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Great Apes - Rum, by the glass

Rum, by the glass

by Max Barashenkov, images by Deborah Rossouw / 30.08.2010

Rum and coke #1: Speedway, what a great venue – huge hall, two bars, one sweaty punk-as-hell stage area and an owner deeply rooted in the old school South African music scene. Good vibes all around…

Rum and ginger ale #1: The picnic in front of a movie screen atmosphere is new and refreshing, people grab tables and, sadly, sort themselves according to the established Cape Town cliques, guess we can’t be asking for too much…

Sailor Jerry

Rum and coke #2: The documentary starts, we are taken back to the pre-World War 2 era of the tattoo culture and even further back – to the birthplace, to the womb. Grainy black and white pictures, pock-marked old men, deranged quotes about having needles lodged in your ass and comic ink designs, the tattoo history unfolds…

Blonde Moustache

Rum and coke #3: Food is served, ribs and chicken and chips, simple and tasteful. We struggle with the meat, the knives are dull, the fingers sticky and serviettes lacking. By now, it’s mostly the local tattoo artists sitting in rapt attention at the screen, the rest have cast off the cinematographic pretence and are full-swing into what they came here to do – load up on the free rum…


Rum on the rocks #1: It’s not their backwardness, or their greyness, or their disrespect, or their disinterest that causes the crowd to rush with relief from the screening hall to the bar after the documentary is finished. No. It is merely that they are not used to such events – they idea of peacefully watching a film while drinking and eating is foreign to the city that is bent on getting fucked and showing how awesome we can be while approaching the animal level…

Rum and coke #4-7: Forget anything that might have been said about the Great Apes, foolish and uneducated words. When the glamour of the Assembly is not upon them, when it’s just one red light and a room no bigger than a Constantia lounge and the rum is screaming inside you – this is when the primates really come out and show their grizzled hides. It’s almost math, almost prog, almost blues, almost death, but not quite cliché as either, you can’t quite place it and herein lies the beauty – all you know is that your knees are moving, your head is spinning and the cubist-dancing scarecrow on the microphone is freaking out in your face, your fingers are snapping from the rock ‘n roll twist to the half-smudged breakdowns, your eyes are glued to the guitarist’s fingers which coax the strings into dissonant orgasms, walls of noise crashing around you. And those drums! Those goddamn drums, a real welcome John Bonham kick in the teeth. ‘Don’t watch the Great Apes on a big stage, don’t, never, no!’ is scribbled on a torn piece of paper in your back pocket when you wake up the next morning and the resounding lead in your head tells you that this is true.

The Great Apes

Rum and coke #8-?: The cliques begin to dissolve, tattoo men are chatting up indie girls, severe magazine people are wearing overly pleasant mellow faces, swaying. It’s around the time where you start forgetting that there is rum in the coke and chug it down one after the other, around this time you realize that something good happened tonight, something hardly before seen in Cape Town – a PR event that didn’t feel like one at all. Score one, Sailor Jerry, you beautiful bastard. The next dawn, you’ll greet it still feeling drunk, but happy and strangely coherent. You’ll get in your car and put on Some Girls, the track called ‘Death Face’, the one that ends in a ten minute breakdown screaming ‘ape ape ape’ over and over, because all you really wanna do is see the Great Apes in a punk club again.

The Great Apes

The Great Apes

The Great Apes

All images © Deborah Rossouw.

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