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The Authentic Sound Of Africa (Fashion Edition)

by Roger Young, images Sydelle Willow Smith / 27.05.2011

The Assembly is packed with its usual crowd; upper to upper middle class kids, mostly white. On stage are palm fronds, “African” fabrics and general kitsch bric-a-brac. There is also a bunch of tribal folk. It looks like a diorama plundered from the back rooms of The Museum of Natural History. The music is full of influence yet ultimately flat. There is something deeply suspect about the whole endeavour and the lead man hasn’t even stepped on stage yet. Gazelle are playing their first Cape Town gig in a while and I’m struggling to work out why it’s a special occasion; you know, beyond the celebration of Xander’s ego.

The evening starts out innocuous enough. Unfortunately we missed Two Minute Noodle and only made it in time to see Jeremy Loops; a one man loop pedal band that utilises mic thumping, harmonica, kazoo and acoustic guitar, and who sings about tigers or girls wearing headscarves or the time his dad paid for his trip to Goa. The thing about Loops is that he’s good, technically, at what he’s doing, it just comes across as essentially meaningless; a kind of camp fire song that you indulge because you’re all coming off your shrooms. It’s totally harmless and it’s fully understandable why people get into it. It just doesn’t touch anything beyond the feet. He seems like a happy chap, with nothing to worry about. Far be it for us to recommend personal tragedy but Loops songs need some kind of emotion beyond ‘everything is great’. He comes off somewhere in-between a low grade Edward Sharpe and Balkanology. He does some crowd hyping and then starts to explain how a loop pedal works. Explaining the loop pedal is like explaining a guitar; the audience doesn’t care how it works, just make beautiful songs. Never, as they say, trust a man with a feather in his cap.

Jeremy Loops

And then it’s time for Gazelle. The diorama opens up; a grand dumping of tourist clichés, as offensive as a Hot Water press release. All the people on stage are willing participants, it’s not like anyone is being forced. It’s also not like, out of this context, any one person is wearing or doing anything overtly offensive (except the back up singers, Wendy and Yolanda, who are packaged as recognisable “Africa”, primitivised the same as the rest of the band but somehow more so; stripped of modern context, made safe and harmless). It’s the lack of gestalt of the surface representation that is problematic; it does not re-interpret colonial mores, it re-enforces them. But what the fuck does it matter? After all it’s just dance music, really really average dance music.


If the reason we’re here is to hear new material, well, we don’t. Maybe because it sounds the same as the old material which is just fused together samples of funk, house, maskandi, kwaito, mbaqanga; a karaoke version of a Radio Freedom mash up. What Gazelle do with their music is the same as with their images, they plunder many sources but they do not take their plunder to a new place. The stylistic borrowing is merely that, the source is never taken anywhere new, the pieces are left wholesale in place and there is no tension between them. Gazelle have no idea how to go “next level”. Take for example the moment Xander announces “Let’s get Funk A Delic” and then the bassist breaks into what sounds like a Parliament Funk riff. Not like it was influenced or informed by Parliament Funk, it just sounds exactly like it. The same goes for the house music beats or the maskandi or the use of marimba. Gazelle are throwing everything into the sonic pot but nothing is melting. Parliament funk built up a detailed and challenging mythology from the very start of their career, Gazelle seem to think that because they’re referencing that it means they don’t have to build their own. Xander’s only mythology seems to be to package himself as a guy who understands “Africa” in order to be exotic to suburban Swedish models on an African vacation.


None of the realities of Africa are allowed to penetrate Gazelle’s representation. It’s happy, feel-good derivative music in the same vein as Freshlyground, a band that Xander himself has criticised. In fact Freshlyground’s mainly ineffectual Mugabe song is about a million times more positively effective than anything Gazelle purport to do.

Yolanda the backing singer is dressed like a tour guide at the Traditional Zulu Village attraction that could have existed at Disneyland in the late 70s. The fact that she is a musician in her own right and runs a youth drama programme in Khayelitsha is not important to the Gazelle vision. I know about Yolanda and her real life from Xander himself. Not including Yolanda’s actual self in the mythos of Gazelle but talking about her skills and talents speaks of a wilful arrogance, a purposeful exclusion, which I guess is no surprise from someone who dresses as an African dictator and exhibits images of himself at art galleries.


The best moments of Saturday’s performance were when Xander was off stage. He has a stifling energy and his voice is monotonous, his attempt at charismatic preaching just plain amateur. For the one song he wasn’t there, the band came alive. It was as if the music stopped trying. He just doesn’t have the energy or persona of a Ninja or a Spoek; he can’t carry a performance. More than that the whole thing is so ridiculously dressed-up and constructed that no humanity or sexuality comes through.

