Rotten Teeth and Tattoosby Samora Chapman / 18.02.2010
In defiance of the holy Sabbath, the wildly decorated kids of the Durban music scene gathered at the Umbilo Congela Sports Cub for the ‘All Ages Gig’. February 14th, a beautiful Sunday of art and music marred only by a few broken hearts, paint fumes and other intoxicants of various flavours and dangers. Umbilo has the rather derogatory nickname ‘Scumbilo’. Rotten teeth and tatoos paint the sidewalk surfers, beer for breakfast and a midmorning fist fight. Tags on the walls going back to the 90’s cos the municipality don’t give a fuck about cleaning the downtown. It’s funny how the counter-culture kids feel at home on the warm concrete outside the Willowvale Hotel, the Winston and the similar ghetto jols. The night crawlers, artists and muzos get loose while upstairs the ladies of darkness sell flesh and somehow deal with their sadness. Cops roam like hunters and street children fill dark corners with glue scented breath.
The All Ages gig is like a rose growing from a crack in the concrete, offering kids the platform to get involved in the budding art and music scene. It’s also an excuse to thrash out your demons on the dance floor whilst guzzling black labels amid conversations with the fellow trend-setters of the poison city scene! Creepy Steve kicked off on the decks aptly spinning Nina Simone’s mantra ‘I ain’t got no (I got life)’. If you know the tune, you can sing along:
Ain’t got no home, ain’t got no shoes
Ain’t got no money, ain’t got no class
Ain’t got no skirts, ain’t got no sweater
Ain’t got no perfume, ain’t got no beer
Ain’t got no man
I got my heart, I got my soul
I got my back, I got my sex
I’ve got life, I’ve got my freedom
I’ve got the life
And I’m gonna keep it
I’ve got the life
And nobody’s gonna take it away
Nina’s beauteous wailing sent ripples through the wanderers like a dose of musical narcotic. The vibe was set, art was splashed upon the walls… the underground art-nafs were out in force; struggling for some of the good air (which is at the top!). Wildstyle graf snatches on canvas by Musterd. Prints and oil on canvas by Mooks; his stencils reading ‘shoot your television’ going down well. A series of canvasses of sad bird-men in business suits by ‘Pistol Pete’ labeled ‘birds were meant to fly’ completed the sentiment of anti-establishment and suppressed angst.
Down to business and my art crew ‘The Kolour Hunters’ undertook the task of throwing down a graf piece for the ‘Umbilo Congela Sports Club’ downstairs on a shite wall to represent the hip hop faction. Paint fumes filled the gulley and some raging death rap thundered out of a boom-box; tearing the tranquil afternoon like blood-shock dizziness; ‘Your moms gotta dick! Your moms gotta dick!’ I stopped painting to survey the crowd in vague embarrassment for the culture I vouch for, hoping no one would approach me in search of some justification for the savage rap lyrics. The indie music heads seemed strangely unaffected as they frolicked in the arvy sun on the sports field, tumbling in drunken play fights and prancing about like kids in a park. SAB was doing its job once again, providing social lubrication, solace and bravery… as someone threw a plastic chair off the balcony and roared like a lion. ‘Let’s Rock!’ Tin-man bangin upon his chest to hear the echo! (Aesop Rock).
I finished up the graffiti piece and dragged myself back to the jol; goofed out of my brains with lead poisoning and spaghetti legged from painting the horrid wall in a crouching position. The countrified little food vendor’s cottage pie beckoned me like the sin in the apples of Eden. My mouth watered and my stomach seized as I scrounged in my wallet only coming up with 12 bucks. Water will have to suffice. The rock stars barely turned their heads going straight past the food stall to the sweet smelling bar for fuel of the quarts and whisky variety.
I sat down with one of the true Durban music heads to catch up on what I’d missed. New kids on the scene ‘Short Circuit’, a duo of teen music queens with some tight songwriting ability and a few Andrew Jackson Jihad covers kicked off the proceedings. ‘The Beard’ of sibling rivalry fame has returned from his stint in Thailand to put his energy into the Durban scene, forming the group ‘Car-boot Vendors’. Raw, edgy punk to pump your heart-beat and some political lyrics to jerk your brain. The highlight of the day was the ‘South Coast Squatters’; Loopy from Fruit and Veg on vocals and the prodigious 16 year old James also from Fruit and Veg on lead guitar. Bobby on base and a kid named Justin rocking a little snare, cowbell and tambourine percussion to complete the laid back reggae-ska sound and get the kids jumping around.
Fruit and Veg took the stage as the afternoon sun rays poured in. Purity tantalized me to the bones with her goose-bumps-on-my-skin beautiful howling voice. A baby in a red t-shirt rocked the 6 step (break-dancing maneuver), stylishly tearing up the dance floor amongst the possessed youth. I joined the writhing masses who chanted the lyrics to every song like an anthem. Flesh on flesh is somewhat therapeutic when you’re in the mood. Loopy’s baseline entered veins and moved limbs, a drum break broke the melody and the boys and girls shook in beautiful unison.
All images © and courtesy Samora Chapman.