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Rotten Teeth and Tattoos

Rotten Teeth and Tattoos

by 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

Creepy on the 1s and 2s

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).

We Like Bass

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.

South Coast Squatters

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.

Flesh and SAB

All images © and courtesy Samora Chapman.

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  1. Sakhile says:

    The only thing I can say is, I wish I was there…

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  2. tara says:

    happy valentines day durban!

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  3. Blah Blah Barf says:

    The name says it all.

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  4. Ian Skene says:

    I grew up in Umbilo, im 32 and still proud to say i come from Umbilo..i live in Capetown now and will be for now!!..BUT there is not a day that goes by where i dont think of Umbilo..i went to brettonwood school…hard knocks that place!!..
    Spent my days skating Gale street, Sydny Road..Umbilo road..with the best friends anybody could ask for..in one block radius lived, Justin Christiansen(spotty) he lives in London, his parents still live in umbilo>>acroos the road from Congella collage..ken rae James..aka FaceMan–he lived right next to Willovale Hotel where im sure u guys frequent theses days, thanks to The NONONO guys travis and abby & leo!!..and in the same neigborhood lived , rob and hios brother grant aka Woody..Tom jones also lived there not the tom jones But THE TOM JONES..He could ollie over anything and rip anybody apart..Didnt say much but was as loyale as the sun..anyway myself and my brother malcolm skene lived and breathed Umbilo for all its worth..best place on earth and will always always keep it UMBILO!!!!

    p.s…catch me and my brother the 27th of Feb at ORIGIN (UMBILO)..We are GRAVE DANGER and we are going to rip that dance floor apart umbilo style

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  5. joegz says:

    ^^Big up Umbilo!!! ‘Roam if you must but go home when youve seen enough.’

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  6. whateverdude says:


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  7. dot everwood says:

    “whatever” used to be a sign of cool detachment for, like a few weeks, “dude”. now it’s just the prerogative of the intellectually vacant. thanks for your valuable contribution.

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  8. Andy says:

    hey dot, why such hate. You don’t really point out the substance of what you’re commenting on, or reacting to. You just add snide little comments. So my advice to you is, either engage in a debate. Show us what’s wrong with Samora’s stories. Or voetsek!

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  9. dot everwood says:

    confused a bit here – firstly I make no apology for hating on the “whatever” dumb-assed arbitrary response – it comes from the same negative place as your conventional hate, just far less engaging and convictional.

    secondly, samora’s articles are just plain boring and I think quite a few others would agree with me on that.

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  10. Andy says:

    Dot you’re still just labelling. Engage with the subject matter. Show us why you think what you think. Pointing fingers and being apathetic does not help anyone… Do you see what I mean? Try a little harder, instead of being just a negative reaction no one can engage with.

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  11. whateverdude says:

    @dot cleverwood- Whatever, dude, i am whateverdude, it’s what i do. But of course you know better and are much more clued up on the current trends of reactionary buzzwords. And despite your almost postgraduate authority on the prerogatives of the intellectually vacant, MY WHATEVERS ARE NOT ARBITRARY!OR NEGATIVE!THEY ARE A MIRROR TO YOUR SOUL! THEY COME FROM A SINGULAR SUSTAINED PLACE OF COMPASSION FOR ALL OF YOU! Anyway, maybe i could use some advice on how to be cool in, like, a few weeks, dude, but for now, don’t hate.
    And Samora’s article rocks, he is a cool oke and a hundreds artist, he accurately conveys the experience of the gig. I KNOW, i was there.
    Anyway, look what you made me do “not cleverwood”, now i must climb hard back to the peak of the Whateverberg.

    Love yourself man.


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  12. spoken tuna wrist says:

    Hmmm, “Dot” is a girl’s name. In which case, godammit,

    Love yourself woman.

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  13. leo says:

    new shoes!

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  14. dot everwood says:

    A regular contributor to this site once wrote, “I don’t like to put my back out trying to enjoy something that doesn’t speak to me” followed by “I do not necessarily mean it has to be in a positive way but I do want to feel something.”

    Well, that pretty much encapsulates where I stand on Samora’s writing. I find a lot of his subject matter, and his approach to all subject matter in general quite mundane. There’s a distinct lack of panache and the sizzle of inspired lateral thinking that characterises the better pieces on this site.

    But he and his supporters needn’t feel bad about this. I have little time for the likes of Mozart or Bob Dylan either, so in no way do I claim to be a universal arbiter of taste and merit.

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  15. dot everwood says:

    Hey, in a way I’m glad that we managed to bring %$#&^*!dude out of his language-oppressed shell, but can we really take his response seriously? A mirror to the soul? Holy crap, every dog in my neighbourhood started laughing uncontrolably when that chestnut came to light. Is this guy for real? Is “whatever” as a regular response an undeniable gesture of “a singular sustained place of compassion”?

    If I ever experience a degree of trauma that makes me want to hide from reality for the rest of my life, I’ll be looking for the drugs that this bloke is taking. And since one-word gestures are in vogue…


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  16. Oneironaut says:

    Hehe, Whateverdude and Patheticdude, you both rock!

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  17. Durban Knight says:

    “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”.
    For many hip hop heads with even half a conscience, i believe that’s hitting the proverbial nail on its head (while dropping hammers.)
    Disthing is disillusionment at a discount.
    Ill skills with the pen Joegz.
    Messr. L. Faze.

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  18. journey says:

    yah party hard

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  19. Mr cool says:

    umh yeah, what should be said is umh… yeah.” WHATEVER!!!”

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  20. bushie! says:

    sc-umbilo rocks…back streets of an infamous district called Sydenham just rocks jus a lil harder…nuf said!!!

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