Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You are invited! Arcade Empire launch!

If there's one thing holding Gauteng music scene back it's lack of venues. When I first got involved with all these shenanigans back in 2005 there were only a handful of spots between Jozi and P-Town where bands could have gigs, DJs could play sets and people could throw parties. In these years since then a bunch of these venues have closed down and very few new spots have opened up to take this place. So I was pretty delighted to be invited to play this show;

Arcade Empire is a brand new venue opening up in the East of Pretoria. To celebrate the launch of this new spot the boys behind it are throwing a huge free party. I'll be DJing alongside my main man Matt Suttner and the night will be headlined by a performance from Cape Town "repping masjien" Jack Parow. This is gonna be big!

Monday, March 28, 2011

You are invited! Us Kids Know - Cape Tour 2011!

For years Us Kid's Know have been my favourite active band in Joburg. Ever since they unveiled their unique blend of instrumental fun in the Canned Applause parking lot one December evening, Us Kid's Know have been one of the best reasons to be excited about South African music. Saddly though, in all these years the Kids have never taken their awesomeness any further than Durban. Thankfully that's about to change.

This weekend The Kids will be making their first expedition to Cape Town, playing two shows at Evol and The Assembly. As if this alone weren't cause enough for any Cape Town kids to be excited, the band will also be releasing a tour only EP. Featuring artwork made up of photos by Animal Call favourites Lindi Goosen and Patrick Dinneen (and art direction by Angela Hancock) getting your hands on a copy of "Jingle Jizz" will be the cherry on the top of an awesome evening if you can make it to one of these shows!

We do this all the time: Slumber party 3!

KRNGY & SMAC Slumber Party
Fri 11 Mar 2011
photos by Hanro Havenga

Friday, March 25, 2011

Foreigners in America. Episode 2.5.

I'm not going to say why, but I really need to get more productive with posts about last year's Johnny Foreigner US tour. It's just ridiculous that I've been back in South Africa for almost five months and I've only blogged about the first and second day of the tour! Here's something that should have been squeezed in between posting about our magical adventures in the Sprinkle Kingdom on the first night and our sold out show in Philly the next night! Soundtracked by the lovely sounds of Beulah and made by drumming/ casioing/ filming/ editing/ eating machine Junior Elvis Washington Laidley, it's a wee video of the band leaving Vermont, heading through to Philly and being re-united with your humble narrator.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You are invited! House of Jealous Lovers!

I can't really express just how excited I am for this one. Punk Funk is the genre that got me into DJing in the first place. It's the music I started beat mixing with and, it's easily my favourite sub-genre of dance music. That said, distancing myself from dance music and playing more rock and roll, pop and soul over the last while, I haven't played a straight up disco punk set in ages. So it was to my great joy that Ri contacted me a few weeks back with some good news. He was planning to throw another one of his awesome Disco De Moda parties, it's was gonna be punk funk themed, Matt McFarlane was designing the flyer and he wanted me to play. Unsurprisingly all I could say was "Fuck yeah!!!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Days like Television: 5 Men 3 Missing - She Doesn't Dance

This is a live video from back in 2007. Shot in sorely missed Melville venue "Berlin" and featuring the very very sorely missed duo "5 Men 3 Missing". At the time this was recorded the band didn't know that would be the name of their tragically short lived loop-core project. During the show the band handed out pieces of paper for people to write down suggestions for the name of this new project. After collecting all the suggestions and picking their favourite one the band became 5 Men 3 Missing. Personaly I still think they should have gone with my suggestion of "Little love Tornadoes".

Friday, March 18, 2011

Free Music Friday! Revenge of Yo Grapes!

Be excited ya'll! The awesome sounds of Yo Grapes are back with a brand new song!

And since I never shared it on here, here's a link for his first single! It's a total gem so be sure to grab this if you missed it last year!

Good weekend. Slumber sequel and the Thunder Cats

I arrive at Kitcheners sometime around 7 on Friday. With the help of Matt Mirror's height we stick a bedsheet to the walls, I hook up the projector and "sound check" with the band. Once we're good I come to the rather shitty realiaation that all the visuals I've animated for the rest of the night aren't on my flash drive. Luckily I've still got the project file with me. So, while listening to Chad spinning totally sweet tunes, I'm sitting on the floor I've danced on so many times, rendering out visuals.

Before Chad's lovely set is over, said visuals are re-rendered, up and running. This means I can enjoy most of Cam's set after he takes over from Chad and before I need to start preparing to bring the ELM-power.

