This here a narrative about how the year went as far as the rock scene is concerned.
I had high hopes for this year. Needless to say, when you lead a life that is checked with expectation, disappointment is bound to set in because as they say, reality is a cruel mistress.
A number of things that we’d hoped would manifest never saw the light of day. There were very dark moments that weighed heavy on the heart. At times I even came to question why I write this blog. My resolve was broken countless times.
But with as many failures as came about, there were countless moments when the joy of life shone with a blinding brilliance.
“Building Castles in the Sky”
2015, if nothing else, has taught me one painful lesson, manage your expectations! Without that, I’ll probably end up disappointed and dead at the bottom of a pool.
F.Scott Fitzgerald conjured up a character in the fashion of Jay Gatsby whom he described as a man with a “colossal vitality for illusion.” Jay Gatsby lived as bountifully as any rich man and his capacity for self-delusion welled up as much as his ability to gather riches. He dreamed up a life with a beautiful girl. In the end, the girl spurned him. As he lay dying in his own pool of blood, the girl of his dreams, his greatest expectation, drifted into the sunset with another man, her perfume wafting away in her wake and with her, his dreams of unbounded love.
That characterisation of Jay Gatsby’s dashed expectations mirrors mine, and perhaps the scene’s disappointment at how things unravelled this year.
There was plenty of promise in the way of full length albums from a variety of quarters.
In Oath’s early year release ‘Tri-Infestation’ featured prominently during the January-March session of the year. It dominated the African charts and received great response from metal heads within the scene itself. Disappointingly however that was the last we’ve heard of In Oath since then. At the beginning of the year we were promised an album.
Other bands that broke their silence included Last Year’s Tragedy, Mortal Soul and Void of Belonging. These bands all released a single song each with the most memorable of the bunch being Mortal Soul. The other two in our respectful estimation struggled to impress.
When this year began we expected that we’d be getting albums from Last Year’s Tragedy and Mortal Soul. It was reported that the latter had written material that they’d be compiling for an album. That was back in 2014. Those promises never bore fruit and there hasn’t been official communication from the band on what the progress on that is. As far as Last Year’s Tragedy are concerned a release for their upcoming album may tentatively be set for some time next year.
The year has also been marked by death in the scene. The Christian and Gloria Sangwa both “Culture Horizon” and “Void of Belonging” lost their father mid this year. The death of two metal-heads, Slim Sandy and Lucard also accounted for the gloom that went around this year. I know all too well the pain that comes with the loss of a parent or close friend. The grief that comes with it is an enveloping blanket that will consume you for the rest of your life. But the greatest way to live with grief is to never despair.
Highlights of the Year
Despite the drawbacks there were in facts moments of thrill that turned out better than expected. The crowning one was “March from the Underground”. We ended up with a roster of bands that really looked like they gave a fuck about the show. David Mburu and LYT gave their all in promoting the event. It was also the last time we got to see legendary Rash bassist Sebastian on stage, a guy who put his robust bass playing signature on most if not all bass dominated Rash songs, most eminently Rash’s latest release ‘Sons of Robots’. He left for Argentina soon thereafter.
Speaking of ‘Sons of Robots’; the official release of the song came with a music video, at a Poetry Slam event at Alliance Francaise. It was the first place I’ve ever seen a crowd sit down while a rock band was performing! There was lots of spoken word for the 5hrs I was there and not enough of the music. The real fun began at the end, when the night had set in and these creatures of the dark unlocked their instruments and set the night sky abuzz amidst a flashing array of strobe lights and smoke. I got to live out my own personal fantasy of the year. ‘Sons of Robots’ is my most loved Rash song played live and I’d been waiting for the day it’d be officially released. And I brought a date just to make it more memorable.
Justice would definitely not be served without a trip to the doctors. Satan’s Disco perhaps deserving of the title ‘heaviest show of the year’ served up enough cuts and bruises. There have been other awe inspiring moments of course, moving moments when Rafael Sipalla was seen to grace the stage once more, most recently at Platform 7 on the night of Halloween. A tube of fake blood was doing the rounds, it ended up on almost everyone’s face, including myself. I also got myself a copy of the new PLG album which they’ve done well promoting.
“Bands of the Year”
In the metal scene has been very dormant this year. Only two bands have been worth their salt and that is saying a lot. Last Year’s Tragedy are still the undisputed gods of metal. They have done countless shows, they practice every week and their management structure should be a template for keeping a band together. Special mention also goes to new entrant’s “Irony Destroyed”. They’ve done well for a band that just started out. They’ve done at three shows this year. They have maintained their band chemistry by doing regular weekly practice sessions.
In the rock scene, best of the bunch are undoubtedly “Rash” and “Parking Lot Grass”. Rash have done the most shows this year. They have performed alongside other rock bands as well as artists from across the musical divide. Parking Lot Grass remain the only band this year to have released an album and they have done lots of hard work to promote it.
As the year hurtles towards its demise, this blogger has enjoyed being part of this great and loyal community. The journey has been bumpy but delightful. One thing to remember is that 2015 passes its torch to 2016, a year that we hope will be dominated by much more of the same delightful turns and progress in the scene. There is much more music in store as we go ahead with more and more bands promising to release new music. The likes of Seismic, Void of Belonging, Absence of Light, Lust of a Dying Breed, Last Year’s Tragedy and a host of others represent better prospects for the coming year. We hope that the they’ll carry the torch of promise more faithfully in the coming year. As fans and commentators we will keep a watchful eye and live without expectation.