ACL Review: Die Antwoord

Nightmarish, hilarious, absurdly filthy – what did you expect?

When cultural anthropologists look back to explain mankind’s collapse, they can point to the unlikely global success of Die Antwoord. The most controversial act at ACL, the South African rave-rap duo of Ninja and Yolandi Visser crashed the Honda stage in an encore to their 2012 Zilker Park appearance with more production, provocation, and fans.

Yolandi Visser (Photo by Shelley Hiam)

The opening blast of “We Have Candy” served as an appropriately ominous invitation to Die Antwoord’s world of abandon, frenetically propelled over the tight, hourlong set by DJ Hi-Tek’s maddening beats from the elevated platform. At turns nightmarish, hilarious, and absurdly filthy, Ninja and Visser barbed lines determined to unsettle, whether with his antagonistic rap or her high-pitched, childishly squealing verses.

Yet by the time the Casper the Friendly Ghost-inspired cartoon cocks began bouncing on the back screen for “Banana Brain,” complete with anatomically enhanced inflatables flanking the stage, the set had devolved into parody. As Ninja dropped his pants to his ankles, mooned the crowd, and crooned the chorus to “Raging Zef Boner,” Die Antwoord became less a confrontational force and more a shock joke that got lost on their way to the Gathering of the Juggalos.

Much of Die Antwoord’s power, and perhaps their appeal, springs from reveling in social outliers, whether South African Zef culture or their hyper-sexual, meth-chic, and fuck-all trash attitude. Yet the disconnect in bringing that underground culture mainstream couldn’t be more fascinatingly glaring than a festival field chanting along to “Happy Go Sucky Fucky” with “Fuck your rules!”

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Die Antwoord
ACL Music Fest Sunday Reviews
Die Antwoord
Ten$ion (Record Review)

Chase Hoffberger, Oct. 12, 2012

Phases & Stages
Die Antwoord
$O$ (Record Review)

Austin Powell, Oct. 29, 2010

More by Doug Freeman
As Willie Looks to 90, Austin Stars Shine at Luck Reunion
As Willie Looks to 90, Austin Stars Shine at Luck Reunion
Band of Heathens, Kelsey Wilson, Spoon made rain-delayed ranch date

March 18, 2023

SXSW Music 2023: The Best Things We Saw on Thursday
SXSW Music 2023: The Best Things We Saw on Thursday
Despite storms, we caught 03 Greedo, Sobs, Tangerine Dream, and more

March 17, 2023


Die Antwoord, ACL Fest 2016, Ninja, Yolandi Visser, DJ Hi-Tek, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, South African Zef

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle