Showing their “beautiful” dark side

Photo: Michaela Verity

If you are looking for a sound that’s slightly dark, a little fun and somewhere between heavy and thought provoking, you might want to take a listen to Cape Town band, Black Moscow.

The band is made up of Xavier van der Zandt on vocals, Marc Röntsch on guitar, Stephen Alfreds, also on guitar, Rob Ruhrmund on drums and Luke Otto on bass.

The eclectic group met through other bands they either played in or followed and have been playing together since May 2010.

Their name is “less of a specific reference and more of an image,” explains Xavier. “The idea was to have a name that reflected the beautiful and darker side of something,” he adds.

He says this is a concept the band hopes to reflect in their music. “Our goal is to make music that is intelligent, without being pretentious,” Marc points out. The band writes their music as a group, bringing their individual tastes and influences to the table. “It is a potpourri of everything,” Marc says.

While the band takes their music seriously, Xavier says: “As technical as the music is, we are still a party band.” He points out that fans can expect high energy performances from Black Moscow.

On Tuesday 26 April they will be launching their debut EP, Verdigris, at Mercury under Headline Artists. They will be playing with Tonightwedie and The Great Apes. Doors will open at 21:00 and the audience can enjoy a visual art exhibition in the Mercury Lounge before the bands take to the stage.

There will be free merchandise giveaways and download stations where you can download free content onto your flashdrive. Some of this content will only be available at the launch. Tickets cost R40.

To find out more about the band, visit their Facebook page  or follow them on Twitter , where you can also find information on their recording process and get to know the band a little better.


Durex Ultimate Battle

Two local bands will be competing in the Durex Ultimate Battle of the Bands competition at Mercury tomorrow night (Thursday 7 April).
The Durex Ultimate Battle is South Africa’s biggest live music contest visiting 20 venues in six provinces and engaging with over 150 bands across the country in the search for the ultimate new live band.
Bands are judged on categories such as professionalism, stage performance and set up, conduct and musicality.
The main prize includes a cash prize of R20 000, a band website with a year’s hosting, a two-week national tour, a branded luggage trailer, a rehearsal monitor system with a mixing desk, a backdrop banner, a branded kick drum velum, band merchandise, branded accessories, a photo shoot and a live recording.
The winners of each round also win R1 000 cash.
I chatted to the two local bands that will be taking part, Series of Events and Six Days Later.

* Last time I spoke to Six Days Later, they had just ended second in a local songwriting competition.
The band is made up of Terry Render on acoustic guitar and vocals, Cat Galliers on violin, Andy Finch on electric guitar, Warren Pietersen on bass and Jamey Pietersen on drums. Liezl Pietersen, the band’s resident pianist, is off to have a baby in a few weeks.
Since the competition, they have recorded one of their winning songs, “Evergreen”.
Over December last year they were invited to take part in the Celebrate Christmas concert at the Barnyard Theatre with Proxy and other SA-based bands.
The band has more recordings in the pipeline and the potential addition of a second electric guitar.
Terry says they are bringing in new sounds and fresh creativity, “because creating an even more home-grown sound is what this band is all about”.

* New kids on the block, Series of Events, will make their first official public appearance at the competition.
While the band has been together since 2009, they wanted to perfect their act before presenting it to an audience.
Like Francois de Wet, the band’s bassist and vocalist, says: “We wanted to come out with a bang.”
Francois is joined on stage by Dewald Wasserman on drums and Gerhard van der Vyter on guitar and vocals.
Dewald describes the band’s music as alternative rock while Gerhard adds that it leans towards progressive.
“It’s easy on the ear,” says Francois.
Last year the band decided to start getting serious about their music and entered the Durex Ultimate Battle. “There’s no turning back now,” says Gerhard.
He points out that the structure of the competition will help the band to put together a successful show.
“It’s a learning curve for the band as well,” he says.
Francois says their music translates well onto stage with climaxes and build-up and variety.
“We usually write stuff that works well live,” he says.
The band started recording on an EP last week at Rooftop Studios, which they hope to release soon. “Our main focus now is to play the show and release our EP,” Francois says.
On Thursday 7 April, Six Days Later, Series of Events, Anton Syndrome and Butterfly Hill will be battling it out at Mercury from 20:00. Doors open at 19:00. Tickets cost R35 and are available online at

Going seperate ways

Photo: RandomTams Photography

So it’s officially over.
On Friday 1 April, The Undefind played their last show together on the Mercury Live stage and I could tell from the teary eyes around me that I wasn’t the only one feeling a sense of loss.
At the risk of sounding like a girl here, the gig was definitely an emotional one and the band breaking up feels a little like the end of an era for me.
See, The Undefind were the first band I ever interviewed (based on my notebooks I checked this morning) and had I not started there, I might not be doing what I do now.
While the band has always been one of the tightest South African acts, they rocked their hearts out on Friday, making their end all the more sad.
While I might not have grown up with the band, a big part of me feels like I grew into an adult with their music. I was only 19 were I heard them the first time and fresh out of university.
Songs like “Guide You” helped me deal with the loss of a dear friend and there is nothing like Kendal’s gut-wrenching screams to help you get rid of some pent-up frustration.
Checking their website this morning, I found a piece I wrote ages ago and I still think it might be the best way to describe The Undefind.
“They’ll chew you up, spit you out and nurse you back to health all in one set, and you’ll more than likely enjoy every second of it. From the minute lead vocalists Gareth James and Kendal Spinola greet the audience, till the band tear themselves away from the stage, The Undefind do nothing but rock.”
My only regret for the band is that the never reached their true potential. As I heard someone say on Friday: “They should have been so much bigger!”
While I have no doubt that the members will make a success of whatever they tackle next, the Cape Town music industry has seriously lost a gem.