Remember when, back in primary school, we used to write compositions called ‘best day in my life’? Well, that’s the best way to describe This is Africa Fest II, without the similes and proverbs of course. Stick to Your Guns, the first American Hardcore Punk band to perform in Kenya was playing alongside local bands such as The Seeds of Datura, Seismic, Rash and Crystal Axis at Alchemist Bar in Westlands.
I remember walking into Alchemist and saying to myself, “damn everyone is looking good”. People in band tees everywhere from Nirvana, to Iron maiden, Motorhead, Bullet for my valentine, Nobormide, Trivium etc. “The Seeds of Datura” was already on stage and I started head banging right away. These guys killed it. Martin Kanja’s vocals are so awesome that I have no words to describe them not forgetting Dani’s clean vocals as well. Everyone expected them to be among the last ones to perform but of course who expected a metal band to perform before rock bands either way they were amazing. Too bad their number one fans Essie and Ange missed it.
Next up on stage was seismic. It was my first time seeing them live I was so excited and they surprised us all. Dun Muriira their former lead vocalist (current PLG vocalist) got on stage and was shocked he could scream, then the master himself, the king of live performances Raphael Sipalla ‘Ruff’ got on stage everyone was so excited to see him back. He did a cover of 3 Days Grace ‘I am Machine” as well as Young Guns ‘‘Rising Up’’ I have to say they sounded way better than the original ones. There is something about Ruff’s live performances that even words cannot describe. Let me say they are magical. He has to be the best thing that has ever happened to the scene. Can someone tell me why he didn’t win project fame? Rash were next up on stage and I couldn’t stop asking myself where Abedi (rhythm guitarist) he wasn’t around last time too but then again as long as Sam A and B and max are on stage all is well. At some point Max’s guitar was acting up but that didn’t stop them from giving us awesome performances, when Pete (mortal soul) got on stage to help out with the equipment I couldn’t stop wishing they were performing that night. What happened to Mortal Soul? Anyway back to Rash, so Darkness and Witchcraft being my favorite song, Sam handed me his mic. I and my bad voice had no choice but to shout ‘darkness and witchcraft’ ‘ooh Sam, why?’ They say revenge is sweet, yes it is I got on that stage and got him to head bang with me. Their performance was great, especially the mash up of sons of robots and Michael Jackson’s Billy jean.
And finally the moment everyone was waiting for finally came. Stick to your guns got on stage, I cannot say much about what happened during the performance all I can say is the performance was the best thing I have ever seen and the mosh pit was insane, well I remember when they started playing ‘we still believe. I saw 105.5 x FM dj Edygrim moshing like crazy we are so used to seeing him behind the decks but he is such a monster in that mosh pit. Daniel ‘bizzaro’ (editor’s note; I believe he has long forsaken that name and goes by wanyeki after being taunted by DJ Switch) the mc got on stage took Josh James’s mic and started unleashing all those screams and growls. Having watched a number of stick to your guns live performance videos I have to say the Kenyan crowd is the best no doubt. The last act on stage was crystal axis being punk rock lover I was so psyched up for this one, so they were performing live for the first time in five years, everything was amazing from vocals to the riffs to the drums, they made us punkheads (if there is such a word) very happy.
It seems Deejay Tumz took some metal pills before the show he played very heavy when he played parkway drive and asking Alexandria I had to stop head banging for a second to confirm if he was the one on the decks. On Julius head banged way too hard his body couldn’t take it anymore but he didn’t want to stop so he opted for Japanese cockroach moshing style. I witnessed the most amazing wall of death led by Ruff, Victor Chweya (PLG) and Hueskillz. I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw Dun, Victor and Ruff head banging to ‘Naweza’ and ‘Shimo Mfukoni’.
It was one crazy night and am glad the bouncers did not interfere with moshpit or with guys getting on the stage I recall I was kicked off the stage by the bouncers while headbanging to shadow moses. One Julius headbanged way too hard his body couldn’t take it anymore but he didn’t want to stop so he opted for Japanese Cockroach moshing style. Everyone left Alchemist in pain but who cares that’s the only way to one can explain how awesome a rock/metal was, but if only the venue could allow the show to go on till 5am.
Photo credits: Slammy Karugu and Shadrach Kobimbo