The Winston Rises

We don’t need some long winded introduction to this do we? It’s a review of The Winston’s Re-opening featuring City Bowl Mizers, STRAGE and D’urban Knights by Luke Smith. Just read it.



It’s difficult to talk about the Friday before last without some preamble on the Winston and its legacy. Aptly nestled in the grey between Umbilo and Glenwood, for years the blackened hangout with its god awful smelling toilets and sound (which was worse, I truly don’t know), was more than a simple live venue or bar to the dedicated denizens who suckled on its warm Black Label quarts. To anyone involved in any sort of sub or alternative culture it was more than a venue. In its pomp (and I use that word lightly) the years it ran alongside Burn and the short time after, there was nothing that could beat a packed out and sweaty Winston inspired musical excessiveness. Many of my, and your, favourite Durban bands were formed on that horrible ratty couch on the old 2nd floor, their education in punk, metal, hardcore, whatever having taken place downstairs hours before. Stealing another’s words, it was and still is, our CBGBs. Yet, in spite of all this and all of us knowing its limitations and faults that we begrudgingly accepted and loved, something went wrong. The venue went from an option, to a last resort to a, ‘fuck that’. The few times I’ve been there over the past 2 years, I felt that my horrible inside ‘joke’, that the only things that would survive a nuclear holocaust were cockroaches and the Winston, was slowing fading away.

while the crowd shuffled with quarts in hand and the stage dives commenced, you could feel that all was right with the night

Thank God for the Olivier brothers keeping my joke and many a teenaged/20-something-year old memory for future generations alive then. The night was, in a cheap but apt comparison, Lazarus rising from the dead. The resurrector being 4 wildly different but Durban-as-it-comes acts, combined with ample amounts of cheap(ish) liquor and 300 odd Durbanites happily unleashing their inner debauchery.



D’urban Knight’s were the group that kicked off the evening. They’ve been plying their humorous and tongue-in-cheek hip hop for a while now, going from strength to strength with each show, so it was slightly disappointing to find out that Marcus, one of the 2 frontmen of the group, was a no show for the evening. It’s unfair to properly critique (as if we’ve ever done that on this site) but I will say that D’urban Knight’s other frontman, Viv, did an exceptional job considering. His smooth and commanding performance gave no hint to first time viewers that he was missing his lyrical wing-man. I also noted that new addition Rocco has grown into the live DJ role. Last time I caught D’urban Knight’s he was a bit overbearing and mistimed but on Friday he was subtle and on point.



Next up on stage were Durban’s favorite sons. Over the past couple years the Mizer’s have shaped themselves into a well oiled machine that quite simply dominates local stages, so show’s like this, up close and personal, are just what fans and the band occasionally need. Look, big stages are fun. It’s nice to be a rockstar and plant that foot on the monitor while rows of people swoon below you, but there’s nothing quite like having your audience shoulder height and an arms length in front, their arms, legs and body fluids flaying about you. City Bowl’s set was barely a song in and their infectious surf pop had already splattered a grin on everybody around them. As the show moved on, gaining momentum while the crowd shuffled with quarts in hand and the stage dives commenced, you could feel that all was right with the night, that the Winston and its new owners could carve a bright new legacy for our oldest and most maligned venue. That is till the power cut out. Years of mismanagement had come, rather unfortunately, at the worst time possible, to bite the new owners in the ass.  You can imagine that problems like this would rear up as time goes on, but at least now they’ll hopefully get sorted. Luckily for the crowd, the lack of music and several failed restarts did not deter the determined entertainers from entertaining. An informal, um ‘show’?, went down to much hilarity, shock and applause before eventually the power decided to do its bit and let the Mizers finish off. The lost momentum was never fully regained, but it was nonetheless a great performance from the consummate professionals that the Mizers are, and in a weird way, a befitting one. What would a Winston show be without some sort of technical glitch eh?



Years of experience have taught STRAGE’s members that mics aren’t to be trusted, especially when you have a wall of amplification to back you up. The power issues pushed their slot back pretty late and I figure that maybe them being the odd one out of the night’s line-up, the crowd’s going to give them a skip, but thanks in part to mass drunken-ness and the other part to the Mizer’s left over good vibes, there was a sizable crowd awaiting a sonic assault from our city’s loud-as-fuck trio. That’s not to dismiss STRAGE as simply a loud band. There is a definite musical sensibility amongst the constant wall of sound that attracts not just fans of the post-metal/rock genre but anyone with an ear for something new, different and well-written. It’s a good reflection of our city’s scene that at close to 1am, rather than diminish, STRAGE’s crowd grew. And as I stood there, eye’s slightly closed and listening to STRAGE’s homage to noise and melody, while the crowd chattered around me, I felt a bit of tinglish that summed up the night’s events creep into my thoughts. It was, as I mentioned before, a very Winston night. Riddled with different mishaps and errors, as so many previous nights had been. Yet it still felt somewhat new. Somewhat different. A renewed Winston night. A ‘Same Same but Different‘ night. And truth be told, that sentiment was in many ways the perfect re-opening for the old pub stuck down at the bottom of Clark road.


Ps. The reason why I didn’t ‘review’ (funny word that) Fuego Heat is because I believe it’s improper to review other contributors to the DIY site. Something to do with nepotisim/favourtisim you know. It’s not because I was tired and sober and wanted to go to sleep. Nope. Not at all.



*All images © Gareth Bargate

14 Responses to “The Winston Rises”
  1. RichSchaffer says:

    very well summed up, there is hope

  2. YellowElevator says:

    One eye, two eye is.

  3. Amy says:

    You may not be able to review DJ Fuego Heat, but I sure can: he was awesome! I danced my face off to familiar 80’s tracks and was such a happy panda.

    I am very happy that the Winston is back. I had a great night and look forward to the next jol there.

  4. DJ Fuego Heat says:

    I actually was quite good.

  5. matt says:

    No mention about the white chick getting naked, and the black guy licking her nipples? Were you even there bru?

  6. luke says:

    “Luckily for the crowd, the lack of music and several failed restarts did not deter the determined entertainers from entertaining. An informal, um ‘show’?, went down to much hilarity, shock and applause…”

    i may not have put it as eloquently as you matt, but yes, i was there.

  7. matt says:

    ha ha! shot. rofllofltrolllol

    ps. “The venue went from an option, to a last resort to a, ‘fuck that’.” well said!! nice review dude

  8. James says:

    haha, ”black guy licking her nipples”… That was not a black guy

  9. That Fucker says:

    It was probably Loopy

  10. CuddlestheKids says:

    I’m pretty sure it was Loopy.
    But my drunken memory does not really remember that late into the night. Things got utterly debaucherous past 3am.

  11. Maverick says:

    I was there. Yet I was so fucked that I don’t remember any of this. Thanks for helping me piece together some of my evening,

  12. luke says:

    it was indeed loopy.

  13. Amy-Sue says:

    Looks like it was awesome!! Will definitely be there next time

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