“The Golden Animals are like Native Americans in an episode of Star Trek. Jangly guitar accompanied by drums fit for a symphonic orchestra is all turned on its head by intergalactic keyboard played by a lady who looks like a cross between Coco Chanel and Nico.”
STORY: JAMES HAMMERTON
PHOTOGRAPHY: LEIGH TAYLOR
As our car pulled up outside Town Hall we were trying to make the most of our car bar situation, we parked and attempted to gather together our necessary supplies for the evening. After being accosted by a crowd of about five car guards, we selected the most persistent of them and entrusted him to watch our car. We paid him an evening wage of some weed, a tiny bit of magic mushrooms and the last of our car bar. He was happy enough with this form of non – monetary payment at the time but he still attempted to demand money from us when we left.
The brisk Jo’burg air had an energising effect and the excitement began to build as we passed the merchandise table. It was overloaded with vinyl and T-shirts that looked almost too amazing to look at, fearing serious loss of capital I sufficed myself with a glance in the table’s direction and then moved quickly to the bar.
After experiencing the splendor of the mighty reverb soaked Night Beats last year, I was excited to see what next Cape Town collective Psych Night and Vans would do to top that filthy night of freak-beat psych ‘n roll at Town Hall. The music that struck my ears as I entered was schizophrenic and sparse. It was the opening band ‘Ampersand’. I suppose the word intense would suffice to describe them in a way. Their performance was interesting and at times energetic, the music was fragmented like a square peg being pushed through a round hole. Moments of extreme Bowie style melody ended up being mashed up with jerky electrical folly as if the melody was a car and the electronic sounds were a brick wall. There is somehow a strong element of art performance in the way that you can’t really dance to their music but rather just generally stand there with a mix of confusion, interest and awkwardness. I did my best to be attentive and fathom what they were trying to do, but unfortunately most of the crowd was largely at a loss.
My addled brain acknowledged that I vaguely understood what Ampersand were going for and as their set came to a close, by the time they left the stage my mind was filled with a glow of understanding: either I had had some kind of psychological awakening to an undernourished section of my mind, or it was the Jagermeister.
After much time spent in the main party area of Town Hall (the parking alley behind the building). It was time to bear witness to the soothing sounds of Medicine Boy. Andre Leo and Lucy Kruger performed some contemplative, gentle psych folk songs with serious weight. Listening to them was like jumping on a dream train where everything is soft and opaque and the train driver is some gothic folk guy with a beard. Medicine Boy was tender and to the point, they performed a string of well-crafted and rehearsed songs with bare but interesting instrumentation.
The Moths were up next with their juicy blend of Johannesburg Surf and Roll that presented the beginning of a more upbeat period of the evening. They presented an all-new performance with more stage dynamics and an interesting set structure, including many new mini instrumentals that had the home crowd moving their feet. At some point their malevolent music caused me to have a near “rumble” with a fellow reveler. I uncharacteristically attempted to cause a fight, luckily my enemy backed down because after the first step of the confrontation I had no plan for what move to make next, it was as if I was possessed. Thankfully the ever-charismatic bassist Chris Corbett snapped me out of my stupor and charmed the audience with his polite and enthusiastic American accented banter. Surf purist, guitarist and self declared band leader, Cobra ripped up the fret board with riffs that sounded like hollow barrels breaking off a Tiki reef in some long forgotten place. It would have been nicer if the guitar were a bit louder.
The grand finale of the evening came in the form of the Golden Animals. Reverb soaked, the music transported the audience on a journey through time and space. My conscious mind definitely left my physical body and I was soaring around the stage and the crowd without the constraints of having to physically move. The Golden Animals are like Native Americans in an episode of Star Trek. Jangly guitar accompanied by drums fit for a symphonic orchestra is all turned on its head by intergalactic keyboard played by a lady who looks like a cross between Coco Chanel and Nico. Soaring vocals rendered incomprehensible through effects ensured the crowd danced in a way that made them look like snakes in a dim candle-lit room. The music instilled a sense of jubilation and one-ness, it’s inspiring.
After a jubilant encore the house lights came on, the band left the stage but the audience was glued to the spot as if entranced by the echoes of the last of the night’s performances. The bar tenders began to literally sweep the audience out. I was left with a sense of spiritual calm, warmth and an energy that felt as if I had experienced an awakening. As the crowd trickled out of the venue, it rapidly thinned as the beautiful creatures of the night crawled into their holes and lived to fight another day.
INFO – THE GOLDEN ANIMALS
Do the roar!