Shock value is the music industry equivalent of job security. Just ask Marilyn Manson or Madonna.
Inspired by the Zef counter-culture movement in South Africa, Die Antwoord has found a way to breed similar success out of outlandish onstage shenanigans.
This reverie has elevated the rave duo into top-billing in the U.S. and has subsequently made them a busy troupe stateside. On Wednesday night at the Ogden Theatre as part of “Sonar On Tour,” the flashy impresarios made their second stop in Denver since August — proving that while fame is fleeting, it is nonetheless fiscally sacred.
Beyond their flamboyant stage presence, all else is generic. The least impressive part of their act is the inept rap style. “Diz Iz Why I’m Hot” is an overloaded spoof of thug-rhymes turned gimmicky bombast. “Fatty Boom Boom” does similar injustice; giving the duo’s grab at street-cred a wayward dose of M.I.A.-inspired production.
The band’s grimey gutter-punk appeal is the only real entertainment quotient at hand that is worth absorption. Lead-vocalists Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er are powder-coated with a thick grain of spite and disorder — which is a spectacle. The duo dresses like ’80s pop figurines and sing and rap like they’ve huffed helium (Ninja did indulge in some mid-set oxygen to help combat the altitude).
Later on, “Baby’s On Fire” and “I Fink U Freeky” provided more circus theatrics and worked to raise the level of artistry as DJ Hi-Tek wove a spiderweb of techno power-pop. On these tracks, Vi$$er’s high-pitched rap vocals proved irresistible wrapped in a syncopated counterstep. For fans, the underlying sex candy of her performance was also a bewitching sight. But for those looking for musical enlightenment, it was merely a sideshow.
Kris K. Coe is a freelance writer, Denver-native, and regular contributor to Reverb.