Goth Fans and Foos Girlsby Roger Young, images by Danielle Clough / 25.08.2010
Goth fans of country pop bands fascinate me. Not that there are any country pop bands other than Wrestlerish, that I know of, that have cute goth girls down front chanting the lyrics; verse and chorus. Wrestlerish have been touring hard and at the Saturday Mercury gig with the Jack Mantis Band and Tidal Waves that much is obvious from the tightness of their set. If anything, it’s a little too rehearsed, they’re hitting every note and beat and song change perfectly. The song intro quips are practically identical to previous night’s gig and although these little things don’t detract from their tight melodic country-inspired rock or the audience’s enjoyment of it, it does make me think that it might be nearing time for Wrestlerish to start busting out some new songs, to change it up a bit. As much as I’m a fan, I preferred their Zula gig where not only did they seem a little more thrown by their drummer’s illness and therefore had to rise to the challenge; but also because when Chloe from Enmity guested on their encore it was a little rambling and a little more free range.
Coming after them, The Jack Mantis Band pale in comparison mainly because no matter how tight and technically good they are at their growly folk rock, they simply do not have enough distinctive songs. Most of them are too similar no matter how much gusto they’re delivered with. They’ve been better in other band configurations so I wonder if it’s not just a bad night for them. Maybe I’ve been in Cape Town too long, maybe I’m getting soft, but in the end, I couldn’t find anything to dislike about them. There is nothing offensively wrong with their 94.7 friendly Jack Johnson-esque rock, but it just doesn’t move me. What Mantis does have, dancing down front, is a bunch of late twenties female fans, who look like they escaped from a trance party at Silvermine. After the set they distractedly edge toward the stage door with gleams of hope in their eyes, ready to pounce.
Off to the side of the stage are two tiny foos playing girls who haven’t been paying any attention at all until Tidal Waves break into a wall of rock moment; then suddenly they abandon the game and pay attention. The foos girls made the fundamental error that many of us make: thinking Tidal Waves are just another reggae band. Mostly because the general feeling around reggae bands is that, musically, they are interchangeable; party bands that we go to see because we know they’re going to play straight up skanking dub tunes. Tunes that we can drop our asses and make slightly disconnected finger pointing movements to. Not Tidal Waves though, they’re essentially becoming a rock band that borrow from the reggae oeuvre while mixing in strains of maskandi, goema and vastrap. They’re tight, smiling and angst free; which is not to say they’re positive to the point of being blinkered. They’re just unabashedly without façade. It’s midnight already by the time they’ve got going and the crowd moves en mass from all corners to front of stage, bouncing along, getting into it, unlike me. The Waves are the freest of all the night’s bands. They’re out there moving a smallish crowd that’s singing along, a crowd that’s really into it and for a brief, happy, moment the disappointments of the earlier part of the evening are washed out of my mind. It’s then, not feeling the desire to deconstruct the evening any further, that I choose to slip away.
*All images © Danielle Clough.