When the image of a small red Caspar The Ghost ejaculating rainbows from a penis the size of his entire body fills the big screens, you know that we’re not watching Brian Wilson anymore, Toto. If you thought that Dave Gahan doing deranged insect dancing, pretending to be a glorious eagle and leering out at the crowd like a horny spiv from 1943 during Depeche Mode’s headline set on Thursday night was the weirdest that Bilbao BBK could manage, think again. Die Antwoord close out the festival with a set so bizarre and off-the-wall that it makes the average Lady Gaga gig look like a DUP wedding.
How weird is it? Let us count the ways. After about ten minutes of spinning the word ‘PLAY’ across an onstage pyramid to the tune of a 1970s horror movie soundtrack, the image of their late DJ and progeria sufferer Leon Botha fills the screens as a hooded DJ spins the sound of Carl Orff’s menacing choral ‘Carmina Burana’ being smashed to pieces with a hammer. “Come to the dark side, we have candy,” says munchkin rapper Yolandi Visser in her trademark helium squeak and the DJ whips off his hood – it’s Ninja, ready to join her in an endless skip of death as he raps about wanking, sweets and taking his coffee black “like my soul”.
Die Antwood’s music – a fairly innocuous clash of candy pop rave, eastern Shinto hooklines and demonic, volcanic beats that could soundtrack the first slasher movie set in Ibiza – is mostly of secondary concern to the spectacle they build around it. For ‘Daddy’ Ninja dances with cuddly dinosaurs with skeleton faces with a new DJ in a cartoonishly deformed mask mans the decks. For ‘Love Drug’ Ninja, Yolandi and their dancers all don matching pill-emblazoned jumpsuits and rap out a love affair in textspeak.
There are chunks of the set so kiddie-friendly it looks like Mr Tumble has lost his mind on MDMA, got head-to-toe tattoos and a knife-lover’s haircut and started a superstar DJ act with Barney the dinosaur and a speed-freaking Tweenie. But things soon take a turn for the sadistic. Come ‘Pitbull Terrier’, Ninja’s rapping through a dog head as S&M visuals flash across the pyramid and by ‘I Fink U Freeky’ images of Yolandi with vampire black eyes chewing on bloody bones worm their way into our nightmares forever. It comes as a relief when Yolandi croons out the “I am your butterfly’ refrain of the relatively sweet ‘Enter The Ninja’ and everyone starts spraying each other with smoke cannons. If The Prodigy ever opened a crèche…