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Die Antwoord @ Echostage

Eleanor Dickinson //

After an internal debate lasting several hours and a lot of encouragement from commentators on a Facebook status concerning the issue, I decided to go to the Die Antwoord concert at Echostage the Wednesday before last…by myself. If you’re not a fan of the South African rap group this probably seems like a rather trivial dilemma, and to you I’d recommend googling any of their music videos at this point. You can probably see why I was hesitant — but I’m glad I worked up the nerve to go, especially since I’d already missed an opportunity to see them live in my hometown a couple years ago.

My mental quandary lasted long enough that by the time I got to Echostage the opening act — newcomer on the techno/house scene, Alex Young — had already finished his set. As I attempted to muscle my way through the crowd, one asshole literally spread his feet, squared his shoulders, and asked me why I “didn’t get there earlier if I wanted to get a decent spot.” What? Shut up and get out of my way, shitbird. I have an 8 am class tomorrow. Thankfully this guy was pretty much the only unpleasant part of my Die Antwoord concert experience.

Known for their crass, dancey, and at times truly creepy music videos, Die Antwoord’s Ninja and Yolandi were able to translate the asinine energy of their songs and videos quite well to the stage. Given that their “zef” philosophy rests on a style-over-substance approach, it wasn’t surprising when a giant blowup doll with an equally huge erect penis showed up on stage a few songs in.

As far as the music was concerned, it was exactly what I’d expected: a play through of their biggest hits, with a few songs from their latest album (Donker Mag) scattered throughout. The as-yet-unidentified DJ Hi-Tek opened with “DJ Hi-Tek Rulez,” a slur-laden track composed entirely of Mike Tyson quotes. With the assistance of the two female back-up dancers (who wore different masks throughout the show, never revealing their faces) and a lot of hip thrusting, Die Antwoord got into their element very quickly. . Ninja and Yolandi’s stage presence was masterful, bombastic, and a lot of fun. Though I’m not a fan of mosh pits myself, I was disappointed that a group of security guards in the middle of the hall were preventing a pit from forming — I’d figured a huge pit would be inevitable, a given part of the experience of seeing Die Antwoord live. Ninja did manage to crowd surf, but when members of the crowd tried to follow suit, they were blocked by the guards.

My favorite track from the night was definitely “I Fink U Freeky,” during which Ninja took an audience member’s phone and shoved it down his pants. The atmosphere was very much that of a club or rave scene.

Ultimately, seeing Die Antwoord in the flesh wasn’t nearly as crazy as I had pictured their live show to be. In fact, it was quite tame (they were done with their encore by 10:30!). Even though I didn’t have friends there to get down with, I’m super happy with my decision to see my favorite South African rappers live.