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from 340 with love

by Zoe Henry / 25.05.2009

Everyone has that band they have to see every time they come to town. For me that band is 340ml. I’ve only missed one Cape Town gig since I heard about them, and that’s because I was getting married that day. And I very nearly pulled a Runaway Bride for Pedro and the boys.
The place was packed with faces not usually seen at The Assembly – black faces. Nice to see a splash of colour amongst the usually pale backdrop. Captain Stu and the Llamas entertained the early arrivals with their own brand of user friendly, Rudimentals inspired ska. But I reckon, for most, it was more like Captain Who? I’m sure those brass-blowing cats have their fan base, but the vast majority of punters were there for 340. A little before midnight the awesome dub foursome saunter onto stage. All the 340ml trademarks accounted for. Bassist Rui’s stout sway and goofed grin is as adorable as ever. Paulo is displaying the broadest of smiles behind his drum kit; no-one is having as much fun as he is. Front man Pedro’s charm and Tiago’s highly strung guitar act are exactly how I remember them. Although Senõr Axeman’s hair and beard is getting somewhat out of control. Neanderthals are living among us indeed.

By now the place is packed. There’s sweat trickling down my back and there’s no way of knowing whether it’s mine or not. The smoke is thick, about fifty percent weed and fifty percent Marlboro. Pedro mentions they’re from Mozambique and the crowd goes wild; I’m guessing many of them are too. Patriotic people, the Mozambiquans. Patriotic and hell-bent on partying. These people didn’t just come here to see a band. They came for the full 340ml experience. Jaeger bombs, sing-a-longs, Portuguese chanting and spliffs.


Of course the radio hits rocked the most. The performance of “Fairy Tales” was rawer than the recorded version and felt somewhat naked without the house beat. They stripped “Midnight” down to the bare essentials, allowing the singing crowd to carry the tune. And they hijacked 21:40 too. Eventually Pedro gave up and just held the mic out to us. There was a Kwela vibe grafted to “The Untitled Song”, adding a new traditional SA feel to their Jozambiquan style. A fair mix of old and new; keeping everyone satisfied. The songs off ‘Moving’ seemed to go down a little easier. Maybe because we know them better? Or maybe it’s because ‘Moving’ has a warmer quality, whereas ‘Sorry for the Delay’ feels colder and more abstract?

Whether you’re thinking about scoring at the midnight drive-in, or you left your shoes on the nightclub stairs, everybody loves 340ml. White guys with dreads, young bluppies, and coloured B-com students – grooving in unity at The Assembly.

340ml are the sound of South Africa’s now. They’re the rainbow nation station, representing without the twee-ness of Freshly Ground. Surrounded by all the right people, you feel hip for just being at one of their gigs.


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