Around me, young people are rattling violently. Bodies keeping to the beat of the music in a shivering fashion. Loose arms flailing from shrugged shoulders supporting rocking heads, with long hair swinging to the rapid cadence from the band on stage. This is the rigor mortis of the psych fan.
WORDS: RUAN SCOTT
PHOTOGRAPHY: (ARTICLE) DAVID WEIN
PHOTOGRAPHY: (TOP) NOW NOW JUST NOW
One man in particular, a handshake’s length away from me, is rattling fucking loose. Drink spilling, eyes closed, spectacles askew. It’s the kind of scenario your ‘ouma’ would look at and say: “Dit lyk asof hy die stuipe kry”. (It looks like he is having a fit…) Entranced by the repetitive and hypnotic beat, the young man allows the overdrive and fuzz of the strings to override his idea of the ego. He shakes without pretence. It’s the unashamed intensity of a first-time show-goer breaking through their skin. Beautiful.
It might be the music; it might be the drugs.
Hadeda, a two piece psych band fronted by a young Durbanite, Cameron Lofstrand, who also happens to be one-third of the main act Black Math, and further forms the other half of The Sisters (whom I missed), is accompanied on the drums by his better half Micah Hastings. Hadeda are a noisy overdriven less polished derivative of the other bands on the bill this evening. High voltage garage with a kwaito surf beat that provides a steady gallop for Cameron’s electric guitar-playing.
By electric I mean playing like fucking lighting. I think Cam has short attention span and just plays as fast and as aggressively as he can to keep his mind occupied.
This is evident across all the bands he plays in. Between thrashing his guitar Cam mans a synth piano, adding an ominous undertone to the sound. Hadeda is a sea of reverb, synth, a lot of overdrive, and energy. A highly contagious sound. I arrived late at the Durban Invasion Tour at Mercury on April 3rd, thus missing the opening act, The Sisters. This two-piece band comprises Cameron Lofstrand and Tyla Burnett, who together make up two-thirds of Black Math. According to Warren Fischer, boss man at Now Now Just Now, the label hosting these fortnightly shows at Mercury, they were tasty and chaotic. Bass, drums, overdrive sums up The Sisters.
The other main attraction before the main attraction was Mouse,a two-piece heavy explosion from Surf City. If taking hallucinogens while surfing big waves in murky shark-infested waters where pirates drinking barrels of rum and spitting out fire over a reef made from LED lights in an unknown ocean somewhere in a galaxy beyond our understanding of time and space had a sound – it would be Mouse. Mouse started off their set with a twelve minute number called ‘Wave’, their latest digital release on BandCamp. A perpetual sound, a drum line that fluctuates between bongo island style and a classic surf rock beat, just at triple the tempo.
Witnessing and feeling lead man Damon’s energy is something to behold. His face obscured by his overgrown bush of hair and his frantic demeanor, reminds one of the character Plank in the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The repetitive nature of the structure does, at times, feel like aggressive circus music. Damon’s response to the crowd’s movement after the first song is testament to their skill and ability to adapt: “I see Cape Town likes the breakdowns”, and soon after an eerie buildup in the second song, Mouse slays the crowd with no mercy. The fans move in motion while the young man from across the way reaches the epitome of his shaky licks. Mouse is all energy, and the powerful fuzz and reverbs take the listener through a wild overdriven trip. Mouse makes ‘franticism’ sound good.
Black Math are up next. They end the night off with their own heavy blend of extreme noise and garage, encapsulating the sound of the evening in a more produced, experienced and practiced manner. They have been playing together for the last eight years. As noted before, Cameron Lofstrand is ferocious on his guitar, strumming and singing with the intensity of a religious zealot accepting the power of Christ in a New Age Church. The energy generates a frenzy among the crowd.
Tyla Burnett stands tall and lanky behind his bass while deep riffs keep the sound tight and smooth. If you ever get to see Black Math don’t be fooled by Tyla’s dorky demeanor. He shreds a bass guitar and has a personality of his own on stage. After their second song, Sfebe – which means ‘bitch’ in Zulu – Tyla takes the mic and explains that the song is a challenging one to play hence the title – Sfebe. Acacia-Anne van Wyk, who plays the drums, is put through her paces by Cam’s explosive playing and the sheer speed of the band. Drumming steadier and faster than a journalist in the newsroom moments before deadline. Not a small feat. She executes drum lines and holds long beats through extended instrumental pieces without breaking a sweat. Together this juggernaut leads the scene, with Cameron Lofstrand at the helm of this Durban Invasion in Cape Town, steering this spaceship at speeds faster than the sound of light.