Danger! Danger! Disco

Friday night saw Burn fuller than it has been in ages, partially because people thought it was the last night the club would be open, but mostly because Avade, Cheap Bad Habits, Anti-Retro Vinyls and Shadowclub were bringing some much needed Rock ‘n Roll to the club. Russel Smith reviews the show.


Sweaty nights spent on Burn’s roof getting shit faced on crappy tasting shots between bands is a common experience among Durban’s live music fans. Something that up and coming kids will not get to take part in as of the end of March. Too bad for you fucks, that shit was fun when it was good. It is clear though that a lot of people at Burn on Friday were there for the morbid task of watching an establishment die. Too many of you don’t read your Facebook invites. I don’t blame you, I hate that shit. I had to assure many attendees that it was not the last night for Burn. No matter peoples’ underlying agendas, it was a well-attended show in a place that I hadn’t visited for nearly a year. Goes to show we haven’t progressed much since medieval times. The death knell still draws a crowd.

Is it just me, or does almost every great Durban band have a lot of upstroke guitar?

With no Editor Bob to check up on me, I arrived to the sounds of Avade. They are all highly accomplished musicians, that much is obvious. Any moron could tell you that all the band members are skilled in creating full, powerful sounds that sparkle with their equipment. Musicians watching them probably stand and nod to each other in agreement over how skilful they are. Putting those moments of brilliant musicianship aside, listening to the band as a whole, it’s a mishmash of popular rock sounds from the last ten years you’ve heard on the radio with flash backs to prog rock and shit your dad listened to while he got stoned. I can’t be assed to say who they sound like. If you go buy a compilation rock album that your dad would be happy listening to, that’s what they sound like. Their showmanship comes across as forced. I’ve seen more genuine acting from the cast of 7de Laan. I’d been standing watching Avade for two songs straight feeling underwhelmed, their biggest fan bobbing around drunkenly all by his lonesome at the front, until guitarist-vocalist man shouts into the mic, something like, “Excuse me, while I play my guitar!” They didn’t grab me to begin with, and then they lost me altogether. I have said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it till I die: soloing is public masturbation! Close your eyes and use your nimble fingers to deftly stroke out your feelings in the privacy of your own home. Don’t make me stand there for a minute watching on awkwardly while you climax on stage. It’s boring, it’s shit and I don’t want to see it. If it weren’t hard enough watching the over practised, disingenuous performance, or listening to the neatly orchestrated music targeted at people who say they love music but have never worn a band t-shirt in their lives, they had to fucking solo. I tried my hardest to stick it out. I watched on grimacing at every jump, kick and twirl. I was slightly distracted at moments, I will admit, by some of the more balls out riffs, but I was pulled back by some campy pantomime, Ages of Rock gesture, or guitar wail. They’ll do well in certain circles I imagine. Those lifelong students of their instruments who in their quest for mastery forget that music made for the pure fun and fuck of it are what people really want. Give it balls or heart, preferably both, and a bit of a melody. Not a fucking doctorate and an urge to stain your briefs in front of an audience. The fucking soulless beasts that run 5FM and MK might roll out the carpet for their blandness. Personally, I’ll be avoiding any future performances.



Next up were, The Cheap Bad Habits. Maybe after watching Avade I was not in the best of moods. But I’ve seen this band a few times now and I feel I can speak honestly. They didn’t disgust me as much as Avade, they just bored me. They have all the right sounds of a rock ‘n’ roll blues outfit. The only problem with having all the right sounds is that I have heard them all before. They genuinely have songs that show promise, and potential, if they were reworked and the predictable blues and rock progressions weren’t leaned on so much. The number of bands that do exactly what the Cheap Bad Habits do, number into the thousands. They have an undercurrent of rock-a-billy at times and a white man’s blues limp at others, with some bits that reminded me of Martin Rocka and The Sick Shop’s last album, which put me off them. Martin Rocka at least played psycho covers of old rock-a-billy songs. In an attempt to not be entirely negative, it is good to hear that the sound The Cheap Bad Habits are trying for is not completely absent from the Durban music scene. They have yet to earn “Mother Fucking” in their band name, as they so boldly claim though.



