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Identity Caught on a Polaroid

2007-10-11 13:25

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The smoke-filled room upstairs at Mercury Live is packed with big-haired emo-punk kids, dressed in black skinny jeans and ordering ‘Jack en lime’ in urban Afrikaans accents. It’s no ordinary Friday night. Tonight Foto Na Dans launch their much-anticipated first album, Intervensie, and Bellville’s under-21-crowd and Stellenbosch’s Bohemia gang have trekked through to Mercury Live to show their support.

Trrrang! The first guitar chords ring out. A tall boy with straightened black hair starts head banging. “Here!” a drunken Afrikaans accent roars out God’s name near the stage. This is what rock ’n roll and being cool is all about: booze, monosyllables and blasphemy.

Actually, Foto Na Dans is a little different. They are serious about music. Compared to other young newbie Afrikaans bands on the scene like Zinkplaat en Die Helde, their music is not only about happy vibes. Their songs have a sober and almost dark edge. Serious enough to make you think there might be a message hidden somewhere.

Don’t be fooled, music can be serious without having a serious message. FND do not have a political agenda, they aren’t out to form a new youth anti-establishment movement, or redefine Afrikaner identity. Their reason behind being is to make first-rate music, to be proud of it, and to enjoy the ride. Basically, they are a band for the sake of being a band. They love music and that is all.
Can it be that we have reached a point where the Voëlvry generation no longer influences new music? As little as two years ago, then still newbies, Fokofpolisiekar hinted that Koos Kombuis, Johannes Kerkorrel and the Voëlvry gang inspired them to make rebellious rock, in a true-to-themselves, anti-establishment kind of way.

With lyrics such as “Kan iemand tog vir God bel en vir hom se ons het hom nie meer nodig nie. Kan jy apatie spel.” (‘Hemel op die Platteland’) Fokofpolisiekar definitely had a message to deliver. Ask any Afrikanerkind and they will tell you tannies everywhere fainted when they first heard those lyrics playing in their children’s rooms. Which is probably exactly what Francois and the boys aimed to do. Voëlvry fought against old school Afrikaner identity and apartheid. Fokof was fighting against new school Afrikaner identity, against the conservative, typical Christian Afrikaner personality that parents, schools and the NG Kerk force onto children.

In FND’s music you will find none of this. This time round the music is important and the politics are not. Neil Basson, the lead guitarist once said that they chose ‘Foto Na Dans’ as a name because they wanted to avoid loaded Afrikaans phrases that have too much meaning. They wanted something simple, something that doesn’t steal attention away from the music.

And the boys have enough musical ability to insist that people focus on the music. FND are talented musicians and they’ve come with a new angle on a classic rock sound. And just because they sing in Afrikaans it doesn’t mean they should be Afrikaners first and foremost, fighting to establish some sort of identity and culture vir die volk.

They are a rock band like any other, they just happen to sing in Afrikaans... Standing there in that smoke filled room, surrounded by admiring fans playing air guitar, you know it’s all about the coolness; about being in a rock band and being good at it.

- Annél Malan

FND’s CD launch in Cape Town recently proved that the battle for Afrikaner identity is finally fading into the background. No missions to save die taal from extinction for these guys. What matters most to them is making cool music.


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