Preaching to the faithful, converting the Faithless
As I hotfooted my way through the middle to super-middle class Capetonian parishioners of dance, I became aware of the diverse cross-section of ages present at the Faithless regional “chapel of the converted”, namely the Bellville Velledrome Diocese. They ranged from the original pill popping children of rave, who witnessed the baptism of Faithless and the genesis of the European and international dance scene, to their post-rave compatriots attired in their best YDE lycra, patent leather and daddy’s money. I asked myself what it was that Maxi Jazz was preaching that was so sorely missing from many a pastor’s Sunday sermon?
Many have described me as a cynic refusing to conform to the dictates of mass culture.
This is exactly what Faithless had seemed to me until recently. A well-placed commercial dance ensemble, skating on hit tracks that carried their record sales (but isn’t that what chart music is all about?). On closer inspection, however, one becomes more aware of the complex layers of Sister Bliss’ brand of synthesis, which is contrastingly deconstructed and unusually enhanced by Maxi Jazz’s Zen-like syncopated scat-rap.
So arms crossed and mouth closed, I stood at the altar of adolescence unwilling to receive my first Holy Communion. More willingly, I endured the processional hymns of Max Normal, whose Waddy hip-hopped his gangly, preppy, white self through the band’s underground take on the gated South African suburbia.
Finally in a Billy Graham-esque manner, Maxi Jazz presented himself. He was clad in the best black Armani, with a juxtaposed hint of social redness in a Brit-Punk style shoulder-cut vest. It’s rather odd that the first ships of European evangelism brought to our shores a belief system which would be used to divide our people under Apartheid’s white yoke. This second coming brings a colourless gospel of song and movement to our air-waves, uniting the youth of opposing colours and backgrounds, under a flag of tolerance and love.
Intently listening to the lyrics I’ve heard many times over, I too “became one”. Voluntarily raising my hands up to the heavens at the prompt of the Reverend Maxi Jazz, it was like being a cast extra in an MTV music video. It was for that night that God was a DJ. Old hippies raised their well-worn Zippo’s while new rave-kids flashed their designer, translucent, Apple Mac-coloured mobile lighters, illuminating the arena.
Post orgasmic concert chill, many chirped that the proceedings seemed hijacked by time and could have been a lot longer. In my opinion I found the length refreshing - not milking the crowd in a musical marathon, but like their album a good dosage of sound in preparation for a night out.
I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Faithless, more an innocent but interested bystander and witness to their musical progress. Though it was on that fateful Saturday that I became a convert to the lyrical eucharist known to many as Faithless.