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Tennyson Extended

Generation Next

by Adoné Kitching, images Paris Brummer / 24.09.2010

Tonight is like a film. A shot of heroin pumps through the veins of the protagonist, he realises he has lost sight of the dreams he once had and runs through a deserted city in an attempt to escape himself. The ocean swells and breaks with a thunderous roar, the first aeroplane takes flight, two lovers find one another after years of separation, a warrior returns victorious, someone climbs Mount Everest. In a small, dimly lit club, a few friends meet to dance, to smoke, to pass their time in the company of others of their kind.

Music, and especially instrumental music, has the ability to engage the imagination of its listener. We create in our minds an image or a picture, one that is drawn with the rhythm of the music we are listening to. Or, well, at least I do. So in a small diner, safely tucked away under the Nelson Mandela Bridge, that connects Braamfontein to Newtown, I’m transported through three visual spaces, three movie scenes. Bridge Diner is a warm little place. The crowd, who are mostly close friends and band members order pizzas and beer and wait for the bands to start. Dressed in a style very similar to the Cape Town indie scene, I am pleasantly surprised at the lack of pretence of these people. No clicky business. This is the underground. Thirty odd friends, driven to try something new, to get something out, to give each other a chance.

NIght Sky Empire

As Night Sky Empire takes the floor (there is no space for a stage) my heart sinks a little. Without a front man the spotlight is obviously shone stronger on each instrument, highlighting flaws that could’ve been masked with strong vocals. They attempt a post-rock, progressive sound, but as each song degenerates into a standard half-time chorus, I can’t help but feel that their post-rock elements have not been explored enough. Their combination of rock riffs and predictable drumming brings their sound down. As a few people react in a Nirvana crowd-like sway, I am taken into a drug film. Green and yellow grading, shadowy corners. Light bulbs and burnt spoons lay strewn across the floor of my imagination. Night Sky Empire can be heard, first as background music, then, it takes over the scene. In the bassist’s case, the spotlight is done a little justice. He reminds me of Jack White and Jesus and plays with the shy confidence of an artist who knows his instrument well. His fingers climb up and down the neck of his guitar and with this he directs every song the band plays. Despite his excellent playing, the band as a whole fails to impress. You can hear glimpses of the sound they are trying to create, but the potential is lost to messy drum rolls. The music sinks into a grungy monotony.

I’m left feeling a little anxious, two more sets? That’s a long time to listen to something that bores you. But, when the next band faces the Bridge Diner crowd, my heart, which had previous sunk, is taken and shot straight into the air. Eyes Like Mirrors are exactly what you want from a progressive instrumental band. They play with remarkable energy and the echoing guitar immediately fills up the room. To me, this is the soundtrack to all that is heavy and beautiful, to climactic and cathartic experiences. In my mind the camera sweeps over the ocean, dreams come true, a battle is won. The music allows your thoughts to flow over all the good yet to come. A little melodramatic maybe, but at least you can tell I enjoyed their performance. The keytarist plays with his back to the crowd, some of the band is playing in socks and you feel as if you are in a friend’s lounge where they have just picked up their instruments for a spontaneous jam session. The drumming patterns are not exactly unpredictable, but they are not forced and manage to engage the crowd, drag us into the music. Although it is, at times, hard to tell songs apart, each one has its own motion and flow. Eyes Like Mirrors avoid the trap of monotony with build-ups and visuals that compliment each song.

Eyes Like Mirrors

Tennyson Extended end the night on a middle note. Their set is average, but still fun. With a sound that speaks of influences from The Strokes and The Editors they evoke images of exactly where we are. A club scene. The camera follows a lively group of teenagers walking through a wall-papered corridor into a tiny club with minimal lighting. Some dance, some rock back and forth, others keep time with their knocking knees. In this scene, Tennyson Extended would play. They are less refined than Eyes Like Mirrors, but the drums and bass work together as they should. Their confused, yet solid breakdowns and mix of different elements of indie, rock and reggae makes for a lively, energetic show and it is clear that Tennyson Extended are a party band.

