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Danger and the Hooters

by Garth van der Merwe / 16.02.2012

Tanz Café is like some Fourways fat girl. She might be pretty on the inside, but on the outside she resembles a bloated ode to capitalist culture. Situated in a strip mall, it feels more like you’re heading out for groceries than going to see a band on a Friday night. If it’s danger you’re after, this is not where you’ll find it. Add to this, the fact that the venue neighbours that all-American strip mall classic, a Hooters, and as an added bonus you get to enjoy the surreal experience of watching testosterone-fuelled townhouse dwellers downing after-work drinks mixing with hip indie kids dressed in skinny jeans on their way to the gig.

Inside, the venue is far from full. This is good. No elbowing people out of the way to get to the bar or standing in line to get to the toilets. There are even a few people sitting at tables enjoying a sedate pre-gig meal. Like I said, no danger here.

Except, as I will later realize, the venue should be a lot fuller. Why, you ask? Well because Desmond and the Tutus deserve it. When the band takes to the stage a little while later, the smallish crowd of people smart enough to attend the show flocks to the front of the stage and starts bouncing up and down enthusiastically, grins pasted on faces. They can’t help it. The Tutus’ energy is infectious. The tables are suddenly nowhere to be seen.

Desmond and the Tutus

Singer Shane enthusiastically high fives the kids in the front row and guitarist Doug busts out his best moves. For a moment, he’s even forgiven for wearing deck shoes (but only for a moment). Drummer Craig, who earlier opened for the band as his alter ego, YO Grapes (download songs for free on his facebook page), is a burst of frenetic energy. How Nic, the slightly oafish-looking bass player, is able to keep playing as competently as he does while bustling around on stage is beyond me. And that is the secret of the band’s live performance. The show feels spontaneous and exciting – and yet completely accomplished – without ever coming across as contrived.

Tonight the band takes the opportunity to play some new songs off their forthcoming album, which will be released later this year. But the enthusiastic response from the crowd would make it difficult for the uninitiated to determine which are the old songs and which the new. I don’t think I’m the only one keen to hear the new album in full.
The show ends (Goodnight Fourways!) and the crowd filters out to that horrible strip mall exterior I’d forgotten about while the band were on stage. Except, all of a sudden, thanks to the Tutus, it doesn’t seem that bad anymore. Ample, safe parking is a good thing, right? I decide to embrace the spirit of my surroundings and head to the Hooters for one last drink. Something tells me there’s a slight chance I might find some danger here after all.

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