Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cirque du Psycho

Part One- Pulling It All Together

Where to start? The beginning obviously. There are two beginnings to this tale. The first occured at Gandolf's in Cape Town, mid December 2010. The second at Zula's a few weeks later, thogh by this time it was laready 2011. There was liqour involved in both incidents. Neither of them were particularly exciting. But they just go to show that the smallest of meetings can be the beginning of an avalanch. One that has left me with an awe inspiring hang-over.

So Gandolfs. I headed there with Brent and Andrew. I can't actually remember how we got there. The day started with a mission from Constantia to the city via train. We ended up drinking on Long Street for most of the day, with Pat, Rozy, Gav and Flash. And somehow we ended up at Gandalfs. Where I was introduced to a gorgeous blond. Her name was Dom, and I was terrified of her. She was cool and tattoed and self-assured and she made me feel like I was infringing upon some code. Which one I'm not quite sure. But I started to feel very out of place, and being rather drunk and stoned and afflicted with LSE (low self esteem - a side affect of constant blazedness), I kinda just kept very quite and watched her awesomeness, wandering if she was going to beat me up. Why I thought this I do not know. A little later in the evening we got to talking. It turned out she played in a Rockabilly band called Peachy Keen. I had heard the name working the network, and made a mission to see them as soon as humanly possible. I was blown away.

The second story starts at Zula's in Long Streets. A few of my mates were meeting up to discuss bringing the infamous Typical Cats down from the States, I was there to drink mainly (Cape Town has the propensity to turn me into a fiendish alcoholic, mostly because I don't have band practice to keep me occupied otherly). They ended up bringing Qwazaar in the end, it was still a mad party. Anyway, sitting three drafts down at Zula's the most amazing sounds start wafting off the stage. Low down sax driven blues. Dark as fuck. I had to know who they were. But I also had to leave. So I ran up to the stage as the band finished their sound check, introduced myself to the lead singer and told him that I wanted to bring them up to Johannesburg. I didn't even know who they were. They turned out to be The Bone Collectors. So Rol and I exchanged numbers, found each other on facebook. And a few weeks later Rol got in contact with me and said "Can we make this happen?" To which o replied yes, not knowing what I was getting myself into. "Who else should we pull in?" The Peaches were the obvious choice. And after a few phone calls and scattered messages the Peaches were roped in and Cirque du Psycho was born via the birth canals of my drunken determination.

The Bone Collectors - Suburban Stalker

The Bone Collectors - Barslag of your Dreams/21st Century Dan

The Bone Collectors

The next step was venues. The Bohemian being the obvious choice. A brief call to Ryan Neebe (high master of band bookings at The Bo) and the date was set. The second venue was trickier. Cool Runnings Benoni was the first choice, having met one of the managers, Vaughn, at Thornfest we started arranging things. But nothing of worth materialised. Other than me having to drive an hour to Benoni for a non-existant meeting.

Enter from stage left Jadd Steinhard. Whose brother in law owns Woody's in Edenvale. He called, booked the date, organised the sound. I am much greatful to him seeing as the morning I made the call to him I had woken up from dreams of tours going wrong, venues cancelling, I'm sure there were flamey pits and hellish demons involved too, but to put it short I was a tense and nervous wreck about not being able to find a second venue. The tour was still two months away, but I couldn't help myself.

So with venues organised flyers and sponsorship were brought to the forefront. Thank you Sailor Jerry for the rum which led to one of the maddest weekends a Rockabilly tour in Jozi or South Africa has probably seen. And Jan Munky Giebelmann for the amazing flyer.

