Swimming In The Deep End

Matt Knight braves the weather and the CBD to review Gangs Of Ballet’s EP launch which was surprisingly opened by Afro Synth experimentalists Gazelle.

 

Oh dear. It’s raining on a Friday night in Durban. Oh dear, the gig has been organized in the (gasp) CBD (gasp). Oh dear, there is some world renowned Pasta performing at The Gateway Royal Theater of Dream Shopping Experience™

All of this does not bode well, it’s going to be me and about 20 others standing in the rain trying to not act awkward at the band shouting ‘How ya doin Durban?!’ to the pretend masses at the back.

We park two streets down, with directions from the car guard explaining that ‘The white people are going that way’

But wait a minute, what’s this? A bit of a noise coming from behind the wall. What’s this? Three hundred and fifty paying guests, milling around the empty public pool, sipping on well priced drinks and pointing excitedly at the beautifully lit backdrop that is City Hall.

This could be a good night.

This is easily one of the coolest venues I’ve been to in Durban, and the tone of the night kept on climbing as more people trickled through the door, realising that the rain may actually hold off, and, worst case scenario, we are all mostly waterproof anyway.

Enter Gazelle, I knew nothing about them, and so this was to be my first experience. At first glance it appears to be a white Jamaican in leopard skin attire, playing with a sailor from the nearby harbour on drums, and Raiden from Mortal Kombat on the decks.

 

 

Theater-ish performance music like this shouldn’t work in Durban, we’re too non-committal for dress up and pantomime. And bands we’re not familiar with shouldn’t work in Durban, we’re too insecure. And Funky Afro Disco Synth driven tunes definitely shouldn’t work in Durban, at least not with this crowd, they came to watch a Rock band launch their EP.

But people start moving. And with each passing song, more seem to join in – there are very few acts who can take a suspicious Durban crowd and shake off the endless folded arms, push through and actually engage a (mostly) unknown crowd.
Gazelle do this, and balance a total commitment to their stage presence (which is awesome) with some really cool tunes. It’s dramatic and fun, it’s confusing and inspiring, and they even get an encore. Unusual for an opening act, but thoroughly deserved, they were absolutely brilliant.

 

 

After the MC’s series of swimming and pool related banter, Gangs of Ballet take to the stage.

The sound is instantly tight, with the low end bouncing around the pool as the crowd swelled with anticipation.
As I’ve said in an earlier review, Gangs play anthems – they work tirelessly to make songs seem familiar and personal. They aim at communicating collective hope, and invite people to be a part of their songs – and they do it very very well.

 

Since that first review, Gangs have had great success with a Cell C campaign, country wide radio play, and big excitement around their EP, which is beautifully designed (the packaging is fantastic) and well mastered.

It’s easy to see why they have done well; they are likeable, accessible, and very talented. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they have a real shot at becoming one of the countries bigger acts.
One of the strengths seems to lie in the fact that they have all four members very capable of composing songs and sets, and this variety will keep them alive in the live gig setting.

I left before the heavy rains came, and so missed the 5 fm DJ, but heard a bunch of people stayed to squeak tekkie in the deep end. A big thanks must be given to Cell C, and the rest of the sponsors, as well as the organisers for a great night. Let’s hope it’s a repeat venue.

 

*All images © Gareth Bargate

Comments
10 Responses to “Swimming In The Deep End”
  1. That Guy says:

    Andrew Carrie: Former xJesusx Mosh Warrior becomes pop band crowd surfing fashionista. College, eh?

  2. markemark says:

    Gazelle killed.

  3. Jeremy Klynboetswaar says:

    Matt I dig your articles bro!!! The force is strong with you. Sounds like an epic night, really wish I could’ve been there!!

  4. DJ Fuego Heat says:

    Jeremy stole my comment. Always dig your stuff!

  5. Matt_Theknight says:

    Thanks guys, I’m blushing.

  6. Dave Phipson says:

    Matt, love your writing! You make me feel like I was there, which of course I wish I was!

  7. savage says:

    thanks Matt!

  8. There has got to be another event at this venue! So bummed I missed it!

  9. Amy says:

    The venue was amazing!

  10. J says:

    This line alone made me wish I was there.
    “…white Jamaican in leopard skin attire, playing with a sailor from the nearby harbour on drums, and Raiden from Mortal Kombat on the decks.”
    Great article.

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