Die Antwoord Concert at The Culture Room
By Matt Cacciaguida
Die Antwoord is a South African rap group consisting of three members; two lead vocalists, (1) Ninja, (2) Yo-Landi Vi$$er (and yes, she spells her last name with dollar signs), and DJ Hi-Tek (not to be confused with the DJ Hi-Tek who has produced Blackstar, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli). Their music and their style are unlike any other rap act out there. Musically, Die Antwoord, which translates to “the answer,” combines old-school rap beats via turn-tables, tribal-Africana beats, and rave music, with gangster-like, in your face lyrics. Stylistically, they embrace a culture known as “Zef” in South Africa. “Zef” is the foundation of their style/image. “Zef” is comparable to the hip-hop culture in the U.S., except it has South African influences weaved into its fabric. Die Antwoord often wear body and face paint in their music videos. Also, all of their music videos have great art direction that is satirical and avant-garde simultaneously. As great as their music videos are, their concerts are equally outstanding.
To be frank, I wasn’t sure what to expect driving up to the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale Monday (10/22/12) with my friend Tori. She had been a fan of Die Antwoord for a couple of years now, where I had only recently started to listen to them and watch their music videos. From the time the opening act ended, the energy in the venue was palpable. The audience did not let up, cheering loudly for fifteen minutes until Die Antwoord took the stage. DJ Hi-Tek took the stage first to a deafening ovation and soloed for a couple of minutes on his turn tables, before Ninja and Yo-Landi kicked off one of the highest energy concerts I have ever been a part of.
They played all their hits off their new LP Tension including “I Fink U Freeky,” “Fatty Boom Boom,” “Baby’s On Fire,” and “So What?.” They also played some gems from their previous LP $O$ including “Beat Boy,” “Evil Boy,” and “Enter the Ninja.” Their unpredictable nature and constant interaction with the audience in-between songs and during songs, kept the energy of the crowd up all night. For example, at one point Yo-Landi invited a girl up on stage to dance with her! How many artists or musicians do you see do that nowadays? As for Ninja, well he must have crowd surfed a half-dozen times, even back flipping into the crowd on one occasion. For much of the performance, DJ-Hi Tek was spinning in front of a screen of alternating, pulsating, clips and images from Die Antwoord’s music videos. For the most part, Yo-Landi and Ninja would jump and dance while trading rap lyrics back and forth.
I think it is important to mention that what endears Die Antwoord to a growing fan base is that they are not so caught up in their own celebrity or image. This was apparent on Monday night with some self-deprecating humor and funny dance moves meant to draw some laughs from the crowd. Any performer can tell you that to grab hold of an audience’s attention and take them to new heights is what makes a special live performance. By this standard, Die Antwoord gave nothing less than a special live performance at the Culture Room on Monday (10/22/12). After Monday night, consider me a convert, Zef Side fo’ life!