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On Battles

by Max Barashenkov / 20.03.2012

Another trite music piece. Hobble along. Subject: The variable relevance of Battle of the Bands competitions. Case study: Niva BOTB finals at Mercury Live. It won’t get much more exciting than that, so either dick out now or just read the ‘new band’ PR crap towards the second part.

Why the fuck would anyone pay R40 to see five unknown bands when there is an Assembly gig down the road with Shadowclub, LA.VI, Wild Eastern Arches and support electro crew? The correct answer is, of course, only because they nurse a severe case of retardation. Chalk me in. My own case of fetal alcohol syndrome I cover with a hunger for fresh sounds and an idealistic notion of people being out there, in the drunk, to find something new, to add an unexpected high to their night. But, in fluorescent reality, going to watch five acts you’ve never heard of, on a prime Saturday dusk, is very much for the untermensch. School kids, rent-a-crowds and family. That kind of filth.

Yet, initiatives such as this, or the (Thor, forgive the self-molestation) Debuts & Experiments, are, arguably, essential to any kind of growth. Things sowed on commercially enriched manure, on average, usually bloom quicker, in lush colours and fade equally fast. Those that are bred, on the other hand, on the blood of empty tavern shows, well, those few that survive, they make the real bands. But what do you say about a band that has been in five such competitions? How do you, once again, spew out the expected ‘Facebook is not advertising’ play? The sad truth is, you put on Cash-shades and produce. Invent icons. Hatch generation-defining thoughts. Hope to find that exploding act that they pay for in Rolling Stone. We all know that only miracles propel Battle of the Bands’ winners into real sustainability, but you go anyway, to scope out the fresh talent, to do your bit and, in all fairness, you are a better person for it. A broadminded and multi-tasting motherfucker.

My life changed during that 20 minute Mantra set. Lyrical hara-kiri. Beat Armageddon. Die Antwoord are sent packing away on holiday. Zef is an unknown footnote on the pages of South African music history. To rhyme like Mantra, you have to be born from a uterus soaked in Busta Rhymes and DMX. Actually, nothing will ever make you spit lines like him, with that conviction, the total and honest belief in his art. It’s beautiful really. A techno-rave warrior. His track ‘Activate’ will make you want to pick up trannie hookers, kill them and wear them like dresses. At a certain point it moves beyond the absurd and becomes too hilarious not be enjoyed. His fans wear flowing white T-shirts with an Ohm sign on them. They go off so hard that they clear the dancefloor. I’m reminded of Insane Clown Posse and their juggalos. A cultural experience not to be missed.


An unlikely duo of acoustic guitarist and delicate violinist, draped in a red dress. Technically probably the most proficient of the bands on show. LUMA play unlabored arrangements of gypsy dance, classical passages and flamenco nods. They would go down like a treat in a smoky club somewhere, where people come to drink in elation and dance to something that doesn’t have a steady beat. Add more members and LUMA can blow out faces at all the hip gatherings like the Flamjangled Teaparty. As they stand now though, filling and carrying through a set on a Mercury stage is a little beyond them. They are just not that kind of band and their sound is a refreshing glass of water at the end of a vicious binge.

Find Luma on Facebook here.

Loveglove Pyrotechnics

Everything that has been said about this band still holds and, as they emerge as winners of the night, their talents for setting the stage on fire with their sex has only been amplified. It is almost amusing to see Loveglove play first, draw the biggest crowd and leave the other acts with an impossible benchmark to follow. They are that great to watch (and yes, they paid me R472 plus tax to say that). These boogie fiends will be playing much bigger stages and shows soon enough, worry not, there is enough talent and showmanship here to start fuel several Cape Town bands. All they need is a gig at &Union to break into the scene, man.

Check Loveglove Pyrotechnics on Facebook.

Ballistic Blues

Dude, if you’re so bored, then why bother getting on stage? I know the detached cool ting you are going for, but goddamn, take your hands out of you pockets. You are not Lenny Kravitz or Jimmy Hendrix. There isn’t a stone’s throw between Ballistic Blues and Loveglove’s variations on blues, but while Loveglove drop it hyper-sexy, Ballistic ramble and slouch through theirs. No denying though, by mid-set I’m getting into the vocalist’s vibe. It’s that suave and polished rock n roll that leaves me wanting more physical movement on stage. Yet success is written all over their nineteen year-old faces, almost as if they expect to just walk into it. And the thing is, they probably will.

Find Ballistic Blues on Facebook.

Someday Rush

What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said in their bio? “The band has entered a number of competitions: Flipside Song writing competition, Battle for Netfest, Aandklas Battle of the Bands (2011), The Durex Ultimate Battle (2011) and the Emerging Sounds National BOB (2011). They have played at local Cape Town venues such as Purple Turtle, Nameless Pub, Aandklas, R.O.A.R, Mercury and Die Balke (Worcester)… They have opened for some of Cape Towns finest such as; When Karma Sleeps, Autumn of August and Obsessie Met Als, and even Namibia’s finest, Out of Nowhere, during their ‘South African Siege Tour’…” Keep playing those battles guys, the fame is just around the corner.

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