without enough bands coming out to do shows, there isn’t enough buzz going around for even fan zines like this one to survive on. Furthermore, rock scenes thrive on cult figures, and cult figures are a systematic creation of live shows. More importantly, as a musician you will be keen on promoting the music you’ve produced and one of the easiest ways of cementing that musical identity among your own fans and reaching a wider audience is through shows. So if ever there was merit in the claim that the rock scene is selling itself short, then these are the bands to blame for that.
We’ve chosen five bands just because lists are sexy. And because we thought it’d be neat to take a break from targeting the likes of David Mburu and Daniel Rocker Bizzaro. Lots more bands could have made this list. Bands like In Oath we haven’t seen perform for more than two years. And Murfy’s Flaw used to perform at the Brew or some club in Westlands. But these are exceptions. In Oath is made up of two live members, Christopher Yagami is away mixing tracks in Canada (a country that lots of Americans enjoy making fun of) and so you begin to see why watching these guys at a gig would be a great difficulty. Murfy’s Flaw we also exempt from this list because well, they don’t need the publicity and they have an album (or two). Does your band have two albums? Are they famous (by Kenyan standards)? I didn’t think so.
The guys we settled on all have a thing going for them. They have great technical ability, know how to write songs and have cool names too. But just conceiving them and letting the internet midwife them won’t go help the band’s brand go very far. When bands do no more than just record music then they are just doing one part of the business. Doing shows is just as important as recording music. And in an underground culture like the rock scene is here in Kenya, some might even say its more important than recording. And this is the reason. Human interaction is very important for a subculture because the audience will always want some sort of physical experience. An experience where a fan like me will get to stand at the foot of mount Olympus and gaze up towards the peak of the mountain, paying homage to the musical acts that we idolize. The concert is where everything boils down to, where everything in the scene crystallizes and is brought together. And without enough bands coming out to do shows, there isn’t enough buzz going around for even fan zines like this one to survive on. Furthermore, rock scenes thrive on cult figures, and cult figures are a systematic creation of live shows. More importantly, as a musician you will be keen on promoting the music you’ve produced and one of the easiest ways of cementing that musical identity among your own fans and reaching a wider audience is through shows. So if ever there was merit in the claim that the rock scene is selling itself short, then these are the bands to blame for that.
Speaking of cool names there are these guys, Lust of a Dying Breed. They have a name that is so cool, it still remains cool even when it’s not being a mouthful like this sentence is turning out to be. Shorten it to LOADB (say it with me Lwoad-Bee…phonetics is everything here) and it still comes off as a monstrosity of a name. They have a pretty decent guitarist by many standards! Scratch that Issa Khalid is a maestro of a guitarist. And the songs these guys produce deserve to be soundtracks to games. And not just any portion of the game. Save them for the boss levels. The moment where things get serious and everything is at stake. Their EP ‘Cat of Nine Tails’ has some of the most expansive lyrical themes from any band this side of Africa. Reverberating guitar work and intuitive drum fills make this a master class. These guys have lots of potential. But they sell themselves short because last time we saw them on stage was 2012. That was a long time ago. So much so the kids nowadays will think they are an urban myth.
Equally talented are alternative metal band ParkingLotGrass. They are set to release their first full length album this week. They turned heads with the release of their debut single ‘Speedchaser’. Former vocalist Rafael Ruff Sipala whose vocal prowess made that song so breathtaking has since moved on to other projects. His replacement Duncan is not to be taken lightly and has so far had an impressive display. But despite all the talent on board these guys risk losing touch with their fanbase if they stay off the stage for a longer period. Their performances are few and far between. This year they performed sometime in June and the last time they showed up for an event before that was alongside Doveslimme in Westlands.
Void of Belonging…what can I say about them. They have got lots of things together. They are bear the closest resemblance to an indigenous musical outfit. Last year they performed at March from the Underground and Super Rock @Marabou Lounge albeit for a short period. They have no recorded songs at the moment and most people have since given hope of them rising to their true potential. They could have helped that situation by doing more gigs and keeping their name in the grapevine. Things might change in the coming weeks but until then all we can do is wait.
I don’t cry a lot. I leave that out for choice occasions. But when this track dropped, I literally cried. I still do, every time I listen to Mortal Soul’s – Solace. It is in no dispute that they have one of the most entertaining and masculine drummers ever. Celeste. Yes. That’s the guy. And their Pete guitarist is so amazing but he gets so absorbed in his work he doesn’t even realize how good he is. Young Mwanzia on Bass isn’t one to be trifled with and Leon the front man is a crowd puller by great degrees. But you will wait for ages to watch these guys perform. March this year I got lucky and watched them perform alongside Rash at Club Hypnotica and it was a marvel. They cancelled last minute performing at March from the Underground this year, most of us weren’t impressed with that though. And considering how they were on everyone’s lips when they first came out its so disappointing from a fan’s perspective not seeing them on a stage more often.
Lastly is Doveslimme who seem to have take the foot of the gas pedal of late. Last I heard them perform was last year too. Since then they’ve released just the one single ‘Fingertips Bliss’. They havnt done more than that to stay relevant since then but the year is still young.
However that being said, from where we stand, we understand that the music business isn’t kind. But we still believe that the horizon would bear much more promise if guys just bit the bullet and had a consistent performance strategy. So with those few words of condescension mixed with the admiration we still bear for all these acts we hope that more can be done. And as much as we love Rash Band we’ve grown weary of the same set list and we hope that these other projects can join the stage alongside them soon.