Die Antwoord's draw is a bit beyond the realm of rational comprehension, the fact that a South African rap crew can sell out a venue the size of the Ogden without much of the crowd actually knowing the words to the group's songs. Casually strolling out in matching orange sweat suits emblazoned with their logo, Ninja (aka Watkin Tudor Jones) and Yo-Landi Vi$$er (aka Anri Du Toit), the two MCs who have carved a niche for themselves unlike any other group in the world, absolutely blew the pants off the Ogden last night, as the Zef-style crew ripped through most of the tracks off $0$ and Ten$Ion.
Ninja of Die Antwoord last night at the Ogden Theatre. Slide show: Die Antwoord in Denver
Blending English slang with bits and pieces of Afrikaans into each song, Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for "The Answer") has developed a formula unlike any other group in the world. Claiming "Zef style," a term that applies to social class more so than anything else, Ninja and Vi$$er proudly wear the status, along with shiny gold chains and wildly badass '80s haircuts -- Ninja himself rocks a semi-mullet-reaching-rat-tail, while Vi$$er's buzzed scalp is halo'd by a waterfall of flowing blond locks.
As Ninja rapped through "Wat Kyk Jy," Vi$$er reappeared on stage sans the orange sweats in some booty shorts and a disco-ball-esque jacket to perform "Rich Bitch." Once Ninja and Visser started really laying on the lyrics, people just kind of stared in awe. When a heavy beat would drop on cuts like "Never Le Nkemise" and "Hey Sexy," the sold-out crowd would proceed to grind awkwardly on each other -- but that didn't last. The energy was high, but it plateaued at that awkward "is it appropriate to dance to this music like I dance to other music?" moment.
Yo-Landi Vi$$er of Die Antwoord at the Ogden Theatre last night. Slide show: Die Antwoord in Denver
The first two tiers of people, all of whom were packed shoulder-to-shoulder, swayed and jumped along with tracks. Those gathered toward the back and in balcony mainly stared on intently, slack-jawed at the squeaking chirps emanating from Vi$$er's petite frame. Truth be told, it looked as though she was singing over the vocals, but that's also due in part to the fact that it's unbelievable that any person could speak at such high pitch, much less sing. The lack of uniformity of her vocals on all the tracks, however, suggests that she was, in fact, singing.
Yo-Landi Vi$$er of Die Antwoord last night at the Ogden Theatre. Slide show: Die Antwoord in Denver
When the opening lines of "Enter the Ninja" rang out, you could feel the intensity rise. The act's debut single, "Enter the Ninja" is the song that introduced Die Antwoord to the world. The song's main refrain is built around a hook sung by an innocent Visser intoning the lines, "I am your butterfly/I need your protection/Be my samurai." When DJ Hi-Tek broke into this during encore, the place erupted. It was particularly entertaining watching grown men mouth the lyrics to the female part of the song, especially when that part is raised to such a high pitch.
The Zef-style, which gets several mentions in various tracks, is no joke. The rap-duo-plus-DJ is not at it for the shock value of things; Die Antwoord has taken a unique lifestyle that can perhaps be compared to this country's Juggalo culture, except people perhaps don't respect Juggalos as much as they appear to with Die Antwoord.
And though the beats are simple, the flows are relatively complex, and the ability to fuse Afrikaans and English lyrics to create lyrics that actually make sense is beyond respectable, it's inspiring beyond understanding. Die Antwoord is "The Answer," per the translation, and perhaps the answer to long standing question of "what's next?"
Personal Bias: I'd be lying if I said "Enter the Ninja" didn't turn me on to Die Antwoord.
Random detail: A surprisingly large amount of people were wearing Die Antwoord shirts to the show.
By the way: Die Antwoord makes toys -- strange little bunny characters with raging mega huge boners.
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