I’ve the seen the Eiffel and I’d been in New Cape Town ! Yeah, following the steps of the Great Lee Hazelwood ! Cape Town is a such a constrating town, it deserves a song for sure! The foggy Atlantic Ocean atmosphere meets there the Indian wild one. The Deep South mild-weather fights with the African heat and dryness. Seals, whales and penguins stand alongside ostriches, zebras and baboons. The astonishing wild landscapes try to resist the galloping urbanisn. The coolness of the people versus the violence of the South African society... “Hey man, we don’t care ! Stop with your picture postcard!“ Sorry guys, I had such a nice feeling about this town, especially when I was well hidden in the rich district of Sea Point... The Bootleger was my haven for the stay. A cool bar with great Weiss beers, wonderful burgers, a quiet atmosphere suitable for the reading of the new generation of local indie comics illustrators (Maya Lemaitre, Anja Venter, Archie Birch, ND Mazin…) while waiting, after my work day, the proper time to leave the place and catch some local punk bands’ live.
This Southern-hemisphere town has never escaped to all the punk rock waves. During my previous journeys, I always found some nice bands hanging around there and great shows to get my teeth into: the Future Primitives (garage/punk) and Peachy Keen (neo-50’s rock’n’roll) six years ago, Training Brah and the Straight Suits (garage lo-fi) three years ago… This year, I had the chance to check some of the best punk bands of the current, small but vibrant Cape Town DIY scene : the Runaway Nuns, Elle E., Julia Robert and Black Math.
The Runaway Nuns + Elle E - 30th of April 2019 - Raptor
The 5 guys in the Runaway Nuns (x) seemed to have been brought up on all those mid/late-noughties garage punk bands : the Black Lips, Demon’s Claws, Jacuzzi Boys, Living Eyes… Same kind of rhythm & bass section framing (by the way, what a nice way to carry one’s bass so high on the heart!) ; punchy, jovial melodies for the rhythmic guitar ; nice gimmicks and psychedelic surges on the lead guitar ; a warm silky voice for the main singer ; a restless side-singing jerk dancing with the tambourines ; also a visually pleasant Rainbow Nation side ; and above all that, THE amazing and powerful gangs’ choirs. A very classy garage /punk band !!
So glad they played the songs Resistor and Crips, two hits from their debut 7“. Now Now Just Now Records (x) released the single back in 2017 (the first release of this confidential label, 40 copies (!), so jump on it, just a few left!). The guys were just coming back from a South African tour and playing their last show in their hometown. Check also the other kicking surf/garage band of the singer and his girlfriend : Brickface (x).
Elle E. (x), a two-piece band, opened the night for the Runaway Nuns. A large guy smashing hard his drum set on a pounding tempo and a girl in her mid-twenties with a pretty melodic voice, playing the fuzzy guitar. The noisy Indie Rock sound with touches of grunge made me thing both about the Hives, the White Stripes and the Breeders. Not the kind of music I’m fond of, but a fairly pleasant show.
The gig took place at the Raptor, a center-town cosy bar/restaurant, with a friendly bar-tender, good local beers, a nice cabaret stage with huge red curtains and old-fashionned neon tubes. The audience ? Jovial students, young adults, cool rich teenagers, white people in their thirties. Where I had to admit two things : 1 - this kind of music was mostly a white people’s thing and 2 - I was the oldest one… Damned!
Julia Robert + Deaf Poets + the Tazers - 03rd of May - Raptor
I went back three days later to the same place, with the same audience and the same reflexions… Julia Robert (x) opened the night’s show. I had missed them 3 years before, they were playing the day I was flying back to Reunion Island. Cool to check them live this time !
2 guys and 2 girls, drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, alternate male and miaowing female singing. A good mixture between nervous synth/punk, mutant disco rock and arty postpunk. Something like the Epoxies meeting Marie & les Garçons meeting Liliput. Good job, guys & girls !
As far as I know, they also rule the Now Now Just Now label, on which they released the POW/Eavesdrop 7“ (very few issues again) in 2018, promote South African punk bands, organise local gigs for international bands... Lovely activists of the DIY policy ! By the way, they’ll be playing Reunion Island next October ! A Maudit Tangue event, once again !
The next band was an American one : Deaf Poets from Brooklyn. A drums/guitar male duo playing some raw, nervous 70’s Hard Rock, with some grungy and noisy surges. A Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin lineage, but with a slightly dirtier sound. A nice back-sound for the outside funny talks with the female colleague I embarked on my nightly punk journeys...
Black Math + the Tazers + Deafs Poets - 04th of May - Mercury
Deaf Poets were touring South Africa with the Tazers (from Johannesbourg) and they were both playing a second dates in Cape Town. I had missed the Jozzy’s band the day before, so I caught them up live at the Mercury. Nice to discover this well-known gigs’ place (capacity : 500 people ?) : clean sound, black wall-painting and dark atmosphere, maybe a little too aseptic place for me.
The Tazers (x) is 3-piece band that played a mixture of fuzzy psychedelic and funky indie rock/stoner songs. I liked the psychedelic side of the coolest ones (Shake It) which reminded me some T-Rex stuffs, but I wasn’t really into the stoner ones.
By the way, let’s mention that the Jobourg’s area DIY scene has been wealthy and very active for a few years. Check those bands if you dare ! The Make-Overs (noisy/garage punk - with an awesome Hozac Rec release 6 years ago!), the Moths (neo-surf music), Mouse (juvenile incredible old-school hxc), Deadly Bites (psychedelic New Wave, around Reunion Island in October too)…
The Tazers played just after the Durban/CapeTown band Black Math (x).
Black Math. Nothing in common with math rock as the girl (on the drums) and the two guys (fuzzy guitar/bass) in this bands played what they called Fuzzcore : some heavy psych punk on this one too, but with additional Metallica-like metal-trash plans. Their main influences also seemed to be the Aussie heavy psych/punk scene : Tame Impala, Pond…We could add Lords of Altamonts. A heavy, loud and sometimes violent sound that contrasted with the youth and the enthusiasm of the 3 musicians. Not really the usual music turning at home but a very pleasant show at the end. They toured Reunion Island a few years ago.
A third heavy psych band (Deaf Poets) was a bit too much for me. I left the show.
Special thoughts to all those
modern slaves Uber drivers who drove me back every night and prevented me from hazardous nights’ walks, stepping-ups and quick streets’ crossings... All Zimbabwean economic migrants; where we can applaud the Great Mugabe and his crew, a bunch of nice African democrats who have perfectly contributed for a few years to the well-being and freedom of their citizens. Who's the next one ?