I’ve seen Die Antwoord live five times now. They put on a fairly fucking wild show, and they don’t come around but once a year give or take so I’m usually pretty game for it. The most recent time was in London at the Brixton Academy of Music. The show was sold out, but I went through the British equivalent of Craigslist (called Gumtree) and was able to secure a ticket. I was not staying in the city but rather in the rural-ish suburb of Watford, so I had to connect to the Underground via regional overland train. My train heaved onto Euston and I made my way out to Brixton. It should be noted that I was in London by myself and went to the show alone. The last train back to Watford was at around midnight.
Standing close to the stage, Die Antwoord shows are pretty dance-y, frantic, and occasionally violent. They’re an experience. Closer to the other edges of the crowd, the ridiculous stage show and wild dance pit are a spectacle. I’ve gone with both approaches and up front is definitely the way to go. In the case of the London show, though, I opted to stay toward the back. You know, let the kids have their fun. I started talking with a couple standing nearby, a rockabilly dude and his girlfriend who was a painter and body artist. Friendly folks, these Londoners. Two girls also nearby joined the conversation, and not for nothing but one of them and I started hitting it off.
Die Antwoord was late in taking the stage. The set change always feels infinite. Someone behind me yelled out “Get on with it!”. The girl I’d had my eye on produced molly and offered some to each of the conversing parties. All but one accepted this offer. I held out, opting not to dabble with a drug that I’d not had any experience with in a rough borough of a city I’m not familiar with in a country I’m not a citizen of. While the whatever-MDMA-feels-like washed over her, I felt crushed by a sudden wave of emasculation. Despite all logical reasons to support my decision, I felt like I didn’t man up or whatever. The girl apparently did too: the show started and she got absorbed into the crowd, on to greener pastures. I stayed where I was, a draft Carlsberg my only intoxicant and my only companion for the rest of the night.
I know I did the logical thing under the circumstances. Maybe if I’d hadn’t been there by myself it would have been a different, better story. Or a much worse story, for that matter. There are any number of dark or bright timelines branching off from that decision. Maybe the molly is great and after the concert I get laid. Yeah buddy. That’s why we go to these things, right? Or maybe the girl drifts off anyway, and I decide to jump up on stage and get punched out by Ninja and/or Yo-Landi? Pretty good story to come back with, eh? Perhaps, though, I end up reacting miserably to the drug, then leave the concert and wander aimlessly around Brixton and end up passing out in an alley to an uncertain fate. That would certainly be a goose egg of a night.
I don’t have any of those timelines, though. My timeline is right down the middle, one where I abide by logic and train schedules. Don’t get me wrong, I still had an incredible time at the concert. Die Antwoord was wild and the crowd was the most fired up I’ve seen at one of their shows. I just can’t help but feel like I blew it big time. I didn’t get the experience I wanted; I got the spectacle I deserved.
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