Review: Zebra & Giraffe Display Their Staying Power

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The music may not be happy or pop-y, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still dance. Greg Carlin said jump, we jumped. He said dance, we danced. Carlin, lead singer of Zebra & Giraffe, had audience members on their feet this past Friday night, fists in the air and moving to their sinister, sullen beats.

Mercury Live was abuzz with a melting pot of energetic fans, teens and adults alike, full of anticipation for the South African rock band. Zebra & Giraffe was on the last leg of their local tour to promote the launch of their newest album, The Wisest Ones.

The venue could not have been more perfect for the occasion. The small but open space was well suited for a decent-sized crowd of rockin’ fans with plenty of space for movers and shakers. The speakers boomed and the room was filled with loud drum beats, raring guitars and the powerful vocals of the band.

Zebra & Giraffe are no longer the new kids on the block. With 13 singles under their belts since their formation in 2007, as well as a fistful of awards and performances alongside The Killers, Oasis and Snow Patrol, Zebra & Giraffe is now one of the most popular rock bands in South Africa.

Since their first album two members have left the band, reducing it to front man Carling, guitarist Alan Shenton and drummer Mike Wright. Despite – or perhaps because of – this, their sound has steadily matured, and now we see the dark end edgy masterpiece that is The Wisest Ones – arguably their best album to date.

Friday night’s show set off with a bang with the unique sounds of Tailor, the opening act for Zebra & Giraffe. The petite girl surprised everyone with her powerful, lilting voice (reminiscent of Cranberries front woman Dolores O’Riordan) and songs so heart wrenchingly beautiful even Tailor herself was brought to tears.  This is definitely a girl to look out for.

The crowd was duly amped for Zebra & Giraffe, and sure enough the band’s spine-tingling energy and stage presence were enough to get anyone up and moving. With songs from their new album such as ‘My Best’ and ‘I’ll Blame You’ as well as a few songs from their earlier albums, they kept the audience enthralled.

Drawing inspiration from Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana and Marilyn Manson, The Wisest Ones treads on a much darker path than we have previously seen from Zebra & Giraffe. Carlin says of the album, “With Collected Memories and The Inside, I always worried about a song’s commercial appeal. With The Wisest Ones we really just wrote songs that felt right – songs that almost needed to get out. Whether they had a catchy chorus, or a chorus at all didn’t really matter. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of catchy stuff on this album; there is. We just haven’t been afraid to experiment with our sound and push ourselves with this album. It still sounds like us; like Zebra & Giraffe; but it’s definitely darker, noisier, and lyrically, a lot more honest.”

Zebra & Giraffe has a bright future ahead. Between heading to the USA for a tour in October and a European tour in 2013, we can expect a lot more to come from these boys.

by Claire Pokorchak

Zebra & Giraffe performed at Mercury Live on 28 September 2012. Their newest album, The Wisest Ones, along with Tailor’s album, Tailor, are both currently available at music stores and are available to download from iTunes.

 

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