I’m probably not the right person to write about this event considering it essentially isn’t my kind of thing but what the hell, I was there when the first edition of Blankets & Wine happened in Kigali.
The official start time was midday. However, if one knows how people party in Kigali, they’d not waste time coming at that time. My friends and I reached at around 5 pm and the numbers hadn’t piled up at the time to say the least. The biggest number of people came in after dark which was roughly 90 minutes later.
When we arrived the whole place was as silent as a graveyard. The location (being one of the fairways of the golf club) didn’t help to make it better. The place is naturally a silent habitat for its usual residents. When one asked later there was an apparent issue with electricity. This was later solved but something makes me wonder, you organize an event and you can’t sort out something as simple as power? Again I digress.
With events like this, I usually harangue the sound people to do a better job. An inside source that I interacted with told me they did a sound check that morning. That pretty much summed up the sound for me. When the first live sets played, we had to suffer with the usual band issues of the drums overwhelming the bass guitar and some out of tune lead guitars. One positive thing though, the average Rwandan has very strong vocals. This is something producers need to take note of and maximize the hidden opportunity. Guys were doing amazing RnB sets in Kinyarwanda and despite the mediocre sound, one couldn’t help but just stand in awe.
Ms Lillian Mbabazi did her usual outstanding performances with her amazing Sundowner Band. Her popularity in Rwanda is way up there. She sampled a few new songs for the crowd of which one or so was in Kinyarwanda. A part of me wonders why artists always tell us the cliché lie that that is the first time they are performing the song. Maybe they are actually right, but what do I know.
One thing that a normal music fanatic like myself is constantly reminded of is that studio music and live performances are two MUTUALLY exclusive situations. If you doubt me, look up Bruce Melodie’s music then imagine how HORRENDOUS he sounded on a live set.
The final act of the night which was from TRESOR was out of this world and I am definitely going to look up more of his music. At that moment though, after a substantial amount of Mutzig and Singleton on an almost empty stomach and a massive sleep debt, I couldn’t put a word on the songs he performed. However, that gives me homework to listen to an artist I’d never given much attention.
My highlight of the evening was a certain mzungu (no racist pun intended), that sold the Ugandan Rolexes at this event. It got me wondering why we Africans don’t trust in our products so much that someone else do it for us. Many Ugandans at the event were livid when they made this discovery.
For the first time, I saw someone make an attempt to sell roast pork this side of town. Minus the guys at Chomad, I know of no other place in Kigali that grills pork. Most that sell pork fry it. This person was a vendor at the event and it isn’t shocking that the people selling were Ugandans (well if we go by their accents that had that distinct “there” from Buganda).
On the whole however, the music rules and it is nice to see more of these events come to Kigali. One thing I’ll say again, is that the average Rwandan that I have heard perform live have VERY good vocals. It is sad however, that this will remain an untapped jewel for some time to come.