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Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Mall Rock

by Andrei Van Wyk / Images by Paris Brummer / 09.05.2011

“Hey, let’s go to Hooters!” I say half-jokingly. I get the ‘not a fuck’ look back from Paris. We walk up to the huge opening of Tanz Café, attention diverted to the walls which are smothered with gig posters. Jesse Clegg and the Spring Bok Nude Girl are heroes in this place. It’s Farryl Purkiss and Taxi Violence tonight, I take a deep breath and sigh saying to myself “Okay! Let’s get this over with”. The thick blue lights from inside shine against the stairs near the entrance. I watch my feet as I walk up looking at how they move in the fluorescent lights. The place is packed with men in suits and young girls in skimpy dresses handing out shots. There’s an old lady sitting at the table near the entrance violently devouring a steak and a young couple on the couch next to the stage kissing sporadically in between watching the sound guys set up. At the bar, uptight yuppies test their pick up lines on a group of girls who look underage. Paris and I look at each other wondering if we’re in the right place.

I walk across the floor looking around like Dorothy as she wanders down the yellow brick road and stare at everything like it was new to me. I’ve watched a ton of gigs here but tonight it seems different. Candles are lit romantically on the tables which cover the dancefloor and the smell of meat and beer fills the air. The entire room gives me a feeling like we just gate-crashed a corporate team building event. High class thirty two year old men talking about last week’s rugby and their young wives bitching about their kids.

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Thankfully Farryl Purkiss starts playing almost immediately. He has built up a great following through his brand of subtle folk-rock which eases into the ear and seems to cause a bit of friction in the jeans of the women listening. With nowhere to sit, I find a spot next to the stage. Purkiss begins the set by explaining his use of a loop station and defending himself from the ideas that he uses backing tracks. Soon that smooth guitar is looped and lyrics of love and melancholy are whispering over the crowd. He moves through his set with precision, hitting songs like “Better Days” and “Kissing Devils on the Cheek” with an avant-garde sincerity that rings true for me. But there’s a darker thought nagging my mind. Even though Farryl displays a great appreciation for the experimental, with a use of phased guitar and off kilter melodies; a lot of his songs still come across as nothing more than simple folk-pop which seems artificial and processed. The same ideas regurgitated over and over again. As he reaches the middle of his set it is quite clear that the crowd have lost interest. However it’s open to debate whether they were interested in the first place. With the incessant pub conversation drowning out his voice, his skilfull guitar playing and humorous inter-song banter can’t save him from looking like a cheap hotel lobby act. It’s a shame really, because he expresses a clear sincerity which I appreciate.

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Tanz Café, although a perfect musical venue, is ironically a place for the “musically retarded”.

Taxi Violence moves quickly on stage setting up their gear and checking microphones for a partially acoustic set-up. I respect the sense of urgency in their live shows and their ability to control the attention of the crowd. They burst on with an over-powering guitar surge which grabs the crowd and holds them. Their brand of clean (almost synthetic) blues rock jumps from table to table blowing out the candles and shedding darkness over the floor with an ominous but exciting tone. Playing their trademark “Venus Fly Trap” they take control of the room causing middle age women in short skirts to dance, holding their glasses of wine high in the air. As the song finishes, the attention they had commanded so well dissipates to be replaced by the pub banter that drowned out their Farryl Purkiss earlier. From then on, their guitars sound bland, the old slides generate little faith and their drums rumble under the surface with no sense of purpose or reason. I watch over from the side of the stage with a blank face. Though they played a half decent set, they remain in my eyes, a half-realised band. Their bluesy rock tones seem to be missing an overarching direction; a unity that’ll take them to the next level and force some kind of engagement from the audience.

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

As the intense feedback from their last track subsides, microphones and amps are hastily packed away, I can’t shake the feeling that my time has been wasted. The vibe drowned me with the smell of cheap cologne and cooking meat. I can hardly remember the music. Tanz Café seems to have turned into a restaurant and pub with a bustling social scene, that incidentally hosts live bands.

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

Farryl Purkiss, Taxi Violence, Tanz Café

*All images © Paris Brummer.

18   8
RESPONSES (29)
  1. Luz Uko says:

    Hey guys.

    Sorry I have to do this here, but I tried E-mailing to andy@mahala.co.za but it just bounced back.

    I’d like to know when in the next (print) issue comming up? And what do I have to do to get it?

    I’d just like to hold the print version that’s all.

    Thanks !

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  2. Sorry What? says:

    Didn’t someone already write this article?

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  3. Focus says:

    No
    Nobody wrote on this specific gig
    Yet a couple posts back was a tanz article as well
    Maybe you got confused

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  4. Andy says:

    Luz just subscribe here – give us your address so we know where to send it.

    http://www.mahala.co.za/subscribe/

    MAHALA 3 will be out in June…

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  5. Brett Schewitz says:

    It seems the reviewer kinda missed the point of both artists as well as Tanz Cafe, although it seems that he was dissinterested in the gig to begin with so he was expecting to be underwhelmed. I wouldn’t call Farryl Purkiss or Taxi Violence artificial, processed or synthetic.

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  6. Andy says:

    Hey Brett… maybe it’s the combination of those artists at that venue?

