By Chelsea Farrelly
Smooth Mike cocks half a smile, lifts his loaded mic and murmurs, “You can’t say what on the radio?” It’s what the crowd in Monastery have been waiting for, the line resonates and pulses heaving the crowd forward towards PHfat on stage, screaming back, “You can’t say F*#ck on the radio!!!”
So begins an hour of electronic rap beats, sliced, diced and thrown out to the crowd from the trio that make up PHFat. Smooth Mike and Disco rock vocals, with Narch creating and mixing the beats in the background. It’s been a three year slog of carving a niche that the electronic youth can relate too. Their first album, ‘Dinosaur blood’, has been followed up with the ironically titled, ‘You are all going to die.’ But what’s not ironic is how this Cape Town band knows exactly what their audience wants and how to give it to them.
It’s been an exciting month with the launch of their album at Assembly in Cape Town on the 24th of February and the tour that’s followed. They’ve been playing across the country and wrapped a show in PE the night before coming to Grahamstown. The group will continue to travel for the next two weeks, promoting and headlining shows like Ramfest on Sunday. The crowds have been awesome and the fact that there new album is free on their website has made big crows attend shows and shout out chorus calls for favourites.
P.H.Fat recently left the label Misc Music, based in San Francisco, in order to give their music away for free as they wanted it to be accessible. Nazieg (Narch) says, “there’s no point putting your heart into something and then hiding it away for dollar, that’s not the point of making music at all.” They keep their passion alive by doing individual side project like the albums, ‘Brainwarmth’ and ‘Sledge Warbler’. Mike tells me, “We don’t push that stuff as its selfish music, stuff I make just for me, that way I don’t go crazy or get bored.” They didn’t know what to expect from the Grahamstown crowd last Saturday, as previous shows have turned up mixed results…
Sitting on the bar looking down at the bodies throwing themselves against each other, I know PhFat are not going to be disappointed by the enthusiasm bought on by small town love. They are the puppet masters and have the audience jumping and screaming profanities in any way they ask. The variation between ‘Dinosaur Blood’ and ‘You are going to die,’ differs only in the artist’s enthusiasm in performing the new tracks from the old. The sound is a tried and tested formula that they know works. Mike tells me to never expect the same thing from PHFat; they’re always going to be doing something different. Their manager Brandon tells me that their next album will be incorporating live instruments and that with the energy resonating off stage is bound to be gold.
Mike and Disco end the show with a free rap and a steady beat in the background. They smile at each other and for the first time that night, don’t just perform but let go and have fun. The three guys on stage feed off each other and you can see why when their music goes international on iTunes, 21st of June 2012, making their following just proudly South African.