Part Two - The Tour


I was exhausted, perhaps beyond exhausted. The last few weeks of my life have consisted of band practice/gigs every night of the week. With body broken and mind bent from an afternoon of tutoring a crowd of very anxious first year philosophers, and the previous night jamming with The Brother Moves On, Uju and Bongeziwe at The Bohemian, I stumbled into Brad "The Kid" Down's place to pick up the last of the equipment needed for the show that night. A guitar amp. After a brief mooch on the couch and a gathering of wits I headed back to my folks to shower and do my hair.. Oh yeah I said it, DO MY HAIR.. For those of you who don't know me, this isn't a common occurance.. But I recently got a new shark fin, and I'm quite in love with it. (Thanks Henry)

Dom and Alex of Peachy Keen

Dom of Peachy Keen

So shower and hair done, four mic stands, a giant box of cables, one H & K Basskick, one marshall, one double bass, one shiny blue Ibanez bass, and a collection of micropones packed into my car, I started off my journey to The Bohemian. As I pulled into the garage to pick up a 9V for the double bass pick up my phone rang.. With bad news. Very bad news. Certainly not the type of news you'd want to get when you're already under the pressure of organising a show with two touring bands down from Cape Town that you really don't want to muck up. It's The Kid. "A's in a coma". I'm hoping this is some sick and twisted April fools joke. But it isn't. I walk numbly into the shop. Thinking "Happy thoughts" over and over again. Trying not to think about the fact that my close friend, mentor and fellow band mate is... "Happy Thoughts" "Happy Thoughts" "Happy Thoughts". I get a box of Lucky Strikes, and the battery. "Happy Thoughts" as I get into my car. "Music, put on music". I put my phone onto shuffle and sing along. But the thoughts are still trying to overwhelm me. I almost drive into the back of the car front of me, tears seeping out the corners of my eyes. "Happy Thoughts". I make it to the Bohemian. Spread the bad news. Distract myself with setting up the stage. Distract myself some more with whisky. Distract myself some more with free rum from the door. Distract myself with greeting the touring bands, making sure they have everything they need. The Kid rocks up, tells me he got a call, A's not in a coma, but he is in hopsital. I let out a sigh of relief. It was a white lie on The Kids's behalf. But it calmed me down enough to feel like the world was okay. I found out the next morning that A had in fact been in a coma, but he is fine now. No brain damage.

Rob- The Bone Collectors

Ken - The Bone Collectors

The rest of the evening turned into pure rock and roll debauchery. The Jozi crowd (most of the so-called psycho scene not in attendence) made up of punks and lesbians (Emilia Bug's birthday party) went mad. Turned into swinging psycho animals. And then more drama as Hannah had to be abulanced out of The Bo. But by this point I had given up on taking responsibility for things out of my control, I was piss drunk and partying it up with The Peaches. The night all in all was a success. We got out of there at around 3.30am to wake up early and head to Midrand for JawFest ate my Dingo.

Crowds go mad for Sailor Jerry, yes the do. It's all part of SJ's evil plan to enslave us all


Saturday started bright an early, and probably stil a little drunk. What with it being bright and early the logical assumption to make is that minimal amounts of sleep were had, thus minimal amounts of time were given to the process of sobering up. And so the morning quickly escaped me and it was off to meet the boys of The Bone Collectors and head off to Jawfest. We never got there. We did however get lost, and rather stoned, and generally discombobulated for a good hour and a half, before back-tracking to Greg's folks place to relax before the Woody's show.

The woody's show was another night of veritible chaos. But Rol's discription of it far out explains anything I could give you right now. So I shall leave the rest of this expose up to the blurps of the touringbands....Though I do at some point remember being on the streets singing "ohhhh darling, please believe me, I'll never do you no harm" very drunkenly at the top of my lungs with Dom..

Part 3 - What The Touring Bands Had To Say

Peachy Keen

Sailor Jerry Rum, Studded Punks and a 22 Hour bus ride...

I was always told by mates from other bands that had performed in Jozi, how much tougher the crowd is compared to Cape Town. Talkings of the Joburg punks ,way more venues and hijackings at midday, springs to mind. But after a 22 hour bus ride and a couple bottles of Sailor Jerry, all I wanted to do was get on stage, drink some more SJ and ROCK OUT!