Without the visual flourishes and paper thin mythology they would probably not be getting gigs at all. It’s the imagery that gets them noticed. So, are Gazelle telling us anything new visually? Why do we question their authenticity? Is Gazelle art? With the traditional clothes, the dictator’s outfit and the projected ethnographical images of the noble savage but without comment beyond that, they move into the territory of Ethno-Porne. There is no tension between the elements. Where real artists like Candice Breitz, Brett Murray, Athi-Patha Ruga or Michael MacGarry have succeeded in using similar elements to force us to look at the way we view “Africa”, Gazelle merely puts the elements in view and thinks that that is enough. It’s a clever marketing strategy but nothing more than that. It allows every audience to see what they want to see but does not challenge what they see.


So there they are, on stage, Yolanda and Wendy effectively desexualised Josephine Bakers, the nameless marimba players, every other band member essentially invisible; the sum of its offensiveness is its meaninglessness, the total concern with surface and not substance. Near the end of the set, the audience is drifting away, when they go off stage, no one shouts for an encore but they come back anyway.
While someone like Jeremy Loops plays the same kind of surface happy music, he is inoffensive, pleasant and background. Gazelle with their Primitive Happy Africa force their way into the consciousness and arrogantly announce that they have nothing to say. The bottom line is when you’re onstage you have to transcend your stylistic elements and make something emotionally new and if you do not, you’re Gazelle.

It’s no wonder Xander had dinner with Bono in New York; they both understand Africa as a mythical country; with no need to engage beyond how they can reflect themselves off its obvious and most seen surfaces. Next up, I imagine, he’s dining with Malcolm McLaren.


*All images © Sydelle Willow Smith.

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  1. Samp & Beans says:

    Regurgitated box wine complimented with a veneer of processed afro- cheddar.

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  2. point says:

    “force their way into the consciousness and arrogantly announce that they have nothing to say” and “it does not re-interpret colonial mores, it re-enforces them”. Well said Roger, probably your finest review to date.

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  3. bce says:

    Really excellent in places.

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  4. nissim says:

    great review roger. suitably scathing… and spoken like a true afro-positivist.

    …but is there possibly something about Xander’s health that you’re not sharing with us by suggesting that he may be soon be dining with Malcolm McLaren (RIP)?

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  5. Roger Young says:

    @nissim A man can hope.

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  6. Captain Lombard says:

    Roger – great read!

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  7. Ts'eliso says:

    WIll never forgive these fuckers for that terrible set which drove me off the main stage, and lead to me almost missing Die Antwoord at Ramfest earlier this year, nxa!

    Well-written review by the way

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  8. Dplanet says:

    Ouch. Career ending review.

    Perfectly sums up everything I have always thought about them though.

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  9. Anon says:

    HARSHNESS! If I were Xander and I read this I would stop “writing” music

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  10. il duce says:

    Bloody brilliant article…a great follow on from yesterdays post on Beyonce’s rip off / rape of SA culture and artists .

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  11. Murray says:

    Roger, ever since I saw the first press pics of Gazelle and saw them perform I sensed this lack of authenticity, respect and understanding. This piece encapsulates the band perfectly. Shit music, shit taste.

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  12. skelem vir dwelms says:

    “a one man loop pedal band that utilises mic thumping, harmonica, kazoo and acoustic guitar, and who sings about tigers or girls wearing headscarves or the time his dad paid for his trip to Goa”

    LOLZIES! but back off, gazelle are awesome and actually celebrate our collective culture – something most white south africans struggle to comprehend.

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  13. Dplanet says:

    The only problem now is that I actually feel sorry for them.

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  14. Classy says:

    They are not trying to be Authentic – just different from other crap that we call South African music and for what they are – regardless of how crap Roger thinks they are, am pretty sure the house was packed…was it?

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  15. Carol Reed says:

    Dude, It’s the Assembly. It’s always packed.

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  16. Emma says:

    This is great and everything, but I really wish that the Mahala writers would stop making what they imagine to be sharp little digs at the “upper classes”. It’s so stupid and pointless, and it makes you look SO DUMB and like a terrible old uninformed stoner Class Warrior.
    What do you think you mean by it? Is Cape Town suddenly full of minor aristocrats? Really?
    What is the point of saying that assembly is full of “upper class kids” when that means exactly nothing? and why do ALL the mahala writers do this ALL THE TIME?

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  17. Simon says:

    It’s pretty amazing that sometimes you can intuitively sense when something is inauthentic. I just couldn’t figure out why I found them irritating. Shot.

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  18. Roger Young says:


    Take your head out of your ass.

