Barely-clad sweaty bodies smashed together, leaving not enough space to even dance. Getting stuck far away from the stage and not being able to see performers. These were just a few of my expectations of what Gidi Fest 2016 would be. What inspired this vision? I’m not quite sure, to be honest. It could have been photos of other Lagos concerts, combined with tales of the space at the New Afrika Shrine.
Well it definitely wasn’t Gidi Fest.
Gidi Culture Fest is a relatively new Music Festival that features artistes and DJs from across Africa, with the aim to provide youths with, “live, affordable entertainment.” The Festival first opened in 2014 and you can read more about its inception here. The most recent Festival happened on the 26th of March and took place at Eko Atlantic, Lagos. Its lineup was made up of majorly Nigerian artistes but also performers from South Africa and the UK.
So attending Gidi Fest this year was a new experience for me, with my preconceived notions of what it would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised on multiple accounts.
Note: Gidi Culture Fest will be called GCF from here on.
First, there was no Nile-length registration queue! When my friend and I arrived, we strolled right up to the entry gate! The most hassle we had was waiting 4 minutes for the phones to scan our QR codes so we could be let in.
Next, GCF (Gidi Culture Fest) organizers had announced that they would be going digital, and would only be accepting electronic payments. Here’s how it worked. You loaded funds from your account, onto a bracelet. Yes, a bracelet that you wear on your wrist. When you needed to make a purchase, you went up to a merchant and tapped your bracelet onto their machine, and voila! You’d paid! After the registration queue, my friend and I went up to the bracelet-loading booth…and promptly decided that nah, we were too broke for that We did get to try it out later courtesy of a photographer friend Tom Saater, who offered us his.
As we walked into the event, I noted that it was nothing we had expected. There were people playing beach soccer and volleyball, others were just mingling and chatting. Some dancing to the DJ set playing regular Afropop music. Everything and everyone was well spread out! There was a lovely breeze, the sky was glorious.
My friend and I strolled about, saying hi to all the old friends who also turned up for GCF. We didn’t have to wait too long for the performances to start. After the hype man had “gingered” the crowd suitably, the first performance came on soon enough: It was a very skilled guitarist called Nsikak. Nsikak serenaded us with soulful strings, some from a collective album he’d done late last year with some other interesting artistes.
Following him were a couple others, most notably Tiwa Savage who literally brought the house down with her sonorous tunes and lively dance moves. Everyone was excited as to how early they brought on a major star, and for the most part, that made the night of a good majority of the attendees. She performed a couple of her major hits back to back as they flowed one into the other in stylish form and the dexterity of a very experienced musical act.
After her followed the other guests like South African KO, Godwin the Violinist, Phyno, Saeon, Rachel Kerr from the UK, Yemi Alade, Poe and Funbi, Dbanj, and a host of others.
One particular aspect that thrilled the fans was the BeYourDJ session where the audience were required to use Neon lights to vote for the tracks that followed the last. How it worked was that you got two bracelets. One with a green light, the other with red. To vote for a song, you raised the wrist that had the corresponding color, and a drone picked those results. It was a very cool voting system and the results were often hilarious and surprising.
In all, it was an awesome concert with a great lineup of performers and we had a swell time.
Mohini Ufeli, Twitter and Instagram: mohinii_u
Chidi Ashimole, Instagram/twitter:@thelexash / website: http://thelexash.com