Although I would never call my film Generation Next, like the cheesy Sunday Times youth culture survey, but tonight the title makes sense. This was a gathering of people excited about something different. And so, they come together to see what they can do. To have fun, to perfect their art and to offer those who will listen the opportunity to hear something interesting and fresh. The night as a whole is a movie scene that surprises and excites me. In a small club, under a bridge, you can see an image of people’s genuine love for music and the sense of solidarity it gives. I hope to hear, see and experience more of these gatherings in the near future.

*All images © Paris Brummer.

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RESPONSES (11)
  1. Jon says:

    “…A shot of heroine….”

    Awesome.

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  2. Andy says:

    protagonist was in love with the heroine… that icky, new chemical phase of infatuation… that prose is pregnant with meaning. It’s like poetry

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  3. Andy says:

    Oh ja… I also edited it

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  4. local is drecker says:

    “Eyes Like Mirrors” must be one of the kakkest band-names I’ve come across in quite a few years. Cliched and monotonous music would not surprise from such an unimaginatively named bunch.

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  5. Dillon Bensusan says:

    WELL, GO INTO THE MOVIE INDUSTRY THEN! I mean God, its clear what you’re passionate about and how your mind works. I happen to disagree with a few aspects of what was said ( i thoroughly enjoyed Night Sky Empire and found the crowd unbelievably “clicky’ – as you have cleverly chosen to spell it) but i do appreciate a critical eye, it makes this scene somewhat more serious although you’ve taken to making it TOO serious with that bitchy tongue. These are young, up and coming, certainly still-learning musicians performing to “mostly close friends” as you have not failed to mention yourself. What happened to giving “each other a chance”. Im sorry but the shit that youve said here is a badly formulated bunch of pretentious contradictions. The diner was far from “safely tucked away’ with your presence lingering. I just find your writing so up your own arse and unnecessary.

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  6. tamara says:

    i think this was a lovely piece of writing. I DO WISH I WOULD HAVE SEEN MORE IMAGES THOUGH..
    i have been following eyes like mirrors from their origin.. stemming off from a collective band called black Ambience before (http://www.myspace.com/blackambience)
    they are all very talented and passionate about making music

    south Africa needs a dose of post-rock, and I’m hoping Shannon, Jason and Matthew will create the revolution we need here
    well inspired by explosions in the sky, this team lifts me up with the Jozi skyline detailing their essence and their hypnotic lighting
    willing to play at any time, any day and to any audience.. i have been honoured to have them breathing music in my garden
    a definite to-do-list bullet for any individual who likes following the narrative and dialogue of real music

    …and no mahala readers, i am not trying to promote, OR persuade.. MAYBE PRAISE
    I AM a human music lover
    spread the love and check them out..http://www.myspace.com/eyeslikemirrors

    and while we on the page of love and music.. listen to these..
    -http://www.myspace.com/uskidsknowband
    -http://www.myspace.com/albinobeach

    peace..

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  7. Roger Young says:

    Albino Beach FTW!

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  8. ShlongDong says:

    Albino Beach are rad, they should play in the Deep South more.

    The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me are another top “post” band, and don’t get enough recognition in this country.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Ocean-Doesnt-Want-Me/28714219393?ref=ts

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  9. Raymond says:

    Just a quick question, during the “eyes like mirrors” show did you hear a keyboard? nope i think not .That is because the keytarist as you so expertly put it is actually controlling ,wait for it the visuals , so its not that he had his back to the crowd, he in fact was watching and controlling said visuals. Maybe you would have know that if you had paid more attention at the show.

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  10. Mika says:

    I say, kudo’s to the writer of this article. South African Music needs a critical attitude. This sort of criticism was completly backed up, and I believe completly fair.

    In the serious music epicentres (USA, Europe, Japan) its articles like this which help to progress bands, and gain insight into the scene.

    @ Dillon, young and upcoming does not exempt one from being criticized, if they play live they should expect certain reactions, and this writer I believe has done so fairly.

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  11. Dillon says:

    were you there Mika?

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