Thursday, 8 September 2011

Rocking with Zoid

Karen Zoid Concert
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, Jhb
Sunday, 21 August 2011

I love Karen Zoid's rock-chick name but confess to being unfamiliar with her music. However, after Toto raved about Karen's gig at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town in July (which opened this 10 Year Anniversary Tour), I decided that a ticket to one of her Gauteng shows would be just for my friend Jumari's birthday.

Jumari is my NBF at work. We bonded over my dreadful Afrikaans accent during some boring work-related conversation and since then have fought the tedium by sending each other ridiculous emails in which we mash up sentences using English, Afrikaans and a smattering of French. She's alternative without trying to be, really smart and incredibly funny. Who better to help initiate me into the world of Afrikaner rock?

That would be Johan. Another one. He's a huge KZ fan and joined the two of us at the bot gardens for a bland lunch and a few drinks before the concert, which started at 3pm. The restuarant staff were happy to sell us beers which were thoughtfully packaged in a plastic bag with a generous serving of ice. Fantastic.

Having just come out of the most dreadful cold snap all winter, we were thrilled with the relatively warm day. Perfect weather for an outdoor concert - not so hot that your beers are lukewarm after a few minutes and you're worrying about your t-shirt tan, not so cold that you wish you could go back to your car. Goldilocks weather - just right. Although the grass was dry and brown and every breath filled with the dust that characterises this time of year in Joburg, we could sense the promise of spring.

Karen arrived on stage, dressed in black with a brightly coloured, crocheted scarf, to appreciative cheers and opened with - of course - Afrikaners is Plesierig. I'm not sure what I expected, really, but I didn't expect her to be so personable. She wasn't performing as much as she was playing, chatting between songs in her down-to-earth way then rocking out with her great (and surprisingly catchy) tunes and clever, toaaadly Saffrican lyrics (her sister lives in Potchefstroom and everybody there smokes boom). Retail Therapy is hilarious, all the more so because of the different local accents Karen sings in. Her songs are unashamedly South African but not in a tired, clich├ęd sense. They're fresh, funny and funky. I loved them.

At one point, she invited kids onto the stage to participate in a dance competition. She was great with them - no rock-star diva antics here. The crowd was delighted when one little guy when absolutely mad, wiggling and shaking his little body as if there was no tomorrow. Who says white boys can't dance? This chap would prove you wrong!

I wish I could remember the set list and more of the songs (apologies to the true fans). What I do remember is lots of colour - in her scarf, her voice, her music and mostly in the stories she tells through her songs. I could see quite vividly people riding in taxis, going shopping, dancing, arguing, trying to figure out their place in the world. 

Sadly, Karen's sales team did not accept credit cards and I had very little cash on me so, as new fan, I could not buy any of her CDs. However, that is easily rectified.

To finish of the plesierigheid, we had drinks at the local Dros. As Jumari would say: Ich bien Afrikaner now.

Karen Zoid Home Page

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