More than glitz and glamour


There’s a palpable buzz here. Thrilled fans who’ve heard about Boo!’s comeback, and read that 2011 is set to be “the year of the Boo!” fill the Guy Butler theatre for the band’s opening Festival performance.

The lights dip. Chris Chameleon’s outfit certainly doesn’t disappoint: he oozes androgynous sex appeal in a tight, sparkling wet-look PVC one-piece (somewhere between lingerie and a cat-suit), pink fluffy armband, and thick eye-liner. The fine glitter on his bare shoulders sends out shards of light as he stalks on stage. He’s wearing scuffed high-top sneakers, not high-heels – all the better to swagger, moonwalk, prance and slink across the stage during the band’s 90-minute performance.

In the fine tradition of Boo!’s monkipunk genre, their act is part cabaret, part rock. Their sound flirts with ska and bubble-gum pop. Songs are short – there is little time in between numbers, and their messages – nothing too deep; mostly about love – are perfectly and promptly pumped out.

There’s a crowd of Boo!dists who head-bang in their seats and fill the aisles of the theatre to dance, shuffle and toss their hair to the Boo! of old. They especially love Chris’s crazy eyes and robotic high-kneed stalking dance in OOAA, and his grinding and writhing against his slender, bright white bass guitar during Avrocado Pair.

But this is all to be expected. What shines brighter than the over-the-top, Glam-Rock Rocky-Horror antics is the musical talent that the three men on stage pour into their performance, which feels less like a comeback act resurrected after seven years, and more like an act that has recently discovered the heady thrill of being onstage.

Chris Chameleon has a vocal range that covers four octaves, and he belts out a single note with the projection and power of an opera singer in Lucki, followed by a falsetto so high it’s barely audible to the human ear in Champion, and then hits every note pitch-perfectly in There’s Nothing that Love Can’t Overcome. It’s dizzying to watch. Chris works his voice harder than any other instrument on that stage, and despite the frivolity and flirtatiousness of the rest of his performance, every dark, lamenting note of Rookook you glimpse a depth and an ache that is incongruous with all the glitter and the glee.

Ampie Omo (back-up singer, keyboardist, and general percussionist), in black trousers with red flares, is a quiet wonder to behold. He juggles instruments calmly, with a fluid ease – he sticks the triangle wand between his teeth to hit a few notes on the keyboard; with his trumpet between his knees, he pounds the bongo drum in Come. Drummer Riaan van Rensburg (from Noot vir Noot) looks like he’s having the time of his life onstage. In his button-down shirt and baseball cap, his status as straight-laced newcomer to the band is immediately obvious, but he doesn’t seem to care: he even tosses his drumsticks into the crowd after the last song.