Monday, August 30, 2010

Good weekend: Hotbox and the Sticky Tombstones

As I'm walking into The Boh on Thursday night, I'm trying to think if I've ever felt so excited and at the same time sad about going to a show. Seeing Sticky Antlers releasing their much anticipated 4th album and taking a final bow on the same night is gonna be awesome/ heartbreaking.

I've arrived pretty early and the place is rather empty. I say hey to Cam who's doing the sound tonight. Put on some funk and wait for Gil Hockman to take to the stage. What I can catch of Gil's set is great. Unfortunately I miss a bit of it greeting friends that are arriving. Then I miss his last song, listening to tracks in my headphones to prepare for my set between him and The Antlers.

To begin with I catch myself sitting and DJing. This isn't a regular dance party, but doing that is still just ridiculous. Once I'm on my seet I start having a lot of fun. I get to drop a bunch of music I love but can never play out. McLusky, Enon, Raveonettes and Call Me Lightning. Woo!

While I'm playing I eye out the KRNGY merch stand, which is looking particularly awesome tonight. A couple songs of Welsh noise and Japanese pop in and I see Martinique packing everything up, which must mean it's almost Antler time. Sticky are fittingly explosive. A perfect racket. They kick off straight into one of the tracks where Damon joins Jaco on drums. It's a pretty intense way to start their set, but as they go things only escalate. The Boh has now filled up really nicely, and it's so great being in amongst a crowd that so massively attentive. Transfixed by what's happening on stage. I can't help but feel like this is a total crime. This band are so great, so unique and so sincere and so fucking awesome, and yet, for the most part, the outside world doesn't even know they exist. And probably never will. I guess it's just yet another reason to feel lucky to be South African. Yet another amazing band that not nearly enough outside ears will ever hear. Yet another precious secret. As the band hurtle toward the end of their last Joburg performance ever, you can feel the energy on stage snowballing. And as the energy on stage escalates the energy in the crowd does the same. And so there's just this amplification of awesome, with the band feeding of the crowd feeding off the band feeding off the crowd. Eventually it reaches some kind of crescendo where it feels like my heart's going to explode. It's sad when I'm going into a weekend knowing nothing is going to top the Thursday night. But then, when it's something so totally awesome making me think this, it's hardly a sad thought at all. "Don't you forget about it!" Colin leans over and mentions how apt the line is. I couldn't agree more, and as the last wails of feedback bounce around inside our heads I'm certain no one in this room will be forgetting about this band anytime soon. We're all screaming for more, but the band doesn't oblige. To be honest, while I'd love to hear more, I can't imagine them going out on a more perfect note than the one they just played. Cam comes over and asks me if I want to start playing some more songs. I've been screaming so much for an encore, I didn't even remember I was supposed to be DJing after the band. I play a few songs, but it feels crazy weird trying to find anything that will do Sticky justice. Luckily Marc steps up an takes over. Sleigh Bells. Perfect.

On Friday morning I hear there was pretty intense earth tremor during The Sticky show. Anja was taking a bath in our Melville house and was totally freaked out by it. Matt Suttner said it was crazy, 9 stories up at Voice of Wits. Almost directly between these two locations, Phil, Patrick, ADK, Chad, Colin, Angela, Marc, Cale, Cam and I were completely oblivious while we were in the middle of The Sticky Carnage.

Later in the day I tell Cam about this crazy tremor. How, because of the noise of the Antlers we didn't even notice it. Cam says "No". I say, yes, it really happened, Anja and Matt felt it and said it was hectic. Cam says, yes, it did happen, but no, The Sticky Antlers didn't cause us to miss the tremor. They caused the tremor in the first place.

The rest of Friday is hardly rocking. When I get home from work I spend an hour transforming into a tank and blowing up weaker robots. I won't lie; this is pretty sweet, but by 6:30 I'm animating visuals for the next night's Le Castle Vania gig at Hotbox. And, other than a taking brief break to eat dinner, this is all my Friday consists of. Animating sharks and tigers and lightning bolts until 2 in the morning.

I need to be up early on Saturday. Head through to Anja's. From there she, Patrick, ADK and I head through to the massive annual Salvation Army fete. It's pretty awesome. Pancakes, lots of old stuff, dogs doing tricks, prego rolls, 3 times books about cats, terrible singers doing ABBA covers, sitting in the sun, sitting in the shade and 1 times original Nintendo controller for me. Yay! Unfortunately fete fun gets cut short by me feeling more and more anxious about the amount of visuals I'm going to need to perform in a few hours. We head home. Anja leaves very excitedly for a mysterious "surprise appointment". I spend the next few hours animating a couple last clips. Then prepare everything to be played live.

At 4:45 I head through to Cool Runnings Melville where I'll be playing with Eyes Like Mirrors as a part of the Joburg Burning festival. Unsurprisingly, for a gig at 5 in the afternoon, we play to almost nobody. There are about eight to ten people watching us. They're all sitting. It's super weird. It's hardly a fitting first show for the pedal I bought last weekend, but I enjoy our set. I'm seeing it as band practice we're being paid for, getting Eyes Like Mirrors that bit closer to being able to record some songs.