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  19. J9 says:

    Well done Roger, I always knew you were bleddy clever but your writing this year has been nothing less than achingly bright – when I read your reviews I actually feel like I am there with you. I cant wait for the next one… I favourite you…

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  20. Emma says:

    oh come on, you know its true. That said, I do think this was a great review.

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  21. Everyone's a critic hey... says:

    “It’s no wonder Xander had dinner with Bono in New York; they both understand Africa as a mythical country; with no need to engage beyond how they can reflect themselves off its obvious and most seen surfaces.” Your comment on Bono’s level of understanding of and contribution to our country, the continent and it’s challenges being comparable to that of a local pop artist is totally inaccurate and smacks of ignorance. I’m hardly a fan of the afrementioned band, but must note that those who choose to merely criticize, more often than not, don’t have the capacity nor balls to put themselves out there and to try create something themselves… even more often focusing on the means of passing comment as their way of getting the attention they seek so dearly, rather than from gaining respect from the quality of the actual content they put out there… where real credibility is built… Reminds me of an old saying… “An opinion is like an arsehole… everyone’s got one” And unfortunately with the world of technology, everyone has the ability to just spew out whatever comes to mind and give the appearance that it is in some way credible and qualified. Nice wording and a cute logo on a website, does not make you qualified or capable… it simply gives you a voice… which you seem to have chosen to use for no tangible or productive purpose that’s of any good to anyone… what seems to be the theme of social media and many people lately… Why don’t you do everyone a favour and go take a up a real hobby or go help feed a starving child, rather than focusing all your energy on populating a website with such bollocks.

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  22. Fred Durst says:

    How do people like this ^^^^^^^^ know how to turn a computer on?

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  23. Dan says:

    and @Everyone’s a critic hey… kicks off the pseudo intellectual lash back… let the games begin!

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  24. Everyone's a critic hey... says:

    Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself. Work it out! LOL

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  25. point says:

    “those who choose to merely criticize, more often than not, don’t have the capacity nor balls to put themselves”

    Y’know EAC, if I had a dollar for every internet comment that accused a critic with those words, I’d be way richer than Bono. Roger has stated his case with much more flair and perspective than Gazelle ever could, so now you tell me who is more desperate for our attention?

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  26. Dplanet says:

    @Everyone’s a critic hey…

    Surely by writing and publishing this review Roger is putting himself out there?

    I don’t think you can accuse Roger of spewing out whatever comes to mind. Whether or not you agree with the premise, this is quality music journalism. It’s a thoughtful and well written opinion piece that is deconstructs a lot of the hype around Gazelle. It certainly crystallised everything I had thought about them but couldn’t express so eloquently. Now I can just post this link and say, ‘what he said’, next time someone asks me what I think of Gazelle.

    It’s healthy for South African musicians to be exposed to this standard of critique. In the grand scheme of things it’s probably not as important as feeding starving children but it certainly has its place.

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  27. Everyone's a critic hey... says:

    PS. you spelt ‘KIF’ wrong… it’s actually spelt ‘Kiff’… A word that is derived from the Afrikaans word for poison,`gif’. This was used by coastal pot smokers to describe a strain of natural skunkthat is called Durban Poison ‘Gifs’. GO FIGURE… LOL 😉

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  28. Dplanet says:

    Wow. Quoting Samuel Johnson.

    Are you saying that Roger is pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that he does not actually have?

    It sounded pretty sincere to me.

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  29. point says:

    someone please take the moron outside and shoot him/her.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    @Everyone’s a critic hey…

    It’s great that you summoned the mighty forces of the wikipedia entry on “hypocrisy” to come to your aid there. lol.

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  31. jeeez says:

    that emma is a cunt

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  32. everyone's a ...... says:

    really dimwitted fool. oh, no wait. just you, EAC. just you.

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  33. BM says:

    Brett Bailey.
    Fark its been bothering me for ages who Gazelle ripped their entire show off of. I just couldn’t remember. Cheers Roger.

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  34. J says:

    Brilliant review!!!

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  35. Anonymous says:

    re: opening act… don’t you mean Two Minute Puzzle ? They were Awesome !!!

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  36. eina says:

    clever to run the pics in B/W-naked

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  37. Roger says:

    @Roger: Brruuu…. this is such kak !!!
    You fat fucking heroin junky !!!

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  38. Dominique says:

    Think Heroin junky might be a touch harsh. Liked the style of writing and enthusiam taken to writing something really terrible about Gazelle. Unfortunately, that’s all I really got from it. I havent heard Gazelle in ages, so can’t comment on their sound, but what I can say is that I’ve read a fair amount of Mahala’s articles lately and have been repeatedly smacked by the overly harsh, sensationalist tone. The fact that you always see the same writers in the comment threads supporting and furthering the shock value by calling anyone who tries to give their own opinion “cunts”, doesn’t help make it an enjoyable read in the end. Kak.

