Review by Nadine van Eeden
Despite the pre-exam stress and utterly depressing weather that had overtaken Stellenbosch, Bohemia’s Thursday night free gig was, as always, an escape from the (rather wet) outside world. By the time I had a glass of box wine in hand and was singing along to Dogtown I was in my happy place. Finally seeing Dogtown live filled a little place in me, left empty by New Holland’s disappearance from the gig scene.
For the duration of their set all my worries escaped my mind and nothing mattered but the music and their crazy antics. The poor drummer, Nelius, seemed almost lonely at the back of the stage sometimes with lead singer Bennie, guitarists Tyan and Sias and bassist JP (with his manic stare) spending most of their time standing on the monitors and enjoying the attention (and chest stroking?) from some groupies in front of the stage. I’m pretty sure that one of the guitars got a good lick from a crowd member at some stage too! The crowd knew many of their songs well enough, even those who didn’t catch on quickly because of Dogtown’s unforced ability to involve the audience. Their new track, ‘Sunshine’ was a crowd favourite. Be sure to look out for its video which will be out before 2013.
Ashtray Electric’s set was a rather eventful one starting off with guitarist, Rudi’s finger bleeding after the second song and the entertaining and slightly scary woman who decided that it was her chance to shine. She took to the stage in the middle of their set, grabbed the mic and started to sing. Admittedly her voice wasn’t too bad. After a slightly maniacal duet laughing session/hug between her and vocalist Andre, security eventually managed to get her out. Aside from that, I always enjoy it when Cape Town bands play at smaller Stellenbosch venues. There’s an energy that rubs off on them and they just let loose. Something I admire and enjoy about Ashtray Electric is the honesty and openness in their lyrics. Their latest offering, ‘WTF’, is available online for free and, based on what I heard at Bohemia, I definitely think it’s worth a listen.
The contrast between Dogtown’s carefree, fun performance and Ashtray’s deeper and more emotionally connected performance created a perfect balance. I was quite content for it to be my last gig until exams are done and dusted… or perhaps I could squeeze in just one more.