Die Antwoord rocks US fans looking for fun

2012-02-18 18:46

“I don’t understand it, but I f***ing love it!” This has become a common refrain for Die Antwoord’s American fans during the Zef rave-rappers’ second major United States tour.

The Cape Town group has just launched its second album, Ten$ion. Its first hit single, I Fink U Freeky, has gone viral on YouTube with more than 2 million views in two weeks.

Their performance on the Late Show last week was watched by a baffled David Letterman, but the host’s apparent incomprehension was no reflection of their popularity in the country.

When meeting young Americans, the first question often asked of this South African is: “South Africa? Man, d’you know Die Antwoord?”

Scores of loyal fans across the country attend their shows, many in home-made costumes inspired by the phantasmagorical world which Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek have crafted.

Japanese animal suits, wannabe Scar hairstyles, blinged-up Rich Bitch costume jewels and Ninja headbands dotted the crowd in Washington’s packed 9:30 Club on Sunday, with the 1 200 tickets having sold out weeks before.

Since they don’t understand most of the Afrikaans lyrics, why is Die Antwoord so popular here?

I have watched three performances by the group in the US in about 18 months, including two sold-out shows in Washington DC and a festival on an island wedged between Manhattan and Brooklyn where more than 15000 revellers were swept up by the charisma of Ninja and the sex appeal of Yo-Landi.

Each performance proved Die Antwoord’s ability to amuse, baffle, entertain, and somehow, enthral.

Young Americans increasingly live their lives online, interacting on social networks and sharing their lifestyle and culture in cyberspace.

Die Antwoord’s videos, simultaneously crude and cool, spread through these networks like wildfire, becoming a testament to the hipness of those who post, tweet and blog about them.

Die Antwoord allows American fans to seem different in a society in which this is difficult; it connects them to something gritty outside the world of hand sanitisers and political correctness.

It makes them feel part of something smart and fun – just as they aspire to be.

Back at 9:30, the fans couldn’t wait for the show to start. Technicians on stage were mistaken for Ninja and were met with premature shrieks.

When the frontman eventually emerged, what followed was a slick, professional set. Songs from their new album were mixed with older hits.

Costumes change every few songs and Ninja’s stage presence seduced the crowd, leaving them baying for more.

South Africans may never really understand Die Antwoord’s US appeal, but American fans are all too happy with their Zef fix. 

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