Bus-lagged and a not looking so hot, we arrived at Greg’s parents spot and were met with a fully stocked bar, hot meal and a needed shower-Joburg love! We rocked up at The Bohemian, a place we’ve heard so much about. Cam ( Carniwhores) met us with the biggest smile on her face and we knew things were gana get messy!

The Carniwhores opened and definately set the bar. They got the crowd pumped so we knew we had to bring it Joburg style! Sailor jerry was flowing and after making some friends with the local studded punks, we got on stage and rocked out so hard. The Bone Collectors made the crowd weep - Cape Town would be proud!

Saturday night saw us at Woodies in Edinvale. Once again the carniwhores and Bone Collectors tore it up. The crowd was ready for us and we melted faces! After partying until 7am we headed home on our 22 hour bus ride, purely stoked! An unforgettable experience...Thanks Joburg!
The Bone Collectors 

 ROB WROTE:  Our first inclination that Friday night’s show was going to go down well was the fact that we had with us a case of Sailor Jerry Rum. Feed people enough of it and you’re well on your way to ensuring a receptive crowd. In hindsight, the crowd at the ‘Boh’ probably didn’t need too much to lose their inhibitions and the offering of rum was merely providing fuel to the proverbial fire. More accustomed to a somewhat demure and unforgiving crowd that is the Cape Town audience it was quite a welcome surprise to be confronted with what appears to be a still thriving community of ‘punks’. From ‘Cracked Rib’ Willie to the ‘Mohawked Microphone Killer’, the more than generous response we got from the crowd was greatly appreciated.  

