Culture Room, Ft. Lauderdale
October 22, 2012
Better Than: 99.9% of live music events.
Ostensibly, Die Antwoord is weird. As far as you or I can tell -- with our normal (and/or normally-hip) lifestyles -- they are a pair of entertainers that are fucked up, strange and/or wholly personify "the Other." But on a layer one degree deeper -- a subtext that has as much to do with irony as it does LARPing -- the duo has simply mastered Branding in the 2012/hashtag sense of the term.
- PHOTOS: Die Antwoord at Culture Room
And judging from their sold-out show at Culture Room last night, Die Antwoord's meme-ry is being heard loud and clear. Our spacephone told us it was Monday. But everyone in attendance existed outside of iCal as they became increasingly entranced by the fully exposed vulgar true power of the Internet, beamed directly into their consciousness a la Jim Carrey as the Riddler in Batman Forever.
There's nothing quite like catching a band at the peak of their initial Zeitgeist. In this crucially sweet zone of Killing It, audience and performer are almost always able to engage in the ultimate entertainer/entertainee platonic-love feedback loop. That raucous energy that produces the group experience of shoulder-to-shoulder twenty-somethings flailing wildly, shaking their heads back-and-forth into a blur, unfurled tongues reeking of well drinks dangling like tentacles outside of their mouths.
Which is how most of the crowd danced, at a frenetic pace, for the entirety of the set.
Anyone who wasn't busting a weird-ass groove was staring slackjawed at the spectacle onstage. MCs Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er may have very well exhibited the best presence we've seen in 2012. While the live show utilized a tasteful application of gimmickry -- projections reinforcing the group's iconography, a masked DJ, wardrobe changes, and a giant inflatable ghost with an erection -- the centerpiece was the two humanoids putting the physicality of military basic training into their vocal delivery and nonstop full throttle dancing, gyrating, swagging, and all-around knock-the-wind-out-of-you freaking the fuck out.
And hey, all novelty and bombast aside, these two can rap! It seemed like Yo-Landi had some back-up support for some of the humanly-impossible, high-pitched vocals. But generally both members of Die Antwoord pumped air in and out of their lungs like hip-surreal steam engines. Their flow recalled the speedy slicework of rappers like Krayzie Bone, and their physical dialogue with the audience recalled the highest energy qualities of hip-hop hype men and hardcore punk vocalists. Vi$$er was particularly entertaining as her diminutive size and chipmunk voice are even more startling in person.
After a nonstop, jam-after-jam marathon, the set formally climaxed with an encore performance of the group's breakthrough hit, "Enter The Ninja." But after slapping us silly with a barrage of e-music banging and mutant toasting/rapping, the song that kicked off the Die Antwoord story seemed a little hoky and contrived. The highlight of the night for us was an extended, extra bass-heavy rendition of "I Fink You Freeky," which -- with its inarguably impeccable minimal techno production and Yo-Landi's hypnotizing hook -- is definitely the group's strongest, most coherent single to date.
The members of Die Antwoord are the visual and tangible embodiment of their music: Various strains of American (techno, brostep) and British (drum'n'bass, gabber, grime) electronic music weaved together through post-apartheid South African ghetto-fab youth culture (a.k.a. Zef), incubated on the Internet, and brought to life on stage for a buying public who definitely gets their money's worth in spectacle.
You may find their aesthetic alienating in its seemingly arbitrary-scumminess. And, even further, you can drag out a few more-than-dead horses and beat them with lazy and/or conservative accusations of irony or overconstructedness. But you can't deny this pair of freaks is a part of and contributing to something genuinely new.
The Crowd: Hot Topic-y Browardians, nerds, internet dorks, blog geeks, hipster Juggalos, swagged-out fucked-up post-colonial suburban b-boys and their neon-core dreadlock'd hip-goth-hop shawties, a girl with a teeny tiny widdle top hat, a person wearing a Spider-Man bodysuit, young adults raised by AOL promo installation discs, norms, people dressed like it was Halloween and their costume was a mean-spirited parody of a hipster, people dressed like Die Antwoord.
From The Crowd: "This shit is Zef as fuck!"
From The Stage: Total incomprehensible gibberish.
Personal Bias: We originally set out to cover Die Antwoord's show at Culture Room because we like to gawk at car wrecks. But our low expectations were seriously dashed, and now we're sporting a blonde flattop.
Planets Die Antwoord May Be From: Vulcan, Jupiter's moons, Saturn's rings, Dagobah System, Earth 2, Ork, Qo'noS, and The Internet
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