Black Goldby Dela Gwala / Images by Nikki Brand / 07.07.2011
“Excuse me sir, there’s a moustache in my hot chocolate”, a common phrase in the dialect of the Joburg hipster. Asking for a nibble of your chocolate moustache is a sign of friendship here. There are just as many little saucers of red velvet cupcakes as glasses of red wine.The only travesty is that they’re out of lemonade. The cool kids are not playing with the multi-coloured fridge magnets or the proudly displayed Scrabble sets – they’re partaking in their favourite pastime of standing outside looking “grim about the mouth”. The dark coats and baby blue walls make up a winter’s night at Wolves.
There’s a man kneeling on one of the mismatched couches. He’s facing the cake counter, like everyone else who’s trying to get a drink, but he’s chanting. There is a cape tied around his neck and a mask attached to his dreads. He stands up to a looming soundtrack –the atmospheric call of a recorder coming from the makeshift stage. He shuffles past the miniature coffee table in his ankle length leggings and nearly everything on his body is covered in shiny plastic-like gold.
“I had a dream that my grandfather punched me in the face.” An incantation that is repeated like an earth shattering piece of slam poetry. The cape is abandoned for a full view of his liquid sun spandex. The only sign that what you’re seeing is happening in reality is his washed-out grey jersey. This is Mr Gold, the frontman of the much talked about jozi band, The Brother Moves On. He kneels down, points across the room and vocalizes the presence of the mountains. It’s due to the sheer power of his storytelling that you start to make-believe that there’s a rocky formation behind the display menu of a hip café in Johannesburg.
The adventure down the burrow of tribal rock and performance art continues with a spot of pelvic thrusting and political accusations. There’s the cautionary tale of a certain individual (Julius Malema) who might come into power. This is spun together with a warning about the perils of being caught watching porn. What follows is the simulation of an orgasm whilst commenting on the state of our nation. Mr Gold then steps forward and labels himself everyone’s worst fear and nightmare. A declaration tied to bouts of cackling which make you wonder whether we’re in on the joke.
The Brother Moves On tip-toes around labels of “gimmick” or “pretentious” and settles under the title “experimental”. There are actual strings being plucked and a voice behind what’s being sung – an authentic sound. The two sane elements, the guitarist and the bassist, keep the Afro-indie vibe moving along despite the ass-exposing gyrating showmanship happening upfront. The real shocker of the entire performance is how quickly they dismantle the surreal state they’ve created. The last we hear of Mr Gold is that he’s holding up the bathroom line while wriggling back into his skinny jeans and dark trench coat.
There is now a barefooted nun standing on the stage – her name is Tori Shotgun. She has new-age pebbles attached to her rosary and she’s clutching a black acoustic guitar. Apparently, we are about to be treated to a bit of home-grown folk music. She howls out the names of the drummer and the guitarist that are joining her – rounding out the members of Kim Catholic. Peter Ruznyak, the man on guitar, takes the bulk of the instrument playing duties whilst the woman in the habit husks it out behind the mic. Lauren Schlachter, the newly appointed drummer, puts on a rather narcoleptic performance – drifting in and out of the show.
“Switch on your tail lights and I will follow you”, it all begins with a passionately creepy lover’s duet and then descends into the many things that are generally never said while wearing a habit. It’s a veritable showcase for the extended metaphors of lust – which moves between being a prison term and a sin. The session ends with a church collection of sorts; the tip jar makes the rounds. The semi-obligatory payment seems fitting for all the lascivious activity that has happened within the confines of these powder blue walls.
All images © Nikki Brand.