Monday, August 2, 2010

(Really) Good Weekend! Tennyson and The Dancing Bioscopes!

You just know it was a really good weekend when I write about it in the present tense!

It's Thursday - I drop by Anja's for a quick visit and then head up the road to Cool Runnings Victory Park. It's my first time in this new venue and it's pretty cool. General Cool Runnings vibe. Really big space. pretty huge stage. Some really nice paintings on the walls. The chinchilla like creatures above the stage are my favourites. As I mentioned previously, I had a pretty high hopes for Tennyson Extended, the new band playing before us. At the same time, knowing this was the debut performance of this young band, I wasn't expecting too much. Within the first minute of their performance I have my moderately high expectations obliterated. Seeing Tennyson tearing through their first ever live show is like watching a truckload of Leon Schuster DVDs, burnt at the stake. It's fiery and furious and totally righteous. Chatting to Andrei about the band in the past, he totally underplayed their technical abilities and, as they burn their way through 5 tight dance punk freakouts, I'm dumbstruck this is the band's first show. I'm especially blown away by Andei's little bro - he's a really skilled bassist and the fact that he's only in matric just makes it that much more amazing. Andrei on the other hand is totally loosing it, breaking into brief moments of total noise and then almost instantly falling back in with the solid rhythm section. He's spending half his time playing in amongst the crowd, who (considering they've never heard these songs in their lives) are going pretty nuts themselves. At some point both the guitarists fall to the ground. Presumably they're rolling around or playing on their knees - I can't tell. All I can see is the drummer Jared and he's just beaming. I don't know if I've ever seen a drummer looking so happy about the riot he's bashing out. I really can't believe I'm actually seeing this. If this band had been around in the days of Sovereign Academy I shudder to think what those dancefloors would have been like. It's a total crime this is happening in 2010 and 2006. It's as though they were made for those parties. But I guess the reality is they were made for the parties of the future. And right now I'm feeling more optimistic about that future than ever before. Tennyson make yet another surprising move for a new band - they play a really short set. Leaving everyone wanting more they quickly disappear. The Mirrors and I get up and do our thing. I doubt I need to mention that I love what unfolds over the next 40 minutes. On Friday Patrick and I fall into doing exactly what we did last Friday - rocking a good meal and then heading through to the Bioscope. The difference from last week is, instead of watching some surreal cinema set in Japan, we're watching some beautiful music from our own backyard. Benguela, the recently reformed legendary Cape town instrumentalists are playing. For me however, their performance get's completely over shadowed by the supporting act, Joao Orecchia. Joao is consistently one of my favourite live musicians, but tonight's extra special.

To begin with, Joao's making good use of the fact that tonight's show is going down in our cities beatiful new independent movie theater. For the first ever, Joao's running visuals to his intricate, cinematic music. It's mostly footage he's shot himself. Moments captured durring his travels around the around the world. And times from back at home.

To make this audio visual performance even better Joao's chosen the guitarist and drummer of the BLK JKS to accompany him tonight. I'm always amazed by Joao's ability to create such powerful music through un-calculated live collaborations. Whether it was getting audience members out of the crowd and throwing toys into their hands at 5Men3Missing shows or performing live with various drummers, guitarists, ceolists or noise artists it always works out wonderfully. It's like his tapestry of live loops is a huge picnic blanket. It doesn't matter whether his collaborators are eating chips or chocolates, whether they're reading or getting pleasant, sitting up or lying down, so long as they're with Joao on the blanket what happens is always pure spring sunshine. But tonight is especially beautiful.

The JKS seem to be loving what's happening. They're off to the right of the stage, smiling back and forth between intense looks of concentration. The guitar's sinking deep into the mix, providing more texture than extra melody. The drums are similarly restrained, only occasionally exploding out above Joao's loops.

The 2 JKS, Joao and the visuals all go together fantastically, but it's what happens in the last 2 minutes of their set that totally melts my brain. Joao leaves a loop going, then cuts it down shorter and shorter. The live drums start swelling, growing louder and louder. The loops gets so short it forms a single tone and then the drummer just looses it. For all the restraint he showed over the set he's making up for it twice over with rock out power here at the end. He looks like he's having a fit, his sticks frantically flying back and forth between every piece of his kit. And it's not like this is a 10 second little drum roll - it doesn't stop. It's exhausting just to watch. Joao and the guitarist seem just as in awe as the audience and for the second time this weekend music's giving me that feeling where I feel like my body can't contain it. Like i need to explode.