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  39. danni says:

    i didnt find anything sensationalist about this piece at all… nor do i see any “shock value” (unless of course the news that gazelle are crap comes as a surprise). In fact, i think its spot on in terms of the observations made regarding the curio-shop pop aspect of Gazelle. bands are about more than just their music. especially “high concept” ones such as this…. put yourself out there as a conceptual product-ion and you open yourself up to criticism and analysis of that very concept (or lack thereof). xander once came to my ad agency with his producer/manager as part of a voluntary talent showcase. you know, so we can sell him to (insert big youth brand here) as the star of our new commercial or viral that will let the consumer know (big youth brand) be down with the SA yoof. because that’s what real bands do. just ask the parlotones.

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  40. Roger Young says:


    You’ve “read a fair amount of Mahala’s articles lately” and only now been struck by the harsh tone?

    It ALWAYS been like this. We deal in honesty.

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  41. Die Stem says:

    Wonder if this music critic poes Roger Young can play any instrument besides his keypad and his piel? Seems like a right cunt IMO.

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  42. other side of the fence says:

    I hve never been to assembly before, dont drink and make my own money. I had a great time and thought the music and accompanying show was fantastic.
    You sound like an angry man Roger, failed musician perhaps?

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  43. Urk says:

    @danni – exactly. curio shop pop.
    @roger – spot on dude. you eloquently verbalised what clearly many feel. don’t give a shit about yuor drinking habits/drug use/ability to make music. while on earth do commentators think we might? you have a keyboard, and know how to use it. don;t like the opinion? read heat or huisgenoot.
    I do strongly believe that xander should read, do some introspection, work that concept as hard as possible….while i agree with roger’s opinion, i also think that there may be some smidgeons of sincerity and talent that could be unearthed, elevated to something that deserves it’s 15mins.

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  44. die vors says:

    You don’t get respect as a journalist by being a p*#s. Roger, you sound like a stale, uncharismatic Jeremy Clarkson. Unoriginal copy wankoff….

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  45. Lame-o says:

    “I hve never been to assembly before, dont drink and make my own money. I had a great time and thought the music and accompanying show was fantastic.”

    How can you be qualified to comment, then? LOL at some random punter who isn’t exposed to much culture feeling qualified to disagree.

    I thought Gazelle were entertaining first time round, but like so much else in SA, nothing innovates, nothing changes, nothing develops. He’s still spewing out the same stuff and it DID have a dodgy foundation to start with.

    Emma – White Cape Town is full of upper middle class people, who are you kidding?

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  46. Kap net aan... says:

    Roger, the read was good.
    Yes, they do take themselves too seriously.

    But it’s not THAT bad, Everyone does.

    Gazelle Glass is half full.

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  47. Rogering the Young says:

    dude, i think Mahala need’s to stop giving you a platform to blow you’re critical load on. Jissis you’re a negative asshole. Every review I read is negative. This one I even got bored of your rant halfway. Sounds to me like you cant stand the entire music scene. So stop listening to local music dude. And no, don’t bring up that one time once that you said a nice thing about that one guy. (you and I both know that nobody reads your positive reviews – they get less comments)

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  48. God says:

    @Roger dude u are pathetic to say the least.

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  49. Mia says:

    @Roger, u and mahala suck balls.
    Stop breaking people down.
    With a little bit of studying everyone can be a journo blogger, no need for u to remotely think u special.
    This country is already all fucked up by people always trying to find fault and criticize.
    It’s really old news now.
    Who cares what u think?
    I think we only care about what adds to good times.
    Now piss off.
    Is it true? Are u an ex junkie?

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  50. Dan says:

    @Die Stem @die vors @god @mia (you might even be the same person) a word of advice – grow up and get a life. If you cant engage with legitimate criticism you don’t belong here… nuff said.

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  51. Mia says:

    @Dan oh so this is the c#nt zone
    Yes sorry then I’ll rather step out and leave it for u.

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  52. Boring Snoring says:

    Oh my sweet fuck. If another story in mahala starts with some variation on “The Assembly is packed with its usual crowd; upper to upper middle class kids, mostly white”


    I don’t care that you’re talking about race or class, but just because it’s so damn awfully boring the way you draw your incredibly startling observations. Congratulations, you’ve once again observed that South Africa is full of ironies and you can easily group people based on some-or-other demographic. FUCK ME OH MY FUCK PLEASE STOP.

    Can you lame fuckers please please please find some other way to intro a story. Please oh my word please. I haven’t even read the rest of the article because of this bullshit. Upgrade your Wordy-Intro-To-Whatever-Scene-O-Matic software or something, but please come up with something new.

