“Said (poo-zah) – as ‘phuza’ is the traditional Zulu term for drink, it follows that ‘phuza Thursday’ is the act of drinking (most commonly binge drinking) on a Thursday night. This has become a burgeoning tradition among South African youth, with Thursday nights almost replacing Friday nights as occasions for heavy drinking.”
It was with anticipation that Gemma, Vic and I made our way to New River Studios in Manor House last Thursday. The rehearsal and studio space is nestled in amongst the area’s warehouses which have been converted to shared housing. We were heading down to support Vic and Gem’s neighbour Ben and his band TomZack who were headlining a night of bands presented by Aural Youth.
|Posters scattered in between the warehouses of Manor House|
As a band, TomZack had only formed late last year, and seeing them play, somewhat chaotically, at a party a few months ago it did seem like they still needed some time to find their feet. The potential was definitely there and I was looking forward to seeing them again with perhaps a bit more focus added to the wall of noise they previously produced.
Venturing down a long corridor and into the performance space the air was stuffy and the lighting moody but the small crowd was enthusiastic. We caught the end of another performance by a band that sounded like they were channelling Bauhaus, which while my inner Goth would not complain, they added a kind of stiffness to the atmosphere which I’m not entirely sure was welcome.
|Vic and Gem in the moody lights|
|Ben tuning up|
Finally it was time for the headliners. Having recorded a single with Strong Island Recordings – Too Much to Love, produced with Margo Broom – and increased their song repertoire since I last saw them I have to say I was impressed. The 3 piece band themselves had also increased in that they’d added female backing vocals as well as occasional flourishes of clarinet. The wall of noise was still strong, but now it had a direction and a new richness.
The sombre vibe left by the previous act was quickly dispelled by the opening baseline which kicked off the raucous set. The energy levels spiked during each tune with the grinding riffs, intense melodies and the both haunting and guttural vocals. Having listened to the band’s single on Spotify I must confirm that they were made for live performance. There is a passion and pride injected into the live show that is simply impossible to capture and contain in a recording.
The music was not only catchy and powerful, but the intensity of each musician individually and collectively on stage was equally infectious and the crowd couldn’t help joining in their thrashing about. It was like they had just been told this was going to be their last show and they truly gave it their all.
After a five song set the moshing crowd was left wanting more and me wishing it was Friday. The urge to Phuza Thursday was strong and I was reluctant to ‘adult’ and head home since I had deadlines looming at work the next day. I very much wanted the party to continue.
|Post gig with Vic, Gem, Ben and Jess from TomZack|
This band are just beginning but I see them developing into a force to be reckoned with, definitely one to keep an eye on. They are back at New River Studios at the end of July (http://newriverstudios.com/)
The single “Too much to Love” is available on iTunes and you can have a listen on Spotify and Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/strongislandrecordings/tomzack-too-much-to-love