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by Nathan Zeno / 01.06.2009


Maybe it was the quality of the sound at the Willowvale, maybe it was the just-here-to-get-fuckedness oozing off the crowd but watching Zebra & Giraffe live was a serious non event. As one samey song blended into another and the indisctinct vocals washed up and ebbed away I was struck mainly by the keyboardist. He would stand back and then with one hand strike one note and then punch the air as if he’s just hit a jackpot and it was paying out in awesomeness, which he sorely needs. The overriding feeling I got coming away from this Z&G gig is, well, nothing. I don’t remember any of the songs, the hooks or even the lyrics and I don’t see what all the fuss is about. There is no texture, no range and certainly no journey involved in thier music, it just kinda exists. 

The band that most people came to see is Fire Through The Window performing their brand of disposable radio friendly pop. The room was packed and people were pressed against the stage and I felt like a cantankerous old man for not enjoying what everyone else was, but it seemed the mix was muddy and the instruments seemed to blend into one another indistinctly, all I really took away from  what I saw was how damned happy FTTW seem. As full of life as cartoons and  getting maximum love from the crowd. All I can hope is to see them in a better environment and to be as impressed as I know so many others are.

Out of the three bands that performed, the opening act The Shadowclub seem to be the one that may have found a groove, if not yet the songs. In retrospect the thing that struck me most about their set was that, maybe it was because they were going for a simpler sound, pure Rock n Roll,  they sounded the cleanest of intent. On stage they were remarkably free of ego and bombast and really just seemed like they were enjoying being there, not putting on an act at all. Its too early to tell with The Shadowclub, but it does feel like they could get much better than the really good that they are now.  The one indicator of a real band that I’m sure of, is that, no matter the technical limitations of the gig, venue or situtation, you have a presence, a sound and a direction that can reach an audience.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    you should have been at the Hog Hoggidy Hog gig

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  2. Nathan Zeno says:

    It’s my job to experience this stuff so that you don’t have to.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    biggest willowvale show I’ve ever been to. did not disappoint at all for me. well maybe Z&G but certainly not Shadowclub or FTTW

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  4. Andy says:

    We shoulda Anon. You’re right

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  5. WordWallah says:

    The Fuzz and Manuvah to Land was a great show… too bad everyone was at the Willowvale so there were only about 50 people there.

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  6. joe brew says:

    what do you get when you cross a donkey and a zebra?
    A Zonkey called Deborah!

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  7. Beat says:

    Sucked that they just kept taking the cash at the door without any thought on the enjoyment (or lack there of) that those squeezed inside would get out of the bands. There were a lot of “new” live music faces at the gig and I have no doubt that they will have been encouraged to go out and seek more live music in the future. Thanks for nothing I say. The scene battles enough to get new feet through the doors.

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  8. Nathan Zeno says:

    Beat. Totally called it man. I wasn’t going to get into it but seeing as you brought it up.

    It seems that all ventures at the Willowvale are not about enjoyment but about getting as many people through the door as possible. Maybe because there are no other venues in Durban at the moment where bands can make enough money off the door to survive off. This is due to the municipality making it very hard for live music venues to open and for new promoters to afford street pole advertising, as well as leaning hard on venues that are trying to do something, like Thunder Road or Society. You actually have to spend a shit load on legal fees to get a venue open if it’s anywhere near a residential area.

    But that doesn’t make squeezing all those people into that tiny venue okay. It does discourage people from coming back. And it damages those bands popularity and ability to make money in the long term.

    Three bands in one night is going to get full. Especially if two of them are from out of town. The organizers (FTTW, I assume) should really have thought that through. Although judging from the way the lead singer chick was harassing this one guy at the door because he was a little short of cash makes me think that they aren’t in it for the enjoyment or the scene in general. I know I’m being slightly contradictory here, what I’m really saying is that it’s laziness and greed that causes these things. The venue is known, you can charge what you like at the door, and it’s an easy deal. So no need to find new venues or look at other options. If you know everyone is going to come who cares what happens to them after you have the cash.

    I couldn’t even see the bands properly or hear the music through the crush. It was awful. I was going to reserve judgment on this, but it has been said by many people on the night and subsequently. It was wrong but if it happens again should the venue be called on by the authorities. Should we alert them? Can we risk losing another live music venue? I don’t know the answer. But seriously they should advertise a limit on the amount of people allowed in and leave it at that and learn to not be desperate for short term gain.

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  9. Gabbi says:

    Finally people have woken up from sheep mentality and realised that Z&G live are quite derivative and appear arrogant and egotistical on stage. There are 2 good songs but the remainder all blend into one another.

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  10. Greg says:

    Greg here from Z&G.

    I have to admit, most of the comments above are pretty fair, well those regarding the venue and the sound. When we got to Durbs on the day of the show, we were very unhappy with what the organisers had provided and we considered cancelling the show. We eventually had to weigh up the pros and cons of cancelling and those of performing and decided it would be better if we just perform.

    We only arrived back at the venue just before our performance and were suprised to see so many people. It was exciting of course, but it was a bit of a nightmare. We unfortunately couldnt do anything about this, but what we have learnt is that we aint going to play at the Willowvale again!

    As for the comments about us being arrogant and egotistical on stage? Not sure how we pulled that one off! All I can say is next time save yourself R40 dont come to our show…


    Oh and we are back in Durban next week Sunday (21st June) – at the Botanic Gardens. There will be loads of space and much better sound, however, I cant guarantee the will have ‘texture or range’ 🙂

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  11. Greg says:

    Oh and we are back in Durban next week Sunday (21st June) – at the Botanic Gardens. There will be loads of space and much better sound, however, I cant guarantee the MUSIC will have ‘texture or range’ 🙂

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  12. Gabbi says:

    Thanks for the reply, Greg.

    I was curious to see Zebra & Giraffe play after al the hype but found the show a let down. To me it appears that the exposure has gone to their heads. Thank you for the suggestion, I will be saving myself the R40 cover charge or whatever is charged for an event. I find Zebra & Giraffe to be among the most overrated bands in the country, there is little variety in the songs and I was glad to read here that I am not the only one.

    Good luck, guys.

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  13. hahahaha says:

    this gabi girl has no idea. i never know if she is being serious or joking. you know that the comment above is from greg carlin of zebra and giraffe. you reply to his message as if he is an outsider on the matter. if you read it agian there is tons of sarcasm. he is not agreeing with you. hahahaha. what a best.

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  14. Magan Evans says:

    Zebra&Giraffe are the kitties titties!!!! All of your negative comments are INVALID!

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