A blank page, much like an empty stage, is both unequivocally daunting and infinitely exhilarating. This is mainly because, in their inherent elasticity, both spaces hold the capacity to swing to either pole of this myriad of experience we call existence. In other words, things can go really well or, well… they could not. A promise could be either kept or broken. The pendulum is relentless.
(Colour) – Retha Ferguson
(Black & White) – Josh Stein
Lucia Nomafu Nokonwabisa Gcingca
This anticipation was practically dripping off the (somewhat grimy) walls of the legendary Mercury on that viscous February eve. And for good reason too. That empty stage stood in wanton awaiting of the evening’s line up. A line-up which consisted of all of time’s usual suspects: The present – Runaway Nuns and the Berlin-based Jet Screams (featuring Retro Dizzy’s Stuart Dods); the future – Julia Robert and the past – The Dollfins. A great line-up consisting of plenty of big-dick-female energy. An unspoken promise had been made.
The stage was all set at Mercury Live, which has been rocking & a-rolling since 2006 and is one of the last remaining bastions for live music in the country. This is a venue whose sole purpose for existing is, live music. Heck, it’s right there in the name. Famous for its topnotch lighting and crisp, concise sound. On that Friday night, they proved that this was more than just hearsay. It’s a splendidly squalid auditorium that is as accommodating to first-timers as it is to local legends (Fokofpolisiekar; Hog Hogg Hoggity Hogg; AKing) and international acts such as 36 Crazy Fists and Atreyu.
Back to the present… 5-piece garage punk band, Runaway Nuns, kicked things off with their particular brand of homegrown, filthy-melodic garage rock and boy did they kick-off. The once empty stage was buoyant with life, light and music. Some of the tension was released in the form of bobbing heads and shaking hips. Without missing a beat the surprise act of the night, Jet Screams took to the stage and delivered a tight, short, driven sweat infused barrage of garage riffage.
The crowd had barely got their footing and caught their collective breath when the mellifluous Julia Robert took to the stage. They walloped the now sweaty crowd with wave after wave of their own brand of dirty, melodic noise pop. They have an uncanny ability to write songs that take one on an exciting, unpredictable ride — being dancy at one moment and just full-on DIY the next. I doubt anyone stood still.
A fair amount of time passed, probably to allow the audience’s “collective breath” to be caught, before The Dollfins took to the stage. This would be the first time they play on home soil since 2014. While one could sense how sorely missed they were, it was also as if they had never left.
The band’s original line up was comprised of Danielle Hitchcock, David Thorpe and Kelly Egan. And they were mostly present sans the rhapsodic Kelly, whom I love, love. There I said it! Anyway, enough of my geriatric angst-driven lamentations and back to business. There were some changes to this line up since they last played innie Kaap. Dave, who was their drummer was on the bass and on drums they were joined by Berliner, Katerina, who sure showed those drums what for. They entered the stage in robes, and all hell broke loose. They delivered an onslaught of biting, bang-up rock n roll. Showcasing some songs from their new album, “It’s Not Even Bad” and some old favourites.
The now (somehow) refreshed crowd cut the rug as they sang along to ditties of old. Sweat sprayed from performer and audience alike, the fourth wall transcended. Everyone moved in unison. Time’s components had aligned, and a promise had been kept.