Monday, February 20, 2012

Taxi Violence and Machineri at Kirstenbosch

Enthralled by the beauty of Cape Town and amazed by the talent of local artists: not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I arrive at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens at around 4pm on Sunday the 19th of February, armed with a Hello Kitty picnic blanket and a chocolate Steri Stumpie… taking life seriously, wasn’t I? Although slightly worried that the Hardcore Rock Fans might judge me, I soon find out that this is not the case at all. The atmosphere amongst the couple of thousand people gathered on the lawns in the Botanical Gardens is nothing if not completely relaxed.

The sun is still high in the sky, and the temperature at least 5000oC when three-piece band Machineri takes to the stage. Composed of guitarist and lead vocalist Sannie Fox, guitarist Andre Geldenhuys and drummer Daniel Huxham, the band’s sound is pure blues-rock…well, as pure as such a mixed genre can be. Their guitar riffs and Fox’s vocals scream ‘blues’, whilst the drums bring in the rock elements which result in the band often being considered rock. Fox’s voice stays strong the entire set, and their catchy tunes have many in the crowd bopping their heads in time to the music. Some energy is injected into the band’s somewhat low-key performance when they are joined on stage by vocalist Inge Beckmann, who air-guitars her way through an upbeat number.

Taxi Violence appear on stage just as the sun begins to sink behind the mountain. “We’re Taxi Violence, and you’re here to see us, give yourself a round of applause”, frontman George van der Spuy jokes good-naturedly, before launching into “I Went Down to the River”, accompanied by Inge Beckmann, as well as the shouts of some very excited audience members. The band’s talent is immediately evident, and by the second song, “Devil ‘n’ Pistol”, most of the audience is tapping their feet, clapping, and resisting the potent urge to head bang. This is also my personal favourite of the set, I love the lyrics which incorporate some blues and country themes. Van de Spuy continues to engage with the audience throughout the set, cracking jokes, and telling us the stories behind some of the songs. I think that this makes all the difference in the world, the constant banter makes the crowd feel connected to the band, they just seem so friendly and genuinely likeable. I am also unable to fault them performance-wise, they switch effortlessly between the country-infused “Between the Heavens and the Deep Blue Sea” and the pure rock of “The Turn”. They also perform their first hit, “Untie Yourself” - during which the cello and keyboards are positively haunting – and throw in a cover of traditional folk song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” for good measure (much to the distaste of the very grumpy and very vocal man behind me). It’s not often that I discover a band live, but despite never having consciously listened to Taxi Violence before, I felt myself hoping that they’d come back for an encore after the show. I truly think that this one performance has turned me into a fan. It’s very difficult to compare this band to anyone else, or describe who they sound like, because, well, they sound like themselves. George van der Spuy along with guitarist Rian Zietsman, bassist Jason Ling, and drummer Louis Nel make up extremely talented rock band.

As I leave the venue, I’m left wondering why more concerts aren’t outdoors. I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon than surrounded by picturesque scenery, good vibes and true talent.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

If Real Life Was High School...

Ah, high school. Gone, but not forgotten, I’m afraid. It can be said that high school is a kind of trial-run for the Real World, and that the same stereotypes assigned to teenagers carry on throughout the rest of life. Now, we all idolize our favourite band members, but if real life was high school, just where would they all fit in? No matter how awesome everyone from Brandon Flowers to Nathan Followill seem, I’m certain that they don’t all sit atop life’s ‘cool’ pile. So where would our favourite band boys fit in, if real life was high school?

Chris Martin: he’s a nice guy, good-natured, cares about stuff like making trade fair, and likes to sing. Nerd alert or what? There’s no way that the footballers would allow Chris at their table in the cafeteria. He’s the sweetheart that all the girls would adore as a friend, but at whom the jocks would look down their noses. Don’t underestimate him, though; one look into those blue eyes, and even the cheerleaders would be swooning.

Adam Levine: Whilst also not the footballer type, Adam would definitely be a popular kid. Not wanting to take part in any violent sport for fear of harming his good looks, Adam would spend his time clowning around in the back of the class, while miraculously still getting good grades and never being in trouble. His secret? Flashing that winning smile at Life’s teachers would never fail to get him out of any pickle.

Nathan Followill: Ah, here we go: the jock. Nathan’s effortless Coolness would ensure that he was constantly surrounded by a gang of admirers. Never shy to speak his mind, anyone who annoyed Nathan would be met with a typically scathing comment (let’s hope Glee creator Ryan Murphy wasn’t the principle, or fist fights may ensue). Causes of frequent stints in detention would most likely be bringing beer to school, or attempting to engage staff and students in golf tournaments during lessons.

Jared Followill: Let’s just say that this boy’s Tough Guy act isn’t fooling me. While he may slam lesser humans against lockers and demand their lunch money, he’s likely to shove it back into his victim’s pocket when they’re not looking. Never missing an opportunity for a photograph, Jared will pout and fluff his hair in front of the mirror for hours, but when he says he has a hot date with a cheerleader, you’d probably just find him at home on the couch with his mom.

Brandon Flowers: the sparkly outfits, the feathers, and the Vegas obsession would make Bran head of the Glee club. He’d be brilliant at anything he did, and wouldn’t be afraid to let everyone know it. Uninterested in the goings-on of the Cool crowd, Brandon would spend his break times writing songs, and gluing feathers to his school uniform.

(Credit for the idea for this story goes to Nerissa Naidoo)