a punk rock show. Not the Blink 182 or Tweak kind of punk; a much more bratty, noisy and unwashed kind.
It’s rare to show up to a rock gig in Cape Town at 9:20PM and see the venue more or less packed out. Something obviously went right. By the time I had got my first drink in hand Black Lung were onstage and on time. Nice and loud and it was only going to get louder.
It’s very temping to call this band a two-piece with a busy guitarist handling the majority of the microphone work and the drummer thumping over any gaps in noise left over. Member three could easily be mistaken as the band Mascot (tambourine, backing vocals and harmonica) but he takes his job deathly seriously and completes this sturdy tripod of a band. This group of skater misfits has an act that is fast, mean and as tight as you’d like them to be. Thankfully this was ideal for scaring away the casual tourists who accidentally wondered in off Long Street.
Unfortunately having the curse of the opening act means the crowd only ever gets excited for the last song you play. There are reasons why encores exist, people just don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. Luckily the set was well documented by no less than four photographers crowding up the front row. Between each set there were two guys spinning vinyl classics which was great to appreciate while queuing for the urinals (an experience that is so foreign to me it immediately brought up feelings of anger and confusion)
Next up were The Dollfins, who couldn’t be boring if they tried and it would seem impossible to wipe that grin off their lovable faces. The set seemed quicker than the previous shows I’d seen them at. They might have gotten a little drunker than they should have, but the audience was drunker and blissful grins were shared all round.
It was quite a wait for The Future Primitives to finish setting up to play. Proof that they are taking their sound very seriously. This maturity was carried out through the set as they played more instrumentally driven songs. Their set showed a more structured side to the night giving the crowd welcome opportunities to calm down a notch and listen.
‘It’s good to be back in Cape Town’ was repeatedly chanted with a robotic voice filter by the drummer of Make-Overs. After that charming intro they switched over to utter mayhem of the best possible kind. Their brand of shouty noise rock was fully embraced by the crowd and by the end of the first song they could do no wrong.
The second half of the set was repeatedly interrupted by the guitar cutting out mid-song. It may have something to do with the thick heaving crowd continually collapsing directly onto his guitar pedals. This could have been incredibly frustrating for frontman ‘A’ but the drummer ‘M’ kept the energy rolling and the crowd embraced the mistakes as if they were their own. In many ways it was the crowds fault so it makes total sense.
Make-Overs are on their own mission and have created a professional standard that makes every other alternative band on the scene look like hobbyists, which is a sad reality. If any of their fans have managed to keep up with the six albums released so far they’d have no hesitation in claiming they have perfected the art. It would be amazing to see the results if they smashed open that glass jar of DIY noise rock that they trapped themselves inside of.
Not a single lyric was heard that night. There was no stage bravado to speak of and no ballads. It was a lusty night of relentless smashing, scratching, howling and shouting. In case I am being misread here I must confirm that this is how punk rock shows should be. All four of these bands seem to be reaching the peak of their creative powers and loving it. In retrospect it was bittersweet knowing it doesn’t get much better than this.
* All images © Hugh Upsher