"He is singing into a penis..."
Die Antwoord, Rye Rye Stereo Live November 1, 2010
For more photos from the show, see our slideshow here.
It was industrial, grating, disorienting, sweaty, funky, hilarious and altogether like nothing we had ever seen in our lives. The world of South Africa's Die Antwoord is a grimy, alluring place, and they brought an hour of it to Houston Monday night at Stereo Live.
Every since that first promo clip for "Zef Side" hit YouTube months ago, the group has been steadily creating a buzz on this side of the globe, tilting hip-hop heads and enchanting hipsters looking for their next musical high. We weren't immune to their charms either, watching everything we could to learn about their bit of the musical map.
When leader Ninja was asked what "the answer" meant, all he answered with was, "I don't know. Fuck." Four simple words was all he needed for his group's brand of hip-hop.
And we were sold.
Opener Rye Rye (right) is a spitfire, and her quick opening set came off like Trina thrown in a blender with M.I.A with a swirl of '70s porno-style drizzled on top. Her "Party In The USA" sample bowled most everyone over.
Live, Die Antwoord is punk rock. It's grisly, angsty, haughty, and all you wanna do is dance at any cost. Co-leader Yo-Landi, this miniature bleach blonde in gold lame pants and epic mullet, stalks the stage shaking her ass and screaming, bringing to mind a pocket-sized Wendy O. Williams or Karen O. Her flows come in a piercing, breathy, child-like clip. When she flashed her vagina to the crowd, the place exploded.
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At one point from our vantage in the crowd, during "Enter The Ninja" she turned away from the crowd and we saw this demonic performance wave go over her face, like she was wrenching this extra strength out from somewhere deeper down. It's the little moments like that that sell us on an artist, when you see them working, not just for us but for themselves. A higher calling.
There is the sweet stench of the future in Die Antwoord. Ninja's stage persona is more like Eugene Hutz from Gogol Bordello than the crass Vanilla Ice comparisons you may have heard from lazy taggers.
He shakes his dick around in his Pink Floyd boxers, makes wild patois-laced boasts to the crowd, gives you "Zef" language lessons, but you see a tender heart in him. He has a stranglehold command of a room, even while he is singing into a four-feet penis attached to a mike.
"Rich Bitch" was Yo-Landi's showcase song, where she chronicled her slummy upbringing before the international verbage of hip-hop came into her life. Solo her flow is otherworldly, sounding like nothing we have heard at least. "Fish Paste" is the only song we know of that can rock the shit out of a Mariah Carey sample while still giving you the uber-creeps.
Set closer "Doos Dronk" came with the duo in costume, with Ninja an overgrown Pikachu and Yo-Landi as some sort of bloody pink bear. The song's marching, menacing chant sounds like an Communist Party drinking chant, like Marilyn Manson producing a children's show theme song.
Welcome to the Zef side, yoo fokken puss.
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Personal Bias: If it's got weird, questionable tattoos, a screaming blond in gold lame, and random dickery, we're down.
The Crowd: Hipsters, stray hip-hop kids, nouveau ravers, gawkers, and two or three Juggalos. Anyone that calls himself Ninja will get a ninja following from the ICP clan.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I totally made out with some chick for like an hour. I just met her. What's her name?"
Random Notebook Dump: HE IS SINGING INTO A PENIS.