Real Estate Slumpby Andrew Thompson / 04.11.2009
I’m still not sure how I feel about watching the Real Estate Agents live. They’re surely one of South Africa’s largest and most talented musical exports, and I can listen to Markus and Sibot stringing together tunes on my iPod for hours. Which should, really, translate into a sweaty, heaving gig that leaves you embarrassingly jiggling around on the dance floor and shouting for more. And, two years after their last proper gig on South African soil, at the Assembly, nogal, you’d expect nothing less.
But, like many of their previous gigs, the duo missed their mark, and by quite a long way. I mean there was, for a few minutes, something that resembled a heaving mass of people, all tripping around the dance floor uncontrollably under the industrial strobe blasting from above, and initially it was hard not to enjoy the enlarged-black-guy masks the two dudes were sporting in celebration of Halloween. Do you think they were making a political statement about the over-arching whiteness of the crowd?
But all this pent-up energy somehow dissipated when, mid-track, the Assembly was left silent, thanks to a faulty two-pronger. Next to a sweaty 40-year old who honestly thinks he can still shake it, there’s nothing that kills the mood of a live set more than 5 seconds of silence and a flummoxed and frantically fidgeting DJ. But unlike the sweaty 40 year old who thinks he can still shake it, some blame must be distributed between the DJs and the venue. An honest mistake, but an embarrassing one nevertheless.
The duo managed to throw in just enough familiar tracks and samples to keep me and three dozen others on the dance floor, in the hope that the boys were just getting started. But soon even the all-too-familiar tight-jeaned hipsters tripping on something much stronger than the cheap rum and Red Bull started drifting away, until it all kind of teetered out sometime around midnight, and soon the people milling around the foosball table and the bar in the adjacent room began to outnumber those on dance floor.
The other DJs were nice – good tunes floated around before and after the headline acts, but more in an, “oh, nice track” kind of way, rather than a, “must move my body” kind of way. It was just one of those nights that failed to hit its straps – simple as that really, and maybe my expectations were unreasonably high – this might have been exactly what they were aiming for.
Thing is though, there’s almost no such thing as a shit party at Assembly; even a band as ghastly as Tree63, who coincidentally played there last week, would be bearable, provided the Christians let them serve booze; it’s a practically infallible venue. And you’d have to be as lame as a Tree63 fan not to agree that the Real Estate Agents have always had something going for them. But for me, at least, it’ll take a lot to get me to another one of their gigs. Sadly, for the time being it’s probably a better idea to get your fix from their smoking albums and shit-hot ad jingles.