In Review: 5 Gum Experience with The Kooks

30 minutes into the unveiling of Cape Town’s location for the 5 Gum Experience event, I get a message from a buddy asking where it is.

A shipping yard in Maitland, my reply.

“But Joburg’s one was under a highway.” Joburg’s one was also plagued by torrential rain, Sweet Jesus are Capetonians never satisfied??

Standing in the queue for the bus it’s obvious that 5 Gum has targeted a jailbait age bracket this year, and why not? They’re the ones that get the most excited about these sorts of things anyway. The group in front of me is talking about the Claremont jol they’re missing out on tonight. My stomach turns just a little.

I eventually take my seat on the bus while some scary-sounding dude with a megaphone reminds us all that if we aren’t in possession of our IDs, we’re going to have to walk back. The bus goes quiet. How about I just show them an x-ray of my liver instead? No? Ah well.

I arrive and there’s a girl outside the entrance holding a small cardboard sign – FREE HUG FOR TICKET. Only one? Girl, you should be offering a helluva lot more than that. I’m greeted by bowls of free gum and once I’m inside, I listen to a few event-related taking points that are being thrown around. Beach Party this, December Streets that. The sound was kak, the lights were great. Why did they cover a Lumineers song at a Kooks gig? I missed Beach Party and I’m pretty uninspired by the latter so I uncharacteristically keep my two cents to myself.

The Kooks start and I’m caught outside sucking on a cigarette, but I manage to push my way to a good viewing spot regardless. Frontman Luke Pritchard, clad in a pair of ass-hugging, white stove-piped jeans, does well to hype the crowd, strutting down a raised platform that flanks the front of the stage, whipping his curls around much to the delight of the uber fans beside me.

Well, well, well, whaddya know… this band is not half bad. In fact, their new-age Britpop is pretty goddam entertaining. Looking around I spot some sourpuss faces that need solid backhands. Most likely the same people that bitched about the ticket procedure.

Back onstage, Luke Kook is cooing various questions at us in his Brighton-born twang – Do You Want To See The World? Is it Me, Is It You? Do You Want To Go To The Seaside? – “I’LL TAKE YOU TO CLIFTON,” I hear a girl below me shriek.

The simple elegance of the frontman standing solo, spotlighted during his acoustic rendition of ‘Seaside’, is unparalleled by anything else they do during their set, save for principle guitarist Hugh Harris’ lead vocal on ‘No Longer’. Pleasant surprise that track. Fine, so perhaps they’re still “riding the coattails” of ‘Inside In/Inside Out’ but with 3 studio albums and 8 years of performing under their belts, their set is high-energy and slick.

When they’re done, I hang back a little to avoid the snaking queues for the busses but it makes no difference. With zero marshals to make sure we board the bus in an orderly fashion it’s a disorganised free-for-all. I particularly like the addition of the manic bus driver who was clearly an extra in Death Proof.

In all seriousness though, the people behind 5 Gum Experience are dedicated, passionate individuals who, very simply, want to put on a good party for you. And even though I may not always agree with the acts they choose to showcase, I’ll always champion their cause because of their ethos.

High 5ive on a job well done.