The Pixies in Johannesburg
Ladies and gentlemen, rock n roll is alive and well in sunny South Africa (as you can tell from the photos of the supporters and spectators). Please note that the photos that support this article were all taken from an average Joe perspective even though my editor, or Commander in Chief will surely have my gun and badge for this.
Alas, for the soul of this story it had to be this way. Worth it. Here we go!
The Opening Acts:
Upon arrival, I could not help but notice that there was no generation gap. Quite literally, pretty much all the bases were covered as young and old(er) alike were representing their respective peer groups.
Side note: have you ever noticed how people tend to dig up old band shirts for these types of events? It is fascinating to see how one guy would wear an “Amon Amarth” shirt chatting to a complete stranger sporting a shirt reading: “I TOLERATE SHORTSTRAW” with no biased or preconceived notions. Nowhere else will you see this behavior. But I digress…
I want to take you through the entire experience from hitting the gates. As soon as I received my tags, i set out to the bar. While waiting (for what seemed like forever all the while battling with the growing sensation that my throat was being attacked by a sub-saharan wind storm, drying up every last little bit of saliva left in the catacombs of what would have been any hydration reservoir) to get the usual festival “two-beer-starter-kit”, Shortstraw was hypnotically singing about “Bikini Weather”, “Keanu Reeves” and about a “Couch Potato”.
Good on you lads. You could feel their eccentric indie energy as the “Indie Vibes” forced even the mightiest of rockers to a rhythmic knee shuffle.
I finally got my drink(s) and set out to the stage. Many familiar faces crossed my path and before I knew it, we were smack bang in the middle of Crash Car Burn. They mentioned something not really noteworthy about “rock n’ roll classics” and took a leap that so many bands attempt and tragically fail.
HOWEVER, as soon as the iconic tapping riff of legendary AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” started, they sure as hell commanded the attention of the masses. A few barres and “whooo’s” later, these optimistic gentlemen rocks out with “Living on a Prayer”. That is from “Bon Jovi” for those who do not know.
I have never seen so much excitement happen all at once, (albeit not up until that point anyway) as a Metric-S*it-Ton of people rose to their feet and sang at full volume. Fighting the urge bit alas, myself included. They also performed their hits e.g. “Serenade” which was fine and dandy.
AKing followed, now this was quite the treat as a choir of thousands chanted and sang to the likes of “Safe as Houses” and “I know your Bones”. They stuck to their guns and delivered a solid show that we all know and expect from a band of their stature.
…empty fridges as you inch your way closer to the bar.
At this point, it was time to once again take on the quest to refill my two plastic cups. It is a very sad and frightening thing to see, empty fridges as you inch your way closer to the bar. However, you learn a lot about yourself in moments like these as you steal the bartender’s main question right from their mouths. “What am I having?”
The Gluten-Free Seether” Prime Circle…
The main man of South African rock, the Riaan Cruywagen of radio Mr. Barney Simon takes to the stage and introduces a group that, and I quote, “Have been around forever” (end quote) and now my description: “The Gluten-Free Seether” Prime Circle!
Now I have to be honest, apart from literally dozens of people that would disagree, I never was a fan of theirs. I’m still not, but I was not previously as well. BUT, I have to give it to them. They killed it in all the right ways and for the first time on the day it seemed like a band wanted to be there. They really did put on a remarkable show. It is not hard to fathom why Prime Circle are leaving our fair shores for a while in conquest of Europe. Again.
“Back to the bar!” my friend yelled and we put in the “Groot Trek” towards liquid refreshment.
At this point, GIANTS of SA rock arrived on stage and like a “Little Genie with Bubblegum on his Boots” absolutely commanded the eyes and ears of everyone present. Springbok Nude Girls nailed every aspect of rockstardom. That and every eardrum. That’s right, nailed it (Yes, that is a sexual joke. Pun intended indeed).
Taking festival goers back to early “Varsity Days” and the rest to when rock bands in SA still rocked, I saw a few tears of joy. Of course I wiped them away before anyone noticed.
I have it on good merit that everyone else enjoyed it too as there was plenty of dancing, singing and strange hippie-like wave moves scattered all over the place.
The Pixies Experience:
The moment we were all waiting for was finally here… after about 30 minutes. A step-by-step (or play-by-play rather) of events follows:
The lights went dark.
A solitary spotlight in the back sparks up as a lighthouse delivering hope and guidance would. In this case, where the drummer will be situated.
Four shady figures appear and close to what would be regarded as illegal amounts of decibels fill ears. Shrieking, screaming and the shorter audience members asking the taller ones to scoot over slightly so they can see drowns out everything other than antici…
The legends themselves, pioneers even, in the flesh, on South African soil hit the first chords and the volcanic crowd erupts.
“IT’S THE PIXIES!!”
“IT’S THE PIXIES!!” – at least 10 000 people.
Now you have to understand that covering almost 30 years worth of hits and life altering audible genius is a nearly impossible feat. Except if you are the Pixies apparently. Covering an entire spectrum, from “Gouge Away” (1988 “Surfer Rosa”) to “All I think about now” (2016, “Head Carrier”). Go look at their set list
My God. It was amazing. They even did a Neil Young cover.
The absolute highlight of the day though, initiated by an “E” on an acoustic guitar sparked off thousands of folks chanting one of the most recognizable melodies to mankind.
That being said, I feel it necessary to state that I WHOLEHEARTEDLY wish to express my deepest sympathies to the peeps over at Timeslive.co.za in regards to the article posted 25 October 2016 dubiously titled:
“Seriously, who are the Pixies and why are they trending?”
I say this because it is a matter of fact. EVERYONE KNOWS THE PIXIES. To prove my point, I actually undertook a brief social study in regards to the matter. On face-value, I will agree. The name “Pixies” does not resonate as it should or even deserves.
BUT, (note it is indeed a big but)… Me: “Have you seen Fight Club? Or Sucker Punch? Or know that guy YOAV?”
(I could go on as there are about twelve more examples of where “Where is my Mind” features or is covered, but I think you get the idea.)
Me: “then you know the Pixies.”
Wow, that just took an unexpected turn! I do apologize.
Back to our story…
Oh yeah! That legendary “E” chord and chanting… I have never seen more cohesion between folks putting aside their differences and uniting under one core idea. Where is my mind. You know that thing that happens where the crowd sings so loud that you can not hear the PA system? Yeah. That happened.
It is easy to see why Pixies are rock icons and legends. One of very few bands that do not make excuses or hide behind kind words of subtle suck up “thank you’s”. They do not need to.
My friends, Rock n’ Roll will never die or hide away. As Chuck Berry said: “Hail Hail Rock n’ Roll”