Monday, 15 April 2013

Sweet banana

My ass was vibrating, and not because I had suddenly learnt how to shake it myself or because I had my cellphone in my back pocket. No no no. The man at the drums was drumming so hard the entire floor was shacking, and as luck would have it, we were seated front and centre, on platform of vibration otherwise known as the wooden floor at the Alliance Francaise in Pretoria.

On their FB site I just saw the word "free", which to my poverty-stricken status means a chance to get out of the house. I had no idea what to expect from Stone Aged Souls, the "free-form musical-visual synthesis" group that is being sponsored by the Alliance to travel around Southern Africa.

The whole concert as such was strange. It felt a bit like a bunch of hippy friends all banging on instruments and "jamming". The lyrics were terrible though. I may be a cynic, and critical, and perhaps too easily so, but when someone chants silly things like "did you know you have wings?" and "sweet banana sweet banana sweet banana" and "the mother who fathered children" it feels a bit pretentious to me, as though the lyricist was wanting to conjure complex imagery but fails in his/her language use. For instance, what does it mean when one sings "like human beings I'd rather be of human beginnings"? I know it sounds great, all that repetition of similar sounds, just tell me what you actually wanted to convey?

During the performance, one member would go to the back and swirl sand around on a lit glass plate that was projected onto a screen behind the musicians. It was interesting to wait in anticipation  of what images would be formed next, and how they would connect to the music. Don't know if it really was a synthesis though since the equipment kept going into sleep-mode during one of the painting sessions, and the camera's spot meter was always in the middle of the image.

Overall it was a fun night mostly because the Alliance provided the some great Glühwein to the guests and because the friends I attended it with made it seem not so strange. It is not as though I am opposed to the strange if it is wonderfully so, but this seemed as though they could require a bit more practice in how to stage a show. Although I must add that the Alliance does a great job in providing free, varied entertainment and in supporting local/international artists. So it is natural that the previous event I attended, featuring Dobet Gnahoré, was a lot more engaging for me, but that this one might have been much more fun for other attendees.

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