Crash Test Dummies: Saving South Africa from Solomon Grundy

Crash Test Dummies: Saving South Africa from Solomon Grundy*

Brad Roberts and his Dummies did not shuffle their feet:

After about 15 years since Crash Test Dummies last set foot on South African soil, Brad Roberts and his Dummies did not shuffle their feet.

Instead on this epic Sunday, that I have been waiting for almost my entire life, Crash Test Dummies came on stage and reminded why I developed an intense love for music in the first place.

I swear… as soon as they started with “God Shuffled his feet” I was an eight-year-old boy again, not having a damn clue what the significance of this would be in my later years. It took me straight back to my childhood home, sitting in my brother’s room fascinated by the look of wonder and awe on his face.

Some twenty-five odd years later, a few million listens and dabbling in performing some of the songs myself (albeit never quite getting that utter beauty of Brad’s baritone voice down) that Sunday, I FINALLY understood.

There was no intricate light show, massive LED screens hypnotizing us with acid dreams

I can honestly tell you, dear reader, seeing these guys live goes right to the upper echelon of “ET’s list of absolutely jaw-droppingly cool shit I’ve done and seen.” It was the honesty. There was no intricate light show, massive LED screens hypnotizing us with acid dreams, extra backup dancers and/or exceedingly drunken bumholes screwing up everyone’s afternoon while some shithead is trying to lip sync in ill-fitting clothes. None of that.

The amount of respect in the air was tangible. The crowd hung on every word that was spoken and sung. “Spectacular” (if you were there, you can have a chuckle right about now. If not, just take it for what it is. It is one of those “you had to be there” kinda things).

Crash Test Dummies were Way Ahead of Their Time:

The thing about Crash Test Dummies is that, not only were their compositions way ahead of the time in an era were being way ahead was stupendously hard (we’re talking 90’s FYI) nor is it that they have been pioneers in instrumental usage in “Adult Orientated Alternative Rock” (yuuuup, that’s a thing, look it up if you don’t believe me), or even that literally every song tells a fantastic story.

The thing is that sets them apart is that… wait for it… and I do not expect most to understand this… THEIR SONGS ARE STILL RELEVANT. THERE IS AN ACTUAL MESSAGE.

Check this out:

“Running into you like this without warning… Is like catching a sniff of tequila in the morning but I’ll try, I’ll try to keep my food down. That’s quite an aftertaste that you’ve left now that you’re not around…” Yeah, let that sink in for a moment. See?!

I can tell you all about the facts. That it was a greatly successful event that was well-organized thanks to the guys and gals at Melos, Mix FM, Jack Daniels and everyone involved and blah blah blah…. It’s true.

It’s the honesty and lessons we teach that will define us.

But if there is one thing I have learned from that day’s events and occurrences are that someday I’ll wear a disappearing hairline, hell, pajamas in the daytime even in the days were afternoons will be measured out with coffee spoons and T.S Elliot and that is fine. It’s the honesty and lessons we teach that will define us. What I took from “Superman’s Song” in 1991 at six-years old was not much.

Were you expecting something profound? Come on now… I was six. BUT, ever since then the doors of the mind and understanding consistently get flung open. Time and time again.

I could think of many great ways to spend a belated Valentine’s day out with my special lady, but none of those ideas would have come close to the experience of watching these guys. By the time the show ended, the first time (*sidenote: “We have one more song left for you guys and then we are going to pretend to be finished and then get back on and play a few more songs”) I was near tears. By the end of the show, the applause from the crowd kept on roaring out of sheer appreciation.

Between song, banter consisted of everything from stories concerning drones and the fear that people are keeping an eye on you to vape cloud sizes and how misleading those are.


This is the honesty I referred to earlier. There was no need to put on a borderline inappropriate gyrating act that oozes whatever… It was about the music and in doing that, they delivered one of the best performances I had ever witnessed.

Honesty and Respect for the Art:

There was much mention of the fact that the crowd was really well behaved and super patient through all the “songs you don’t know” seeing as we all should have been “hammered” by that time. There was something in the air that day. It was the sweet serenity of kick-ass, timeless music soothing even the most rampant South African’s inner alcoholic. We all knew it. In my opinion, no one wanted to miss a single note. Whatever happened after that, I cannot say.

Quick, give this a listen: 

Makes you think doesn’t it?

I can go on forever about them but alas. I will, however, leave you with this.

Sometimes I despair that the world will never see a band like them again.

(*Solomon Grundy is the title of a 19th-century nursery rhyme. Much like the boogeyman, Solomon would be reborn every Monday and die tragically every Sunday. He’s even a villain in DC comics. More info here:

Crash Test Dummies by Henry Engelbrecht
Crash Test Dummies by Henry Engelbrecht

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Written by Etienne Grobler


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