    Do it for us, the humble reader. Hell! FUCK!

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  53. Milk Bar Kid says:

    Love that sly Malcolm McLaren innuendo – and don’t get me started on Bootsy.
    ” As he slipped back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl…”

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  54. Penis on my forehead says:

    I have now made up my mind.
    Totally over mahala.
    Ball suckers the whole lot of them.

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  55. Dplanet says:

    Haha. I love it when people announce their retirement from websites. Do you tell people you’re unfollowing them on Twitter too?

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  56. Penis on my forehead says:

    @Dplanet says the person who predicts the end of careers.
    Suppose u can then see the outcome of careers for haters like Roger too.

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  57. Dplanet says:

    @Penis – I wasn’t seriously predicting the end of Gazelle’s career. I just thought this article raised some difficult issues for them.

    Calling a journalist a ‘hater’ is a bit silly. Do you disagree with what Roger wrote? If so, which part(s)? I’d honestly be interested to hear.

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  58. Roger Young says:

    @Boring Snoring.

    Look, I know it’s boring but it’s a scene setter, a description and in the context of THIS story, totally relevant.

    @Rogering the young

    If you do a search on the site for my name now, the latest 9 stories break down like this:

    2 x “Negative” reviews
    3 x “Positive” reviews
    1 x Middle of the road review
    2 x Interview with bands

    Just, you know, because everything i write is negative.

    @Mia Yes, I am an “ex junkie”

    To everyone else who is now quitting mahala. See you next week.

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  59. bambipatriot says:

    Oh roger the poes! yet again coming to deface those artists from our country that finally have a an audience and a chance to bring their music out there, get us noticed and pave the way,unlike some musicians down here too bloody afraid to leave their comfort zone. And with critics like you expecting the world from them id like to know how you are adding to the moral of the SA music scene. I’d love to know what you expect from SA music. Unfortunately you cant see the humor in it all. Which by the way music is supposed to uplift the soul. Nothing wrong with that. If you’re looking for a south African bred Elliot smith, sending all these kids to slit their wrists then get the fuck out of SA and go to London. At least gazelle isn’t trying to be “London” or “Nashville”. It us what it is and its a pity you can’t just enjoy something that reminds you of your heritage. White or black.
    BTW you’re wasting your time constantly referencing the rich and the poor. This country is so far beyond your acknowledgement of that fact. And music is universally enjoyed regardless of race or status. So give it a rest.
    Your reference to die antwoord. They’re entertaining in a ‘look at that moron/fat kid’ kinda way, and if you can’t understand a word, but what they are in representation of SA music is an embarrassment to us. Gazelle have far more to say on any account. How can you sit here and compare them with a band that ACT like white trash and the most profound thing they can come up with is ” Jou ma se poes in a vispaste jar ”
    South African musicians have for years been ripping off Europe and America. At least Xander has the sense to rip off his birthland. And a musician is nothing without an ego poes!
    Why not in your next review let us know what you dictate we listen to.

    And PS, PLEASE KEEP UP. Maclaren is dead!

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  60. Mia says:

    @bambipatriot amen!
    Every single word u wrote should be read by all these idiots.
    @deplanet u can read it twice.

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  61. Penis on my forehead says:

    @dplanet i don’t really care what Roger said.
    It’s the way he writes about passionate people, and u know it.

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  62. Mia says:

    @Roger, ok so you do have reason to be a bit closer to being a god. 🙂
    But Maybe u should rather start writing about politics, or crime or some shit that deserves to be slated.

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  63. Dplanet says:

    @bambipatriot – what a confused argument. You have a go at Roger for ‘defacing’ Gazelle yet you rubbish Die Antwoord and call them an ’embarrassment’. What happened to your patriotic spirit of supporting South African artists?

    @Mia – I’ve read what bambipatriot wrote 3 times now and it makes less and less sense every time. I get it, you like Gazelle, but can you (or anyone) explain why Roger’s analysis of their work is incorrect? I’d honestly like to engage in the debate. Or we could just call each other names – that’s fun too.

    @Penis – the job of music journalist is to critique music. It is a bit of a novel concept in SA where the majority of what passes for music journalism consists of regurgitating press releases and writing meaningless puff pieces. Roger’s opinion may seem harsh but it’s just an opinion. It would be nice to hear your opinion too.

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  64. Nadia says:

    @Emma I totally agree with you. Do these writers imagine themselves from the lower classes anyway? Does it contribute to a bands kakness when only white, rich kids attend?

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  65. Thishiwe says:

    @Nadia and @Boring Snoring

    It’s called CONTEXT!

