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In Review: Venus In Furs In Joburg

A celebration of female-fronted artistry.

28 Apr 2016 / Opinion / written by Timothy Edwards / Pic by Jethro Lock

It’s no small secret that majority of our working industries aren’t really known for being all-inclusive gender-wise – so when an event like this is championed, you best be sure I’m going to be in the front row. Venus In Furs was a celebratory step in the right direction, perhaps with a slight misstep in the way of inflation but I suppose you can’t blame organisers for that.

Moonchild Sanelly has an unabashed mix of pop, sensuality and vernacular complete with backup dancers. Despite the low, early attendance in the cavernous hall of Bassline, her performance and persona did not waver. I’m not usually a fan of backing tracks carrying a performance, but I completely forgot about the invisible band because I was too busy being entertained. The look and feel of the entire evening was well suited to Moonchild. She had set the tone well for the rest of the night. Kudos to Grrr Kollective for creating such an interesting atmosphere. The whole evening felt like an art installation turned social experiment – I could’ve sworn I saw one unicorn tying up another at one point.

After a funky DJ interlude with master selector Lil Bow and disingenuous politically crass jokes with bad landings from the night’s MC, we were blessed by the undeniable presence of Sannie Fox. Her voice cut through the muddy reverb of the venue. I was reminded why I became a fan from the very first time I saw her at Oppikoppi. With built-up expectations I watched the band perform some new songs which were well received. She brought a more electronic sound with keys and sampled drums which could be a bit off putting for someone expecting to see the usual guitar blues explosion. The drumming was tight but almost too rigid which hampered the usual groove I had come to enjoy in previous experiences. It was still a fantastic performance overall.

Next up was the dream noise anomaly that is Medicine Boy. Every time I see them I’m stunned by the way they capture their audience. The music is brooding and slow at times, but it can still dazzle young crowds known for a short attention span. Their sound doesn’t just grab you. It swallows you whole and spits you back out in a trance. If the music they make could be a painting, it would be an otherworldly landscape made by large sweeping brush strokes. There was a great moment in the set when Lenny from Bye Beneco joined the band to sing Last Light. It makes me very excited to see a band doing so well by just being themselves with no need pander to mass opinion.

The final act, Bye Beneco, has a great consistency to their level of performance from show to show. Their performance at Venus In Furs was no exception. They tiptoed through technical difficulties like they weren’t even there and made for a perfect end to the show. Grrr Kollective once again added the cherry on top when a unicorn clad acrobat descended from the steel trusses in the roof, as I left Baseline with Bye Beneco’s single ‘Chemirocha’ still playing in my head.

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