Sure, I’d seen Die Antwoord in the flesh once before, albeit briefly as I walked from one end of the Indio Polo Grounds to the other during Coachella a few years back. But thanks to their new album, Tension, and its freakishly catchy songs and frighteningly gross music videos, I saw rappers Yo-Landi Vi$$er and Ninja, and their mixmaster DJ Hi-Tek, in an all new light. Also, a sit-down interview with them last fall revealed that they’re smart, funny and a pleasure to hang around with. I was ready for the full Die Antwoord experience, and I got it Saturday night in New York City.
If there’s one word to sum up the entire experience, it’s “ridiculous.” Just utterly, totally… ridiculous. Here are the nine things you can expect from Die Antwoord’s live gig, which is sweeping North America now (see their itinerary here).
No. 1: Scalpers: Thanks to M.I.A., who discovered/championed them, and their strong second album, Die Antwoord are now officially popular. Which means that scalpers are out to screw you, because they know you’re lazy and didn’t buy a ticket in time, but you’re willing to tag along with your pals to see if tickets can be had out front. They can—but don’t buy ‘em. Two good pals of mine dropped $60 each for fake tickets. Bummer. Whoever’s responsible will burn in karmic hell.
No. 2: Creepy images: If you thought their music videos for “I Fink U Freeky” and “Fok Julle Naaiers” were creepy (watch both below), then schedule an appointment with a shrink immediately following their concert, because the images shown onscreen are possibly even more damaging. Emaciated faces? Toothless children? Scientific diagrams of penis? Oh, and a Casper the Ghost with a raging erection? Yep. All the above.
No. 3: Violent fans. Never have I been so jostled at a concert as I was at Die Antwoord’s, and I’ve been to a lot of punk rock and hardcore shows where moshing and circle pits were the modus operandi. Less than 10 minutes into the show I was told to “f**k off” for simply standing between some dude and the bar, then later was elbowed over and over, until I retreated to the VIP area (thanks Jennie!).
No. 4: Really violent fans: While I dealt with my own aggression issues, a girl nearer the stage whipped out a knife and stabbed some poor guy. And I thought I had it bad. The bouncers charged through the audience (again, elbowing me) and pounced on the perp, who was a blonde-haired girl that security showed no mercy. The tackled her to the floor, smashed her face into the floor and then kicked her out. 'Wow, Die Antwoord’s show couldn’t get more exciting,' I thought. Then it did.
No. 5: DJ Hi-Tek’s intro: The DJ storms the stage in an orange jumpsuit and a mask that looks like a warped face, and warms up the crowd by playing this charming segment of “Fok Julle Naaiers”: “DJ Hi-Tek will f**k you in the ass … DJ Hi-Tek will fuck you ‘til you love me … you f**king f*ggot.” Don’t bring your parents.
No. 6: Die Antwoord’s pasty flesh: The show doubled as a
long strip tease. DJ Hi-Tek started out by ripping off his shirt and dancing while pounding his chest, like a rap-rave gorilla. Later, Yo-Landi ripped off her top and bottoms to show her tiny midriff and chicken legs, in a cut-off t-shirt and high short-shorts. Ninja pulled his signature move—ripping off his sweatpants to show off his Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon boxers, then thrashed his junk all over. It was… ridiculous!!!
No. 7: Dance ecstasy: The peak of Die Antwoord’s performance came in the form of “Baby’s On Fire,” the hyper-hooky dance banger from Tension. I provided my lost-in-the-music, jumping-up-and-down moment of detached dance bliss. So did everyone else, hence the flexing floor boards at Irving Plaza.
No. 8: The show to end early: Die Antwoord have released a grand total of two full-length albums, leaving them little to work into a live performance. So their gig in New York City—arguably the city where artists would pull out all the stops—was only 60-some minutes long. That said, Yo-Landi, Ninja and DJ Hi-Tek gave 110 percent, so I certainly didn’t feel cheated.
No. 9: Lots of high fives and “Is that for real?” talk: As the post-show buzz wears off, prepare to have something intelligent to say. As I left the venue, conversations about the validity of their music and presentation abounded. “Are they for real?” was a popular question. But have perhaps an even better one: Does it matter?