The Curious Incident

UK act, The Curious Incident recently toured SA to promote their latest EP and found themselves playing at the most unlikely of Durban venues, Jack Rabbits, with The Trees and Scarlet Hill. Stephanie Duchenne to give us her thoughts on the show.


When I received the news that I was going to be reviewing a free gig at Jack Rabbit’s, featuring Scarlet Hill, The Trees and The Curious Incident, I must admit I was excited. For one thing, this was my first assignment for Durban Is Yours (i.e. it represented an opportunity for me to stop making sandwiches and get out of the kitchen). For another, Jack Rabbit’s was a place I had never actually been inside. In the halcyon days of my youth, the general area of Jack Rabbit’s was the place where one went to make use of a certain drive-through service. Those of you who know will understand what I mean.


In any case, I arrived there around half-past seven to find a full house and a guy at the bar ordering the world’s most effeminate drink (for those of you wondering, apparently this is an orange Brutal Fruit slush-puppy with two glace cherries on the rim).  The bands started around eight; and aside from a slight moment of panic when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do my job because my pen didn’t work, I was super-amped to watch.

 Lastly, they looked very pretty under the flashing lights, one thing I am sure is very important to every Indie musician.

I have never seen Scarlet Hill perform before, but apparently they belong to the genre of progressive indie dance rock. I interpreted this to mean that they sound a lot like the Dirty Skirts. However, Scarlet Hill make for pleasant listening. Their music is a little mainstream but they had an edge that made me want to hear more – probably provided by their bassist, who moved his fingers on those thick strings like an accountant pushes the buttons on a calculator. He clearly knew what he was doing and, to be honest, I spent a lot of time listening to what he was doing instead of the band as a whole.


Photos: Adam Bond


Another thing I enjoyed about Scarlet Hill’s performance was the reverb effect on the guitar. I admit that this is a lame reason to listen to a band, but there is something dreamy and wistful about the sound it produces that makes me feel happy inside. They also managed to produce a big sound for a three-piece outfit and you could see that they were doing their best to entertain the audience, an effort that is always appreciated. Lastly, they looked very pretty under the flashing lights, one thing I am sure is very important to every Indie musician.


Unfortunately, I found their drumbeats are a little unimaginative and the singer had a tendency to force out his voice in the manner of the Kooks or My Chemical Romance; sometimes sounding a bit like he was battling a case of mild constipation.


At one point the vocalist yelled out “Are you guys ready to dance?” The crowd seemed to need a while to think about this, but eventually a bunch of people did take to the floor. I even considered joining them before realising I hadn’t wine-ified my brain enough to rid myself of my chronic dorkiness and social awkwardity.


With a bit more polish (things like warming up your voice so that you don’t start your gig off-key) Scarlet Hill could actually be good. I definitely liked them, but not enough not to go and have a smoke while they were playing. To be fair though, there aren’t many bands that would make me forfeit the opportunity to have a cigarette.


Next to play were The Trees. For once, they were just the right amount of sober; and when they are concentrating on performing instead of trying not to slur their words, The Trees are capable of putting on a really good show. Some of their previous performances have had a somewhat anarchic spirit to them (I get that you’re punk, but Jeez!), however this time they were rather professional and projected a good energy that the crowd responded well to. The vocals are sometimes unintelligible, but I have a feeling that’s to do with the fact that they have a tendency to turn up the instruments to the point where you can’t always hear anything else. Like, I know it’s called ‘the G song’, I know the tune, but if you had to ask me what the fuck that song is about I would never be able to answer you. The only words I have ever understood are “HEY! HEY! HEY! HEEEYYYY!”



This band is actually quite lucky, in that they have a large group of fanboys that are willing to follow them to every venue and it makes for a good band/crowd dynamic. Everyone gets to sing along and participate in a wide variety of witty banter (some might call it talking shit, but hey).


I did take a brief break, but had to run back to partake in a rousing rendition of “Scumbags/Bum Gwaais”, as that is one of the footstompingest, most-fun-to-go-nuts-to songs that I know. And then they proceeded to forget some of the lyrics to Mischief Brew’s “Roll me through the gates of hell”. Minus ten points, boys.


By the time we got to watch the Curious Incident, it was poes hot and we all had the opportunity to inhale each other’s sweat. The smell of body fluids and the taste of salt provided the ambience as we waited to hear some Rock ‘n’ Roll.


