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On Friday night I hopped over to the other side of Ou Kaapse Weg to see Jack Parow at Café Roux. With a venue known for its intimate setting I was curious to see how Parow plans to cram his enormous blerrie gevaarlike Afrikaans rap hits into the humble Noordhoek venue.
Parow takes the stage to applause and genuine adulation from the sold out crowd. It takes three minutes, two jokes and one drink for the crowd to be eating out of his hand. He apologizes for being half an hour late, explaining that he was at his daughter’s ballet recital. You can’t be mad at him for that, now can you?
The set begins with a few acoustic songs alongside new guitarist Bartlo. Unexpected as though it may be, Afrikaans rap unplugged totally works when you’ve got charisma, and Parow has more than enough of that. The evening is off to an excellent start.
The atmosphere changes completely when the set turns electric. While Parow and his new guitarist have bucket loads of energy and presence, the full-on album version backtracks simply overwhelm the sound system, ushering in the first in a slew of sound issues that plague rest of the evening. The breaking point comes when what he calls a “Cash Converters” mic stand droops for the twentieth time. He flings it offstage in a full-on fit of anger, narrowly missing the photographer standing stage-side. The crowd seems to find this hilarious, and as Parow scolds the sound engineer over the system they derive great pleasure in egging him on. The sound engineer seems at his wits end, but things only deteriorate from there to the point where Jack Parow starts cutting songs short and calling him out for poor sound, monitor issues and the like. At the table across from me someone comments, “someone is getting klapped tonight.”
Between issues and outbursts, Parow’s gift for storytelling is a notable highlight of the evening in a style both self-deprecating and full of comedy. His story of how he was shitting himself in fear when meeting David Kramer for a collaboration was most revealing of all in showing his roots. Sadly the sentiment ruined when he had to stop the resulting song “Biscuits en Biltong” early because, in his own words, “it’s sticking needles in my ears.”
Many times it’s all too easy to shout “Diva” at the performer or “Dumbass” at the sound engineer, but what really happened with the sound that night is something that only they will know for sure. On one hand, we have a frustrated artist who feels sabotaged in his effort to give a quality performance. On the other, we have a sound engineer who has the task of managing an overwhelmed sound system. For our part, all we can do is shrug and say that Jack Parow truly is an entertainer, one way or the other.
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