Overheard: “That was like the Beastie Boys 10 years ago.”
This was post-show banter discussing Die Antwoord‘s performance last night in Toronto.
You have probably heard of Die Antwoord. The South African threesome comprised of Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er, and DJ HI-Tek have quickly swept up a dedicated cult following across the globe. Even if you’re not sure what they’re all about, you know you know the name. Or of their obnoxious visuals.
The Phoenix Concert Theatre was sold out to an array of characters willing to die to see Die Antwoord and Sleigh Bells. Advertised “Special Guests” were obviously invisible auras. Or did they mean us, the audience? Everyone is a “special guest” in their own right.
I enjoyed Sleigh Bells. Their intro was heart-stopping bass-fueled rhythm that felt like a gothic rave. Being from Brooklyn, they rocked that stereotypical New York hipster style, i.e. all-black and denim. Crowd-surfing included. Their music is a mish-mash of electronic drum ‘n bass sounds topped with heavily distorted vocals, sometimes sounding similar to M.I.A.
Sleigh Bells have more impact live than recorded. I heard rumblings that during a recent appearance, people actually walked out of their show. I don’t understand. I guess a Die Antwoord crowd isn’t a Sleigh Bells crowd? But then again, what is a Die Antwoord crowd? Gays, old ravers, and the legitimately curious, among others.
Prior to the concert, I was confused by the concept of Die Antwoord. Refusing to research and wanting to be pleasantly shocked, I wondered if they were a joke-band. As in, are these people with eccentric haircuts being serious, or is it all an act? (No offense intended toward people with eccentric haircuts.) Does everyone take them seriously, or is it like a Jersey Shore “played-up” kind of idea? Please excuse that comparison, but during Beat Boy the place seemed like a South African Jersey Shore party from the 90’s, featuring a Canadian-flagged crotch area. Sweaty fans were clawing their way onto stage to dance, ultimately getting pushed off into the crowd. Enter the ninja!
From observations gathered entirely last night, Die Antwoord do hip-hip with a compilation of various genres. Lots of hype, lots of skin. If Lady Sovereign‘s wardrobe re-surfaced in the form of a small, blonde, self-aware (I think) girl with some metallic leggings tossed in, you’d get Yo-Landi and her tattooed counterpart Ninja (who resembles Jeremy Scott in a Jeremy Scott for Adidas-esque get-up).
This overseas sensation has caused such intense fandemonuin, spawning an entire sub-culture of phrases, lyrics, and inside-references. Their songs are performed in both English and Afrikaans – a language spoken in South Africa. Example: “Wat kyk jy?” aka “What are you looking at?”. They also pay homage to a style called “Zef”, which can be classified as an equivalent of “Chav” in the UK, and in the U.S., most of the population.
I assume part of the intrigue of Die Antwoord is the somewhat vague air surrounding them. Basically, they have cultivated a following based on speculation and pretty awesome wording and sound.
I have a blame-bone to pick with Dr. Oz for my constantly worrying about fainting or having a heart attack from intense strobes and bass during live shows. Is this outfit flammable? Did I get my vitamin V today? What is America’s number one silent killer? I need a volunteer to assist me in surviving concert mob mentality. Especially if there are folks smoking weed in the girls room.
Getting slammed against speakers is a sacrifice one must endure to appreciate their entertainment factor in its fullness. Die Antwoord will get your fucking party started.