In The Name Of The Jol

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
image courtesy of Spitmunky

All the other jols suck. This much is clear from the popularity of Willowvale Hotel events, the only bolthole for Durban’s nascent underground scene. Not since the days of legendary club The Rift has a venue enjoyed such buoyant status. And, armies of piss-faced indiepants punters aside, none are more happy about this than Francois, master of this den of iniquitous delights, and owner of the patchwork Deco Umbilo hotel that is front and centre of the only decent scene worth being seen in. If you were to put a face to the Willowvale, it would be that of Tallulah Bankhead. Faded beauty, sure, but tough as old boots and standing proud when all others are going down for cigarette money. With an atmosphere that’s more fecund rumpus than the pallid overbranded haunts of feckless air-kissing clones elsewhere in eThekwini, it’s the perfect location for NONONO!!!
Trumpeting mottos that range from ‘Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow’ to ‘In the Name Of The Jol, The Whole Jol And Nothing But The Jol’, it’s clear that NONONO!!! is an event determined to stand its ground in the face of conformity elsewhere. Either that or they’re an irritating bunch of hedonists trying damned hard to stand out. Regardless, along with the ‘I Love Durban’ parties and a range of rock, punk and hardcore nights, it’s one of the cornerstones of a scene that is out of the ordinary in an otherwise bland nocturnal landscape. And thank fuck for that – without this small but influential bunch of promoters, Durban would be like Stellawood Cemetery on a quiet night. With a wide range of acts from diverse genres having played their stages over the past 5 years, NONONO!!! parties remain a keenly anticipated highlight for any punter worth their tequila salt, with Friday night following in this tradition.
With a crowd that requires very little provocation to get down and dirty, the gig was already heaving at 10pm. You’ve got to wonder – do they come for the acts that perform or is this swooning, yodelling, screaming, sweating, bizarrely-mixed crowd simply drawn to the Willowvale like the proverbial moth? Whichever, they’re steadfast supporters, and there’s always a core that patronises the three bars with religious regularity. The fashion set, the mascara’d leather-bar refugee, the cherubic photographer, the maudlin emo kid with eternally perfect hair, the grizzled and gurning raver, the clucking hen set, the dronkgat quart drinkers, the redeye parking lot lurkers. They all rocked their tits off to the first of Friday’s two headliners – Spitmunky. Being a three-part cocktail consisting of two parts Neon Anthem members and one part Creamy Ewok Baggends, champion MC on the m.i.c., they rocked the party with their fresh take on electro-hip-hop, shaken and stirred. They have their detractors, coming a little late to the electro game, but the combined talent of these three young bucks creates something greater than the sum of parts – they’ve got an infectious live energy that’s tempered with pro stylings, and the result is predictably well-received. With a unique hit of Durban-centric rhymes courtesy of Ewok backed up with killer beats and warped synth noodlings, it’s an altogether likeable package. Warming up the floor with some crowd-band call and response, they pretty much raised the roof by the time they were done, leaving the floor rocking for the follow-on, one half of The Social Workers. To quote from NONONO!!!’s facebook group ‘With king muppets of the indieremix fidget dancefloor the Social Workers on the case and loony as ever, you can expect to get a bloody good rinsing. And we should know, we've been using their product for...oohh...days now, and we've never had brighter whites. Hands in the air stuff, and that's a promise you can take to the piggy bank!’ With the energy from Spitmunky milked into the cup of the lone Social Worker till it brimmed over and spilled out onto the pavement, the result was a milling throng that bayed for more till sparrowcrack.
Yes, they’re a bunch of unrepentant hedonists, the NONONO!!! crew. And it would appear that Durban loves them.

This review also published on Levi's Music Mag

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