Saturday day is initially a major downer after the madness of what we saw the night before. I need to go into work to animate the opening sequence of a TV show. Eventually I decide against it, but I still need to get to the bank to hook up the float for the party. Turns out the bank closes at 11 on a Saturday, so I'm screwed. Forced to draw money from an ATM. Try make a bunch small purchases and break all the hundred for tens and twenties. Just before I'm about to go home and finally get my game on Anja calls to suggest we go to Macro for Oppikoppi supplies. We drive all the way through, do half our shopping and then I realise I've left my wallet at home. Cue us driving home empty handed, me stressing the whole way about whether I left my wallet at home or lost it in the Makro. Crap, crap Saturday afternoon.

After discovering my wallet was in fact at home, things really started looking up. I've got two hours to myself to play my newest game, Ron Gillbert's "Deathspank"! Deathspank is like a dream come true for me. Badass RPG action driven forward by laugh-out-loud dialogue and wrapped up in the some of the most awesome, hand drawn visuals I've seen in years. Too cool. Just before 8 Anja and I make our way to Kitchener's. Drop off the float and head through to Bridge Diner to grab some food. By the time I get back at 9 the venue is already pretty full. The Klassikist has worked up a great little floor and the party is most definitely well on it's way. Ash gets up and plays one of the finest set of funk-oriented songs I have ever heard. Ri follows him up with a set that embodies everything I'm loving about this new series of parties. Unfortunately I have to miss a big chunk of his set trying to organise extra tens and twenties for the door as they're running really low. I mission around a bunch, try petrol stations and friends. Eventually I'm rescued by Anja and Andrew. I can finally get back onto the dancefloor, but realise it's almost time for me to start my set. The beginning is a little shaky, but two minutes in I'm reminded why I love playing these nights more than any others at the moment. The energy of the crowd is just electric and they're up for anything. Seeing people throwing themselves around and screaming for Janelle MonĂ¡e and ESG and TV on the Radio and Saturday Looks Good To Me, I can't help but grin like an idiot while I break it down with them. I'm screaming along and accidental flicking my headphones off my head and sweating like it's the middle of summer. This is strike three for my weekend of life-affirming rock and roll moments. Cam joins me for the last ten minutes of my set and I stick around for the first ten minutes of his. He plays a fantastic set, a replica of which, I've been promised will be available for you to download really soon.

Commadore 64 is up next and all I can think is, of the regular DJs that play "the most rock and roll party in the city", Chad is without a doubt the most rock and roll of all of us. This is the first time he's played one of the later sets, but again it comes down to just 5 or 6 people loosing it to Wavves and everyone else looking confused.

We've got a visiting dignitary making a guest appearance tonight. I'm feeling kinda sorry for Cape Town's Tommy Gun. This is hardly the most fitting party he could be playing his electo beats at. Following up the out-there audio antics of Commadore64 it's also hardly the most fitting time slot. Luckily, for the last song of his set, Chad hands over to his friend Warren. He plays one track. Direct Hit. Passion Pit's warm synthy sound fulls the dancefloor right up and lines Tommy up for a great set.

His style is obviously worlds apart from the general soundtrack of these nights, but it's fun and people are loving it, so it's a total win in my books. Unfortunately Anja and I can't stick around for the entire thing, by 3AM we've been at Kitchener's for more than 7 hours.

We head home. My housemate, the lovable Matt Suttner has kindly wrapped my bed in plastic while I've been out. We cut the wrapping off my bed. Anja falls asleep. I settle into my new post-awesome-set ritual. Rock a shower. Climb into bed with Phonogram. I fall asleep with the bassline of Wolf like me swirling around my head. Thinking about Tennyson's first show. Joao and the BLK JKS tearing apart a 68 chair cinema. A hundred kids and hundred year old venue and me going wild. Just feeding off each other's energy. Our enthusiasm for that song, that chorus, that moment just exploding into something none of us can explain but all of us can feel.

"Energy and persistence conquer all things".

Isn't it possible that just maybe the energy in this little part of the world is going to snowball into something colossal. Something beautiful and powerful, totally sincere and completely unprecedented. Something that's gonna tear things apart and after it's hit us we won't be able to look at anything the way we did before.

But maybe this is all this will every be. Debut sets and sonic experiments and dance parties that only live on in the minds of the people that were a part of them. Like a comic that can't grow into the masterpiece it should become because everyone just want to see pictures of guys in spandex punching each other in the face.

Either way, I wouldn't trade being a part of this for anything.

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