Live: Die Antwoord Kick Our Writer In the Head at the Music Hall of Williamsburg


Die Antwoord
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sunday, July 25

Yo-landi Visser, one-half of the notorious internet phenom South African rap project Die Antwoord, has a thing for spanking her own gold, spandex-plated butt. Naturally, this is a distracting spectacle to see onstage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg–so much so that I am caught off guard when the other half of Die Antwoord dropkicks me in the skull. Ninja, Visser’s scowling, six-foot-something male counterpart, has somersaulted off the stage, mid-“Enter the Ninja.” As Visser had said at the beginning of the song: “He was the wrong Ninja to fuck with.” Duly noted.

Taking the stage for their second of two NYC shows this weekend (the group played HARD Fest at Governors Island Saturday), the two strike a ready-to-attack pose, which they both hold for at least 15 seconds. The intensity of it all is furthered by their matching, hooded sweatsuits, custom-designed with various sketches drawn by Ninja. One is a heart that says “I love you.” Below that is a Casper-looking fellow holding a giant penis.

“OMG they’re so intense! They’re not kidding!” someone beside me shouts during a gap between songs, and he’s right–Die Antwoord are very sincere. It is very probable that the Music Hall of Williamsburg has never before experienced anything this un-ironic. The duo segues into “Wat Kyk Jy,” a song whose unofficial YouTube music video is of the band rapping the tune live in a moving car on the streets of Capetown as Visser repeatedly moons the camera. For this rendition, Ninja plants himself centerstage, flexing his skeletal body as if he’s trying to free his ribcage. He transitions from this position into a flurry of hand-blocks to the beat of song’s clanging drums, like a Dragon Ball Z character blocking energy balls or whatever. Ninja is intense.

“Brooklyn!” he shouts. “We’re going to teach you about our style.” When someone offends you in South Africa, he explains, you tell them, “Jou ma se poes in ‘n fishpaste jar.” He says that ma, obviously, means mother; poes (pronounced “puss”) means “private parts,” as he politely puts it. Thus, “Your mother’s ‘poes’ in a fish paste jar.”

During a mid-set freestyle, Ninja begins one rhyme with “People stare, they go, yeah that’s funky” and finishes it with “when they take my SpongeBob SquarePants undies.” He pulls down his sweatpants to reveal, yes, SpongeBob SquarePants underwear. Later, Ninja exits the stage for a brief wardrobe change and replaces Spongebob with the Pink Floyd boxers the rapper first debuted in the viral music video for “Beat Boy.” “Bring that Next Level Shit,” he commands us and then, perhaps sensing some skepticism in the room, adds, “Uh, yo, for real.” For real.