Monday, May 31, 2010

Soccer City Is rather pretty

I know as much about Soccer as the Pope know's about drug dealing, I'm aware of it, I just can't give you any valid insight. I only show interest as it act's as a brilliant excuse to go out for a beer with the mates. Don't get me wrong, it is a great sport, I just was born with two left feet and my soccer playing experiences took place from the bench. This is most likely the reason why I have never shown an interest into the "great game". However, South Africa's warm-up game against Colombia gave me a small glimpse into why so many people are queuing for days just to say they were there.

For me, the 27th of May was just another Thursday. I had to teach kids to play guitar and then I was off home to study for my looming Journalism exam. It was a fateful phone call from Mr Revington that meant I was able to have my World Cup experience after all. I rushed home and retrieved my newly purchased scarf, I mean soccer fan's always have scarfs, there must be something to it. Upon arrival at the Revington's Pad we had enough time for a quick smoke and we were quickly on our way to Soccer City. After negotiating some serious traffic and numerous detours we managed to set off on Johannesburg's newly renovated Highway. I must say that the newly expanded highway is brilliant and makes a massive difference. However, even the spiffy new highway could not prepare us for what was installed for us. A massive backup of car's blocked the off ramp and with no where els to go we joined the never ending line of cars headed for the largest stadium in Africa.

At this point it was about 19:15 and with the game kicking off at 20:45 we would surely make it in time, well we hoped so anyway. The line towards the stadium produced some of the most amazing display's of patriotism that I have ever been exposed too. Every individual was either singing, blowing Vuvuzela's or making some or other gesture that showed their excitement. People were running between cars, dancing with one another and sharing drinks that they brought along. It was at this moment that I realized that If we told our forefather's about these proceedings, they would most likely have us shot. I mean who would honestly believe that white, black, pink and blue South African's could celebrate and socialize together like this, that we could share drinks, share smiles, even share their daughters. I am proud to say that I experienced this. I think it was the magical air of the proceedings that made us forget that we were hardly moving and time was ticking by. By 20:15 people were parking their cars on the side of the road running towards the stadium. We followed this lead and we quickly joined the make shift parking lot.

The closer we got to the stadium the more cramped it became. However, the pure brilliance of Soccer City against the night sky distracted us once again from the fact that we were going to miss the kick off. Soccer City is the most amazing engineering marvel I have seen. It is a monument to all of the people who said we could not do this, that we could never host the Soccer World Cup.One terrible design flaw of the stadium is the walkway bridge that elevates people over the roads and to the main entrances, It is far too small and it cannot handle enough people to allow smooth flow. It was also at the main gates that I was also exposed to the most annoying sound I have had the misfortune of hearing. At first I thought someone was strangling a baby, but it turned out to be these small horn things that were on sale. Who ever invented these things should be drawn hung and quartered. After negotiating the main gate and then turn styles we were on our way to our seats.

By the time we managed to get to our seats it was 21:05. We also missed out on the two opening goals. However, we once again found ourselves hardly being phased about this, as we were all taking in the magical atmosphere of the stadium. 75 000 South Africans all packed into one area, it was brilliant. I now understood why people created so much hype about the Soccer World Cup, why they were willing to go through so much effort to get tickets. I also felt like a fool for not getting my own tickets. South Africa eventually won the game and exiting the stadium was far easier then the chaos we first experienced. I hope this game has shown the staff of Soccer City what needs to be done in preparation for the opening ceremony, as entering the stadium was, well to be frank, a Fuck Up. I didn't care that much thou, I had an amazing time and I doubt I will ever experience something like that again. If you are going to Soccer City for the World Cup, you are in for a treat

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Black Keys - Brothers

If you have read my post on The Black Keys you will know that I'm a quite a groupie, I've forced many an unassuming victim into listening and sometime's pretending to like the Black Keys. I believe that they are the answer to the shitty phase that 90% of the music industry is going through at the moment. Even though Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach's two piece blues outfit is no new comer to the music industry, they manage to impress and intrigue myself and hundred's of thousand's of people around the world.

