Monday, September 15, 2014

Zebra & Giraffe - Knuckles Album Launch

It’s almost impossible to have avoided hearing a Zebra and Giraffe song at some time over the past five years. Be in on the radio, on television, or live at some or other festival – this band has been everywhere. They chose the Assembly as the Cape Town venue to launch their brand new album ‘Knuckles’ – which you can now order on iTunes.

Upon entering the venue, it was clear that this was not your average Friday night at the popular local club. Sponsors Ray Ban and Honda Music had gone all out on the experience front, and created a station for hair cuts (which Zebra & Giraffe frontman Greg Carlin later confessed to having visited) and other where a man was holding out his arm, appearing to be having a tattoo inked on, right there and then. Surely not? Surely the tattoo was only temporary? No, it was real, all right, and the man being inked was none other than Z&G’s own bass player, Stefan Henrico – aha, that’s why Carlin was standing in a corner, having a good giggle to himself.

The opening act for the night is Cape Town’s own Reburn, who treated the gathering crowd to some songs from their second album. Although not as well known as the main act, they managed to hype up the audience very well, with their interesting style, which could possibly be described as “funk-infused reggae indie-rock”.  Their vocals and style are noticeably influenced by British indie-rock bands, and indeed one song in particular reminded me a lot of Scottish band The Fratellis’ hit ‘Chelsea Dagger’ – interestingly this is one of the bands they cite as an influence. Although I did begin to worry at some point that the bass player’s Joy Division shirt would result in a spontaneous cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.

Fresh from last Saturday’s slot at the I Heart Joburg festival alongside international acts like Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy, Zebra & Giraffe proved that a club environment is where they are most at home.

Thrashing on his guitar and moving about with as much mad enthusiasm as the tiny stage would allow, Greg Carlin led his band through a stream of both old and new songs. Of course, the greatest cheers were for the earlier, better known songs including ‘The Knife’ and ‘The Inside’, but this does not mean that the band have stopped making good music. In fact, personally I found their new single ‘Dancing’ to be one of the best I’ve heard. Their new style is slightly different – slower in parts, more forceful in others – but it works. They are most definitely not the same band who joked in a slightly bitter tone that “no one’s here to see us” when they opened for The Killers five years ago; nor are they the same band that played to a half-empty student club in Grahamstown in 2011. No, this band has grown in leaps and bounds, and on their latest offering, are sure to cement themselves once again as one of South Africa’s best.

By the time the last notes of final song ‘Pariahs’ echoed through the club, Stefan Henrico’s fingers were pouring blood onto his strings, and Greg Carlin dripped sweat from his face onto his slick-looking leather jacket, but they look absolutely thrilled. And they should be.

Original article also published on

I Heart Joburg Part 1: Journey

It's 10pm on Wednesday night, and I'm sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, starring thoughtfully at a pile of laundry higher than I am tall. I've also just had the terrifying realisation that I leave for Joburg in approximately 44 hours (which sounds like a lot, but I'll be at work for 24 and asleep for 16, which leaves about 4 hours free), and in addition to having absolutely no clean clothing - save for the new flamingo socks I just bought - I also have absolutely no free space on my phone or camera - and what's a concert without a wagon full of photos? Ah well. At least I've got the most important thing down - the brand new, bright pink travel bag that cost me as much as half a week's groceries, but was way more necessary.

Yes, the weekend has finally arrived - it's time for I Heart Joburg. After much fangirling, I'd purchased tickets way back in May, and a busy lifestyle had meant that I had had very little time to look forward to the festival. Flights booked, accommodation arranged ... it was like a full-on flashback to that crazy month in 2011 when I'd done Jozi twice in three weeks for Coldplay and the Kings. In fact, this will be my first time in Gauteng since then.

Fast-forward to Thursday, when I've given up on my laundry being dry in time because it's just too damn hot to tumble dry anything, and instead have packed the bare minimum amount of clothes, and have gotten halfway through the toiletries when I realise that my deodorant can't go with because, ya know, no aerosols on planes. And so I launch into a crusade to find a bottle of roll-on somewhere in the junk heap that functions as my bedroom. Although completely unsuccessful, I do manage to locate a rock from Mount Vesuvius, a deflated balloon from a friend's farewell party in May, a collection of small rocks, and a pair of sunglasses that I thought I'd lost somewhere between Scotland and Durban circa mid-July 2013. Not to mention that shrivelled chocolate from an Emirates flight two years ago. Gross. Anyway, I've packed what I can, and hopped into bed for a good 9 hour sleep to prepare myself for tomorrow's trip... but like all people like me, I can never guarantee rest.

