Monday, November 8, 2010

Good weekend. High Life and The Jeffreys.

Anja and I are worried we're running late for the Righard Kapp, Ampersand and Givan Lotz gig at Wolves. By Thursday night the power at my house has been out for 24 hours. The reserve battery on our gate has run flat and, as the last people left at Lothbury, getting Anja's car out and somehow locking up behind us is pretty tricky. We're able to pull it off, but by the time we're done it seems there's no time to get dinner before we need to race through to the gig.

Luckily for us it turns out Wolves is still serving sandwiches at 8PM so we are able to eat something delicious. And luckily for us Givan only opens the night at around 9, so we don't miss anything music wise.

Unluckily for us, an ongoing disturbing trend at Wolves' "Howl" nights seems to have gotten totally out of control. While the night is dedicated to hosting performances where solo acoustic artists sit a few feet away from you and pour their hearts and souls out, the majority of people that come through to these nights seem not only completely disinterested in what's happening, but in some cases almost sadistic in the insanely loud volume that they insist on holding conversations at while these poor artists are playing their songs.

Givan has changed his set up since I last saw him a few months ago. He's ditched his acoustic guitar for a hollow body electric and an effects pedal. Despite this shift towards a more electric, distorted sound, the music is still pretty gentle and soft. Honestly I'd love to hear what he's doing (but even sitting less than two meters from Givan's face) I can't hear him over the high pitched nasal shrieking emanating from the girl sitting behind me. Eventually I realise trying to listen above all the people holding conversations is actually just annoying me more than anything, so I head outside.

I don't even attempt watching Ampersand. By the time Righard Kapp starts I try heading in again and am pleasantly surprised to find the News Cafe massive have evacuated the building. This leaves a small group of people sitting around and attentively hanging off every note Righard sends flying out of his guitar. What follows is 30 odd minutes of some the freshest music I've ever seen live in ages, broken up by brief spurts of the highly amusing conversations between Righard and the remaining Howlers.

By the time Anja and I get home the power is back. We fall asleep safe in knowledge that The Electricity Birds have flown home and are buzzing through little wires all around us.

On Friday night we celebrate the return of the Electricity Birds with a major moleing session. Watch Parks and Recreation and Get Him To the Greek, Laugh loads and then get a reasonably early night. Saturday feels loads more like a proper Ben and Anja Saturday than the last one did. I mean there are cases of police brutality, freak outbusrt by nature and surprise DJ sets of Nigerian high life. But compared to throwing up in a pot plant and then playing two unprecedentedly awesome Halloween sets in a row, this Saturday is totally normal. I started it off with a good hour spent pretending to be Commander Sheppard. Picked up the float for Dance Me In, cooked breakfast. More mass Effect 2, shower and then Anja and I head through to China Town. We discover our former favourite, North's Foods, is being renovated, so we try a new spot. It turns out to be awesome,best presentation I've seen in Cyrildene and the first waitress ever that's fluent in English. While enjoying our awesome little meal I realise there's some major commotion going on down the street. Blue lights are flashing, three cops are trying to arrest a dude that looks like a dad. He's wriggling around and refusing to be taken away. A woman is trying to film this on her cell phone, one of the cops lashes out at her. A huge crowd of people show up. The cops and dad and lady move between some cars so we can't see what's happening anymore, but someone that walks past tells us a traffic cop called the police to arrest the dad because he didn't want to pay a bribe. Now the people of the community are refusing to let the man be arrested. Eventually we see the cop cars leaving and dad is safely standing on the opposite side of the road surrounded by a group of pissed of looking dudes.

Anja and I buy some tofu and a few other groceries. On our way to go get some veggies the most insane wind starts up and all hell breaks loose. We see a massive umbrella crash into a stand of vegetables. A tiny grown dog is almost crushed by a metal chair that's tumbling down the pavement. Anja and I hide between two cars and then as suddenly as the wind started up it dies. We buy our bak choy and water spinach and head home.

