Boo! began in 1997 in the backstreets of dirty Brixton, Johannesburg, South Africa, when it’s first members, Ampie Omo, Chris Chameleon and Leon Retief conspired to make music that would go against most of the conventional wisdom of the time. Having considered names like “Yellow Lilo” and “Die Wit Ding Wat in Die Pad Le”, it was Chris’ dream of playing to the sound of a stadium boo-ing the band that eventually won out. Although the name was designed to thwart any chances of feedback on a bad performance, this contingency was never required as Boo! became not only one of South Africa’s favourite bands of all time, but also one of the country’s proudest musical exports to both Europe and North America.
During the following 7 years Boo! acquired an impressive cult following worldwide, performing approximately 800 gigs in 17 countries. Brandishing their self-styled genre “monkipunk”, Boo! performed at various European and American festivals with the likes of the White Stripes, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Franz Ferdinand, Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, Placebo and Coldplay amongst others. The band also received a South African Music Award (SAMA) in 2002 for ‘Best Pop Album’. The band’s sound consisted of bass, drums, brass, keyboards and percussion; notably lacking guitar. In spite of this unusual orchestration, Boo! hit the number one position on the 5FM top 40 with “Stagefright” and a number two position with “OOAA”, testimony to frontman, bassist and resident drag queen, Chris Chameleon’s exceptional songwriting abilities.
In September 2004, Ampie Omo and Leon Retief announced their resignation from Boo! and performed their final show with the band on 14 December 2004. Leon Retief continued his career in a drive to create order from the chaos that is the indie music scene in Europe from his new base in Berlin. Ampie Omo continued his career as a member of ska-outfit Fuzigish and was the invited guest trombonist for the Violent Femmes when they played in South Africa in 2005 and 2007. Chris Chameleon surprised his punk pundits and cohorts by becoming one of the best-selling and critically most acclaimed artists in the Afrikaans music landscape, notching up a total of 19 national awards in four years including a South African Music Award (SAMA) and a Medal of Honor from the South African Academy of Science and Arts.
An impressive second debut at the Ramfest festivals in both Johannesburg and Worchester in 2010 saw Boo! back with a change in wardrobe and drummers with Rivar taking over from Princess Leonie. The supporting album, ‘The Three Of Us’ recorded in Amsterdam, typified the very musically irreverent and emotional antics which created this South African legend.
Since May 2012 Boo! went into remission again for a few years, with Ampie Omo dedicating his time to the fulfilment of grown up duties with a maturity and responsibility that still eludes Rivar and Chris Chameleon. Demand, however, had the last say and since the end of 2016 Boo! has been yielding to calls for more performances and a new album.
In 2018 Boo! will celebrate their 21st birthday. This looks to being a momentous occasion with an album in the works, a documentary and tours in South Africa and abroad. Monki Punk may become Guerilla Punk, three may become two plus special guests, but the band worth the biggest and most appreciative denouncement of all remains on stage, electrified by that most beautiful sound to their ears:
Boo! have released a new album for their 21 birthday (31 October 2018) as well as a live Boo!tleg album of a gig in the Netherlands (which they are currently touring). Both will be available at the Knysna show.