Thursday, June 14, 2007

why Taxi Violence rocks

It’s one thing to rip your T shirt off, fling your guitar around and sweat all over the stage, it’s another to get my vote as a great band.


there are reasons for this.

Music is a mistress with a white hot whip; she takes no prisoners. In pretty, self-conscious Cape Town, everyone (and his cousin) wants to be a ‘musician’. Few are willing to engage themselves with the committment required to pull it off. Live music is becoming increasingly popular as a social backdrop, which is great – we‘ve got a lot of sweet noise to offer our sleepy citizens - but we must remember that not all ears (and tastes) are yet delicate enough to tell the crap from the rap, or the shit from the hit - ahem - popularity and prejudice go hand in hand with ignorance and notoriety. Having thousands of friends on Myspace or fans on Facebook doesn't mean you rock. So what does?

Brilliance demands a certain something that is hard to explain and approximates angelhood. It ties the effort, the attitude, the vision, the action, and the business sense inextricably into one sublime sound. I give you Taxi Violence as my prime example.

why taxi violence rocks

It’s taken so many sizzling gigs for me to assimilate a description for the word that sums them up: synergy. Why? Well, duh. Because synergy means seamless, and to describe something, you have to pick it apart. I couldn’t pick their music apart... I had to wait for it to fill me to overflow, and it spelled itself out to me through a whiskey (e for Irish)-lubed brain at the Gecko in Hermanus last weekend. Here it is, the sound that sings in my sleep. Break it down:

In Taxi’s violence, a single element never drowns another. It might lead. It might blend. It might play alongside. But it always lends itself to a composite fusion that transcends hearing. It’s emotional. It’s powerful. It’s indescribable. ‘Overtone’ is a tongue in cheeky way to describe the way the bass and electric strings blend and bump. They underline and sometimes overtake the vocal lead’s rise and fall with a grace that leaves no space for discord. The drums hold it all together; give it its bite and its bleed. As the bloodline, they build the body, and the bass blends the rhythm. The electric guitar bends bad and bliss with feeling and finesse and a large helping of I don’t-give-a-fuckabouthis. And Solos are simply a chance for the other instruments to listen to their compatriots keenly. Solos break the beauty and rebuild it with their singular strength, but never isolate the ear from a sense of unity. It’s like you’re standing naked under a new sun. and you’re not alone. But beyond the music?

While the scene is rife with bloated ego and empty wallets and open legs, these boys are humble. They’re Serious about music, not imperious about their social status or the sweet, sexy sounds they coax out of metal, strings and throats. When it comes to good, better and best, they make no bones about appreciating others’ talents; they celebrate it. Instead of letting it fuel their egos and up their ante, they acknowledge excellence in others with a reverence that informs their musical revelations. Brilliance urges them to be better at what they do, to give more of themselves to the music so that the music can give more to you. It's a sustainable and mature attitude for boys who are going to go very, very far and still stay close to home. It’s undoubtedly a wise way to go about things. Especially creative things. Which are so difficult to regulate, anticipate, or estimate.

And in the grip of this muse, their decorum and diligence proves their dedication. They’re professional to a fault, and respectful of everyone. They’ve turned down blank contracts to be totally independent. And they can justify it with their work - it’s their own, from shitsexy music videos made on R400 budgets and/or edited in forty minutes, to the world-standard self-styled and stitched album, to the last drink at dawn before wandering back home in a swill of inspiration and exploration. They are lead by a need to express, relate and exchange. And the strength and conviction that comes of believing in what they do, being led by the muse, and bleeding for it (sometimes literally) lends their music its prowess.

So spare your loose change for Taxi Violence at Mercury on Friday 15 June 2007.

and i'm not the only one who thinks good things about taxi. but this man is far more succinct and eloquent than i manage to be:

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