Christian, Liam and Chad come hang out. Que awesome times and green curry. The whole thing runs slightly late, but we still manage to make it to Kitchener's without missing very much of Rob Cass' set. Rob and I have been friends for year and tonight I'm really excited to be seeing him DJ for the first time. He plays a great, eclectic set and leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy knowing there's some great new blood in the scene. Rob is followed up by Angie and Colin Kid, AKA Maude and Lonely Polony. Based on the superb quality of past solo sets I'm really looking forward to this 1 on 1. Very happily, my already high expectations are completely blown out of the water. While Mi Ami, Fleetwood Mac and a few other Western voices make an appearance, the set is a mostly African affair and a totally awesome one at that. It's fantastic. At some point I realise I have to dance to this stuff and am surprised to see only Christian rocking out to these African beats when I reach the dancefloor. I join him and what transpires is 20 - 30 minutes of the best dancing I've done in far too long.

I'm reminded of new years eve 2004. Being the generally geeky kids we were, Christian and I spent our new years the way we spent most Friday and Saturday nights back then; sitting around someone's parent's house and drinking Stoney ginger ale with our small group of friends. At some point on this new years eve Christian and I had a conversation that went something like this.

"I really just wanna dance."
"Me too"
"No, I mean I really, really wanna dance"

And next thing we knew there were two ridiculously tall boys breaking it down to the sound of The Who, all alone in the lounge. It was awesome.

In that moment I had no idea that 2005 would bring with it weekly freak outs. That I'd discover parties where hundreds of people would be rocking out to my favourite music. That I'd start DJing and make whole dancefloors of people get down with me and from there I'd never need to resort to getting down in a lounge to get my dancing fix.

But, as much as 2005 would usher in an era of dancing, it's amazing how many times it's come back down to Christian and I alone on the dancfloor. Waving our freakishly longs limbs around and clapping along and quite possibly looking pretty damn weird to all the people not dancing.

And this is exactly what's happening to the sound of these Nigerian songs going down in the middle of Kitcheners right now. Eventually Chad, Eve and Chris join us and I'm having as much fun as I could ever hope to have. Plaat Jappie takes over and proceeds to keep things dangerously fun before handing over to Nathan Scott Phillips and Commodore 64. Their set covers a whole bunch of ground which at some point includes Le Tigre. I have a total flash back to New Orleans less than two weeks ago. It's a Monday night, with only 100 odd people through the door it's the most quite show of our tour. Gareth's trusty iPod is doing what it's done all tour long, providing a perfect soundtrack to the times his band or ours aren't making noises. While we're each heading off on our own missions, this very song starts playing as Jun, Kel Foreigner, Tom, Kim Campesino and I cross paths. What proceeds is a frantic 1 and a half minute freak out in the middle of the empty venue. Thinking back to our improv dance party in the middle of America makes me long to be back on the road with those kids, but seeing a little army of African's getting down to this song now, it feels pretty damn good to be home too. I'm up next and have a predictably euphoric session of polishing CDs on my t-shirt, pushing buttons and throwing and head around. Those Dancing Days, Islands, James Brown and Detroit Cobras all rear their beautiful heads. I even throw in some Los Camp in memory of my recently separated tour-mates. Flikkerr follows me up and while his set of almost entirely "new" synthy songs falls pretty far short of the night's rock and roll agenda it's all quality. So good in fact that I can't escape the dancefloor because I just love every track he's dropping. He's showing no sign of stopping by 2:30 when we head home. Sunday is a far more relaxed affair. We spend the day in Pretoria with my family. Show them photos from my trip. Eat amazing food. Play with baby bunnies. Enjoy generally great times. Back at home I need to do some illustration work for Matt which is a fair bit less fun than baby bunnies, but it's all good. After I finish Anja and I watch Youth In Revolt, really enjoy it and then fall asleep feeling like such well behaved youths by comparison to the terror that is Francois.

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