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Being Happy Is So Punk Rock

by Roger Young / Images by Riordan Allen / 08.11.2011

It would have been foolish to expect Mercury to have been packed, the line up was mostly unknown or hardly known bands from different genres and Cape Town kids have always had a problem with slipping outside of their safety zones. The whole “I really want to see that rock band but they’re supporting an electronic band, that’s too risky, I might hear something I can’t compute” vibe. Merc, however, was empty as fuck when The Dollfins started up, mostly fambase and some random blogger with big hair. But no matter, The Dollfins kick in with that new band enthusiasm, sounding like a bunch of screaming twelve year old girls who are really excited ‘cause they’ve just discovered they have vaginas; it’s like they’ve got The Cramps or something. A two girl one guy barrage of mostly punk covers, they’re full of sex and dirt, aspiring to be Joan Jett or Patti Smith. There’s nothing wrong with a new band playing a lot of covers, I mean it’s how the Beatles and The Stones started out, in fact it’s better than playing your own songs that just sound like bad versions of your favourite bands. The Dollfins are lewd, hard and excitable but just not enough to get excited about yet. They’ve announced who they want to be; now to become it.

Imagine you’re at a Rave in 1997. You are a bi-curious 16 year old boy. Everyone is on heroin-laced ecstasy. Two guys, who have been best friends for ages, are sitting on a couch, lit only by unsynced strobes,talking about the girl they both want to make out with. Then suddenly they start making out. The feeling you get from watching this is exactly how Popskarr sound like to me. If Nikhil Singh is the Anton LaVey of the new drag electronica, then Yannick is its Morrissey. He moves around the stage like the black Bono, all emotive hand gestures and meaningful glances at the crowd. He sings mournfully over the New Romantic synthtacular of Terrence Pearce and the rumbling under-pinning of Sasha Righini’s drums. If Popskarr were missing anything on the night, it was more smoke machine.

By now the crowds have picked up, Mercury is at least half full and Beach Party come tumbling out like midget extras from Weekend At Bernie’s, all summery and messy. There are five of them on stage, and three of them are fighting for the front spot; Ritalin laced egos competing for attention. The sound is instantly twee, but a winking smutty breezy tweeness that makes you want to swing on a jungle gym naked in the moonlight. With harmonies like the Beach Boys on amyl nitrate, with fuzz like Beach House but with more party; basically they’re Girls but without the issues. The Girls sensibility probably comes from the fact that Graham Newlove, from Magic of Pegasus, is there, leaping onto the drum riser to be more visible to the crowd. Other bands members include one of the Dollfins. Beach Party are full of jangly guitars and lyrics that pretend not care about sexual and romantic disappointment. They’re surf rock, with a bright frothy happiness, an ostentatious I don’t give a fuck. They’re bright pop punk, hinting at times of Nerf Herder. They can be a little over-silly, but so charmingly so. For the grand encore, they’re joined by the other female Dollfin and Tim Lester from Bicycle Thief and it gets chaotic and sing-a-long, some majestic bonfire in the night, before being taken by the sharks.

When they finish, I can’t stick around for Sedge Warbler, I have to leave and go smash up a Woolworths. It’s like this one party scene is starting to spit out stuff that is reaching past whimsy, trying to make some dirty fantasy real. Some dream (keeping hidden the inevitability of disappointment) of a past where people fucked without worrying about AIDS or broken hearts or hangovers.

EP by Beach Party

*PS: Apologies for picture quality. We had to steal from twitter. Someone stole the photographer’s camera from backstage. What a dick move. Photographer, Nick Gordon. Anyone with any information, please contact him.

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