East Coast Riotby Yusuf Laher / 05.10.2009
Everybody knows lightning never strikes twice (in the same place), right? That’s how it became a saying, and later, a cliché spun by lame, Sunday night writers like me, digging for an opening sentence. Burn’s free-entry-before-nine, free-drinks-from-nine-to-ten, cheap-students-and-metal combo the night before had packed the place out and Saturday night’s forecast was uncertain. But Durban showed up like a bolt of lightning looking for another party.
The night kicked off pretty punctual (and surprisingly early). By the time I got to Burn, just after nine, The Car Boot Vendors and Fruits & Veggies had already played. DJ Creepy Steve was in charge, peeling back the years (and good taste) as Jo’burg City punks, The Mean Streets, set up.
“We’re giving out free breast cancer examinations,” said freshly cut, cleaned up and clothed guitarist Ed, pinching a ready to wander, humanitarian claw at the unconvinced-looking crowd. Mixing influences like Rancid and Dropkick Murphys, The Mean Streets are straight up, in your face, dirty Jozi punk rockers. And as always, their set was tight, fast and aggressive, like a hammer banging a nail into a skull.
“This next song’s called African National Criminals” – Big Daddy S, The Mean Streets
“Are you amped for The Slashdogs?” I asked a friend of mine, a rock ‘n roller and known Slashdogs enthusiast. “I’m amped for the Slashdog!” he said unimpressed, inadvertently spraying beer in my face and patting me on the back wisely on his way back to the bar.
Following the departure of Reverend Andrew Wright, ex-drummer turned lead guitarist Paul666 (aka Paul Rocker, aka Boss Nasty) is the only original member left. Even long-serving frontman Lucky Wretch (aka Blessed Wretch) isn’t a true Gary Two Teeth and The Slashdogs original. Still, he’s been there since I started watching and made the role his own (in blood). And later on, I saw said sceptic rock ‘n roller in the front, rubbing faces with Lucky, singing along and crowd surfing, this time spraying his beer in tribute.
Lucky wore a Wolverine t-shirt to match his silver Wolverine hairdo and sideburns. And truth be told, the dude would have made a much better Wolverine than Hugh Jackman. Ex-ATFN guitarist Henk Lustig (aka Whiskey Lustig) knows how to rock ‘n roll as well (if I remember correctly, he’s got it tattooed on his back) and his ex-ATFN bandmate, Paul 666, definitely knows his way around a Gibson Les Paul (and then some). From his sweaty Guns N’ Roses t-shirt lying on the floor to his KISS belt buckle, current drummer Leon (aka Slyder) is a cymbal chomping monster and the new look Slashdogs are 100%, intense rock ‘n roll.
Hog Hoggidy Hog, in Durban, twice in one year: who coined the phrase lightning never strikes twice (in the same place) anyway? Waiting for the Capetonian pork rockers, you could feel the excitement in the air (even the vegans were hungry).
Onstage, Hogs are a larger than life, animated explosion of uncontaminated punk rock energy. They’re ska punk entertainers, characters and genuine oddballs. Each member packs a suitcase of facial expressions, the kind that makes being a photographer really easy. They made that Burn stage look tiny (and as always, looked like they were having a blast doing so).
Frontman George Bacon came on wearing a metal torch in his right ear (to replace a missing flesh tunnel). At first, his voice sounded a little bit weird. But by song three, he was right in the zone. Hogs played their regular mixture of old classics and new humdingers, from “John and Phillippp’s Song” to “Scene Police.” The pit erupted into a sea of lost shoes, broken cigarettes and shirt pulling, skin scratching weirdoes. It was every man, woman, child and drunk photographer for themselves.
Two encores later and Durban’s first East Coast Riot was over. From the sound, to the lighting and bands, it was an epic night out. The stage looked like a giant sponge, soaking up drunk rioters, alcohol and cigarettes, and the roof was the place to get to (even if it meant pouring my whiskey into a plastic cup).
Pics © Yusuf Laher