‘In the name of the Jol, the whole Jol and nothing but the Jol!’ (So help me jol?)
With a motto like that, anyone attending a NoNoNo!!! event should expect a carnival. And carnival is exactly what you get, replete with a soundtrack of cutting-edge electronica, retrosynth classics and rarely-heard alternative masterpieces at these occasionally staged events. Saturday’s event, the second of two NoNoNo!!! parties held at the faded grande dame of Umbilo Road, the Willowvale Hotel, was a jam-packed affair which showed that the Durban underground is alive and well and taking no prisoners. Note that this is the ‘Durban underground’ – not the commercially tainted, capital-lettered ‘Durban Underground’ events which claim cred by name but deliver shmoozy house music to the label-obsessed instead.
Kicking off, the first of the three Eclectica Allstars (the drivers of this crazy train), DJ Hedmekanik, laid down a set of hen’s teeth remixes and obscure-but-immediately-appealing cover versions. Predictably enough, this set the tone for the evening, enabling DJ Mixin Vixin to turn up the heat some and get the hands in the air with one of her superbly-selected 80’s synth-heavy sets. Following these two on, alternative dancefloor pioneer of the 80’s and 90’s Helge Janssen literally set the place alight when, six songs into his set, the speakers caught fire! At any other event this would have been cause for wild panic, but not at NoNoNo!!! Oh, no – the punters took it all in their stride and made light of the situation with comments like ‘Dude – that is one kickass mother of a smoke machine!’ Any disappointment at the loss of one dancefloor was quickly dispelled when the crowd moved to the main floor to take in DJ Leo’s eclectic mix of indietronic anthems and classic leftfield favourites.
With Helge moving on to the main floor in an emergency reshuffle, this meant he followed DJ Meanboy on, who had been flying the voodoo flag with his unique electronica-laden set in the main dancefloor. Helge went on to bewitch fans both young and old with a trademark set of exceptional avant-garde and proto-electro classics. Wrapping up the evening in a blaze of home-grown minimal glitch techno was fast-rising duo Seake, who have won over a legion of fans due to their infectious stage presence and a relentless delivery of high-powered sonic missiles, all of which are created and mixed live on stage. With a cheeky edge to their sound and being adept at dropping their own wildly popular remixes of classic 90’s tunes such as the Beastie Boys’ ‘Intergalactic’, Seake earned themselves a roaring encore from the last of the dedicated punters.
With no sponsors, no ‘superstar DJ’ headliners and little more than word-of-mouth advertising, NoNoNo!!! events have earned a reputation as being the stronghold of authentic underground music in Durban. With all other options only offering the stock-standard schlock that can be heard anytime of day or night on any number of radio stations, it’s good to know that cutting-edge music has a home somewhere in this one-seahorse town that is Durban.
(Interested? Look for NONONO!!! on Facebook.)