Reviewed By Matthew Nijland

On a rather chilly Friday night (7 July to be exact), Jozi’s hippest indie crowd flocked to Sognage to watch SA legends Desmond and the Tutus do what they do best.

The floor was packed wall-to-wall with flannels, baggy tees and excited young faces under the venue’s unmistakable triangular jigsaw ceiling glowing in spectacular rainbow fashion. The atmosphere buzzed with whoops and screams when the night’s first opener, singer-songwriter and twangy guitar boy Danny Ylang, took to the mic. Having recently participated in Texx and the City’s Band or Bust 2023 competition in Cape Town, Danny is currently under the spotlight as a fine new addition to SA indie music.

His self-described “happy-sad” songs meld classic jazzy Fender Stratocaster clean tones with his buttery voice singing of yearning, self-deprecation and escapism. I was majorly impressed with his debut single, “Slip Away” (also performed on the night), and his other original tunes including “Creep” (already being hyped up by his friends as his upcoming second single), “I Don’t Like Me”, and “Sigh” (for which he cleverly got the audience to sigh along with him in the instrumental breaks). The crowd sang along loudly to his brilliant cover of “505” by the Arctic Monkeys, and jumped around during an instrumental break giving each of his bandmates (consisting of members from Hiding Bigfoot, up next) a chance to shine!

Danny Ylang and the Gang warmed up the chilly evening with their “happy-sad” indie vibes.

Hiding Bigfoot (who I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing before for Fanbase) climbed on-stage next for their second time opening for the Tutus at Sognage, serving up a mixed set of originals and covers that turned the crowd into a sea of bodies bopping up and down to the beats. The band’s reputation precedes them as a popular act at the Picnic & Thrift markets and through their own Howzit! festival, and they keep growing from strength to strength (literally, with the addition of their lead guitarist Anton, who brings versatility and an extra pair of musical hands to the group).

The band glided through their infectious originals including “Lemonade“, “Running Blind” and “Norton Howard“, and crowd-beloved covers including “good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo, “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift and “Chaise Lounge” by Wet Leg – all of which saw keyboardist Hannah take lead vocals on, which she nailed and had all the girls screaming for her. They even threw in renditions of the Phineas and Ferb and new Scooby Doo show theme songs, which their fans voted they perform for the show and were not left disappointed. I also really enjoyed how the band swapped instruments on certain songs, reflecting the easy-going vibe and collaborative talent its members share in.

Hiding Bigfoot show off their musical chops to distract us from asking where Bigfoot is hiding.

At this point, I’d like to commend both opening acts on their ability to command the audience and encourage crowd interaction during their performances, which is not an easy thing to do! Special mention needs to go to sound engineer Ashley Gaisford for the superbly crisp and clear audio, and the lighting squad for bringing each performance to life visually!

When the Tutus finally crashed onto the stage, they wasted no time getting the crowd frenzied with their energetic, rhythm-heavy opener “What Am I Gonna Do with You“. Lead singer Shane Durrant exuded magnetic frontman energy, pacing up and down the stage and leaning over the rails into the audience on each end, backed by beat man Craig Durrant and guitar man Douglas Bower. The band fully embraced their signature tongue-in-cheek demeanor, briefly pausing the show to advertise their new t-shirt simply reading “Desmond” in heavy metal font (since all the metal bands typically perform at Sognage, it was a very funny self-aware nod to the venue).

Shane holds out his hand, welcoming the crowd into the crazy world of the Tutus for the next hour.

Watching these legends live for the first time, they’re one of the most energetic local bands I’ve ever seen. For just three guys, they had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. Whether it was making the room wave their hands in unison along to “Teenagers“, getting them to do the signature hand claw bounce along to their encore song “German Modern” (requested by a fan in their DMs before the show), or effortlessly having them sing along to “Ladybug“, “Lazy Bones“, “Pool Party” and “Pretoria Girls“, it’s evident that the Tutus have solidified themselves as one of the most influential SA bands of a generation.

Teaching the crowd to do the “German Modern”.

Keeping with their dance-influenced musical style, they also smashed very cool covers of “Day ‘n’ Nite” by Kid Cudi and “Satisfaction” by Banny Benassi, the latter during which Shane jumped into the audience, causing the room to lose control with arms flailing and bodies bouncing as if it were an Ultra fest (or even one of Sognage’s metal shows).

Everybody’s favourite Pretoria boys have still got it going strong all these years later!

Turns out Desmond can be just as metal as the actual metal bands that routinely play Sognage.

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