Before I know it, it's 1am, and my entire life is floating before my eyes in tiny, half-awake snippets, interspersed - for some unfathomable reason - with a line from Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black': "And life is like a pipe, and I'm a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside...". And even though I don't know what on earth that line means, IT MAKES ME SO SAD. Chalk it up to stress for work the next morning. Chalk it up to not being completely mentally normal. Whatever, either way, I get to work at 6.30am running on two hours sleep, and the certainty that absolutely everything is about to go tits up with this weekend that I had planned out so carefully.

Hit 1.30pm and I'm finished all my work for the day, but unfortunately unable to leave until 3pm. Twitter says there's a press conference, but my bois doing that weird thing where I'm not sure if the butterflies in my stomach are from nerves, anxiety, dread or excitement. I decide to satiate my stomach with some breakfast, but make the extremely bad choice to get a pie from the garage next door because real food costs more money and after this weekend I will have none of that left. 

And so at home I meet my eternal concert buddy, Miss Lauren, and we're whisked away to the airport by Miss Amy - none of us anticipating that getting to the airport in an hour is made almost impossible by a traffic nightmare on De Waal Drive. Cue mild panic, a mantra of "it'll be fine, guys" and dodging through lanes of traffic like we're in some perverted game of bumper cars. This is the part where any sane human being begins to regret that late afternoon pie - it was almost certainly road kill rather than chicken, and it's swirling around in the consumer's stomach, mixing painfully with the nerves and the bumpy care ride. We nearly hit the roof flying over a speed bump at the airport at 100km/h, and Amy giggles before pulling into a parking and declaring "We made it! 18 minutes guys, I did good!". Check-in; print boarding passes; sigh with relief; hit the Wimpy for food but get absolutely no service; proceed through boarding gates; get frisked for making the metal detectors go off; find another Wimpy; board the plane; wonder why said plane is heading towards the ground at a rather alarming angle of 45 degrees; almost fall asleep hug Carryn to death at Lanseria; drive to her house in the dark; pass the 'Welcome to North West' sign - three provinces in one day! Find a bed; collapse. 

Wake up. It's 8am, we're leaving for breakfast by 9am and plan to be on the road to JHB by 10am, ETA at Ellis Park stands at 11am. LOL JK. We make it to Ellis around 1pm, handbags stashed under the seat and finger on the trigger of Carryn's pepper spray - expecting to get hijacked around every corner. 

And so we reach the parking area, only to be asked for our parking ticket. Warning - rant ahead: HOW THE HELL WERE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WE NEEDED A PARKING TICKET?? When Steyn Entertainment told me on Facebook that "limited parking is available at the stadium", did they ever mention parking tickets??? No, they sure as hell did not. So we're told to turn around and go find a Computicket to buy a parking ticket. That's fine. But no one knows where the Computicket is, and we're left driving in circles around what is probably the least safe area in the whole of Joburg. By the time we're driven for 5 minutes or so, our nerves are so shot that we happily pay some dodgy person R100 to park in a 'safe place'. It seems a little dodgy, but it's in the ground of a college, so it can't be that bad, right?

And so, hugging our handbags and making sure Carryn knows that she'll be offered up as Tribute if anyone attacks us, we make our way to the stadium, and only relax when we're through the golden circle gates.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Misheard Lyrics: Part 1

I can just about guarantee that everyone out there has misheard a song lyric sometime in their life. Perhaps it was because you were simply singing along without paying much attention to the words; perhaps it was because you were too young to understand what the song was about; perhaps you were just being an idiot. There are the standard "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy", "Hit me with your pet shark" and "Go, go, Jason Waterfalls", but for me, the more obscure, the more entertaining. Anyway, I personally have some classics - share yours with me in the comments!

The Gaslight Anthem - Ain't That A Shame
The most recent of my gaffes - one of my favourites on the band's new album, I had been confidently singing along to this song for the past two weeks or so ... "Oh my love, my love is a plane, ain't that a shame, ain't that a shame." Eventually I googled the lyrics so that I could read them and interpret the song as a whole, and discovered that it was 'plague'. 'My love is a plague'. Oh.

Bon Jovi - Bed of Roses
I grew up on Bon Jovi, and it took many, many years to realise that Jon was singing about being "just as close as the holy ghost is", rather than "holy ghost ears", which apparently are not a thing.

Brandon Flowers - Magdalena
On Brandon's debut solo album, he sings about a pilgrimage to Mexico, and how he is "fixing to carve this out of wood". In my tiny, science-infused brain, I interpreted the words as "I'm fixing the carapace out of wood." Please note, a carapace is the exoskeleton of a crab. Jury still out on what the crab was doing along a road in Mexico.

Take That - Back For Good
"Whenever I'm wrong, just tell me the song and I'll sing it - you'll be right up on the sun." Doesn't sound very comfortable, does it? It's "right and understood".