Rise and Dance

2007-09-05 15:29
Suffering a dose of ADD and really couldn't be bothered to read about why the South Coast is more cool than the Mother City?

Don't sweat it. Instead, find out all about the band Rise in our video interview:
dance-ready broadband version or slow dance-ready broadband version.

Cute behind the scenes footage, but what are Rise really like on stage? Read our Live Review.

I won’t name the club. But let’s just say they’re a typical Cape Town thing. Cape Town is a town where the same club regularly changes its name, but not its model guestlist, struggling to stay trendy until, Bang! one day they're on the club B-List. Which means nobody goes there anymore.

But it’s early days. The gig is already 'invites only', because it's full. But they're working the queue like pimps working their whores. Cause the queue MUST be seen by passers by, by the cameras that play the looped footage of the queue, and – most importantly of all - by the poor suckers standing waiting to go in and see a band called Rise. It's our second time in the queue. I'm fucked off. Nobody at the desk believes me that I'm on the band’s guest list…

Clearly, I'm not thin enough.

Wait! F**k thin. I'm not stupid enough. I have never been stupid enough to stand in a queue that’s clearly not intended to move. Queues are for losers. I nearly quietly leave, but just in time, they find my name somewhere. By now, I'm expecting something really big to make it better.

Inside, it’s mainly models types and a few square jawed grinning male aliens standing around unable to talk over the before-gig music. Reasonably ok music, as it goes, admittedly.

The barroom is designer, with a fashionable wood and clean surfaces. It’s a low-lit setting, with a sound system any sane person would murder for. Not that these people have to murder for anything except their own amusement. They're all loaded. I’m guessing they live in some or other loft-building in Aaafrica. As people recognise each other, they squeal, make small talk like old ladies. At the bar, a balding 39-year-old rich oke is buying a gaunt blonde a bottle of Verve Clicquot. It's a game: how many clean-dirty rich white 16-28-year-olds can you get into one room (and still make them believe they’re not just there because they're loaded enough to get drunk on overpriced drinks?)
Have fun have fun! Screams the vibe. Is anyone? It's hyped and everyone's trying, but at what cost?

The whole thing lacks warmth and sincerity, until the band get onstage. (By which time, admittedly, I have so many of the right stamps that I’m in danger of ink poisoning."Oh!" said the PR chick with the Michael Jackson nose, who’d done nothing but sneer skeptically earlier: "You should have told me you were press. I'm in PR! I love press!" Even the bouncers blushed. And I wonder, in the world of the World Wide Web, does ANYONE get to treat ANYONE that way, and get away with it?)

So I expect something big from the band.

And Rise are unexpectedly big. I'm expecting, cynically, to see a great soft-rock band from Durban die in a models’ club. Instead, I get Durban's Club 330 DJ Martin McHale with vocalist Kerry Wood (that voice…) and guitarist Colin Peddie taking the club scene and lighting a fire under it. This is warm, happy house. It’s happy rocking house that you actually don’t need drugs to dance to. And in the frenetic meeting, greeting, shrieking and modeling, Rise actually get noticed. They stand out for the crowd. Everyone's hairstyles turn away from each other and towards the stage, despite the lack of lights. The humanity floods back into the faces, as it does when a good band, DJ - or hell, stripper - is playing any floor.

Actually, alcohol and music combined is usually a great equaliser. The ugly, no matter how thin or token fat, are ugly. The kind people still turn sideways when passing you hip on hip. Joy is joy. Some embrace it, others never will. Tonight most people do. Suddenly, I'm happy to be there with everyone, no matter how alien they will seem in the morning.

I see everyone moving away from the bar and leaning over the VIP area balcony. I see the crowd pushing forward, leaving a gap at the back of the bar. I see smiles - real ones.

"Who are these guys?" Asks a group at a reserved ultra-VIP reserved table next to me.
"Rise", I say.
"Ride?" Mimics steering wheel.
"Rise?" Me make floating movements."From Durban."
Ah! Rise! Rise! they say, passing essential info down the line from friend to friend, accidentally burning me with a cigarette, and offering me a seat.

- Jean Barker Catch Rise live at the Awesome Africa festival in Durban on 29 September. Details here

A Durban dance band rises above the too-cool Cape Town crap club wank and rocks the house. Meet the group, see them jam, read about an unaccountable night out.

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