The Curious Incident is a band from the UK who has come over to tour South Africa and plug their new EP. They describe themselves as an Afro/Latin/Rock band and their Facebook page states that they are “the auditory equivalent of masturbation”. I will now quote a good friend of mine who said on hearing this, “you should never say that, because masturbation is the same thing over and over  and over again”; and the music they produced kind of was. In a lot of the songs they played you could very clearly hear what bands they had been influenced by. Sometimes it even sounded like they were playing covers (they weren’t).


Photos: Erin Wulfsohn


That being said, the solo guitarist had mad skills and this band also understood the value of living the brand. They dressed to suit their genre and put on a flamboyant show that wouldn’t have been out of place during the 70’s. Also, I really, really, really want the leopard-print scarf the lead vocalist was wearing. A lot. The Curious Incident definitely has a novelty value that is extremely adorable and to be honest, I think they’ll do pretty well.


On the night I was at Jack Rabbit’s, there was a pleasant mix of people and nine times out of ten that means a person will have a good time. The only real issue I had with the place (good taste and general disdain for 40-year-old men who write songs for emo teenagers to cut themselves to compel me to say this) is that they played FAR too much Nickelback for my liking. However, the drinks are cheap (R50 for two draughts and a glass of wine), which tends to make things like that more bearable. Plus, there were roses in the girl’s bathroom that you could steal after washing your hands.


Overall, I had an evening that was pretty fucking great. I haven’t been to Jack Rabbit’s on a ‘normal’ night, so I can’t comment in that regard; but if the vibe is anything like it was on Wednesday I’m totally going to add them to my list of places where I like to get squiffy.

15 Responses to “The Curious Incident”
  1. Dude. says:

    Not the best review I’ve read. A for effort though.

  2. luke says:

    ah yes. well good thing we’re not a literary blog hey.

  3. Wrighta says:

    Wasn’t brutall enough, just sounds like you got wasted at a shitty pub and listened to average music with maybe 12 other people. sorry.

  4. Just a poes says:

    Probably the poorest review I’ve read from Durban Is Yours. I could have written this and I’m borderline down syndrome

  5. Ryan says:

    I expect more from an award-winning blog.

  6. matt_theknight says:

    I agree with everything Curt said.

  7. Kelly says:

    You guys are just jealous that you haven’t written for durban is yours.
    Great job steph!
    I hope diy gets more female writers <3

  8. CuddlestheKids says:

    Look, I can put a fake name and comment on a review cause I don’t have the balls to put my real name in, but I’ll whine cause I’m in a band and can’t take criticism.

    Awesomely written review… ggwpnore, Steph. 🙂

  9. Ry says:

    I expect better of DIY even though I don’t pay a cent to read this.
    My day is totally ruined because a review of a show I didn’t care enough to go to, wasn’t to my standards which I can’t even achieve myself.

  10. Pascal says:

    Was a small gig. Is a fair review of it. I like her honesty and lack of cliches.

  11. MacT says:

    Classic hater bandwagon.
    We all know that it feels good to jump on sometimes and vent your inner dickhead anonymously , even if nobody really has presented a valid reason for criticising. As for me, I liked the combination of general and specific comments on each band, I liked the way she alternated between personal anecdotes and the business of reviewing, I like that she authors demonstration of music knowledge and appreciation plus the way she painted the scene, but most, most most of all…in fact probably the thing which has biased me in her favour… Is that she hates Nickelback. Nickleback are worse than smallpox and learner drivers combined.

  12. CuddlestheKids says:

    The above comment has, with absolutely no lie spoken, given me a massive boner.

    That… could not have been put in any better way.

  13. Ozzie says:

    I think it’s the most original review of a Durban gig I’ve read in years hey, as a dude-in-a-band I was impressed to the maxxx that Stephanie noticed the tiny details we all put into shows like effects and guitar skills etc. Everyone notices when the sound was kak or the band had an off night, but I’ve never heard of anyone entranced by good old reverb.

    I really enjoyed this review hey. So what if a few ego’s were bruised? We’re all onstage to be critiqued after all

    Well done Stephanie and DIY, y’alright by me!

    Oz Love

  14. Daryn says:

    Nice one Steph !

  15. Jc says:

    I liked the writing. Honest-sounding review and an entertaining read. Shot! I hope they get more kif bands playing there, sounds like a pretty chilled atmosphere (nickelback aside) and i need a change of scenery to rest my beer on.

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