Zebra & Giraffe are good – and they know it. But there’s nothing wrong with that, when you’re good, you’re good! So their air of arrogance as the four-piece band took to the stage at Kirstenbosch this weekend was not surprising. Filling the lush concert lawn was a crowd of grannies, moms with their four-year-olds, and cool dads in Kings of Leon t-shirts – no doubt quite a departure from the band’s usual crowd of bopping 20-somethings in a dark, smoky club with lights flashing, but the boys of Zebra & Giraffe took it in their stride.
As soon as a group of young kids took up a position directly in front of the stage and began to dance their hearts out, the arrogance faded entirely and the band started to engage with the fans on a truly human level. Smiling, throwing free t-shirts into the crowd and chatting in a way that made them seem genuinely likeable, the band won themselves a whole new legion of dedicated fans.
Within the first half of the show, it was evident that Zebra & Giraffe rely not on a massive stage presence nor on any bells and whistles, but on a polished and strong vocal and musical performance to capture the attention of their audience.
Frontman Greg Carlin’s vocals held firmly through songs including ‘End of the Road’ from their second album The Inside, to ‘Sons’ from latest album The Wisest Ones, to their most major hit to date ‘The Knife’. The latter was of course the biggest crowd-pleaser, with the entire audience standing up to dance – though admittedly some may only have been doing so for fear that Greg would single them out if they remained seated.
The new music is explosive, and translates very well onto the live stage, sounding even better than recorded versions. The final song of the set, ‘Sick’, was definitely a stand-out, as was ‘My Best’. And although they recently lost both their drummer and bassist (keyboardist Mike Wright is now on drums, whilst Carlin has taken on keyboards) there is absolutely nothing lacking in their live performance. And as the mist and cold began to settle over Table Mountain, yet another successful Kirstenbosch concert drew to an end.
Zebra & Giraffe cite Nirvana as an influence on their latest album and the band frequently draw comparisons to international bands (though don’t ask Carlin about their being chosen to open for The Killers on tour in SA in 2009 – he seems to still hold a grudge against the Las Vegas rockers for not bothering to meet him on said tour). As the band plan to head to Europe early next year to promote The Wisest Ones, the Europeans are sure to fall at their feet; and who could blame them? After all, when you’re good, you’re good.
Zebra & Giraffe played at the Kirstenbosch Summer Concert Series on 9 December 2012.
See our photos of Zebra & Giraffe at Kirstenbosch on Facebook. Please feel free to tag!