House of Blues, Dallas
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016
Saturday night's show at the House of Blues may have been the final in Dallas for South Africa's Die Antwoord. The rave-rap Zef trio have been touring behind their new album, Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid. The group announced it would disband in September 2017, with farewell plans including a full-length movie and a project in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Modern Art.
On Saturday night, they milked the occasion for everything they could. The line for the door stretched around the corner as people waited to get into the show, but once it had filled up fans got impatient with the wait. Ten minutes of sporadically played ominous sounds pushed some in the crowd to flip off the curtain covered stage, until finally, the curtain drew back.
A ziggurat of LED screens displayed a Kilroy-styled drawing of former Die Antwoord member Leon Botha, as the crowd cheered on. The band continued to milk their opening as a masked God (formerly DJ Hi-Tek) took his place at the top of the pyramid-like structure, before Watkin “Ninja” Jones and Yolandi Visser spilled into the first track, “We Have Candy.”
What followed was an hour and a half of insanity as the House of Blues switched wildly from nightclub to art house. Ninja and Yolandi trashed and twerked alongside onesie-wearing back-up dancers as multi-colored Caspers flaunt massive phalluses on screen. Costume changes came fast and furious, despite the limited amount of skin coverage achieved by the rotating ensemble of boxers, hoodies, booty shorts and sweat pants. And periodic DJ breaks by God sent ripples across the crowd as mass hysteria took over in brief segments.
The contrasting characteristics — ice blonde Yolandi’s ferocious childishness and Ninja’s fun-loving hardcore gangster attitude — created a vortex of spectacle as the two gave and took attention from each other. For instance, while Ninja’s frequent stage diving saw him franticly rapping his part of “I Fink U Freeky” on the hands and heads of the crowd, Yolandi, flanked by back-up dancers, writhed on top of the DJ booth.
Despite the explicitness of the tracks like “Raging Zef Boner” or lines like “smells like fish, tastes like chicken” from “Girl I Want 2 Eat U,” the main theme of the show was fun. The rapid fire lyrics dipped in and out of the duo’s native language Afrikaans, and served mainly to punctuate the performance art effect of their live mixed media experience.
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However, it’s easy to see why this experimental style has garnered so much criticism. While Die Antwoord’s on-stage antics are bright and colorful enough to invigorate, their constant march through much of the same kind of themes and gross-out lyrics has grown tired. Maybe this is why Ninja seems so intent on ending the band in 2017; maybe Die Antwoord has finally run out of clever dick jokes and District 9 references.
But as the concert in the House of Blues reached its climax, a dense ball of Dallasites chanted along with Ninja as he shouted, “Fuck your rules,” during the track “Happy Go Sucky Fucky.” There’s no better example of Die Antwoord’s divisiveness than this. The group’s next, and possibly final album, We Have Candy may end up being more of the same, but if Die Antwoord truly is destined to end soon, then Saturday night's show proves that despite their flaws the group sure knows how to put on a show and go out with a bang.