After we finish Anja is super upset. I ask her what mystery appointment was about and she almost starts crying. Turns out she went to Wyatt Hairdressing to have them make her hair this colour: So she forked out more than R1200 and she's left looking like this: Which, other than being a little lighter is exactly what her hair looked like before she was 1200 Rand poorer. This didn't even include a cut or blow dry, just some highlights. Understandably she pretty massively upset by being ripped off so hardcore. I tell her Wyatt will definitely fix the problem, which hopefully they still will.

Distraught Anja helps me quickly pack up, we jump in my car and race through to Pretoria.

When we get to Hotbox I'm kinda dumbstruck by how the venue looks. With every major event they've done with Hotbox, Griet have always kept pushing the envelope for production value, but tonight is just on another level. It's not just the stage that looks awesome, the entire garden has been transformed.

Peter and I have a rather crappy time trying to get my Mac and the 4 plasmas on stage to be friends. But soon enough the screens are showing bottles of rum flying through space and I'm on stage next to Nathan Scott Phillips.

Cam plays a great set. Really diverse, it's the prefect balance between fun, start of the night stuff and crunchy electro. Towards the of it I'm feeling it so much that I rush out to fetch Seafox. But by the time I get back to the stage Double Adapter are ready to take over.

As the only part of the evening where I don't need to do visuals, I take this as a break from being around the stage. I wonder around the garden bumping into old friends and making new ones. Kinda loose track of time before Peter runs up to me and tells me Le Castle Vania is about to start.

The start of his set is a little shaky for me. Made more complicated by spilling a freshly opened beer and made less complicated by Dan saving my ass. Once I'm settled in though, everything goes pretty sweet. It's strange VJing behind the stage, sitting with my keytar on my lap. But after getting really positive responses on the visuals from Peter and Dom, I feel a lot better about what's going down. Le Castle Vania's set is pretty damn great. His mixing is perfect (although, to be fair he's using Serato so how could it not be?) and his track selection is really fun. A lot more rock and roll than I expected. Tracks by Yeah Yeah Yeah, The Refused and LCV's own remix of Smashing Pumpkins pop up between the fun electro he's spinning. And while I'm mostly staring at the video stream I'm sending out behind him, out the corner of my eye I can see the dude is going pretty crazy on stage.

But "pretty crazy" is not what I'd use to describe the next act. Haezer is fucking CRAZY crazy.

When I first step on stage as Heazer starts his set I'm kinda dumbstruck by the sea of people dancing in front of me. Rocking out on stage, with my keytar over my shoulders I'm a bunch more comfortable than I was sitting and VJing. I have a totally awesome time. Haezer's playing a totally set, the crowd's going mad and pushing us to do the same. Between lining stuff up on my MacBook I feel like I'm rocking out pretty hard, but I've got nothing on Haezer - the dude is going nuts. Between every second mix he runs to the front of the stage and spurs the dancefloor. Eventually I've lost count of how many times he's dived into the crowd. At one point he tries climbing onto the huge table all the gear is on. Before I even know what's happening Adrian (who's taking photos from on stage) dashes in and shifts my Mac out of the way of being Haezer crushed. "Jammer dude. Hy's totally fucked!". Judging by the music I'd never have guessed it, but a lot of booze would explain all the stage diving.

Before the end of his set Haezer again climbs onto the table and this time Adrian isn't around to save my Mac. The screen lands up flat between a Haezer foot and the table. Luckily the only damage to my machine is a dusty footprint. I guess it must be rock and roll resistant.

Peter Rocka and Dr Khumalo wrap up the party with a song each, then calmly instruct everyone to leave because there have been noise complaints and the cops are outside. When I head out to pack my gear into the car, blue lights confirm this is true. It's the first time this has happened at a Hotbox party. A small army of kids that wanted to keep rocking out are reluctantly streaming out of the venue. Although it's already after 2AM I imagine this party could have gone strong till sunrise.

We get some awesome hotdogs from the dudes in the parking lot, then head back into the house for a last hang out. It's too cool chilling out with Dom and Brendon and Peter and Henk - feels like I haven't partied with any of them in far too long. But quickly reality starts catching up with me and considering it's after 3 in the morning I realise we should head home.

Sunday is largely spent recovering from a week of furious animating and rocking out. Anja and I visit my parents at their place. Eat amazing lunch. Then my dad fires up his X-Box to show me last chapter of Brothers in Arms, which he finished last week. Knowing my 51 year old dad has battled his way through hundreds of Nazi's and completed this game is a pretty proud moment for me.

When we get back to Joburg we watch Nine. I wanted to see it at the movies, didn't, and now seeing how cool it is I really regret it not getting to see it on the big screen. It's such a strange, unusual film - I really enjoy it. Anja passes out. I rock 2 chapters of Bone and then sleep an awesome sleep.

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