Warming Up For Splashy Fen
Recent import from Cape Town, Eliza Day, gives us a fresh perspective on our hometown and reviews the Splashy Warm Up gig at new venue, Live.
I was interested to see what Durban had to offer in the shape of a music scene after I moved here a couple months ago. Covering the Splashy Fen warm up show seemed like a good place to get some insight into the goings on of the creative crowd, with a line up that consisted of something kinda new, Black Math, a well established Durban band, The City Bowl Mizers and MK Award Nominees, The La Els.
Coming from Cape Town, a lot of people would be apprehensive about moving to Durban, which is not exactly renowned for being a hub of culture. However, I have to say, being here has been like stepping into a forgotten set in 80’s Hollywood. The sensation I get from spending time on the hot, humid streets of Durban is romantic. It’s like a dusty old show-stopper with its lanes of palm trees and exotic looking cabana bars lining the streets. One gets the feeling that anything could happen at any time and the chances of unearthing some elusive gem within the Florida Road night clubs are good. Young, colourful people come out from the suburban hills and populate the bars and events as eager to find the fun as they are happy to create it themselves. Slightly sleepy and littered with glitter, Durban is the perfect place to inspire some beautiful art.
I love a band that picks up a crowd and turns the place into a dance hall purely driven by their energy
Live: The Venue is looking to become one of the better music venues Durban has seen in some time. Situated on Stamford Hill Rd, this large warehouse hosted the Splashy Fen Warm Up show on Saturday night. A wall to wall bar and spacious dance floor were impressive, if a little dingy with all that blue light, but overall the setup worked really well for a good live music vibe. I put this down mostly to the sound which is pretty tops considering how large and hollow it is. I really hope this venue holds out against the odds and stays open for a long while to come.
The first band of the night was the real reason I had such a good time. Black Math are three pieces of dank rock ‘n roll talent. I hear they’re fresh out of high school and as innocent as little lambs but close your eyes and you’d see a music video of dangerous looking leather-heads jamming up a frenzy inspired by the beauty of a wasted youth high on Zeppelin. Sure, it’s not a new sound, but the way those kids play together taking rock ‘n roll riffs and blowing the shit out of them at such an early age promises that they have the means to really progress in their style. I love a band that picks up a crowd and turns the place into a dance hall purely driven by their energy. The drummer is self-taught and tight as hell. Vocally, something tells me that the front man’s voice has not entirely, erm, broken but it’s hardly the point when you watch him play guitar; commanding and conjuring up such dirty feedback and interesting arrangements. The bass player is an all out maniac who makes use of a nice big stage, running and jumping throughout the performance, getting us all amped to move and shake.
My only problem with Black Math that night was that they didn’t headline. No way they should be opening for City Bowl Mizers or The La Els. I wasn’t blown away by the Mizers, despite the gushing tones of their many fans who couldn’t wait to see them. They’ve been around for a while and it shows because their set just sounds tired to me. The vocals, lyrics and general vibe are thematically a little juvenile and I don’t see these guys getting much love outside of Durban where they’ve managed to build up something of a loyal following. They did inspire some serious crowd surfing though, so I can vouch for these guys making people happy which is a good thing. I’m just not sure why.
I didn’t realise that The La Els were a cover band. Whilst chatting outside they came on and did a track by Death From Above. I’m not opposed to covers per se, but if you are going to go there inject some artistic license and rehash the number at least. That and the fact Death From Above is made up of a drummer and bassist who pack power and genius, compared to The La Els who look like a chorus troupe, doesn’t do the attempt any justice. Book them for a Bar Mitzvah and you won’t be disappointed, so that’s something to keep in mind. Good energy and good will plus a crowd that had been plied with booze for hours kept the show lively and the party lasted long into the night. I left hot and happy, ready for Splashy Fen with all my heart. For those of you heading up to Underberg in the next couple of weeks for the festival, I urge you to make this a big one. Bring your best game, your own instruments, superfluous amounts of mood enhancers and emergency pick-me-ups. See you there.
*All images © Russell Grant