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  66. Jamie says:

    Wow. As much as you profess to not like this band, you seem to have dedicated a lot of time and energy to write this. Which to be honest is only extending the conversation about them further. If you truly thought what you say in the article, why write anything? As an artist I have always preferred someone to really love me or really hate me, either way at least I provoked emotion and passion, which is all art really is.
    You are obviously fairly talented at throwing words together. Trying to cause a sensation and basically be a bitch should be beneath any of us. Why not try doing it for some good? Until you do you, will never be a creator, only a critic. Haters gonna hate. Grow up. Grow a pube.

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  67. Dplanet says:

    @ Jamie – There is nothing childish about critique. The complete opposite is actually true – it is childish to go through life without thinking about and discussing the things you care about.

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  68. Rogering the Young says:

    Roger, I don’t want to do a search for your other articles. They’re all just bloody irritating. Mahala won’t steal that much time out of my day.

    I can’t really understand, from Mahala’s point of view, why they would want so much cocky journalism around. Not just from you, though, to be fair. It’s an odd move. I’m genuinely puzzled.

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  69. Milk Bar Kid says:

    Roger Y – If you’ll be my bodyguard I can be your long lost pal…

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  70. Roger Young says:


    The whole point of writing critique is to extend the conversation.

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  71. Believer of African Beauty says:

    I see Roger pinched a few nerves! Before i could comment i did a bit of research on the net about this act. Quite frankly i am disgusted by these guys notion of art, they actually are pathetic. If there is one thing the did well is perpetuate the stereo type of the ‘exotic-africans-to-be-explored-and-colonised’. Why are these guys acting like they are so removed this continent when they actually live here. This is something i would expect of an ignorant American group. Stop trying to appeal to western notion of cool, at the expense of African culture. My goodness.

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  72. Far Away says:

    @Roger Young: ‘It ALWAYS been like this. We deal in honesty.’

    I find it funny that anything written on Mahala would be called honest. ANd this is not the first time that excuse has been given in order to back up a slating and unfair article on Mahala.

    It is an opinionated blog but, honest is pushing it. Just because you push some buttons and get people hating (for hating is far easier than liking) and talking in Cape Town does not mean that your articles are honest reflections of what is happening out there. I think calling yourselves sensationalist and wanting for attention would be a far better description.

    If you think about it that is all they really want here… To up their hits. Thus enabling them to gain a higher price for advertising on their blog. A sordid business strategy if I ever did see one.

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  73. Dplanet says:

    Not one person who has come on here to complain about the content being ‘negative’ or ‘sensationalist’ has been able to come up with any form of rebuttal to the points raised.

    No wonder Gazelle has fans when most people seem to be incapable of seeing anything on anything other than a purely superficial level.

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  74. Roger Young says:

    @Far Away

    You need to stop thinking in such black and white terms. The world is a far more nuanced place than simply “hating” or “liking”

    As to your other point, I refer you to the David Bazan song, Selling Advertising; Let’s start a band.

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  75. Far Away says:

    @Roger Young:
    Agreed. But that was never my point. My point was based in your claim of honesty. When an article is so tainted by subjective opinions on such a personal level, you have to ask yourself whether it could be called anything on the side of white which we like to call truth. Your sensationalist style of ‘hitting on the man’ poisons the valuable points you try to make in this article.

    While I would like to say that I could come to some sort of agreement with you on some questions raised, it is your highly puffed up tone that begs for more questioning. There are many articles on Mahala that flitter between the lines of journalism and personal vendetta. And so my point here is that you call yourself a journalist, and an honest one at that.

    If you are to stick by that title, then I feel you live a very sorry, sad and simple life which you like to make sound accomplished with those witty lines of yours. For no one could want to honestly create such unreasoned and ill researched pomp without being an exceptionally lonely human being.

    I am surprised at your referral to that particular song when you could clearly seem to take some advice from it yourself.

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  76. Roger Young says:

    @Far Away

    I have no vendetta against anyone. None of the points made in this article are personal attacks. They are impressions gleaned from watching MANY Gazelle performances.

    Honesty and Truth are not the same thing. This is my honest opinion, no more, no less.

    I am surprised that you refer to this idea of personal vendetta and then attack me personally.

    Yes, unfortunately we have to pay the bills, yes we rely on advertising but my god man, you should see the money we have to turn down in order to keep editorial control.

    Maybe you need to re listen to that Bazan song again. Comparing musicians to Christians and critic’s to Jew’s is pretty ridiculous. Especially from a man in the midst of renouncing his faith.

    The point I make with that reference is that, as sad as it may seem, we are all now selling advertising. Even Xander. You see, Xander is no fool, he posted this on his FB and Twitter, he knows the value of an extended conversation. It’s just a great pity that all the Gazelle fans don’t know how to have one.

