Poesklap!by Roger Young, images by Danielle Clough / 07.06.2010
This, motherfuckers, is gestalt. “Enter the Ninja” begins and as Yo-landi Visser and Ninja take the stage approximately three thousand people roar in a very fucked up delight and admiration. It’s beautiful and scary at the same time, this is one of those gigs that make everything seems possible, where the bouncers are tightly wound, poised for violence. Flanked by two Die Antwoord outsider art tracksuited dancers, Ninja and Yo-landi slip in and out of a coordinated dance somehow early Xtina and Tai-chi at the same time. In the middle of the crowd it’s a crush of madness, a roar of voices knowing every word, shouting along in some cathartic release. It feels like the 3 Arts has never been this full, bursting with complicated emotions. Off to the side, us journalists, jostle for adjectives, struggle for meaning and access. The music is a guilty pleasure, everything we outwardly used to think was uncool, eighties synth with horrible sequencing mushed into something that might come out of a car stereo if your woofers had been stolen, yet deep and gut pulling like embarrassing early house. Part of the pull of Die Antwoord is that they give us freedom to feel and think things we normally couldn’t admit to.
The bass kicks in proper. They are disturbingly present. Actual. A force of nature, your mind tries to deny their reality but your body and your essence cannot. Three thousand people cannot be wrong. I want to get closer to the stage but it’s too full, the press of bodies throwing horns toward the stage, I’m too late to this party. People are throwing shit onto stage; Ninja sees something land, stalks over to it, picks it up, considers whether he can use it for anything and then tosses it aside. He steps onto the bass bins and reaches for the crowd who are pushing so hard the photographers are in danger of getting crushed by the pit barriers.
“Wie Maak Die Jol Vol” and the full, supporting cast comes out, Isaac Mutant, Knoffel, Jaak Paarl and Scallywag, most of them unknown to the predominantly young non hip hop accessing audience like myself, you see them all flow together and wonder what all those claims about misappropriation were all about. It’s just obvious that the most virulent critics were so confused by the outward presentation that they weren’t really listening at all.
During “Wat Kyk Jy”, pent up and aggressive, Yo-landi screaming “Poes!”, “Fok Jou!” “Jou naaier!” into the faces of each and every press photographer in the pit, suddenly she spots him and breaks out of the song, she rips the manky dreadlocked dudes cap off his head and starts spitting insults at him. She throws his cap into the crowd and gives him a poesklap on the side of his head. Ninja rushes over and calls security and demands that he be thrown out, he rushes from the pit, shaken afraid. This is the same guy Ninja apparently kicked in the face at the Stellenbosch gig a few weeks ago. Like all of us, he keeps coming back for more. We pay the Ninja to kick sand in our faces. He pays us back by existing.
When Yo-landi is alone on stage doing “Rich Bitch”, its evident that she needs the Ninja for his energy. She’s deviously sexy and insulting, egging on the boys in the front row with her ass but somehow without their combined energy, it doesn’t grab as hard every other track. This is the very definition of their gestalt. Die Antwoord works because of the fucked up combination of elements, the side stepping genius, the totality and not the parts alone. Even the now only instrumental tracks on dieantwoord.com betray this. Each energy contributes creating something bigger.
Die Antwoord has passed beyond, for the moment, any point of meaningful deconstruction. It’s the Sex Pistols era of punk, fucking with the media, fucking with the crowd, not giving a fuck but really caring deeply. A massive assisted venting of middle class self-hate through the Ninja, Yo-landi’s and DJ Hi-Tek’s poes’d togetherness. Standing way back, watching them do “Doos Dronk” the crowd pomping along in delirious rugby chant-esque male energy, all satire lost in the maw of the song, these thousands bouncing in a strange unity. The view from above proving that you really just can’t predict this kind of shit. It’s just a party, a safe out pouring of aggression, like a video game, we know it’s not real but we need to believe. Kids just want to listen to something that’s fresh and speaks to them without being emo. Ninja speaks to them in insults that show a need and total love for the game. It’s a shitty world; full of hate, miscomprehension and violence he seems to say, so fuckit, whatever, lets just party.
And Ninja loves his audience. He asks nicely and repeatedly about whether it’s cool to crowd surf, after all he doesn’t want to be dropped. Finally established that it’s cool, he fucks himself hard into the crowd with more force than they could possibly have been expecting.
All images © Danielle Clough.