Vom Kid and the Bitchby Roger Young, images by Adriaan Louw / 31.08.2010
Cynical Me and Positive Me are having a fight near the edge of the Assembly’s stage during New Holland’s set on Saturday night. Cynical Me is clearly losing because we’re no longer at the back sitting on the steps and judging from a distance, which was our position during the guitar power pop (without any real power) of Third World Spectator. I had missed Red Huxley due to a certain reluctance, lets just say, on my part to even come to this gig. I’ve always just lumped New Holland in with the Bellville bands and have built a solid foundation of prejudices toward them without ever seeing a gig or listening to any of their tracks.
After Third World Spectator the DJ guy starts playing some not even gay top twenty “electro”, a tall sexually ambiguous coloured guy with a pompadour jumps and fist pumps across the floor as if the most exiting thing has just happened, an Edgars winter chic dressed couple sokkie violently across the floor after him. I’m thinking who are these people? Some kid sitting next to me on the steps vomits, sorta loosely, an afterthought really. It’s not enough to even splash on my shoes but there’s this bitch and she points him out to the bouncer who promptly escorts him out. Yeah, I thought, this crowd is too uptight to rock and roll. New Holland start with “Waiting, Wanting Craving” and immediately my prejudices are confirmed; the energy seems messy and lacks cohesion, there’s that whiney indie guitar sound, and one of the backing vox’s are slightly off key. Why then, by the time they play the strummy harmonic Freedom!, am I making my way closer to the stage?
Teejay, looking like a hurriedly drawn caricature of the media concept of an indie kid, is repeatedly telling the audience that they’re beautiful. But as he glances at them standing there mostly motionless, his goofily camp sniggering of the compliment seems to belie other thoughts. By the “I Want You My Baby” mark, the crowd down front has started to let go but it’s “Hurricane” with it’s early Iggy Pop-esque lyric set to an 80’s Rolling Stones stomping riff that really gets everyone involved. Teejay pulls the crowd into the party by calling some birthday girl on stage and getting her to sing the chorus. Birthday girl behaves like Courtney Cox in that Bruce Springsteen video, all coy and giggly; exactly the kind of girl who will go drinking for three days and then, well, you know “fuck you like a Hurricane”.
“Uhuru” is the highlight of the set, after an extended intro all rolling toms and repetitive grindy riff, it explodes into a messy stomper, the crowd in front bouncing in the flashing blue lights to the shout along harmonics. It’s at this moment that I fully realize what I’ve been missing out on by ignoring New Holland, it’s also at this moment that I know I’m not going to remember too much about this song in the morning; probably because there’s not that much to it. This is their genius; there is a simplicity to their 80s power rock meets indie sound that they, seemingly effortlessly, drive tightly home.
Teejay takes a moment to talk about the new single that’s coming out in a few weeks. Kneeling on the floor, panting, he says that it has a bit of a kwaito influence. But when he adds “You know what kwaito is right? You don’t? Well I’m sure you know Vampire Weekend, and they’re totally kwaito.”
I can’t decide whether he is a fool or a genius.
With “Something to Believe In” air punching breaks out in the crowd, it’s like Bonnie Tyler being covered by pre-rave Primal Scream, a mix of synthpop keyboards, anthemic choruses and early sixties tumbling rock. It tends more toward derivative than influenced, they’re not really adding anything new to the genre, but New Holland have a purposeful joy and infectious naiveté to them that punches through my cynicism.
Sometime in the last few songs this rock-lite chick stumbles away from stage front through the people standing on the outskirts. She finds a seat, flops down, and takes out a cigarette, she is however either too exhausted or too distracted to light it; it dangles in her mouth as she sings along, looking wasted and content, exuding unconscious rock satisfaction.