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It was my first time at Suntravolta: I’d last visited its previous incarnation (Carnival Court) in 2013, and since then the space has remained mostly the same apart from a few cosmetic changes.
Old Long Street buildings with their high ceilings, wooden floors and oddly pervasive sense of granny decor make for quaint live music venues and Suntravolta typifies this. Palm trees and framed pictures hug the walls and the humble stage stands before a fireplace (occupied by a large amp) presided over by a faded floral still life and an oddly glarey marble bust on the mantle. A resolute plant dangles from the ceiling, flanked by crocheted lampshades.
Cue the deafening sounds of powerviolence, thrash and hardcore.
Bottom Feeder bring their manic energy into the crowd, spilling off the stage in bursts of jumps, stabs and kicks. Their longest song is perhaps 2 minutes – the crowd seems to take this as a challenge and viciously vies to fill each short burst with as much aggressive movement as possible.
Already it’s carnage. Flannel is flailing, there is hair everywhere and one guy is desperately trying to find a lost ring. Things only intensify as Infanteria take to the stage. Their pace is relentless and their bassist restless – Tim Leibbrandt (guitar) is in the crowd more than he’s on the stage, headbanging and moshing, a manic grin on his face.
It’s been a while since Infanteria have played and we’re told it’s drummer Adrian Langeveld’s third gig of the day, all of which makes their tight set even more impressive. They give a shoutout to some fans from Joburg, in town just to watch the show – I’m sure they weren’t disappointed.
There’s a brief respite while Peasant set up. Knocked speakers are realigned, kicked lights are coaxed back to life and the ring guy continues his search with the help of the houselights (still sadly in vain though). Next to me a gangly dude is limbering up for the coming assault by doing stretches and I steel myself.
Celebrating the launch of their EP “IV: Peak Fear”, Peasant keep the energy high but remain relatively civilized by staying on the stage. This leaves the floor to become a seething, punching mass and draws the screaming punters in to lean over the monitors and grab at the band members. It’s been an exhilarating ride, spearheaded by Alain Martheze (vocals), but it’s Peasant’s drum (formerly reading ‘The Plastics’ and deftly modified with black tape) that becomes the secret highlight of my night. It was also a nice echo of juxtaposed genteel venue and aggressive music – the combo is a bit funny but they made it work.
Intimate venues are great for concentrating the energy and even though the turnout wasn’t great, what they lacked in numbers the crowd more than made up for in enthusiasm.