“Ek sê LA, I’m Spoek Mathambo.” Nthato “Spoek Mathambo” Mokgata wasn’t exactly addressing a lot of LA, but the fifty something strong crowd was sure happy to see him. Emerging from the dark of the Echoplex, people clamored to the front not only to get as close as they could and take iPhone photos but also to show him that they were each jamming the hardest. His dubstep frequency basses and kwaito type beats are extremely difficult to not move along to – try saying otherwise to the bald guy whose right arm was the starring limb in his own dance moves or the older lady with the spiked up mom hair cut jumping around like the best of them.
Spoek Mathambo is enthusiastic as hell with a colorful scarf sometimes protecting his face from his own awesomeness. He jumped and gyrated and rapped and sang in a way that can only be described as Jozi – Johannesburg type attitude and style and moves that honestly left me feeling kind of homesick.
With him on stage was super groovy guitar licking (not literally but his playing was sharp like a tongue) electric guitarist and Pegasus Warning on a red, glittery drumkit stage left. Pegasus Warning opened the night with his own pop-y electronica that was a little bit of Phats & Small and a little bit Sam Sparro but ultimately let down by a drummer who I later found out was a stand in which makes it sort of OK. Kind of unexpected though was Gothic Tropic: super fun with soaring, psychedelic guitar played by flame – headed lead singer, Cecilia Della Peruti, and the cutest, fiercest drum faces you’ve seen this side of anywhere pulled by Liv Marisco (who’s played with Cold War Kids and Hot Hot Heat and seriously knows how to bang a drum). The mustached bassist, Daniel Denton, provided a thick rope of bassy stability in the midst of these two super-hot rock chicks and together put on a legitimate rock show complete with the big bang of a finish.
After the World Cup I didn’t think I wanted to hear the word ‘ayoba’ again (and ask any South African and they will quickly concur) but it did bring a little joy hearing Spoek Mathambo elicit the word from a couple dozen unknowing Americans. “We love you!” the darkness shouted to the stage and Spoek responded “I love you equally.” And when it was over he didn’t seem quite ready to leave and honestly, I don’t think the crowd was quite ready to let him.