Die Antwoord – Photos & Review – Toronto 2016

Die Antwoord – Rebel – October 16, 2016

Review & Photos by Elisabeth Isles.

It’s an interesting thing, watching Die Antwoord play to such a rabid crowd. If anything, it’s a litmus test on the fringes of youth culture, with the South African duo of Ninja and Yolandi garnering major attention for their experimental, alt-culture hip hop. If you need evidence that there’s space in society for artists beyond the typical EDM/rap offerings, you just need to look at Die Antwoord to see that even the weirdos need heroes.

The carnivalesque quality of their performance – complete with multiple outfit changes, confetti blasts, backup dancers, and their DJ, God, throwing down a healthy heap of block-rocking beats – would be an easy translation into a Vegas show, if said Vegas show required every person in the audience to eat some shrooms beforehand. Obviously it’s weird, with a lot owing to the shock value of it all. But even if you’ve seen it before (as I suspect many in the audience at Toronto’s Rebel Complex had,) it was still enthralling. And, in the crowded era of digital blips on the music spectrum, that’s certainly worth something.

On tour in support of their fourth album, 2016’s Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid, the band played to a packed room full of ravers, hipsters, and curious third-parties. Die Antwoord were energetic and constantly asking their audience for more – jumping around with their arms raised, leading crowd-wide sing alongs to songs like “We Have Candy”, “Ugly Boy”, “I Fink U Freeky”, and “Enter the Ninja”.

They’re smart with what they do, this much is clear; and obviously they’re heavily invested in the personas that has afforded their experimental sounds increasingly larger stages. While rumours recently swirled of the band’s imminent demise, it’s hard to think they’d give up such a powerful platform. As fans happily piled out of Rebel after the band’s 20-song, 70-minute set, you absolutely have to appreciate that Die Antwoord’s found a way to subvert norms, push boundaries, and occupy an apparently much needed space in not just music, but culture in general.