ROL WROTE: Saturday mornings have been getting to be more of a challenge with each year, and this was the roughest Saturday morning in living memory. A sensory kaleidoscope: I awake to a taste in the back of my mouth reminding me of ‘warmed essence of sewer rat’, bright spinning catherine wheels of unwelcome morning light are projected through the window and projected onto my puffy eyelids, WonderDrummerGus can be heard snoring like a sawmill down the corridor – how did this happen?  Friday at the Bohemian was a riot. Our gracious hosts, the Carniwhores, kicked proceedings off and warmed up the disparate crowd of dirty youths with a sleazy set of dirty billyness. Zam is a dangerous man on 6 string, and Cami&Storm are a fun rhythm combo to watch and hear. The Jerry flowed, legs got a little more rubbery, smiles got looser...Next up, our co-touring amigos Peachy Keen whacked that dirty little room like a bad stepchild – you wouldn’t know they’d just sat on a bus for 22 hours. My plan to keep my head straight until *after* the set was abandoned at this point - so hot in there, just needed something to cool a parched throat, right? *GOOOSH* (mistake, I now realise). Ha! By the time the Peaches’ set was over, the dance floor was a hazard, all a-glisten with shattered bottles and slick beer puddles. We all had an itchin’ and twitchin’ feeling in our Collective Bones at this point, and so we charged into maybe the messiest and most fun sets of our mediocre little lives. All kindsa shit went wrong, broken strings and knocked over mics etc.etc., but it didn’t matter a bit and we left dripping with sweat and grinning like village idiots. The dirty humans in attendance jammed like the apocalypse was nigh, for which we couldn’t have been more grateful. Getting all 5 Bones into the same car and back to the same address was a more testing process. Sleep came only when the birdies started cheep-cheeping, and Saturday was bound to be a rough one.....  Fortunately, we were staying in highly hospitable turf – SaxophonistRob’s parents treated us reeeeaaaalll nice, and I don’t know how such nice wholesome folk could have turned out such a wicked little miscreant as he. I blame Marilyn Manson and videogames, personally. Some nutritious foodstuffs went a long way towards replenishing the boogie-ness, and by the time Cami came to fetch us we were feeling halfway normal. Our initial plan to whack Jawsfest, a daylong indie backyard fest of sorts (I think?), was aborted halfway along that Kyalami-ish road where all the larnies keep their horses, as were lost and demotivated and actually not feeling as robust as we had earlier claimed. Instead we went to lay low with our Peachy muchachos, where once again parental hospitality saved the day and we were treated far too well by Peachy Greg’s gene donors.  Off to Woody’s we go we go, and I’m struck by how many miles the Gautengers rack up in the name of a night out. In Cape Town, we’ll drive 5km for a braai, 10km for a braai if it’s a special occasion like a birthday or bachelors etc, and for 15km or more you’d have to offer your guests fellatio, cocaine or stocks. Upon arrival at Woody’s I was impressed to find that a number of the heroes from last night’s carnage at the Boh have crept back out for another round. I get the impression this is a scene that looks after and supports its own. It’s like alternative ubuntu.  The Carni’s knocked out another mean set of badness, and I hope we can introduce their madness to a Cape audience. Although I was feeling a bit heavy, I was psyched to play again after last night’s carnival fun. Despite enthusiasm, however, it was to be a challenging set, one of those nights plagued with, erm, broadly ‘technical problems’ and it felt like I was on a candid camera show – kept waiting for the sound guy to rip off his mask and say ‘ha ha there’s the camera over there mate, we’re just having you on, ha ha you’re gonna be on tv’. I looked for stitches on the back of his neck later but concluded that he was too slim to be Leon Schuster in a sound-guy suit.  Anyway, it took half an hour of farting around before we could get our set rolling, and then, first song - *shtepang* - string snaps. HarHar funny, right? Borrow a guitar from the Peaches. Next song - *krrrrklunk* - guitar strap snaps. Hi-Fucking-LARIous I’m thinking to myself, and now I really shouldn’t be drinking because I’m in the sort of vile mood to stomp a stray cat to death or feed laxative to an old homeless man or some other wicked act. Instead, we play on, stuff starts going alright again, soundguy is more or less on top of stuff, I have all 6 strings, band is feeling good, and the incredibly patient audience is warming up and starting to boogie. We decide to keep our set short and simple, for after all there is free rum to be drunk before the sun comes up, and by our last song I’ve forgotten my grumpiness, the band and I love each other like brothers, and wish that instead we could play for another hour. Peachy Keen closed the Saturday night with an act that I’m glad we didn’t have to follow, and I must confess I gave myself over to the boogie with abandon, spilling more beer on the floor than down my throat, dancing with rubbery legs, sweating like a gorilla’s nutsack. If you’ll pardon the expression.  By the end of the Peaches set, the wise thing to would’ve been to get back to the crashpad, sleep like a dead thing, and wake up feeling human on Saturday. Rob, percussion Ken and bassy Gawie opted for this moderate route of wisdom, leaving only Gus and I, the oldest and surely the more responsible, with the remaining Jerry and no particular idea of how to get from Edenvale to Greenside. Clever, ne? A series of misadventures ensued, none of which are relevant to our narrative here, except to say that Gus and I did indeed get back to safe turf and, eventually, to kulula 549 seat 24 c&d. In the few hours post-peaches, pre-flight, when I should’ve been snoozing, I had the pleasure of sharing a bottle with and chatting to many of the volkmensch who’d been so generous during our troubled set, struck by how open and friendly and patently NOT jammed up their own scenester arses they are – even though I would not be pleased if any of them were dating my daughter. Honestly, if we could find a means of covering our transport costs, I’d bring the Bone Collectors back to Joburg in a week – it might be a little longer than that, in practice, but we most certainly will be back and I’ve a feeling we’ll see many of our new friends again. Big thanks to Cami and the Carniwhores for taking such good care of us, our SailorJerry sugarmamas and papas for greasing the wheels, the sweet Peaches for their honest-to-god groovy goodness, Rob&Greg’s families for treating us like your own, and every groovy brother and sister who stomped foot at the Boh and/or Woody’s. Really hope to see the lot of you before the year is through

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