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  77. WordWallah says:

    @Roger Young

    I’m not even going to begin to wade into this round of angry hipster poo-flinging, but I’m enough of a troll to point out that 2+3+1+2 is 8.

    And with that, I retire before someone calls me a cunt.

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  78. Far Away says:

    @Roger Young

    In many people’s books you shall find that honesty and truth cannot exist without each other.

    The personal attack was to you as a ‘journalist’ and how you like to be perceived by the world through your oh-so-honest (not truthful, please) opinions. I am allowed to attack you since you have opened yourself up to it by commenting on your own article. You must feel a need to defend it.

    As to your personal attack on Xander, the facts are there written in your very own hand. I don’t think I would need to recall your own words to you? The article gives some sort of claim to Xander as a manipulator of these poor innocent Africans. As you stated they are not forced to be there, and they are paid well, as artists in their own rite to be there. It is their own choice as to whether they want to be part of the performance or not. This performance is not new to them, Gazelle have been working with some of the same collaborators for some time now. They have chosen to be there. So do not blame Xander for their choices.

    As to your own faith issues, I do not care. It plays no role in this extended conversation and
    I do hope that you were not referring to me with your remark ‘that all the Gazelle fans don’t know how to have one’.

    Yes we are all in the business of advertising. And I think it very clever of Xander to post this article all over. It gathers a sympathy vote, one which you have allowed him to gain.

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  79. Roger Young says:

    Well obviously Truth cannot exist without honesty. But Honesty is not Absolute Truth.

    I do not mind the attack, I just find it interesting that you take umbrage to my attacks on Xander’s public persona and then attack mine. They are the same thing. And by being a public persona Xander opens himself up to criticism, as do I. I do not feel a need to defend the article, I am very interested in the fact that no one is able to respond to the substance of the criticisms.

    I am not stating that Xander is by any means manipulating the people who perform with him (or the “poor innocent Africans” in your words, sure nailed your flag to the mast there), I state that there by choice to emphasise that. I am say that he exoticises them in the way he uses his imagery. I am saying that, “It’s the lack of gestalt of the surface representation that is problematic; it does not re-interpret colonial mores, it re-enforces them. ”

    To your last point, you seem to think this is some kind of competition? Are you in pre-school?

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  80. WTF says:


    Well written and scathingly eloquent review. But if you’ve got beef with one of the band members – deal with it and if this Xander dude gives you such a pain, take it up with him and beat the crap out of each in the traditional african way.

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  81. Kap net aan... says:

    Roger bru, you putting Deborah Patta to shame!
    LOVIN’ IT !

    And yes, I am a Gazelle fan.

    (who actually bought their first album (alas, n biekie kak, maar oraait) and will get the next one.)

    To the other Gazelle ‘fans’ .. or more like, ‘Roger haters’ …… What Kind ???!!!

    Just because RY is sharing his experience / critique /opinion does not mean he is trying to ‘colonise’ yours 😉 or is he? is he?!

    four folks sake

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  82. Xander Fereira says:

    Nice one Roger. Let’s start a band! X

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  83. Far Away says:


    AH! This was fun until you went and said that.

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  84. Mackatini says:

    Ha ha!!! Now that is, undoubtedly, something I would like to see from you two stellar manne! Better idea…Roger, I want another film out of you please… Channel all your brilliance… it’s your calling goddamn it! Xander, you have a prolific edge amidst a lingering SA epidemic of “kill your own artists”. Your sense of humour rings loud and clear… as usual. I say… keep it coming… the both of you.

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  85. Just Curious says:

    Do Mahala writers get paid per word,?Adding up the total of Rogers replies, it got difficult counting them after the 10th one, surely adds up to significantly more than original commission. Indeed a cunning plan for what is not the most well paid of professions..

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  86. laughing says:

    I have to say… sounds like Roger was a groupie of the band until he got bounced and now Mr Roger has a bee in his bonnet.

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  87. Xander Fereira says:

    I’LL BUY YOU ALL A SEA FOOD DINNER AND WE CAN HAVE IT OUT – A GOOD LITTLE BITCH AMONGST FRIENDS! Jesus, I can’t believe so many people actually give a fuck…

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  88. Another Anonymous SA Troll says:

    What the fuk do you expect from them.. to some how turn a musical performance into a political rally?? they’re a band.. making music, nobody claimed there was this deeper meaning to their fusion of local musical styles and costume..

    I find it rather interesting that you’re having a go at Gazelle for not being genuine, while Mahala represents those exact same values.. a website targeted at upperclass white folk.. given a Sotho name which would suggest an SA blog with substance.. and all you really are is a freaking tabloid.. really! Have you ever featured any non english writing on this site.. i think not.. does that not mean you’re as guilty as those you burn at the stake in your quest for more hits..

