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The Lost Son

by Nechama Brodie / 23.08.2011

If I dated Jewish boys I’d be in serious trouble. I’ve just spent three hours watching YouTube videos of Yoav – all cheekbones and stubble, percussive sounds played on guitar – after seeing him perform live at Tanz Café. He’s brilliant, talented, disarmingly self-deprecating on stage… My gran would have loved him. If he was an accountant.
So here’s this guy who’s opened for Imogen Heap and Tori Fucking Amos, and whose cover of the Pixies’ classic “Where Is My Mind” was featured on the soundtrack of Sucker Punch, and yet who is still relatively unknown in South Africa aka the country in which he grew up. Have we been too busy drinking Parlotones wine and learning the words to “Cooler as Ekke” to pay attention to what could be our greatest musical export?

At Yoav’s Tanz gig, he made a comment how – the first few times he played live on home ground – no one knew his songs (he was delighted to see that, at last, South African audiences knew some of his his music). I fell firmly in the “never heard of this oke before” camp and, oddly, was persuaded to make the great trek north to Tanz on the basis of a single tweet by an American friend who’d seen Yoav play with Tori Amos.


If you’ve never heard his stuff before, it’s really worth a Kit-Kat break to take a listen (start on his YouTube channel). Watching the videos will give you an idea of his sound, but you need to see him live to get the full picture. He literally makes his music. Armed with only his guitar (those cheekbones) and “the beast” (his pedal), Yoav creates sound loops with the guitar and pedal snyth effects – percussion (from the body of the guitar), keyboard sounds, electric strings – and then, once he’s set up his loops, plays and sings over them. It’s thrilling to watch. And, given the complexity of many of his songs, he’s brilliant live: he has a great voice, he loves his guitar, he loves the crowd.

I guess the time has long passed for us to try and claim him as a lost son – he’s moved on, to Montreal, to Berlin, to Moscow… But you should know about Yoav because he’s good, not because he grew up in Cape Town. I’m going to buy his album, as soon as I get off YouTube (you think I’m joking, but I have “Club Thing” playing as I type). And, perhaps, if we get to know him a bit better, he’ll play home gigs more often. Because that, my friends, is worth driving a lot further than Fourways.


Listening to Yoav play, I had a perfect moment right at the end of his set, one of those unpredictable live music occurrences where I closed my eyes and the audience disappeared and there was only the song, the music.

[Author’s note: At Tanz Café this – making the audience ‘disappear’ – counts as a survival skill (the Darwinian kind). I will concede Tanz has a great set-up, the sound is good, they book great acts. But they fail on that classic triple entry snob ledger: location, location, location. On the occasions I have been there I have always been reminded why I left the Great North (where I spent my childhood and teenage years). It’s all beer, fear and deodorant. Abandon hope, all ye who enter. When Yoav finished playing the punters were just as happy to raise their hooters, I mean shooters, to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass”. Why, why, why do we not have more live music venues in the central parts of Joburg?]

*All images sourced.

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