The night so far was bust. I stomped around bemoaning my wasted Friday night after putting myself through two lacklustre bands. I did not expect it to improve as much as it did when I wandered down stairs to watch The ARV’s. The crowd had swelled, the personality on stage had too. Not the ridiculous theater performance I had seen much earlier, but a genuine band had taken the stage. The ARV’s have definitely improved and grown in to their sound over the last year. They bring elements of emo pseudo punk pop bands like My Chemical Romance and Billy Talent and enough far better influences to make me not hate them. Is it just me, or does almost every great Durban band have a lot of upstroke guitar? It’s all a catchy melodic mess with sing-along sections and upbeat riffs. The kids jump up and down in the front row and shake their greasy locks every which way. I finally started to enjoy the music emanating from the stage. I don’t quite get how the ARV’s fitted the bill for this gig, but I was certainly glad that they were on it. Some life had finally been injected into the dying horse Burn. The ARV’s most definitely deserve all the success that’s been coming their way of late. Eat that fucking muso snobs.



Final act of the night was Shadow Club. If you had asked my opinion of this band before Friday night, I would have told you being forcefully sodomised with a frozen fish would be more pleasurable than witnessing Shadow Club. I, uncharacteristically, have had a change of heart. I hate to admit it, and it has taken a new venue and probably about 10 shows, but those bastards won me over. The crowd, which had been hiding in some secret part of Burn I wasn’t allowed in to, came out for the 3 lads in force. I stood close to the back at the start and was slowly drawn nearer to the front as they progressed through a set they have clearly been working hard on. Their showmanship (I refuse to accept that it was there all along) was high energy to say the very least. They were flicking sweat into the mouths of appreciative revellers from the first song. After having to put up with sub-par rock ‘n’ roll blues before Shadow Club, they seemed to come out swinging and spitting whiskey. I couldn’t help thinking this music would be best appreciated in some old school American muscle car going flat-out to a date with the devil in the desert. Their “Guns and Money” is what you expect to hear when people say rock ‘n’ roll blues. Expect Black Keys and Them Crooked Vultures goodness when you head out to see this band. I was told after their gig that they have been touring hard, playing every small town and dingy pub with a set of speakers they could get in to. I think it shows, and they’ll only win more and more fans wherever they decide to stop over if they deliver a set close to what they put on in Burn.



*All images © Gareth Bargate

10 Responses to “Danger! Danger! Disco”
  1. Muso Snob says:

    The only word that comes to mind when I watch The Cheap Bad Habits is boring. Well played.

  2. Rhyan Rockingrolling Rudman says:

    ARV and Shadow club killed it. I really thought SC would be a little more pop from the radio yet Live they killed it for me Foot Tapping Head knocking

  3. Trevor says:

    The Cheap Bad Habits have one killer bassist though. Wish there were some pics of him!

  4. Brendan says:

    Guitar solo behind the head. . . I don’t think face palming does that justice

  5. Jimbo says:

    I went there for Avade and SC, was impressed by both. Couldn’t give a shit about the other two snores. I find it interesting how most of the article is written about Avade and how “shit” they were. Who doesn’t like watching a tight, well rehearsed band with guitar solos? I guess that’s where punk comes into the picture…

  6. Great work Russel! Try get Bob kicked out of DIY 😉

  7. akaKate says:

    Love reading shit like this coming from Durban..
    Rad guys 🙂

  8. Alex says:

    Is it still 1977? Are the Sex Pistols the newest thing ever? Then why the fuck are you still mad about guitar solos?

  9. pissingblood says:

    In response… Is it 1967? Are Pink Floyd the newest thing ever? Then why the fuck are they still playing guitar solos?

  10. Arab says:

    Avade are awesome and I have seen them live on a number of occasions. The fact that it took the critic so many words (like an epic saga) to slam them, proves that they were the most creative performers. Avade rocks!!!

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