2010 See's the release of "Brothers". In my ever unbiased and objective opinion I declare it the best Album they have produced and further more, I dare say it is the best piece of music to be released this year. Dan' vocal's seem to be maturing like a fine wine and his vocal range is increasing at the same rate as Britney Spears's waist line. The first time I heard the Album I kept raving about the guest female singer on "Everlasting Light" and how she emulated the great Nina Simone. It didn't take too long for me to realize that in fact there was no guest singer, Dan was pulling of this impressive display of vocal ability. He has always had a great voice but like all brilliant musicians he was determined to improve his craft. Brothers is one of the few CD's that I can put on from track one and listen right through the entire album. "Tighten Up" is their first single and it displays their impressive ability to produce catchy melody lines and hooks without neglecting lyrical content. However, I do not feel that "Tighten Up" is in fact the best track on the album because depending on my mood, it could be a number of compositions from this master piece. It is this that demonstrate's the fact that they have hit gold with Brothers.

Track's like "Sinister Kid", "10 Cent Pistol" and "Never Gonna Give You Up" are proof of the dynamic song writing abilities of these two men from Akron. Long gone are the day's of "10 AM Automatic", instead they have replaced that foot tapping vibe with something new, something that has integrity and substance. I have said this before, but even though I believe this to be their greatest achievement yet, I am not sure if their blend of music will appeal to the "stupid music consumer" who wants no emotional engagement or integral substance matter. Unfortunately it is this "stupid music consumer" that makes up the large majority of the market.I do however believe that their music will far out live them as human being's and I know that if they do not get stupidly famous for what they are doing, some one will rip them off some day and become a millionaire.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

So you think you can bat?

Cricket is a Summer Sport right? I've always wondered why? Winter Sunday's have never failed to produce a great afternoon for bloke and binnet alike. Cricket player's even wear long pants and jerseys if the occasion requires..... Oh yes, I remember why. If you don't live in either Australia or South Africa it's too flippen poes cold to step outside during Winter, never mind be active. I bet you didn't think about that when you moved to England now did you? ey...

Emmarentia Dam is famous for it's dog friendly area and the Music Festivals they have started to allow. It also serves as a great venue for a game of Sunday cricket for myself and a few of my mates. It has worked out pretty well, seeing that every second Girl in our group has a puppy. So the binnet's can bring their little balls of fluff and we can have a good old game of Bat and Ball.

We have been following this tradition for a while, but a year or so back it seemed to die out(the reasons for that are still unknown). Today was the first time In eon's that we managed too successfully organise and execute a full game. It's great to go back to the playground matches we used have when we were just wee boys. I must say I have a knack of ruining a friend mine's day when we play cricket. When I was a young lad dreaming of debuting for the Proteas, I worked hard at my pace bowling, maybe I worked too hard. In a Friendly game of garden cricket I ruined Gareth Steele's cricket career. Within 2 balls of Gareth's turn to bat, I managed to bowl a snorter of a delivery and thus made mince meat of his nose. This event created a vast void between Gareth and I, only in High School did we reunite our friendship. This past game of Emmarentia Cricket, I managed to reproduce this same snorter of a delivery, luckily for Mr Steele this time we were using a Slaz ball and Gareth only had to relive the event mentally and not with the same physical destruction that the first encounter included. I don't try to do it, I just seem to pull it off some how, the same way I managed to break my friends new toys when I was young. Not because I was jealous of their latest GI Joe.I did it by accident, I had a Knack for ruining their day.