We have a great show. Sure, it's not quite on the level of the cinema show we played the weekend before. We're not playing to people in chairs seeing our visuals on a big screen, but the visuals are working just fine on the sheet we've stuck to the wall and half the crowd are still getting to sit- even if it is just on the Kitchener's dancefloor. Honestly I may even be enjoying myself more than I did at the launch. Playing a show that's not such a big deal I think the whole band is really enjoying this.

The rest of the Slumber party is tons of fun too. Make Overs, like the unstoppabale creative machines they are, unveil a fuckload of new songs. Noisey, awesome new songs. And Us Kids Know, as the constantly evolving wonders they are, play songs they've played before in ways they haven't played them before. The way Cam's become a part of this band is just awesome. New crowd favourite "Parachute Pants" has now mutated a whole new ending which involves Cam playing some pretty loud, really massive bass. Hanging out in a room that's totally packed by kids squeezing in to see this awesome, is just great.

As the kids finish Ri starts his DJ set with some Arcade Fire. This seems to inspire Cam, Chad, Warren and I to grab some of UKK's toys and start banging along to the music. Ri continues with more awesome in maximum rock and roll fashion after which I take over. Play some songs, people dance. It's fun, but pales a little compared to the great time I was having with the Mirrors a few hours earlier. Still, there's a great little crowd left dancing, until we need to close up at 3.

The first part of my Saturday is consumed by my hunt for a new home. After that I grab some treats in Chinatown and head through to Ri's place. We have a master planning session, plotting out the themes and lineups for the next year's worth of High 5 Records "releases". (If you missed it: the first of these will be a swing party going down next Saturday).

Feeling a major sense of accomplishment I leave Ri's and head through to Pretoria to hang out with Christian. What follows is an epicly geeky Saturday night spent eating the best Chinese and watching a bunch of cartoons from our childhood on a projector. With Thundercats, Robotech and the horror of Masters of the Universe under our collective belt we pass out, wake up and then eat tons of pancakes. I race back to Jozi for another viewing of a failed future flat. Then I head home and Patrick and I take a walk to Greg's for a swell old geek braai. After discussing comics, movies, games and music, cooking things on a fire, drinking ice tea and failing at Beatles Rock Band, we walk back to the flat and settle in to watching Stop Making Sense. The 1984 Talking Heads film has been something I've been dying to see for close on a decade since I discovered a record of the soundtrack in some old hospice store at the end of high school. The soundtrack would quickly become a firm favourite of mine, but getting a hold of the film itself was something i could never get right until this past Sunday evening. With such a long buildup to seeing it I realised there was a chance disappointed by Stop Making Sense. Luckily it was nothing of the sort, the film was more than I could ever have hoped. Quite possibly one of the finest recorded insances of people having the time of their lives playing and exciting new form of rock and roll. I follow the film by firing up my DS and getting ucked into the awesome that is Drawn to Life! It's such a pleasure getting into this game - honestly, what other game would allow me to make my main charachter look like Mewzilla?!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You are invited! High 5 takes 5!

It's time for our next installment in our ultra-fun series imaginary compilations/ real great parties! This month you can look forward to getting your swing on!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Foreigners in America. Episode 4. Philladelphia and Johnny Brenda's.

After our very late night of very awesome awesomeness I'm less than impressed to have Junior waking me up so early on Tuesday morning.

Jun: "Ben; we need to leave in a half hour."
Sleeping Ben: "...but... what about the burritos?"

Indeed Evan had promised to make us burritos before we left, but that never happened. Instead we had to rush to the venue to be there by our call time of 3. We'll landed arriving well ahead of time and then sitting around for hours, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to Jun dragging me out of bed...

If on that Tuesday morning I knew what a luxury it would land up being to actually wake up in the city we'd play that night, I'd have appreciated our day in Philly a bunch more than I did. But that's not to say I didn't enjoy our day in the hometown of the Fresh Prince. We head to Target to get a sheet for visuals. Then we go to radioshack to buy some batteries. We leave with 3 times clampable little lamps (so the band can still see thier pedals when the visuals out), 1 times iPod DJ console for Lex and a brand new casio keyboard that's bizzarely still being produced with an identical soundchip to the one used in the one from the mid 80ies that Jun plays on. With this godsend back-up keyboard in hand we finally break out of Radioshack and head through to the venue. Outside, for the first time, I lay eyes on the colossal godzilla bus Los Campesinos are touring in. Inside I quickly get half introduced to some of the Campesinos and their merch girl Kelly. Then I hang in the venue, working on editing the video from the previous night's awesomefest, while the Campesinos soundcheck. This takes forever. Eventually we head to the downstairs bar for a draught. Sitting in a little row at the bar we're joined by a stranger I initially think is an American. This misconception is soon corrected as said stranger sweetly introduces himself as Rob Campesino, the band's newest member and the kid that needs to play the most different instruments. While his job description sounds pretty cool, it'll still be a while before I understand just how cool it is. Fast forward a few hours. The venue is now packed. The show has sold out. We take to Johnny Brenda's awesome stage, and as the band play our Top Gun intro tune I stand looking back at the huge screen that's slowly rolling down from the ceiling. As the screen become fully extended, Top Gun ends and Jun starts bashing out the opening beat of Feels Like Summer. 20 seconds later I'm throwing myself around said stage and proceed to have 40 something minutes of totally awesome times. The next thing I know the screen is crawling back up towards the ceiling and our set is over.

