Gig Reviews: Rash @Poetry Slam Africa

Rocker’s Diary – 13th March, 2016

This is the second poetry slam Im attending. On both occasions, curiously and should I say predictably, Im drawn here, like a hopelessly romantic moth to the dazzling lamp light of the imperial Rash band.

This particular show presents Rash band’s development and perhaps the hope of the rock scene in general. There is a consensus of opinion that these five guys are the trailblazing sons of the Kenyan rock scene. Within the fraternity, their commitment speaks for itself. Their consistency both as a live act and recording has kept the flame of the entire subculture burning; releasing at least two songs a year  and backing them up with shows and music videos. They have a marketing strategy and have invested themselves wholly in it.

But to really see these guy’s progress, you need to step out of the little cottege and walk into the meadow of talking sunflowers, where people are only drawn to the best of talent, just as sunflower only booms in the richest rays of sunlight. I have noticed that this crowd isn’t as receptive as the ones at rock shows, and it is telling considering the fact that we are all seated down, myself being confined to the rear seats, but I made a point of throwing up some horns once in a while. When you walk into these mainstream shows you will see the brilliance of Rash band. Last time I was at poetry slam, I was hugely disappointed by the fact that I was confined to my seat for a languid four hours waiting for Rash to be given the opportunity to perform. Only to watch them do their thing at the tail end of proceedings with the lights dimmed out and the audience all but departed leaving just a few stray souls the likes of Caroline Njeri aka Rish, metalhead Robert Keli, myself and Al Mason Jr. the poetry though was dazzling for people that fancy that kind of jazz but it wasn’t what I came for. Rash though weren’t perturbed. Playing on a raised platform they still seemed like the gos they have been to me, infallible and majestic, conjuring up ballad after ballad amidst the wafting swaths of blue smoke and strobe lights. They released sons of robots that evening, and I took that as my consolation.

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Fast forward to Sunday the 13th of march, 2006 and like the glorified groupie that ive become, iv dragged my compadre and brother in arms that edits this blog to another Rash spectacle. But unlike our last encounter with these guys at the slamfest, fate has conspired that the glory will lie with a different kind of poet. Whereas previously they were overshadowed by an illustrious display of poetry and some jaw dropping beatboxing, this occasion served up a different dose altogether. Rash performed during the break periods after the 1st and final rounds while the votes were being tallied.  Watching them filing out as they are beckoned to come on stage it is hard to believe that they are children born of different parents. There is a brotherhood amongst them that I envy, a thing that aside from the music they make, that they seem to cherish.

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But even beyond that, the one thing that marks this occasion out I felt is the crowd’s overwhelming response to Rash’s performance. And its no wonder either, seeing as the guys put out a thrilling performance. Individually the band members show a quality of their own that one finds hard not to marvel at. Sam warui for instance has developed a confidence and mastery of the stage. He floats around totally enveloping the visual aspect of the show, whislt stretching his lugs and laying each note out silkily, his breaks out into his typical jigs much to the amusement of the crowd. Even more appealing is the chemistry that Max and Abedi who play lead and rhythm respectively. Jonah plays bass like he was born to it, steadily growing itno the role previously occupied by Sebastian Fillardi.

But curiously the one rousing factor that rose above everything else is the absolute monster of a drumming display that Sam Gakungu (Gakosh) put out. He toyed and kneaded that drum set and at the end of the day had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. I have never had my soul flutter like it did on this occasion and I doff my  hat to you brother.

And as I also spread my newly discovered wings to dig out new goldmines of Kenyan music, in my outward foray from the scene that has bred us, I hope to bump into a familiar face; and I hope that that face is of Rash band.

Photo Credits: JESSE PHOTOGRAPHY

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