Arrived at Tanz Cafe embarrassingly early, nothing else to do than kill time watching the crowd roll in on a washed out summers night.
There’s a few couches worth of not quite crooners chatting about their collective worth of decades of gigs seen and bursting out in nostalgic laughter at some random shared memory. Their eyes dart a disapproving glance at the Cougar and her Cub prowling the lip of the venue, hunting as one, wearing barely less than the smiling blonde promo chicks (of the Daisy Duke mould) singing their siren song of 20 bucks a shot.
The first band of the evening takes to the stage. A slither of fans cheers them on. A stray head banger has started his party far too early and peaks prematurely. Half way through the second band and he is completely spent, he tag teams his friend and then blends into shady spot in a distant corner. The 2x brandy and cokes are starting to flow from the bar, the ethanol level’s climbing. I’m getting that nostalgic feeling.
It’s a decade later and I’m seeing the fruit of an awesome performance at my first ever festival; a one day event bursting with sun, sparkling amber lagers and SA’s biggest bands of the time. Back when 5fm was still green and yellow. My friends fuck off as a hip hop group takes to the stage, their inner afrikanerdom not yet permitting their sensibilities to accept “dis kak music”. Shortly thereafter the sounds of MaxNormal found its way into my CD wallet and its elements went on to bring us the likes of Die Antwoord and Jack Parow years later.
The conundrum of Zef is not worth puzzling over. All that matters is that even when these tunes are heavily redacted for safe listening on mainstream radio stations, they are listened to and loved by millions; leaving the NG Kerk rattled to its very foundations. The youth of SA isn’t waiting in anticipation for the denim clad albums of the Kurt, Steven or Dozi formula. They’re waiting for that moment to turn up the volume and listen to what it really is like being young in SA, where profanities like “poes” and “kak” are everyday elements. Just on the other side of what is considered permissible… for now.
Jack Parow’s tunes are all over the show and his brand is unmistakable, only premising those who are dialled into being South African and can decipher the local context and content. These aren’t the Boer tunes of yesteryear, as Afrikaans now roars to life with a new generation or two of listeners with a different soundtrack to their lives. Jack Parow is capturing this in the pumped up set beating against the small crowd. The rain and meagre mid month budgets have gotten the better of a Friday Night and many have missed out an epic evening of Zef. Band’s pumping, Jack’s hammering out the lyrics, and multiple previous sets I’ve witnessed stand back in awe of the authenticity of this set played on a humble Jozi night.
His lyrics bubble with weed references and highlight its social acceptance in our mainstream media, so I caught up with Jack Parow after the show. This is how it went.
Q: What point of your career, so far, would you most like to relive?
A: I’ve played a lot of local and international gigs, but the last Oppikoppi was the best for me. It was unbelievable. The crowd was too much to take in, too much to process. Definitely the best man.
Q: What tune gets the biggest crowd reaction?
A: You know, there’s always “Cooler As Ekke”. That’s always big, but “Hard Partytjie Hou” and “Nicholas Louw” are also favourites.
Q: What tunes are you listening to at the moment?
A: Old school blues. There’s so much soul in a song when it only has a voice and you feel the song so strong.
Q: Any haters?
A: Yeah. Played in Newcastle and there was shouting and fighting because of what I was singing. Nearly got bliksemed.
Q: Do you ever think that you will appear on Noot vir Noot as a guest artsist?
A: I fucken hope so!
Q: What are your thoughts on cannabis?
A: Dagga has been a large part of what made me who I am today.
Q: What’s it gonna be, an “yskoue bier” or a “joint” in your hand?
A: At the moment… an “yskoue bier”.
Keep an eye out for Jack Parow in the upcoming film Babalas and his new album yet to go on sale.