thu 13/06/2024

Die Antwoord, O2 Academy Brixton | reviews, news & interviews

Die Antwoord, O2 Academy Brixton

Die Antwoord, O2 Academy Brixton

Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er bring Zef-side to South London

Die Antwoord: memorably exhilarting

After three albums the question remains: is Die Antwoord more than a just a clever joke or is the act simply a caricature of South Africa’s trashy “Zef”-side? The guys and gal behind "Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er" are in no doubt – they claim to be “conceptual artists”. And many fans agree, saying that besides the posturing lie some real cultural truths. Last night three or so thousand descended on Brixton to make up their own minds.

As I arrive the crowd is evenly split between hipsters, ravers and students. Fragments of conversation reveal the thought they have given to the band. The lad next to me seems particularly expert. When I ask him what he makes of the Cape Town collective, he replies that he thinks they’re no mere novelty act. They remind him, he says, of the experimental Californian outfit Death GripsI tell him I'm intrigued. 

The inflatable penis is still on stage and the scene is utterly ridiculous

The rest our conversation, though, will have to wait. The band is finally about to arrive. The crowd erupts and the lights rise to reveal a stage covered in stylised, child-like black and white graffiti. Slogans like “Fuk da World” and “Demon” jostle with pictures of rats and faces. In the middle of several risers the bulky figure of DJ Hi-Tek stands in what looks like an orange prison-issue hoodie. The music starts: “DJ Hi-Tek is going to fuck you in the ass”. 

Death Grips? It sounds more like Goldie Looking Chain. But, with the next track (and despite being called "Fok Julle Naaiers”) a more compelling side of Die Antwoord is revealed. The sight of Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er running up and down and round and round over tribal and electro beats is dizzying. This circus feel is soon amplified when the pair are joined by two dancers variously clad in Ku Klux Klan-style hoods, grafitti-daubed cat suits and gold spandex. Ninja struts his tattooed bare chest and tiny Vi$$er jumps about like a hyperactive 12-year-old missing her Ritalin. It’s pretty mental and seriously affecting: "Rat Trap 666" is sinister and "Ugly Boy" has a dark melodic feel.

But for all this appeal, the density of the sound rarely lets up; and instead of light and shade Die Antwoord simply offer shades of satire. Often it jars. One such moment occurs just after the superbly hypnotic "Fatty Boom Boom". As the song segues to “Raging Zef Boner,” a huge inflatable penis is brought on stage. The huge member is not the only problem – as the mood turns back from comedy to serious, the relentless rave beats of “Pitbull Terrier” make the room feel claustrophobic again. Or so I think...but maybe it’s just me. As I look around, Vi$$er’s helium vocals and Ninja’s cursing seem to have got everyone else dancing. By "Never Le Nkemise 2" they're even singing. The room chants “fuck your rules” in unison. I join them too, my hands punching the air.

The inflatable penis is still on stage and the scene is utterly ridiculous. Maybe that's why I feel won over. I'm still not quite sure what I am watching, but I realise labels don't matter. The evening may have been uneven but it has also proven memorably exhilarating.

Overleaf: Watch Die Antwoord's video for "Pitbull Terrier"

Ninja struts his tattoed bare chest and tiny Visser runs around like a hyperactive 12-year-old missing her Ritalin


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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I was there last night and I was also there 29 years ago when the Beastie Boys played the same venue. I've got older and wiser but still enjoyed Die Antwoord on a simple level - entertainment, some laughs, some great tunes and a lot of dancing. Same questions though as the Beastie's. The Beastie's became an iconic act over a period of time and their latter albums were more thought provoking and took more listening to enjoy (not a bad thing). Who knows whether Die Antwoord are able to follow a similar route and gain the same sort of credibility, but even if they don't, I still had a good time and isn't that what it's all about?

music by freaks and outsiders, for freaks and outsiders

I was at the gig. I speak Afrikaans. I know Die Antwoord's song titles. It would appear that you, Russ Coffey, do not. Either that or spellcheck went crazy on you. Die Antwoord did not open on Saturday night with 'Fok Julie Naalers' but rather 'Fok Julle Naaiers' which means something else entirely: Fuck You Fuckers. Otherwise, a great review of a thoroughly good night.

Thanks! I'm sure Julie Naalers will be relieved! Have now changed. cheers Russ

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