Die Antwoord managed to freak out absolutely everybody at Leeds Festival.
By Barry Nicolson
Towards the end of Die Antwoord’s set on the Main Stage, the camera lands on the image of a cherubic toddler raving it up on his father’s shoulders, drawing huge cheers from the crowd. To be fair, he does look like he’s having the time of his life, but after this 50-minute audio-visual onslaught – of crudely-drawn women disappearing into their own vaginas, of cartoon ghosts wielding outsized cock-and-balls that shoot lovehearts, and of the nightmare-inducing strangeness of Die Antwoord themselves – you have to wonder if his childhood ended this afternoon.
Die Antwoord can have that effect on you. The South African trio delight in weirding, creeping and generally freaking their audiences out, though admittedly more through what you see than what you hear – while their hyperkinetic rap-rave amalgam can be thrilling in small doses, it also has a pretty unforgiving half-life. At their best – on tracks like ‘Ugly Boy’ or ‘Banana Brain’ – they’re smart, subversive, and delightfully OTT; at their worst, they look and sound like an 18-rated Mighty Boosh knock-off. It’s a fine line, but they walk it expertly during their their set this afternoon.
As ever, the black-eyed, helium-voiced Yolandi Visser is the focal point of all this oddness, looking like something that’s crawled out of an Aphex Twin video into the real world and largely communicating with the crowd largely through the use of her middle finger. Her bandmate Ninja is similarly imposing, though his ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ boxers rather dampen the effect: even mad-eyed South African bruisers, it seems, are down with the Floyd.
The crowd, for their part, lap it up: following an afternoon bill of earnest (and slightly ponderous) rock bands, Die Antwoord’s anarchic day-glo schtick feels like a breath of fresh air, and they’re gone just in time to leave you wanting more. After faking everyone out with a false ending, the trio bring the set to a close with ‘Enter The Ninja’, during which Ninja makes another of his forays into the pit and has his tracksuit bottoms yanked down, exposing his bare arse to the entire crowd. We doubt if the toddler even blinked.