 If you live in the Emmarentia area and either you or your boyfriend can bat a bit, feel free to join us, I'll try not too hit you in the face with the cricket ball, I promise. If you have a good time, you can even join us for a sundowner at Fratellis in Greenside. Arguably the best Sunday sundowners spot in Joburg. I think it's a great way to spend your Sunday afternoon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Foals - Total Life Forever

Foals were my band of 2007.... And of 2008, they also received my runner up award of 2009. These young lads from England have managed to take the monotonous dance beats of Indie (Don't ask me to define Indie, It has no definition) and created a unique blend of music that will make your grandmother dance. Their 2007 release "Antidotes" received rave reviews all over the world. Their First single "Cassius" did not chart too well, but it offered insight into the rest of the "Antidotes" CD. Song's like Olympic Airways, Two Step Twice and Red Socks Pugie are example's of this band's pure genius. Foals managed to unite all genre's of music listeners and allowed them to dance (for a while) together.

We have waited 3 year's for this moment. Foals quietly crafted their return album. During May of 2010 they finally blessed us with their hard work. "Total Life Forever" is easily one of the most anticipated album's of 2010, only band's like "Crystal Castles" receiving the same amount of hype. From the opening track "Blue Blood" it is evident that their hard work has paid off. Their new sonic sound scape seems a more mature and arguably better crafted album. They have seemed to focus on melody and song writing, as apposed to the up beat dance vibes of "Antidotes". I can't fight off the feeling that their influence's are alot more noticeable on "Total Life Forever".Song's like "This Orient" has a distinct Bloc Party vibe to it. The second track "Miami" starts off with a Michael Jackson influenced drum beat and quickly breaks into a groove that for a second, could be off a Modest Mouse track. However, don't get the impression that the Album is filled with ripoff beats and riff's. I get the impression that they attempted to put themselves as musicians on show for "Total Life Forever". I get sniffs of The Cure as well as typical Brit-Pop vibes from the Album. "Total Life Forever" has been damaging my ear's for the past few day's and at this rate, I doubt it ease up for a long time.

Some Foals fan's might be disappointed by the lack of focus on pure dance beats, but it won't take long for them to notice that they have managed to capture something just as special on this album. I doubt "Total Life Forever" will compete with the mainstream Pop Heavy weights, But I do think It will leave a mark on the music scene that will out last most of the bands you hear and know of today. Many people have tinkered with the idea that Foals was a once off thing and they would never be able to recapture the magic the created on "Antidotes". They were wrong

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Where did all the good parties go?

For the Past three days my left forearm has ached, each day it gets worse. I find this ironic as the past few months I have played the least amount of guitar in my life. Maybe it's karma's way of punishing me, instead of pain's from playing too much, I get tendinitis from not playing enough.

Of late I have been trying to get the most of out of my weekends, I try keep my weekly socializing down to a semi-acceptable level so that I can enjoy the weekend. However, this plan seems to be having the adverse effect. I don't know why, but struggle to have a good time. I either have to soak myself in booze, so that I become unaware of my surroundings or I can wallow in self pity that I cant remember the last truly exciting evening I had that didn't involve a car crash and a missing person case.

Last night wasn't too bad when I think about it. We went to rumors to watch a friend's band of ours play.The opening act's were some of the worse displays of musicianship I have seen in a long time. If you have the opportunity to watch "Bile of Man" run for the fucking hills. I am sorry but the sound of a rhino having an abortion is not my idea of a good time. Facing the Gallows put on the only solid performance of Metal the entire evening. Heavy Metal is the easiest form of music to play badly, but one of the most difficult to pull off properly. I also received a reminder that being in a band with friends can often result in the destruction of that friendship. We said our goodbye's and made our way to Justin's house for a little night cap.

After a reminder that my flirting skills require drastic attention, a few beers, a terrible game of pool and the ever risky business of getting home, I found myself lying in bed and once again over analyzing myself, my weekend and all of the bullshit in between. My life has done an entire transformation over the last 3 month's and It still take's a lot of getting used when I think about it.

