SoundsWild, but was it worth the wait?

Arriving at Carfax, Newtown, Jozi, at 8.30pm, kids from across Gauteng, (yes, peeps even travelled across the Boerie-curtain) were led into a dark, electrifying venue by Phizicist, stationed by the entrance.

Depending on your preference, Gauteng’s 2005 emo/indie scene, 2015’s hipster scene, either sat on steps, swaying and banging their heads to Phizicist or chose to indulge in P.H.Fat’s set, main stage-ways.

P.H.Fat, with their usual set, upgraded their beats and enthralled fans with new sounds, but fell a bit flat, tbh, largely due to the fact that their set took place so early [Mike: “It feels like we’re an upcoming act.”] with a sparse audience and acoustics which made their normally jam-packed, energetic set sound like your favourite garage band; with equipment set up instead of mommy’s Prius.

Despite this fact, P.H.Fat die-hards had a ball, while others proceeded to support Chee’s electronic beats which, in my opinion, competed with P.H.Fat’s set – a contributing factor to their flat sound. That being said – Chee killed it, regardless of electro fans shimmying from the steps to the floor.

After increasing our chi with Chee’s set [come on, I had to.], the main stage called us to experience Niskerone, another local big-wig, and, much to bass heads’ delight, who brought the hard-hitting drum ’n bass sound we’ve come to know and love – a fitting prelude to Flux Pavilion which was to follow.

Switch to Stage 2, where Pop Art Live got everyone off their feet – yes, even those who were sitting down, chilling hard since the evening began. Cue Pop Art’s live set who were not chilled and shit was lost. Dancing amongst the crowd, Martin Kabamba’s, energy was infectious inspiring, even the palest wallflowers worked up to a shuffle. A jolly good show, as it were.

Next up, Flux Pavilion didn’t waste any time in taking names – beats were dropped and so did booties. Flux Pavilion, or Joshua Steele as his mother christened him, has been in existence since 2008 and, by industry standards, he’s the cool uncle of DJs with a huge list of international accolades and collabs tucked solidly into his back pocket. If South African scenesters had any doubts about his G-ism, all doubts were quelled. Well, sort of – we’ll overlook that ‘We Will Rock You’ moment. Ahem.

Onto the main order of business and topic of much debate, argument and tears – Crystal Castles.

“Jis, I saw Alice last night! Lyf made!” “Who’s this Edith bitch? She’s no Alice!” “I’ve waited 7 years to see them live!” “What’s this? No, really. What the hell is this???”

These are a few quotes that birthed itself from Crystal Castles’ performance. In a nutshell, for those who need to have the blanks filled in: Crystal Castles are an experimental electronic band formed in 2003 in Toronto, Ontario by songwriter/producer Ethan Kath, with newly introduced member, Alice Glass in 2006. Historically, they’re known for their chaotic live shows and lo-fi melancholic homemade productions.

FFW to 2015 – Alice is kaput; “so done”, and has been replaced with Edith Frances, which, on the surface and to those with okay eye-sight, might as well be the same person.

Now, to any 2005 scenester, Crystal Castles were/is the holy grail of electronica and nostalgia. To many, this was the first band they experienced a multitude of teen-things to and grew with them, as the years progressed.

Years having passed, Crystal Castles were set to perform their first-ever show without the infamous Alice Glass, in South Africa. Even though dismayed at the fact that their beloved Glass would not be gracing the stage, these kids were super stoked, nonetheless, that Crystal Castles chose them as guinea pigs for, what must have been, a nerve-wracking performance.

All’s well that ends well? Not quite. About two tracks in, long-standing fans were WTF-ing all over Carfax. Some jammed to heartfelt nostalgia, but others were confused by the quality of Edith’s performance, as well as the show having felt more like a DJ set than performances Crystal Castles were known for.

Look, fair enough. To all opinions. Crystal Castles have been known for a certain calibre performance over a couple of years, and to deep-dyed fans – yoh, I’m sorry, but, in all fairness, Crystal Castles in 2015 is another animal, all on its own, and so, a vastly different performance ought to have been expected.

To those wailing “but Edith isn’t Alice”. Yeah, exactly. Astute observation.

What cannot be excused, however, is Carfax’s terrible acoustics, which influenced Crystal Castles’ delivery, as well as P.H.Fat’s.

All in all? An electrifying evening with SA’s finest holding their own against international acts, where Alice is not Edith and Carfax ought to review their sound delivery.


Words by Liz Dom

Photography by Henk Steyn Photography


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