[EVENT REVIEW] Vulvodynia Live at JARR Bar

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EVENT: Vulvodynia Live
EVENT DATE: 27 November 2020
COUNTRY: South Africa
CITY: Pretoria


Human Nebula


Fun fact: I have the pleasure of hearing Human Nebula rehearse all the time, but I had never seen them live. Much as I love these guys, I’m too close to the situation, and so I approached this gig assuming they couldn’t surprise me.

Fun fact #2: Though their fame precedes them, I had also never seen Vulvodynia live. Slam is not my first pick, so going into this gig I thought to myself, calm down, people. They’re just another metal band.

Fun fact #3: I’ve been thoroughly put in my place, and I will stay there until these two bands tell me I’m allowed to leave it.

Human Nebula will convince you that they traded their souls for talent. It’s incredibly difficult to believe that all five of them just happen to be prodigies who crossed paths by chance. I’d tell them to enjoy it while they can because the hellhounds will lay claim to them soon… but that would do them a disservice.

Human Nebula is — in its own right, and to its own credit — the most capable band I’ve ever seen. Evidence of this was when guitarist Tim Lotter took front and centre with an intricate solo, and someone from the crowd yelled, “Jissie, boet!”
We laughed, but we all agreed. I’d like to extend those words to the entire band.

I’ll admit it was a little bit odd experiencing metal as a sit-down show (presumably in accordance with COVID-19 regulation), but Human Nebula nailed it.

Vulvodynia had a tough act to follow.

So there I was, ready to dispel the hype, when the energy in Jarr Bar changed. Fellas pushed furniture out of the way to make room for mosh pits, people climbed on the tables, and the crowd went apeshit before Vulvodynia even played a single note. At this point I really asked myself, “WHAT IS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?”

Then Vulvodynia played… And my face melted.

I see now, with true clarity, why Vulvodynia are South Africa’s leading light. I’ve never seen a band that authoritative — that commanding — in all my years of attending gigs.

There was a moment when frontman Duncan Bentley climbed on the tables himself, with the audience gazing up at him from below. It was an awesome sight to behold, and it defines what Vulvodynia are. They’re not “just another metal band” as I previously thought. They’re titans among mortals, far above the rest of us — and rightfully so.

Regardless, I have half a mind to sue them. I liked my face just the way it was  before they came along and blasted it off my person.

Jokes aside, this was one of the coolest shows I’ve been to, if not the coolest of all. Both bands were brilliant, and I am humbled (and shocked to my core) by how spectacular they are. It was truly unforgettable.

Friday’s gig was full of poetic contrasts. We sat for Human Nebula, and wreaked havoc for Vulvodynia. We saw a sorely underrated band before the most revered metal musicians in the country. We witnessed unbelievable skill before experiencing inconceivable power. But there is one thing that Human Nebula and Vulvodynia have in common.

They’re both the gold standard of metal, by far.


Rating: 10/10

Reviewed by: Kelly Damon

Photography by: Jason Van Den Berg