In Review: Gangs Of Ballet & Shadowclub at Kirstenbosch

“That’s the line for Shadow Of Club t-shirts and this is the line for Gangs of Ballen,” a random in the queue was so kind as to tell me while I waited to purchase some merch.

My 18-year-old cousin and I were about to correct her, but we thought she’d come to her own conclusions after buying CDs from bands that in her world, don’t exist.

A few glasses of wine and some crackers later and Gangs Of Ballet take to the stage wordlessly, jumping head first into ‘This Love’. Brad Klynsmith (vox/guitar) has an awestruck child-like smile slapped across his face as he launches into a somewhat strained falsetto mid-track.

They find their feet during track two with Brad busting out a dance I christen the “ballet bounce” and my new Kirstenbosch-partner-in-crime Mvelase, tells me he can’t remember the last time he saw a band this ridiculously happy to be playing the gardens. GOB’s set construction is clever with a subtle barrage of tempos and intricacies within their layers of sound, with Josh Klynsmith (drums) making up the complementary two-part vocal harmonies.

The frontman breaks from the party he’s clearly having onstage to timidly confess: “We feel like we’re on a first date, all dressed up, and we don’t wanna do or say anything stupid, ‘cause we really, really like you.” I look over my shoulder at my cousin, her head titled and mouth open like she’s catching flies, clearly in love. Well played Brad.

Jono Rich on keys adds a welcome depth and dynamic to their self-proclaimed “anthemic” sound, his sublime melody in ‘Hello Sweet World’ supplying a grand crescendo.  Forget Coldplay, Snow Patrol and whatever the hell else people have told you about what GOB sound like, this 4-piece has only begin to tap into and test the waters of their sonic potential.

It takes 3 kids bee-lining to the front of the stage for about fifty more to follow suit and as they stream down the slanted lawn to ‘Breaking The Silence’ it’s hysterical to watch the penny drop on people’s faces. “Ooooh, it’s that Mr Price baaand.” Gotta love some brand association.

Brad ends by telling Cape Town that we’re beautiful and naturally his declaration is met by calls for an encore, which get shot down. Goddam that curfew. Regardless, GOB has unknowingly tapped into the very simple rule of thumb for a band performing at Kirstenbosch – show the crowd some love and they are yours to do with as you please.

Two cigarettes later Shadowclub saunter onto stage. The trio exude rock star “swag” from every pore. Unfortunately, they use their set to test out quite a lot of new material (which I’m more than happy about because I’ve been listening to the same tunes for a year and a half) but that the Kirstenbosch crowd, who thrive on familiarity, seem less than complacent towards.

Their hooks for days (‘Good Morning Killer’, ‘Cabin In The Woods’ and new-ish tune ‘Vegas’) attract a more teen-centric group to the front of the stage. They watch in awe as frontman Jacques Moolman literally wears the chords that he plays through the most abstract expressions that he pulls on his face. They close with ‘Dirt and Rubble’ which is very unexpected, very beautiful and the first proper ballad they’ve written. It’ll be a sure-fire winner off the second album.

The last Kirstenbosch concert takes place this Sunday with Johnny Clegg bringing down the musical gavel.  If you haven’t been to one, make a plan to redeem yourself.