    And to say that Gazelle lacks the stage presence shown by artists like Spoek.. this is really where you lost me! Have you ever seen Spoek on stage??.. Waddy.. sure.. but Spoek sings out of key, and he lacks any real charisma.. so if that’s the best example of stage presence you can come up with.. lay the fuk off Gazelle.. sure its gimicky.. but clearly thats what he was going for..

    @dplanet.. just wait till Roger or Montle writes a feature about the british white guy that started a hip-hop record label, signing artists from ekasi rapping in languages he can’t understand.. should make for some great reading! Actually.. please do..

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  89. Z says:

    This is the best South African writing I have read in a long while. Keep up the good work @Roger. Good criticism is beautifully positive.

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  90. Roger Young says:

    You know it’s got to the arguing with car guards phase when people start attacking me for trying to engage in debate.

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  91. Another Anonymous SA Troll says:

    You know its reached that point when a publication attacks people constantly under the guise of generating debate..

    And just saying.. Spoek better on stage than Gazelle??.. i wasn’t at Assembly so maybe Xander was having an off day.. or maybe you saw Spoek at a gig i didn’t hear about.. cause from where I’m standing that’s just rubbish..

    Say what you will about how you perceived the show.. having and sharing your opinion is your right.. and maybe you genuinely do think Spoek’s better on stage than Xander.. but i do question your motives for saying such things.. as weren’t you trash talking Spoek’s performance not too long ago? So either you REALLY hate Gazelle, or its a symptom of a “bash who ever will get us more hits” attitude going on at Mahala..

    Debate and criticism is great, and necessary in any industry.. but really.. who are all these local bands with a greater meaning to their on stage personas you’re watching the rest of the time and comparing Gazelle to?

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  92. Dplanet says:

    Another Anonymous SA Troll: “sure its gimicky.. but clearly thats what he was going for..”

    Xander: “we really just wanted to come and do something that is wicked that nobody can come and diss or say: “they play alright music but their whole vibe is just being weird and dressed up and shit””

    Xander: “we feel like we want to do something that means something.”

    Xander: “We wanted to make an album inspired by the people that drove us into this whole aesthetic of being political and outspoken about shit”

    Xander: “We want people to actually listen to the lyrics and say like fuck, these dudes are making a connection.”

    Clearly Gazelle are not going for gimmicky. So now can we discuss whether or not they have achieved these lofty ambitions?

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  93. frikkie lubbe says:

    Rofl…“It’s the lack of gestalt of the surface representation that is problematic…..” .. and I thought you were reviewing a guy in a funny hat on stage, not quite Wertheimer or Heidegger material.

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  94. ingamla yasekapa says:

    hey roger
    at first i can’t say i enjoyed your pieces (last year), but slowly you have one me over.
    if its coz you off heroine, ahoy, keep it up.
    your work this year has been awesome.

    And props to mahala for the courage to say what they think and stick to it, even if it always pisses off more then half the peeps out there, haha.

    roger, you hit the nail on the head with this one, and the attacks on you prove it.

    one piece of advice. whilst your comment responses show you up way better than those who diss you, there really is little point at trying to engage in debate with people who defend their ‘upperclassness’ and lack any self-awareness.

    so at some point, stop responding and go right more articles. this kind of honesty can help south african artists and the scene grow.

    we need the new generation to ‘touch more than the feet’.


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  95. Etienne says:

    Watta bunch of shit Roger ..read between the lines I I I

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  96. Dplanet says:

    What’s between the lines?

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  97. Jess says:

    Lame-o says:
    June 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

    “I have never been to assembly before, don’t drink and make my own money. I had a great time and thought the music and accompanying show was fantastic.”

    How can you be qualified to comment, then? LOL at some random punter who isn’t exposed to much culture feeling qualified to disagree.

    So, lemme guess – does drinking qualify as being exposed to culture? So the peeps who are too drunk to actually respect the musicians on stage or show any form of appreciation qualified? Are they even there for the music? This is the saddest part of the music industry to me at the moment.

    In all the live shows I have attended in CT, it is truly rare to see the crowd applauding or showing some sort (any sort) of appreciation after a song is performed, regardless of how much they enjoyed it while the music was playing. So no surprise that there was lack of audience appreciation or even feedback. Is this how we nurture the live music scene? Indifference?

    As for you being able to decide who is ‘qualified’ to have an opinion or not based on a) that they have never been to the venue before (which does not mean they don’t attend other live music shows) b) don’t drink (no comment) or c) make their own money (which is most probably in reference to the usual “upper to upper middle class kids, mostly white” comment in the intro of this article…) – all I can say is, lame.

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