Head backstage for few minutes, catch my breath and then head back out to try find Jeff and Nic, the Sprinkle Kingdom Knights that were able to make the show. Before I find them I'm approached by a dozen different people, each telling me how much they enjoyed our show and chatting to me about the fact that I was using a keytar to trigger visuals. It's so nice getting such positive feedback from the audience. Maybe it's that we're a band from overseas, but back home, after a show, I'd never have so many strangers come over just to say they liked what I was doing. Eventually I find Nic and Jeff. We hang out and then realise it's almost time for Los Campesinos to start their set. We squeeze back into the venue and what follows is just awe-inspiring genius.
Guitars, keys, glock, tambourine, vocals & drums! This is why Rob has the most fun job.

Hearing the Campesinos live I can understand why they took so long to soundcheck. Right now the band's eight boys and girls sound more like 1 unified whole than any band I've ever seen. Despite being so many kids playing so many instruments, their sound is so coherent, as if it's a fully produced recording being assembled right in front of me. When Lex told me we'd been invited to tour the states in support of Los Camp i was obviously insanely excited. But considering my literal inability to speak when I met Q and not U back in 2004, I am kinda relieved that I'm not a crazy Los Camp Fan. AT least I'd be able to speak to the kid while we toured with them. I was into the band massively in thier early days. Somewhere there's video footage of me DJing them for the first time in June 2006 at a Sovereign Academy party. I was playing a demo of You me Dancing! and just having the time of my life, so I happy I could share a song like that with a dancefloor of people. I'd excitedly followed the band's progress from that single, got Ri to pre-order me a vinyl copy of their 10" EP "Sticking Fingers into Sockets" and did the same thing when the band released their first album "Hold on now youngster". But, while i loved that album, I stopped following the band there. Since then they released 2 more full albums, but for some strange reason I never got hold of them. So I was kinda glad to be able to be supporting the band, not being this fan-boy that had a copy of everything they ever released. Now, seeing the band live for the first time, I'm even more glad to have missed the last 2 albums. Seeing Los performing them right in front of me and hearing these songs for the first time is just too awesome. The combination of being in this fantastic city, getting to play it with one of my favourite bands and the sheer joy of seeing Los Camp live has left me feeling totally high. We hang around, eat what is most likely the best burger I've ever had and drink beer that's surprisingly great considering the label says "Fish Town". Lex gets mad drunk, Francis get's mad at mad drunk Lex. Lex responds by bringing half the Philly friends we've made to the Canadream and making a ton of noise. Francis freaks out some more. The night ends under the watchful eye of a giant kitten. Sitting on the floor of Nic's lounge it feels like a total sequel to ending last night off sitting on the floor of the Sprinkle lounge. As it grows later and later we eventually deiced we should head back to the Canadream. I climb into the bed I've been left with. As I try find some way to get comfortable I wonder about the child this space is supposed to sleep. Is it a midget child? Or maybe one that's had his legs sawn off to fit into this thing...

Days like Television: Balcony - Great Regret

It's my great pleasure to share the news that there's a bright new light in the sky of Johannesburg rock and roll. Balcony are a young band comprised of multi-instrumentalists Hanro Havenga and Anton Botha. The two have yet to try translate their songs into a live context. Instead, in the short time they've been together, the duo have been pretty damn prolific in the studio, recording and releasing 6 songs! Each song has had a little artwork designed for it and each one has been made available for free download here. For now, as an introduction to this promising new act, here's their video for Great Regret!

Monday, March 14, 2011

You are invited! Ssshh! It's Givan and The Skyline!

Joburg's most awesomely intimate live sessions are back! To soundtrack this month's installment of this great series, the lovable Plaat Japie has invited solo mind-melter Givan Lotz and the genre-scrambiling duo A Skyline on Fire. To say this show is gonna be something very special would be an understatement.