We sent Henry to the Gangs of Ballet album launch for ‘yes/no/grey’ at !Arcade Empire on the 30th of August. Here’s what he had to say about the night. 

Have you ever found a really great, unknown band? One of those bands whose music you play to your friends and they simply just don’t seem to enjoy the sound… Then twelve months later the band becomes super famous and everyone is listening to their music and your friends tell you what an awesome sound this band has.

Well Gangs of Ballet is that band for me. Or at least one of those kinds of bands for me – there are a few. (What? I enjoy great, unknown music. ‘I don’t do mainstream, man.’)

I had the awesome opportunity to see Gangs of Ballet open for the Grammy Award Winning band, Switchfoot, when they were still fairly new on the South African music circuit. Back then no one knew about this groovy, alternative rock band from Durban. Needless to say they got Carnival City warmed up for an awesome international act. But I digress – back to Arcade Empire.

Gangs of Ballet have just finished touring through the country, launching their debut album yes/no/grey. Their last stop, as you may have guessed, was none other than Arcade Empire, right here in the capital city.

Touring with this iTunes-chart-topping-band (Yes, they are the first South African BAND to rock out in the number one position) was up-and-coming group, Monark.

The band consists of Eugene Coetzer on vocals, Francois De Klerk on guitar, Deon de Klerk on bass, Ewald Janse van Rensburg on guitar and Ben Greyling on drums (Francois and Ben from Alleen na Desember). After releasing their first single, Smiling, Monark hit instant fame and many a listener has likened their sound to that of internationally acclaimed band, Maroon 5.

Monark opened the evening up to a very busy Arcade Empire and the moment they started with their first song, I immediately enjoyed the way they sounded. Being an Arcade Empire veteran myself (quiz nights included), it was tough not to notice how Monark managed to sound incredibly clean and tight in the small confines of the Arcade Empire performance area. I put it down to great sound engineering and the use of in-ear (or on-ear) headphones. Having heard their single, Smiling, on air, it was a pleasure to hear how they actually managed to get the same sound on stage. Some bands sound great on album and, well, manage to sound like someone else when they play live.

Finishing their last song, it was easy to see that Monark achieved their goal and had Arcade Empire thoroughly warmed up for the actual reason we were all there.

Gangs of Ballet took the stage 45 minutes later and definitely did not disappoint. Consisting of Brad Klynsmith on vocals and guitar, Hardus de Beer on bass, Jono Rich on Keys and Josh Klynsmith on drums; the band features a well-rounded set of artists.

With their aforementioned iTunes success, it was clear that Gangs of Ballet felt they needed to prove they deserved that number one spot. Or maybe they were just plain giddy with the emotion of success. Whatever it was that they were feeling, Gangs of Ballet played like a house on fire.

They were tight, melodic, clean and everything else a good band should be on stage. The crowd seemed to also pick up on this; everyone was jumping up and down, singing along to almost every word. Gangs of Ballet also possessed that knack of actually sounding like themselves whilst playing on stage and I soon found myself head banging and singing along (camera in hand and all).

The song of the night, as should be expected, was definitely Hello Sweet World which is probably their biggest song to date. They played, what seemed to me, their entire repertoire, even coming back on stage for a well-deserved encore.

If the final vote came down to me, I’d say they really do deserve that number one spot (Henry’s stamp of approval).

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