We sat breaking bread with my musical contemporary Martin Waweru Kanja and the elusive but enthralling Imani Nekiya.
That Saturday we were out in Karen where the Eloko Beer & Music Festival was taking place.
Sunlight pierced through the overhanging canopy. We basked underneath it as the sounds of Kaya Collective, out beyond the terrace rang resplendent. They played a rock set and not infrequently the three of us found ourselves drawn to the edge of the balcony as if in disbelief of what they were playing. Grand music that got the whole place buzzing.
People sat out over the grass and we caught a glimpse of Deejay Edygrim. We decided to say hello. lots of catching up. Familiar faces always gets the nerves settled. Unlike the typical rock show, I didn’t recognise most people that were here. We were in the minority.
Dj Edygrim introduced us to Loquesoy, and moments later we were sharing a photo moment with George Atsula and Rish. The spirits were high and the now gentle sunlight made it even better.
Next up on stage was Crystal Axis who were quick to set the tone for their set. Choice samplings of Devil Sold His Soul and Leopold really engaged the crowd. But the true highlight was their cover of Rage Against the Machines’ “Killing in the Name of ” which was greatly appreciated, perhaps because it seemed like the band flared up with energy then, like a candle does before it fizzles out into white smoke. Ahmed Bulhan’s persona is readily felt as well as Douglas Kihoro’s vibrant stance on bass. Under the black canvas and metal bridle they seemed to soak in the light.
I stood at the edge of it all and just gazed.
Imani Nekiya was busy filming, footage of which she intends to make part of her ‘Black Rage’ film rage that also sampled punk trio Powerslide and The Seeds of Datura.
Earlier on we had the chance to say hi to Nambari Tisa of Murfy’s fLaw who shares guitar duties with Mukasa.
“Places far in between where the whispers seem so loud”
Nambari Tisa, in a shirt and shades changed into something more carnal, a top hat and black attire. Jozi’s bass with its bold yellow strings added fizz and colour to the way they lined up. They played with so much ease, and having been together for such a long time, it’s hard not to see why. Reema is always bubbly and she was twice so on this night. The sun had set and in its place we lit torches on our phones as they ushered “Hello Light”. They kneaded emotion out of the crowd with their sweltering tribute to Cranberries’ Dolores O ‘ Riordan with “Animal Instict”. There were children lined on the grass out front and by this time they were waving their hands freely. Murfy’s fLaw ended the set emphatically with “In Silence”
These shows are a kind of reunion for the rock community here. And it seemed more so during the intermission as we shared anecdotes with Sam Gakosh, Ronjey, Trix, cosplay enthusiast Julias Mokaya and Rafael Sipalla.
That last passage of the night was spent in awe of an intriguing little outfit called Ferocious Dog, a punk/ska band with a folk leaning straight out of the UK. It was quite different to what I’ve seen before, with most visiting international acts being of the hardcore and heavy metal kind. Ferocious Dog combined a delightful ingredient of instruments, interspersing flutes, with banjos, then acoustic guitars and violins amidst the flurry of electric rock riffs.
A bag full of bhajia did the rounds during their set and Murfy’s fLaw feeding everyone from Julius to Antonio and even bizzaro who stuck rooted beside what we assume is his girlfriend the entire night.
The atmosphere is as vivid as it was, never mind that that was two weeks ago.
Looking forward to what the Beast churns out next. March from the Underground? Let’s wait and see.