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  7. AdamG says:

    I think your reviewer’s obsession with meat got in the way of his actually listening to the music. Vegetarian by any chance?

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  8. Luz Uko says:

    Thanks !

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  9. Brett Schewitz says:

    Hey Andy,

    I wouldn’t think so. The last few gigs that Farryl Purkiss has played at Tanz have been packed to the brim. I think, considering there aren’t many options for live music in Johannesburg, Tanz Cafe have done a great deal to keep the scene alive. Taxi Violence would have gone down there great as well. The way they’ve reworked their songs to work in an acoustic set is awesome, in my opinion.

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  10. veritas says:

    “an avant-garde sincerity” from Farryl Purkiss? Surely you jest?

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  11. sowhat!! says:

    Article well written and the reviewer made some good points about the recent vibe. “Corporate” is a good word to describe tanz

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  12. cale says:

    Awesome pics

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  13. jay jays says:

    words cut deep!!! but really good article. I think the reviewer was spot on about the vibe at tanz

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  14. hello kitty says:

    AdamG! what are you talking about? idiotic carnivore maybe

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  15. Taxi hater says:

    Taxi Violence Sucks!

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  16. jade says:

    I was at the gig…Though Farryl was ok, Taxi V still had that ‘synthetic’ blues sound. Good article

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  17. adrian says:

    HAHA! “Jesse Clegg and the Spring Bok Nude Girl are heroes in this place”. So true!

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  18. Suck it in and shut up! says:

    It’s a very well written article
    Don’t forget journalists are allowed to an opinion
    If the evening wasn’t it’s best
    It wasn’t it’s best
    What do you want him to do?
    Lie?
    That’s distorted journalism for you
    So yeah, awesome article and super clear pics

    Relax now

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  19. uterusfound says:

    can we please have another article about Tanz that starts with Hooters. hat tricks are sexy

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Chad destroyed this kids attempt at writing about the same topic, same context and same mood, except he did it about 4000 times better.

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  21. Zam says:

    I’m getting a feeling here about Tanz

    Surely Columbus, Dead Alphabet (regarded as one of the most up and coming bands in SA), Shadow Club (who i think may have just signed with a major label), Taxi Violence (Who tour Europe extensively due to high demand) and Farryl Purkiss (one of the few SA musicians radio IS willing to play) can’t all fucking suck with the ammount of CD sales, Merchandise, Touring and fan base as the last two articles have pointed out.

    I’m not bringing in my personal opinion here, i don’t necessarily like all these acts, but they are consitent well known bands with legitimate followings. My point is Tanz Cafe and it’s faux-Rock’n’Roll fascade must be shit in terms of a “vibe” because these bands seem to prosper and attain rave reviews when playing other venues.

    I’ve noticed it myself, if the venue is wrong and the crowd’s attitude is wrong you could have THE BEATLES and it would make no difference. There was an article in i think Time Magizine where a man played violin in the Ney York subway for half an hour or so. No one stoppped and he made i think little or no money. The man is one of the world’s most regarded violinists and was playing an extremely valuable stratovarious (i can’t spell), playing some of the hardest classical pieces ever conceived for violin. No one cared.

    I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but the point i’m making is venue and perception have a large effect on what the band comes across as. It’s difficult to play music when no one appreciates it and you’re probably used to having a large, adoring crowd.

    Anyone ever hear of a good show at Tanz? i have yet to . . .

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  22. Devin says:

    i think it’s important to note that almost nobody at Mahala has the ability to write anything good about any band or venue and have over the year or so reverted to dissing all to get higher ratings.Shame! Ofcourse,everyone has their opinion but for God’s sake,don’t send somebody to a gig that doesn’t know the first thing about music!

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  23. grinch says:

    oh devin….

    Look at you pointing fingers and stuff. You’re just a comment as apposed to a published writer.
    So yeah… let us all reserve our judgements ok. We’re levels lower than the writer

    We’re just comments at the bottom of a page.

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  24. whitey says:

    I think this kids article is better than chads. This guys is way better written and isn’t a childish attempt at dissing tanz cafe. good job!

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  25. john says:

    as som many have said here: written already last week. but not a terrible write.

    it’s fairly accurate summation of tanz caffffe.

    yeah – it has no place as a “beacon of musical furtherment” it tacitly purports to fucking be.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    “Tanz Café, although a perfect musical venue, is ironically a place for the “musically retarded”.”

    What a lonely sentence. It was just slapped in there. Your next line is about how taxi violence takes the stage. Above it is a picture. It’s like a post-it note you left in the article and forgot to flesh out. You need to back something like that up.

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  27. FML says:

    Tanz cafe is such a shit venue. The owner is known to be a shark. They don’t have artists’ interests at heart and often do in the artists. And I’m convinced that the sound engineers that work there are fucking deaf. Have NEVER experienced good sound there. It’s a pity that we HAVE to play there because there aren’t any venues in Jozi. Sad face.

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  28. Jake says:

    So Tanz sucks? Better go check it out myself then…

    Why is it so bad… worried as I was thinking of launching a band there….

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  29. Chris says:

    do you actually enjoy music at all? i just read all your articles and you always have something negative to say about the band!

    I know the saying goes, jerking of will make you go blind, but i think in your case it’s made you go deaf!

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