Gig Report: Old and new faces converge on Shameless, MEANxGRLS and Jut, live at Zoo Lake
Disclaimer: I really love Shameless. They’re swiftly becoming my favourite punk band in SA and, when you read this, you’re likely going to think, “wow, this writer is lank into that band.” And to that I will say “yes, you’re reading a gig review, not the NASDAQ report, what did you expect?” and also “see you at next one.”
By Natalie Murfin. Photos by Duvenage Photography.
On Saturday the 27th of August, there was a show at Zoo Lake Bowls. It was, in many respects, a regular Jolhannesburg punk gig. There were bands, there was a sound engineer, and stamps they gave you at the door leave suspicious red marks on your wrists come your morning meeting on Monday.
The bar was slow, and the beer was cheap because it’s Zoo Lake Bowls, and anything else would feel wrong. I think, though, that this show was particularly unordinary in some respects, in that it stands out to me as the start of something new, exciting, and a little sweaty for Gauteng punk.
“First up on the bill were Jut, who’s a brand new band made up of members from Conqueror, Corax, Goat Throne, and Free Money. Their set was short, packed with high-energy, punchy tracts and some powerful vocals. it worked as the perfect snippet to get the crowd riled up and ready to open a vicious pit. Also, that name is primo.”
The first thing I noticed as I loped in (admittedly already having been pregaming, so the stoke was palpable) was the crowd. In most cases, with punk lineups up north, you’re getting one of two tropes making up most of the audience. Historically, your punks are all 30-plus dudes in jorts and Devin Townshend merch, all mates, all usually musicians in their own right. These are practised pit pirates who’re easy with laughs and probably know Henry Rollins’ birthday.
In the wake of the pandemic, however, at some of the younger parties, you get the Gen Z jollers. They’re all under 22 and dressed much better than you, and their Spotify playlist will make you feel like you were spawned in a prehistoric tar pit. Because you’re old. The first two people I encountered, chronologically, were someone’s cool uncle in a Black Flag battle jacket and then a young man who couldn’t have been over 19 wearing leather bellbottoms and a shirt that just said, in huge white letters, “SEX.” It appears this show is the one where the old guard and new recruits converged, and it was absolutely bloody packed.
First up on the bill were Jut, who’s a brand new band made up of members from Conqueror, Corax, Goat Throne, and Free Money. Their set was short, packed with high-energy, punchy tracts and some powerful vocals. it worked as the perfect snippet to get the crowd riled up and ready to open a vicious pit. This being their first gig, it’s likely that we will be seeing a significant amount more from them in the future. Their distinctively raucous cadence will be exciting as we watch it progress. Also, that name is primo.
“A highlight of Shameless’ performance was near the middle of the set, where the band’s drummer stood up from his kit and proceeded to bolt around the perimeter of the venue, beating out a staccato rhythm onto walls, speaker stacks, the bar, and maybe even one unlucky partygoer in a surprisingly theatrical bridge.”
Next up, we got a set from MEANxGIRLS, another relatively new band that’s popped up in the wake of the great indoor migration of the last 3 years. This was a slightly longer set with a more traditional punk rock sound than Jut and boasted a continuous high-energy bounce that packed out the rec hall and got the audience moving. Special mention goes out to Carrie – we love a girl in a punk band, especially when she shreds like a wizard on nylon. More of this, please, it’s tight as hell.
Headlining this jol was Shameless, who’s been gigging everywhere and so frequently that I wouldn’t be surprised to head to a braai at my ouma’s house and spot Rock settling in behind the potjie. The band hails from Soweto, and their distinctive sound is self-described as “Zulu metal/ Nkabi Rock.” Personally, I think their live sounds like if you put classic punk rock through a South African thrash metal filter. From their opening chords to their last note, the pit was a slip ‘n’ slide of beer and excitement, and as per usual, the band’s set was perfectly executed, note for note.
A highlight of this performance was near the middle of the set, where the band’s drummer stood up from his kit and proceeded to bolt around the perimeter of the venue, beating out a staccato rhythm onto walls, speaker stacks, the bar, and maybe even one unlucky partygoer in a surprisingly theatrical bridge. I’d like to be more descriptive, but in all honestly, I was very involved in trying to keep right for most of it. That’s how you know it was so good.
In the last 3 years, which has been a desert for live music, it seemed like a rift had formed in the audiences at Gauteng shows. One group was brand new to creating their own show culture and got immediately stopped in their tracks. They’ve started exploring what it means to be a local band fan in this city, and reinventing the sounds we’re likely to hear for the next while. Another group had their regular programming – and in many cases, their worlds – completely transformed and have had to adapt to a new scene around the new people they’ve all become. This show felt like those two groups were intertwining for one of the first meaningful times in a venue representing both legacy alternative culture and an accessible format for young blood.
I will give this show an “I broke my glasses again,” out of 10. If you don’t understand what that means, come through to the next installment by these organizers at Half Price on the 24th of September at Zoo Lake Bowls and ask me. Half Price is being supported by Monday Morning Justice, Slippery When Wet, MEANxGIRLS, and Ruff Majik.
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