In reality my life is not bad at all, I have great friends. But I can't help but fight off the feeling that something in my life is missing at the moment. Yes, I know the lack of music is a big part of that, but I know that there is something els aloof in my life. Hmmm, maybe I'll go to Teazers tonight, whore's and trash should make me feel better about myself.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The world needs more Dirt, its awfully clean outside

Friday nights have become increasingly mundane of late, Everyone is either gearing up for exams and thus try trick themselves into believing that they are responsible or everyone is getting old and boring and consider themselves to mature to have a good time. I decided I would defy this convention and thus I would go out to watch an old favorite of mine "The Death Valley Blues Band"

After dinner with the folks (yes on a Friday night but in my defense it was my mothers birthday), I got dropped off at the bohemian by my ever generous brother. After navigating the Bohemian's doggy manager and being forced to pay R50 for two bands (one That I didn't care for), I was inside probably the most underrated venue in Joburg.

To my relief I arrived during Death Valley's first song and could at least enjoy the majority of their set. Death Valley Blues Band is a vital part of the impregnation of the women in our community. If it is not Kevin S Flee seducing our women, its his hoarse vocals and rhythm guitar that help's hopeless men get laid. He reminds me of an evil father Christmas that use's the blues to deal his evil doings. Standing at the back of the tiny Bohemian stage is Umpie OmO, and to an uneducated music listener he is just a good trumpet player but to anyone who knows anything about anything, he is one of godfathers of South African music, he entertained your older brothers and sisters with the munky punk of Boo!(who are doing a reunion tour, praise the musical gods) and then caused you to jump around in a circle with the Ska masters of Fuzigish. Brad Downs fill's the lead guitar role and his mixture of slide prowess and soulful licks are all part of the baby making magic. I would love to list all the members of DVBB, but we all know that they have over ten thousand members and I would surely bore you.

Death Valley Blues Band played a mixture of original and cover songs(Im still singing Gloria a 5 days later) and as some say like Cocaine they are a guaranteed good time. Up next was "NewTown". I remembered watching them at the Bohemian a few years back and I was vaguely interested to see how they had come along.

Unfortunately there was very little New about "NewTown". Don't get me wrong they are a talented bunch of musicians who would do excellently playing at the barnyard theater, but in that lie's their weakness. All their music give's you the distinct feeling that you have heard it before. Their delivery of their music was excellent, possibly tighter then Death Valley. But I couldn't fight off the constant feeling that they would do better with sheet music in front of them.After a few songs I lost interest and so did the majority of the crowd. Originality apparently does hold some value amongst the music fans that filled the Bohemian that night.

On a whole a good night out, the door price was a bit steep for two bands but I guess they have got to pay the bills some way or another. The Bohemian never fails in providing cheap booze, cheap pizza and good time's. My night went pear shaped afterwards, but thats a whole new story for another time.  

I write about girls I don't know

I write about girls I don't know
I judge them on the clothes they choose to show
I write about girls who give me a smile
And I write about girls I haven't seen in a while
I write about things I make up in my head
And I write about things I pretend she said
I write stupid words about girls I don't know

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Excuse me kind sir

Stranger: Mark you seem to think a lot, almost as if you slip into your own world for a moment or two?

Mark: Do you mean a world of my own? A place where I have no worries, where I have made the right decisions and I am an honorable man. A world where the only worries one has are similar to that of a young boy. A world where there is no racial tension, no crime or death. A world where I am able to do what my mind wishes but my body does no allow. A world where life is valued and music is treasured. A world where I am the master of my destiny and I can do as a please. A world where there is only beauty and equality. A world where friendships last for ever and lovers never cheat. A world where talent is praised and greed is unheard of. A place where life is cherished. Is that what you mean?

Stranger: yes, exactly!

Mark: No that is foolish, Sir. Who would wish to escape to a place like that? Do you take me for a fool?

Stranger: NO NO! I do not wish to insult you lad, I was just trying to guess where your mind goes when your eyes look like they are far far away.

Mark: Perhaps that is the case, but keep your thoughts to yourself, talk like that could get us killed...