The Doom Boxby Max Barashenkov / 02.11.2010
In the male bathrooms, the door swings open – two slutty vampire girls are making out in the cubicle. They see you and attempt to cast the glamour, licking their lips with unmistakable intent. You make a cross with your index fingers and banish the bloodsuckers, squeezing past their hissing into the stall. The toilet bowl is pristine, almost sparkling, but the floor around it is thoroughly smeared with feces. That is when the double realization hits you – vampires love fucking in shit and you are finally at Dog Box. You’ve heard the stories, you’ve seen the pictures, but nothing could have prepared you for this madhouse.
Capitol Theatre is in the throes of Halloween beastings, its halls bubbling with elaborate costumes, reverberating with juicy bass and drowning in Miller beer. The imagination and zeal of the Pretoria crowd puts the Cape Town scenesters to utter shame – these people couldn’t give a fuck and, to them, a dress-up party means pushing it as far as they can. Forget undead brides, fake-blood-drenched boys and whatever pathetic, cliché outfits strut up and down Long Street. Tonight, at Dog Box, the gates of perversion have been ripped off their hinges and a flood of caricature horrors drinks and dances its way up, down and around the marble pillars and staircases. The Wolfman is freaking out somewhere on the banister, Pac Man is doing an awkward boogie with a couple of beheaded nurses, a deviant Little Red Riding Hood is dishing out condoms from her basket, the gargoyles are out in all their feathered and toothed glory. Wikus van der Merwe is here, claw hand and all, shaking it just like the prawn ordered. You tell him you love his work and, laughing, he produces a pen from his breast pocket and leaves it in your sweaty grasp, a token of comic Afrikaans ecstasy. In the throng of monsters, you glimpse Henk van der Schyf, the man responsible for this orgy, a brute amongst brutes. He is kimono-clad and wears the face of a concerned geisha, pre-occupied with the steady distribution of sake down screaming samurai throats. You raise your bottle in a salute, but he doesn’t notice, because down below you, in what must have once been a gilded dining hall where the elite would toast expensive wine before watching another masturbation on the theme of Shakespeare, kidofdoom commence prancing around the stage with all the fury of a band back from the dead.
The first track gets people lethargically amped for something epic, something from beyond this world. Then the second one fails to excite anyone but the rabid fan girls in the front row – they froth and spasm under fluffy rabbit and bear ears but do as much for the male erection as the song itself. The music is a combination of anorexic indie beats smothered in overbearing electronic arrangements and the sad fact is that, no matter how technically good or skilled the band is, the time for this kind of bullshit is past. Gone are the days when we could be fascinated by endless catchy riffs, now it just conjures mechanical joint/limb movement and feel-too-bad-not-too-cheer applause. Their set, climaxing in an incredibly messy but pumping Ghostbusters cover, draws howls of joy from the first three ranks and morbid attention from the rest of the horror herd. Perhaps kidofdoom have lost their momentum over the extended and unfortunate hiatus, perhaps the masses aren’t oiled enough, perhaps you ask too much of an instrumental indie-synth-pop outfit, but the trumpeted resurrection comes off as a C-grade slasher instead of a B-grade gore-fest. As they leave the stage, and a pair of wannabe Bloody Beetroots DJs take their place, the mood shifts, the crowd responding better to third-rate electro than the intelligent and complex songs of Doom. Soon enough, the dancefloor is thrown back into the 90s, when rave was king and you could jump up and down like an idiot to the same beat for hours. Even a limp cameo appearance from Cape Town’s P.H Fat goes down to an all-approving roar, despite it being perhaps the worst attempt at the ‘Animals’ single you’ve seen them do.
Somewhere, at an indeterminable time, Mike Zeitsman grabs you by the hand and drags you up onto the roof, blabbering about taking you to the future. You follow, fearing the worst, knowing the habits of the P.H Fat frontman. The party on top is just as intense as inside – people hanging from multi-level platforms, climbing step-ladders and spilling beer onto those below them, it is a miracle none of them greet the pavement with their faces. The bass-rap fiend and you disappear into a black hole of an enormous space under the roof of the main building – above the spazzing electro beasts – a space criss-crossed by narrow walkways hanging over layers of insulation, treacherous in its apparent solidity. This really, somehow, is the future and it is dark and scary, every step promising a fall through the padding and satisfying splatter to follow, but you don’t care, exploring its boundaries with nothing but a cellphone torch. In fact, that is what you end up doing for most of the time – discovering all the nooks and crannies of the Capitol Theatre, from the gallery, to the courtyard, to the hidden private lodges where Broederbond business execs used to get blowjobs from evening-gowned hookers. The place is breathtaking, a monument to the very notion of excess, perhaps the best venue you have been to, a fitting setting for the most depraved Halloween party this side of the river Styx. Hades, Cerberus and Charon would have been proud.
Next morning, when the sun rises, a man in a furry, full-body bee suit wakes up on the steps of the building opposite the Theatre. He smells vaguely of piss and has a bag of cocaine in the folds of the suit. He looks around, spots you and asks: “So…how was your night?” And you say…