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Reborn to be Wild!

2008-04-08 09:16
I couldn't avoid any of them at Splashy Fen music festival. One was the sexiest newcomer, one was the biggest thing, and one was the only thing on at 11.30pm on Sunday. Let's call them "The Holy Trinity".

The first are The Arrows. I'd heard word of them by email, and what drew me to them initially was their excellent photo shoot. Trendily styled along the lines of Japan-and-I meets Harris Tweed on a white background, were the cute-but-fierce little drummer girl, the sexy-as-hell A-Bible-Student girl next door vocalist, and the bassist with a warming wryness to him. Next to impress was their EP, which though it's a showy derivative genre romp definitely proves they can write any kind of hook, and deliver it smartly into your head. And they're not just some overproduced band with pro-apocalyptic messages in their liner notes. Live, The Arrows' religious passion translates into pure pop sexuality as they take on the personalities of angels, devils, and supplicants to God, with Pam's breathless little "thank you" keeping the boys in the front row's eyes glued to the stage, even if some of them seem to be realising they're either in heaven, or going to hell, and aren't sure which.

Watch the live video of "In the Words Of Satan", a radically creationist, thoughtfully argued, damningly entertaining bit of prance-pop that smells of Fiona Apple. It's the prettiest impression of Satan I've ever witnessed.
Tree 63 were the festival's official Saturday headliners, and the crowd of cute girls and teenage boys packed up against the railings, worshipfully screaming their name. Tree 63 are great guys when we grab fifteen minutes backstage to film a short interview – and true professionals. How many bands who've had countless negative or so-so reviews from us understand that the interview is their chance to have their say (and that we have a right to ours)? Not many. But they do. And they stormed their set with straight-ahead stadium-rock professionalism. And plenty of sex appeal too.

Watch Tree63 live. See the crowds going mad for them. They're back in SA now, after many years in the USA. And while they're taking a break they're still on form. So look out for occasional gigs, or join a church in Durban North and hold thumbs. Or what the hell: pray for their return.

Are they breaking up? Get their answer to that question by watching our Tree63 interview. Also find out how they feel about being "cool" Christians. Though I am not a huge fan of their music, I'm much more a fan of their more tolerant message than of the hard line approach The Arrows are flogging so attractively.

Can't get video cause your boss sucks? That's ok. You'll get the message from this great interview they did with us in advance of the Splashy Fen music festival.

And then, there's The Meditators. By the time their gig rolled around on Sunday at 11.30pm, I'd run out of videotape. But here's the deal: they're a rasta reggae band. Rastas believe a whole bunch of stuff, that you can reseach heavily here and which, like most religious stuff, is probably easier to believe in if you're stoned or something. Now the Meditators may not be all that into the religious aspects, but listening to the first track of their excellent album in the car after the festival, I realised it's essentially a hymn, with the same dully predictable melodies tailor-made to be sung by unmusical masses that put me off God in the first place. But the rest of the album is a different story, with its subtly mournful filigre harmonies, and live, they're so warm, so uplifting, they just make you want to grab whoever's next to you and kiss and hug them.

I'm reborn.

No, I'm not going to turn to the Lord - I wasn't created to be a joiner. But I've definitely had a musical revelation, that faith is just as valid an inspiration to musical passion as sex is, and not necessarily without its own sex appeal either. And considering Gospel is the biggest-selling genre in SA (mainly on cassette tape in KZN by the way) there's a whole lot of stuff left for me to explore.

So although I own about 500 CDs I adore, in various genres, I'm not going to shut myself off from wonderful music just because it's written by people who don't believe in dinosaurs, or people who may imagine Hailie Selassie was God incarnate.

- Jean Barker

Great music and religion go together like a horse and carriage - in the sense that the carriage is highly inconvenient and restrictive for the horse. At least, that's what I used to think. Until I recently encountered three quite different bands whose faith of various sorts isn't so much a bloody massive drag, as it is - cough - the wind beneath their wings.


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