Let Love And Pride Never Fade
In our most nepotistic article to date, Bob Perfect writes about his best friends’ band. That band is Go! Go! Bronco though so we doubt you’d mind too much. Here’s a look back at the last six years of one of the wildest, loudest and most debaucherous bands to have come out of Durban.
I know this article is late, really late, but it took Go! Go! Bronco six years to release an album so it seems fitting. I have to admit the daunting task of writing about five of my best friends for public viewing got the better of me. I over-thought things, imagining the audience interested in reading about Go! Go! numbered in the thousands and that the band themselves were cultural icons fitting of an epic epitaph that would be cited for years to come. The reality of course is that a couple hundred of you may read and forget this blog post about a group of dudes who started a band in a seaside town on the coast of South Africa, didn’t really “make it” but still deeply impacted the lives of many who came across them. So instead of an epic epitaph with flowery prose, I’ve decided to share a couple of my favourite stories and a couple words about how I remember a friend who has recently given up the ghost. Here’s the G!G!B that I knew.
Let’s go all the way back, to the very first gig. Having formed after late night conversations on the infamous Winston couches, the then named Timothylearyisinnocent decided their first show would be at Splashy Fen’s Battle of the Bands. Shoot for the stars and you might just land on Splashy’s main stage. Armed with a couple of their own songs, a cover of Hit The Road Jack, a sizeable rent-a-crowd, school girl uniforms and Jimmy’s afro, they miraculously convinced the judges that they were the best band in the competition. I thought it was Jimmy’s afro but apparently it was the uniforms which cinched the spot on the main stage on Sunday night. The judges later regretted when TLII took to the stage on Easter Sunday with their devil’s music but without their school girl uniforms. They’re no gimmick band, ya hear? They were a serious band that took things seriously. Taking things seriously though, saw Jimmy running across the safety railing and launching himself spectacularly into the crowd with his guitar, and knocking a girl out. The beginning of a very proud G!G!B tradition. Both people getting knocked out and inspiring people to launch themselves from any available surface. The G!G!B boys made stage diving mandatory over the years and if you wouldn’t, they would. Anyone remember the White Room at Uprisings one year where every member of the band except Sheldy (The drummer) was in or on the crowd?
I’m not sure how long it was after that, but a couple months later they played a friend’s house party which could only be described as a scene out of Kids. Children were becoming adults in every cupboard, room, and dark corner. I don’t recall any drug use, but we were still young and there was enough booze at the party to convince dudes that making out proved they weren’t gay and that girls should hook up with those same dudes. They played on a veranda to about 40 people and somehow they managed to get a slam pit, a circle pit and crowd surfing going. Even in their early days, they inspired mayhem.
Go! Go! Bronco mosh pits are legendary for being battlegrounds with no distinct enemy. Just a melee of bodies letting go of whatever frustrations life has thrown at them. Depending on who you talk to, it was either G!G!B or The Living Alarm who got “moshing” at Splashy banned and are the reason why heavy music hasn’t been welcomed back because, so some stories say, a girl broke a rib in the pit. My only doubts that it was during Go! Go!’s set is because I’m pretty sure that was the year their pit was a giant pillow fight. That’s not a metaphor, it was an actual pillow fight. I told you, they took things seriously.
The G!G!B boys did have a tendency for mayhem, destruction and shit-stirring though. I wasn’t there, but there’s a legendary story of the G!G!B cats, on one of their first tours to Joburg, going to a house party and getting chased down the street by the whole party with bottles and cans being thrown at them, all because Luke laughed at a dude taking a shit. Apparently he got upset and then Jimmy punched him, or one of his friends (or someone completely unrelated to the incident) and that got the locals a bit upset. This after Tommy had spent the night trying to crowd surf everyone. But those are just semantics. The main point is that they had an entire party chasing after them like townsfolk chasing Frankenstein’s monster.
I also fondly remember a night Jimmy and I shat in a wood chipper behind Red Door in PMB. It was Sheldy’s birthday and that was our gift to him. And now that story is my gift to you.
My memories of G!G!B are very much party related cause that was a large portion of what we did, but over time they turned from a party band into a true powerhouse of rock ‘n roll and hardcore. Well, you know, as much of a powerhouse you can be in Durban, South Africa. They grew as people and musicians, they each delved deeper into their exploration of music and of themselves. What came out was the product of five individuals thrashing out sounds that they loved and bringing them all together into the dominant sound they became known for. I’m not talking Tight Pants, Big Plans and later Shotgun House, I’m talking songs like Nervous Wreck, Machines and Leeches. Honest, innovative songs that any band would be proud to have written. I’m proud that I got to watch them grow because it influences how I see young bands now, knowing what they can become with a little time and a lot of mental anguish.
They were an uncompromising band of hard, and at times, hot headed individuals who always stood up for what they did and didn’t believe. Even when the norm in the Durban hardcore scene was to be straight edge and Christian, they didn’t give a fuck and played, said and did what they wanted which included getting drunk in the parking lot of the odd church show and making enemies both on and offline because of a few choice words. Something I and, from conversations I’ve had, many other people appreciated and respected. Not the making enemies, but the not being scared to make them. It’s weird to call them role models, but to some people, they were. They stood up for themselves and stood out as a band that played for themselves, whether or not you liked them was up to you.
Things weren’t always smooth sailing, there were fights, there were mental breakdowns, the loss and replacement of a drummer and many a tense night after shows and practices that didn’t always go according to plan. The existence of the band hung in the balance from time to time, but they always persevered and grew closer each time. Something I think every band should learn from. You’re gonna love and hate the people in your band, but as long as you keep your ego in check and look out for the family you’ve created, you can create heartfelt music that both you and your audience will feel and be moved by.
So let’s move forward to nearly six years after that first show. The last Go! Go! Bronco show which was aptly held at the home of many of us, The Winston Pub. It’s a show that has been called “The greatest gig I’ve ever been to” by countless people who had the fortune of being in attendance. I’m definitely biased, but I agree with that statement. The bands before them set the scene well. Strage, the instrumental sludge metal band with stalwarts of old, Black Math, the up and coming Rock ‘n Rollers who I hope grow the way G!G!B did and Conqueror, the tough as nails and heavy as an anvil band from Joburg who now have the task of taking SA hardcore forward. All played their part but when Go! Go! Took to the stage, all hell broke loose. Imagine the Rapture, Jesus comes, the world pretty much ends but instead of going to heaven, you’re sent to the big flaming mosh pit in the ground. It was hot, it was loud, we were in constant pain, taking blow after blow from those around us and those falling from the sky, there was barely any space to move yet somehow the masses still heaved and there was much wailing and smashing of teeth set to a soundtrack fitting for the occasion. Everything you’d want hell to be. A fitting end to a band that never tried to fit in, never gave a fuck what you thought and always brought the mosh. R.I.P G!G!B, let love and pride never fade.
Check out these sick photos by Gareth Bargate from the final show.