Desmond & The Tutus Mnusic Launch

Last Thursday, South Africa’s geeky indie darlings, Desmond & The Tutus,  came down the coast for a midweek gig that packed out Live. Eliza Day reviews the Tutus and Black Math’s performances. 


I was interested to see what Desmond & The Tutus, the beloved Jozi band would bring with their new album, MNUSIC. I grew up listening to this band with the first wave of new millennium indie kids and was hoping that they had matured and grown up with us. However, the evolution of Desmond & The Tutus seems to have stagnated and their sound still very much remains in 2008, hanging like dead balloons in post-party limbo.

It’s the same super-dooper, indie, dork-rock it always was with the jangly guitar riffs and silly lyrics about geek exploits

Not to say by any means that the kids who pitched up were disappointed. On the contrary, I’ve never seen the crowd get as naked and nasty in the mosh pit at Live The Venue before Desmond descended there. The vast warehouse was packed with topless youths, gyrating and sweating in a torpedo of sonically stimulated flesh. I put the brilliant response from a very enthusiastic audience down to the inextinguishable stamina of the band, especially the front man, Shane, who, after years of watching his shows, I am still yet to see him do anything less than deliver a top performance. I’ve got some crazy cool memories of Desmond & The Tutus and I always feel like both we in the crowd, and the dudes in the band literally run to meet each other at a gig; there is never a lull from start to finish once the good times start rolling with these guys.


To backtrack a little, Durban’s favorites, Black Math played a supporting set that feathered the forthcoming event of the longest Desmond set I have ever endured. Black Math, while they are firmly in my good books, did not play their best show for me that night. Not that anything was particularly wrong and perhaps it is just the fact that I’ve watched them play a lot recently but I think they should take a well deserved break and get some rest. Time out is necessary for both artists and audience to make the relationship last and give the whole dynamic longevity. A band of their caliber is not going to be forgotten anytime soon, and taking a sabbatical could only serve to make our hearts grow fonder and prevent their vibe from getting tired fast.


What was starkly strange, is that the sound and direction of Black Math, who are kinda young, is much more advanced than the very much established Desmond & The Tutus. Unfortunately for Desmond & The Tutus, not being relevant is the taste MNUSIC leaves in my mouth. It’s the same super-dooper, indie, dork-rock it always was with the jangly guitar riffs and silly lyrics about geek exploits but in the same breath, this is the band that began that stuff here in SA. The original snake-hipped cool kids played a formidably long set much to the delight of Durban but it also meant that they were playing a whole bunch of old stuff that when up against tracks from MNUSIC, left a barely discernible party wall of difference between the new and the old. How best to put this? It’s somewhat like watching The Mighty Boosh a couple years after the initial obsession – you indulge the memory but it’s just not the same.

After checking out the campaign Desmond & The Tutus have put together to promote the new album, I do definitely appreciate the overall aesthetic these artists have put together and that is something that truly has extended and grown over the years. Quirky, promotional videos styled like infomercials and intertwined themes and stories that link every platform they use make Desmond & The Tutus a legitimate brand that clearly and cleverly gives their fans what they know and love; basically a good old party where you can dance a lot and have fun with your friends. When you look at Desmond from an international perspective, they aren’t really pushing boundaries or making leaps and bounds in innovative music, but they are providing a damn good time to their fans and are certified pioneers of party-time in South Africa.


*All images © Mike Celliers.

12 Responses to “Desmond & The Tutus Mnusic Launch”
  1. No. says:

    Bohoo! Black Math are amazing, but I dont like watsching them play live lots. Waahh! Here’s a idea. Just don’t watch them you douche.

    Keep rocking BM, yous better than the other band that night

  2. N says:

    I remember old Desmond. Happy, euphoric 2009 Desmond who were a breath of fresh air and effortlessly cool. Looking back on it, it was such a strange time: twee hip, all bow ties and bunting.

    I watched them last year and one of their then-new songs had the lyric “You’re waiting for a New Loud Rockets reunion”. It was cheeky and funny, but it’s almost ironic now, almost ringing true for the band’s own attitude, still with one foot stuck in the late noughties. They’re really great guys, but their cuteness is almost grating now.

  3. N says:


    I have to say you’re terrible at this whole comment thing. Keep trying though. Maybe one day you’ll get it right.

  4. Jess says:

    I don’t think they’ve completely stagnated. Lyrically, maybe, but instrumentally I think they’ve managed to walk that fine line of progressing yet not so much that when you hear them you’re like “who are these guys?”

    And that song ‘hit the ground’ off Mnusic shows us a more mature/bigger sounding version of the tutus and it will be interesting to see if any new music they write starts following that direction

  5. Andre says:

    As a new tutus fan that hasn’t grown up with them and seen how they’ve developed, i think both albums are awesome…and maybe because i’ve listened to both of them within a short amount of time and haven’t waited years for it to come out i think Mnusic does show growth and maturity and they certainly know how to write good music…i can listen to it on repeat for days…i don’t think it’s stuck in some era of music, it’s just solid and if you looking for a good mood and a pick me up to stick it to the world then you don’t have to look very much further than this…

    So with all due respect and i don’t say this with any attitude or anything, but this review suggests that music should be unattainable and arrogant that only a select few can grasp, that you have to listen to a few time to understand how you feel about it…when it is in actual fact, just like the tutu’s suggest, fun, inspiring and something to shack your ass at.

    So long live “this”…. that feeling you only get from a tutu’s experience.

  6. henry hatemonger says:

    @Arndricious – mighty indie.. I can’t wait to shack my ass. Shack it lukka perlarrehd pitcha. No but for reals, where the fuck have you been living if you’ve only just started listening to these dudes? Did they play it at Tiger Tiger or summink?

    Black Math (Please don’t call them BM – that’s a bowel movement – and that’s you) should perhaps give Durban a break and give the rest of the country a little taste. Stay fresh all over, not just make us in Durbania salivate at those lusty licks twice a weekend, every weekend

    Don’t feel like talking about tutus- they are what they are. Too old to purvey the same album revamped and restyled. Their energy is unparalleled though, so credit where credit is due – but mdma can give any age group that kick. Impress us with your music, and kind words.

  7. Mick says:


  8. Robyn says:

    Jesus. Mnusic is fucking terrible. Do you people not have ears?

  9. Andre says:

    Well Henry…shit…it takes a while for us jozi’s to settle down into something…it’s like a sign i read once…i listen to bands that don’t even exist yet… that’s how i roll.

  10. boohoo says:

    this review sucks.
    who are you even E.D?!?

  11. Pink says:

    Black Math rock!!! These guys play their OWN music. . No doubt , they will make it big. W ell said Henry.. Black Math need exposure all over SA and while I’m at it , they should be on radio! As a muso myself, I know what goes into musical direction, etc. Black Math’s sound has obviously come from a lot of practice and hard work. They get better and better every time I see them. For sure a band of this calibre will definitely not be forgotten.

  12. The Lappies says:

    New Loud Rockets, now that was a killer band!!! Desmond still rock regardless what anyone says and so do Black Math… Evolution takes time, Rome wasnt built in a day!!!

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