There is always a surge of interest from the locals when a new kid on the block takes up residence. Buckley’s in the Bellville/Tygervalley area near Cape Town, has long been a venue of interest to local metalheads and rockers. Although bands have played there on sporadic occasion, nobody has thought much of Buckley’s as a live music venue, yet many in the area have settled on it as first choice for bar games or as a more toned down social spot because of the venues alternative slant to music choice and popular DJ nights. The newcomer seeking to convert Buckley’s into a live entertainment hotspot is Numero Productions. Numero seems very much unknown to metalheads, but Alex Toua is known well enough for his days as the drummer for Revenge By Dawn, and has recently joined the ranks at Numero and heralded the company’s introduction to metal shows. So it seemed only right that Metal4Africa should make a turn to suss out this fresh page in the Cape Town metal scene.
My first impression as I entered the venue was fantastic, as was the second and third and all of those which followed during the night. Alex had clearly put in a huge amount of effort in pulling everything together, displaying some serious commitment and creativity in giving the place the actual look of a live venue; complete with stage, backdrop, and even the Mac Audio Sound Company who operate our very own M4A shows. Of course, one does not go to a gig to enjoy only the aesthetics. The line-up was well selected too, with the four bands of the night offering an excellent coverage of metal interests.
Damnatia kicked off the live entertainment at 22h00. I could be mistaken, but I’m actually pretty certain I saw a band by this name on the scene when I was still in college about a decade past. It may even be the same band, or at least some of the members, but it was too far back for me to remember the details and I’ve seen hundreds of other bands since. What Damnatia offered to the stage was an interesting hybrid of what I can only think to call doom/sludge and old-school thrash/punk, although I’m sure this would be open to multiple interpretations. Anyhow, I thought they were actually pretty cool in that they are obviously not going for a generic metal sound or following any particular metal trends.
Forgive Us Not, as relative youngsters on the scene, are already turning heads in the right places. Since I last saw them when they opened at SummerFest’12 in January, I can say that they have grown a lot. They bring forth an energy through both their sound and presence on stage that spreads quickly to their audience. Their appeal is more towards the metalcore crowds in terms of vocal style and song construction, but they render it all very well indeed and the audience definitely gets it. I’ve personally never been a huge fan of the sub-genre or breakdowns, and I think it must be because I’ve seen so many bands over the years that pursued it badly and just because it was popular, but my goddamned head just arched into involuntary rhythmic spasms when these guys launched into attack! I’m expecting to see good things from these guys if they can keep up the momentum of their current trajectory, although that’s not to say there is no room for improvement. A little more courtesy and better communication with the sound guy could go a long way to ensure an even more awesome live show. Many young bands learn this soon enough, but some don’t, which is the only reason I mention it.
At about midnight it was time for Suiderbees to hit the stage. It was the first show that former bassist, Ryck Herbst, has been able to attend as a spectator and I would have liked to ask him what he thought of Mark’s transition from front man into front man and bassist. Ryck’s shoes are no small things to fill, but the band appears no less strong as a five piece and I feel that Mark’s stature as a front man has only been enhanced by his taking over of the bass. A powerful set was delivered and Suiderbees are definitely proving themselves in the local scene and accumulating a strong and loyal following along the way. What was also special about this show for me (which I must admit was the same when the band opened for Fleshgod Apocalypse in March) was that the mix sounded amazing. It is tough with the more extreme bands to get this right. With so much intensity throughout the songs and with all the instruments tuned and equalized to crack ribs; bands like this often translate into low frequency audio mulch. This time I could hear Karin’s keyboard clearly in the mix and the contrast between the savagery of electric guitars and the smooth silk of orchestral strings and French horns was something to behold.
Closing off the night, Marching Dead threw a bit of a curve ball which caught me completely off-guard! On the super positive side, what I am convinced of with utter conviction, is that I have yet to see a metal band from this country who can top Marching Dead in terms of rendering studio quality live performance. These guys are all so diligent it’s almost blasphemous! One can easily forget that the music is actually being performed live, in that it is so tight, and the tones and levels of all instruments are so cohesive. Igor Crous, with his physical stature and fashion sense matched only (in a South African context, at least) by the likes of Ashton Nyte, rips out vocals that remind one of Strapping Young Lad, and the band even whipped out a cover of In Flames which would have made them blush. The part that had me flabbergasted however, is that in so much as every sense of my body wanted to go wild and enjoy this show, I simply couldn’t. The front man exhibited such a blatantly conceited persona, it actually visibly quelled the spirits of a fair chunk of his audience. I have no doubt whatsoever that Igor Crous has the goods to become an international superstar; but he might do well to observe some humility if he intends to win the hearts of his home crowd.
Even with the night ending on that murky note, I feel that congratulations are in order for all the bands, and to Alex for his vision and energy which transformed Buckley’s into a great live venue for the night. I personally look very forward to the next one, and I’m sure that the crowd in attendance that night would agree. The great challenge that lies ahead for Alex, now that he knows what kind of effort is required, is to keep up the level, as so many other promising new promoters have failed to do before him.