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Slashdogs

Anal is the new Hand Job

by Roger Young, images by Jacqui van Staden / 01.12.2010

The CCHQ is far. Tucked away in the eastern suburb of Primrose it seems to be somewhat of an anomaly in this neither prim nor rosy low rent neighbourhood; a music venue fashioned out of an ostentatious antique shop stuffed full of chandeliers, red walls, cabinets of alcoholic and inbred clowns, old movie posters, and some genuine actual antique shit; like tonight’s indie horror film and rock n roll event, CULT, which feels exactly like a late goth party in Yeoville circa 1997.

As we pull up a short woman in grubby attire shouts at a car guard: “People are trying to sleep here, you know!” while indicating back into the cavernous mechanics workshop behind her. Her pockmarked face seems rubberized; she has obviously had a life filled with cheap starch. Steve tells me about the time her crackhead son tried to fuck him up for parking near their door. When you take into account that CCHQ is not just an antique shop turned into a music venue but an antique shop used as an S&M meeting place for East Rand swingers and sex freaks that is sometimes used as a music venue, it’s easy to see that it actually fits right in next door to an empty mechanic’s workshop that doubles as a dwelling for midget mothers of crackheads.

Nothing is happening when we enter. A Sansui logo is projected behind the drum kit, Robert Johnson era blues wafts softly out of a PA somewhere. People in all range of actual Goth mill around on the kind of rugs my gran used to call Persian. From the poster for the event I was expecting darkness and excitement but everything just feels a little limp. Rocker Goths and chubby ska dudes mingle with victims of Sailor Jerry chic while semi-Suicide girls wander around with the vacant expressions unique to folks who trade in their own flesh. Because on some level I expected chainsaws and rabid sluts I am, once again, victim to my own high expectations. I find Charles, my large gay tattoo artist friend, and we realise the need to drink, heavily.

CULT CCHQ

The first band up after we arrive takes forever to set up. A guy wanders through the lounge area carrying an amp and chatting to everyone as he walks through. They finally begin, shouting and grinding away like a bunch of mechanics and IT geeks who secretly want to be tattoo appies. And in less than two songs it’s over. Then there is another indeterminably long wait. A woman wearing black, black eyeliner and black rouge comes up to me and asks: “Do you read?” and semi auditions my suitability before handing me a flyer advertising her black magic fiction, “god”, she mutters as she walks away, “I feel so cheap”. I look at the flyer and think, this is not my kind of book; I’d probably hate it. Then I look around realise that this is not my kind of gig and I’m hating it. The night lags and the only reason we’re not leaving is that it’s the last Slashdogs gig ever.

Submachine eventually come on and proceed to disappoint, hard. I love the hard fast rock of Submachine but where the fuck is the black paint? They’ve recently lost Kevin Flee, their vocalist and are most likely still readjusting. Or it could just be that the atmosphere in CCHQ is a little vlammed out from all the waiting. Even the in crowd drum attack from Storm Thomas feels like it’s executed out of obligation. Submachine need to get their voodoo back.

Submachine

The venue is as full as it’s going to get. The milling about continues. A film is screened above the stage. It’s about a skinny girl with too much black eye make up who meets a catalogue model from the eighties with fake surfer hair. There is a forest. Then her walls are attacked by AFDA CGI. It’s a turgid affair and the only horror it imparts is the ennui of standing around waiting for the Slashdogs to start, for something to happen. We take to insulting the Sailor Jerry rep’s white leather with embroidered swallow shoes. We are that bored. He is offended, which is kinda softcock; being offended by the normal behaviour of your target market means you haven’t done your research. It becomes more appealing to make up stories about the opiate addicted clown dolls in the silent room while trading tequila for disdain with my favorite Russian vegan animal rights activist anarchist. By the time it gets to the Slashdogs, CCHQ is starting to empty out.

The Slashdogs

Ryan Tarbarton is one of the best front men in South African hard rock and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s full of angry energy and eye-popping screams; giving his last gig everything. But the Slashdogs themselves are past their sell by date; maybe it’s why they’re shutting up shop. For all its energy their raw and extreme throat shouty rock ‘n roll feels forced and played out. But only to me, their twenty or so hardcore fans rock the fuck out while the new-ish guitarist spends more time doing rock god poses than actual guitar work. The whole set is marred by too bright and repetitive video projections that render them silhouettes to all but those standing up close. The sound mix is flat, the band was hardly there, far from their usual tightness, Tarbarton seemed alone on stage riding the emotional energy of a final gig for all it was worth. I could have just been affected by the strange atmosphere of the event, venue or maybe my inability to give a fuck about a scene made up of a loose collection of outsiders desperately clinging to some derivative late fifties rockabilly ideal. It all feels like a very large wank, I tell Charlie. “Or Anal” he says “I mean, you know anal is the new handjob”. The Slashdogs set ends and a girl comes off the dance floor straight to us, the first randoms, and exclaims “That was the most emotional thing that’s happened to me ever”.
“You”, I say, “must lead a very empty life”.

We end up in the silent room where a laptop DJ now plays The Cramps to fake chandeliers and a shitty laser. Charlie has run out of people to be a bitch about; all we have left of the evening is to wake up the Russian with difficulty and tequila and head out into the night, tiptoeing past the crackhead mechanics, trying to make a clean and silent escape.

CULT, Slashdogs, Submachine

*All images © Jacqui van Staden

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