The biggest news coming out of this year’s Gidi Culture Fest is sure to be the utter lack of time management. Countless productive hours lost to sound checks, malfunctioning equipment and band changes resulted in patrons staying at the Hard Rock Cafe beachfront long after the shows were supposed have ended.
It was an exercise in sheer excess but the best part of the five-year-old fest has always been the carefully curated line up of artistes performing live to a welcoming audience. This year was no different as the sturdy performances more than anything else, salvaged the festival in the end.
We ranked the best 10, from least to most impressive so you don’t have to.
- Tiwa Savage
Tiwa Savage was billed as a surprise appearance, thanks to her relationship with Pepsi, major sponsors of the event so perhaps that explains why it seemed like her set was lacking something groovy. It didn’t help that she came on in the final hour when the best parts of the show had been ticked off. Nerves were frayed and only a world class show, or a Starboy named Wizkid could rouse the audience from the stupor of both over and under entertainment that Gidi Culture Fest managed to record. She didn’t manage the former but at least, she brought on Wizkid.
- Show Dem Camp
Veterans of the game and MVP of many a rap record, the duo of Ghost and Tec arrived with some support from the larger collective of artistes- Ladipoe, Tomi Thomas, Funbi- with whom they have made some of their most memorable stuff and it was a bang. Show Dem Camp’s heady brew of hip hop, soul, highlife and afrobeat played quite well despite Tec’s constant interruptions. Oldies like Feel Alright and Happy Weekend blended nicely with the more recent palm wine music sound.
The top billed Wizkid didn’t hit the stage up until the early hours of the morning and while he can always be counted to get any crowd in Lagos pumped up with his presence alone, it didn’t seem like he was putting in much of an effort. Which is not to say that he did badly, he didn’t. He didn’t do great either. Supported by DJ Spinall and powered by his endless bag of hits, Wizkid, looking fresh faced and cleanly shaven did his part, but it seemed like bare minimum.
Maka has opened for Simi, has put out an EP titled The Truth, and has hosted her own concert series. She knows how to work a stage. For #GidiFest2018, the alt/soul singer who was one of the earlier performers, reached into her bag of soul stunners and came up with a confident and effective performance. For her latest single, I Just Got a Cheque, she was joined by rapper/former beauty queen, Muna.
- DJ Spinall
DJ Spinall didn’t bring on Mr Eazi as a surprise guest, but he sent shockwaves through the night/morning with a blazing run through of pop hits, past and present, local and foreign. Showing mastery with the mixing and a fine appreciation of his audience’s needs, DJ Spinall showed his class, and demonstrated why he has maintained a spot at the of the game.
The most intuitive set of performers can adapt to please whatever crowd they are faced with and Efya did just that. Arriving at the moment nerves were beginning to fray, Efya took control of the stage admirably, with an inviting rendition of Mr Eazi’s Skin Tight in which she features originally as a supporting player, before carrying on with her own stuff including a reggae-lite mix of Wizkid’s Daddy Yo. She could easily have faltered under the weight but Efya shouldered it impressively.
Brymo suffered from the flagging energy that came to characterize the night. With a lot of dead space in between sets, it was tough to maintain the same amount of energy for extended periods even when the performers were on their best behavior. Brymo kicked off the superstar leg of Gidi Culture Fest with spotless renditions of his later day tunes such as One Pound and Alajo Shomolu, before finishing strongly with Chocolate City era hits, Good Morning and Ara. And no, he wasn’t wearing a thong.
- Tay Iwar
Tay Iwar is the superstar we don’t know we have. Seriously, the man has got the presence of one who has been doing this for a long time, and the sound of one who should be doing it for a long, long time. Naturally his set wasn’t to the taste of the average Gidi Culture Fest crowd but what a triumph it was. Video Star was a delight, and so was every other note that came out of his mouth. We really don’t deserve this richness that Tay Iwar blessed us with.
Fingers were crossed for 2Baba’s set because he does have the tendency to phone it in at shows where he isn’t invested in. Gidi Culture Fest wasn’t one of those shows. 2Baba handily showed why he remains at the top of the food chain despite having a head start over most of the other guys- and gals- who shared the stage with him. His songs (Implication, Only Me, Ihe Neme) are pretty much anthems by now but it was with his stage handling and mastery in switching seamlessly between songs that he could school the younger cats.
- Adekunle Gold
Mr Gold is always a joy to watch and last night was no exception. In a few short years his talent has blossomed and his consistency and dedication to his craft has earned him a reputation for excellent live performances. Easily the best dressed performer of the night with a glittering top matching with his shoes, Adekunle Gold’s set was as splashy as it was irresistible. His songs, from Pick Up to the swoony Ire, are crafted to be performed live and he is just the man to do them justice.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.