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            There are few bands with the same level of high-functioning absurdity, creativity, and audacity as Die Antwoord. Though being described as “campy” and cartoonish in Pitchfork’s review of their latest album, to “racist” and “problematic” by the Guardian, they are still consistently well-received by audiences around the world. Their anarchical, crude, and hypocritically childlike image is so fun it simply can’t be ignored, and their fast techno beats are just too hard to hate. Thus, however politically-correct I may proclaim myself to be, I bought tickets for their tour in support of “Mount Ninji and the Nice Time Kid” the moment they went on sale.  The excitement had been building ever sense.

            I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. As I wandered San Francisco trying to find Bill Graham Auditorium, I was able to guide myself by following a group of what one might call ‘Zef’ girls: a group of young women dressed in outfits either literally copying or drawing inspiration from Die Antwoord’s lead female rapper Yolandi and the rap-rave group’s manufactured ‘Zef’ image. The closer I got to the venue, the more similarly dressed people I found—the general admission floor was filled with fans in elaborate outfits, face paint, and neon or bleached wigs.  Energy was high.

            The opener, who I admittedly only caught half of, was Crystal Castles—another highly-anticipated group on the-night’s lineup. Although I was not particularly familiar with them (I only recognized a few songs, but I don’t listen to a lot of electronic music), their performance was weird, unnerving, and totally awesome. The band’s new lead singer Edith Frances was entirely mesmorizing, convulsing and swaying to the beat in such a way that when backed by almost-excessive strobe lights and earth-shaking bass seemed all at once ethereal and ghoulish. At various points she would dump water on herself, and I saw multiple audience members do the same. Needless to say, the entering crowd could not help to dance along.

            However, energies doubled almost immediately when the lights began flashing and the intense orchestral music played that signaled Die Antwoord’s entrance. Throughout the crowd people began chanting the members names, and I began to jump around with anticipation. It was a moment of energy the group couldn’t quite live up to—but oh, man, the show that ensued was still incredible.

            The three members, God, Ninja, and Yolandi started the show in bright orange oversized sweat suits a la Yolandi’s boy toy in the “Baby’s On Fire” music video. This would be the first of possibly ten music video-inspired costume changes. In fact, the members (Yolandi most of all) changed every song into outfits ranging from Ugly Boy’s red metallic shorts-and-t-shirt combo to bloodied, pink, bear onesies. The two backup dancers never showed their faces, and were rather clothed in coordinating full body pajamas or at the very least, skin-tight face-covering bodysuits. The visuals mostly consisted of spliced together clips of the groups internet-famous music videos, and the crowd never got tired of it. Every time a video would start the audience would scream the title of the song, and get excited like it was the beginning of the concert all over again. Spliced between video clips were child-like images, like brightly colored moving print of bananas for “Banana Brain.” A somewhat friendlier-than-expected Ninja toyed with the audience the whole show, with theatrical facial expressions and occasional crowd surfing. Smiles and shrieks abounded.

Overall, the crude dance party simply never stopped. The crowd’s excitement was something I rarely see matched, and really speaks to the groups cult-like appeal. The hour-long set (Spoiler Alert!) culminated in their most famous song, “Enter the Ninja,” to which I myself even shed a tear. I left feeling like I had just ran a marathon, but also like my own bad-ass-ery had multiplied tenfold. If anyone reading this ever gets a chance to see them, it’s definitely worth your while.

-Veronica Irwin (Hunnypot Editor at Large)




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