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Scary monsters invade East Vancouver

die antwoord at PNE Forum Vancouver

Die Antwoord at the PNE Forum, Vancouver, Sept. 23 2014. Kirk Chantraine photo.

Review and Photos – Die Antwoord at PNE Forum, Vancouver, Sept 23 2014

– review by Shawn Conner, photos by Kirk Chantraine

Well, that was frightening.

As someone who fancies himself a connoisseur of horror movies, I can honestly say Die Antwoord live is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.

To be fair, the band isn’t trying to come off as a cuddly anime-pop band, say, or anything other than some of the most frightening mother******s you’d ever come across in a South African back alley.

First, there’s Ninja, a six-foot-plus, grimacing plank of tattoos. At Tuesday night’s Vancouver show, he was dressed only in baggy shorts and attitude except for when he wore women’s underwear on his head. His foil is Yo-Landi Vi$$er, a diminutive blonde with shanks of wheat-blonde hair with a penchant black contact lenses. She has a high-pitched singing style pitched somewhere between that weird vuvuzela sound in De-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” and a hamster. She is like a cross between the bride of Chucky and a reject from The Road Warrior. Or perhaps they are both like something dropped in our time from a dystopian future. I don’t know.

Die Antwoord at the PNE Forum, Vancouver, Sept. 23 2014. Kirk Chantraine photo.

Die Antwoord at the PNE Forum, Vancouver, Sept. 23 2014. Kirk Chantraine photo.

Behind them, managing a DJ booth that looks like it was decorated by Jagermeister, is the group’s resident DJ. This slab of beef fashions himself after the Batman villain Bane (you know, the guy who likes to break people’s backs over his knee). He calls himself “DJ Hi Tek.”

The music the band makes is no less scary than their appearance. On Die Antwoord’s three albums, including its latest Donker Mag, it’s a broth of EDM and hip-hop beats and sounds brewed in hell.

Live, it’s the same, only longer and louder.

Vi$$er and Ninja trade off vocals, or rather, they swear at each other and run from one side of the stage to the other like two overactive kids hopped up on crystal meth, Ecstasy and bath salts after killing their parents. Two female dancers in various styles of gimp outfits, like something out of Quentin Tarantino‘s fantasy stage show, accompanied the trio. A couple of times, Ninja crowdsurfed. Behind the group, a video screen showed images such as a black-pupiled Yo-Landi with blood dripping down her chin, and holding a rat. Another scene showed a gynaecologist holding a live, wriggling prawn that he has just supposedly removed from the privates of a Lady Gaga lookalike (a scene from the band’s infamous “Fatty Boom Boom” video.)

The lyrics don’t amount to much more than standard-issue rebellion, nihilism and misanthropy. If I had to try to figure out the setlist, it would probably look something like this:

Fuck this Shit
Fucky Fucky Shit Shit
Shitty Shitty Fucky Fucky
Fucky Boom Boom
Fuck Your Rules
Ninja Fuck Yeah
Fucky Fucky Yo-Landi Fuck Fuck

In fact, for all Ninja’s “fuck your rules” shtick, the show had security tighter than the U.S. border. The group went on on time, and they wrapped the whole thing up in an economical 60-minutes-plus. Maybe these “rules” he’s talking about are the ones that say it’s a fashion faux pas to cover your body in tattoos of a Pillsbury Doughboy with a giant hard-on or to show Lady Gaga in a gynaecologist’s office.

Whatever the intention behind the Die Antwoord party-line, the crowd ate it up. The thousands who’d paid their $50-plus danced, waved their hands in the air and shoved their way to the stage as much as was possible. (I took to the much more civilized bleachers.) On the way out, I heard one girl complain to her friend about some other girls who were at the front. “They didn’t even look like they were enjoying it,” she said. “It was like daddy sent them out to get some culture.” Well, that’s an interesting definition of culture.

But hey – I have to admit, I kind of loved it, too. Die Antwoord has hit on a great formula for a horrific night out. Like a well-crafted fright film, a Die Antwoord concert offers a glimpse into human (or inhuman) depravity that you can easily, and safely, escape from immediately after for the safety and comfort of home. Where, hopefully, there is no Bane-shaped DJ in a gimp mask waiting.

Review and photos – Die Antwoord at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Oct 12 2010

Review and photos – Die Antwoord at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, May 22 2014

More photos:

8 responses to “Scary monsters invade East Vancouver

  1. 6 years ago  

    This article is clearly written by someone who doesn’t venture out of their comfort zone very often. Be scared, be excited, be thrilled, the more different emotions we feel the more we feel alive. Die Antwoord have obviously not be brought up on a silver platter, they have endured some hardship of being lower class south African but their method of expression is very powerful and original. I have seen them three times and I am never disappointed. They are artists in their true right and whether they scare you or not you must appreciate their talent.

  2. 6 years ago  

    Haha you called it Emily! I don’t get out of my comfort zone nearly enough. But this was a good reason to for sure. Although I’m not sure I hear a class-conscious message in their music.

  3. 6 years ago  

    It wasn’t scary at all. Sure it was good, but too short!

  4. 6 years ago  

    They are not trying to illustrate a class conscious message, rather an expression of the emotions they feel due to being in lower class. Times have changed and lower class white South Africans have no power, Die Antwoord are simply a reflection of these times and they are saying they’ve had enough or ‘fck you’. It is hard to relate to their music or appreciate it fully if you don’t know their whole background or modern day South African culture/South African history.
    I’m not wanting to sound like a no it all or say that your opinion is wrong but I get a lot more out of their performance than juts ‘scarey’, to me they are very original and interesting.

  5. 6 years ago  

    I think I was trying to get at the fact that there’s something underlying the music and the show – I liked it for more than its shock value, for the same reason I like a good horror movie. And while Yo-landi and Ninja might, offstage, be perfectly nice people, I do find their public image very Hills Have Eyes-ish.

  6. 6 years ago  

    Perfect length, I thought, but then I like short shows!

  7. 6 years ago  

    Im not too sure what show you were watching dude, but I thought it was a pretty killer show. Not scary at all. Your making them sound like their actually monsters when there was nothing showing that during the performance. Theres lots more Id like to comment on your article, but I just won’t go into it cause its a waste of my time. Also, pretty sure that the two girls “not enjoying it” we’re my friend and I. Well dear, if i wasn’t enjoying it, I would have been out of there after the first two song. If I wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t have waited for the band for 5+ hour outside and holding on to my spot to dear life. And just because I’m not dancing like a crazy person doesn’t mean I’m not having fun, the fact that I had about 300+ people pushing me against a gate.. yea. won’t show fun there. And if it wasn’t me and my friend, I’m sure those chicks feel the same.

  8. 6 years ago  

    I thought it was killer too. I still think Yo-Landi and Ninja are scary people though. I wouldn’t let them catsit, for starters.

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