This is Africa Fest 2018 review – Kenya’s best rock talent vs the world

Having fully recovered from the events of this year’s This is Africa Fest, its now time to look back at how the events of that night unfolded.
This is Africa Fest is arguably Nairobi’s biggest alternative rock, punk and hardcore festival. It continues a tradition of putting together Kenyan and International rock bands on one stage. It’s first edition was back in November 2016 featuring Germany’s hardcore punk group “All for Nothing”, “Norbomide” from Mozambique. Kenyan seven piece metal ore aficionados Last Year’s Tragedy performed alongside Nazizi. Rish backed up by the likes of Amos Kiptoon and Nick Wathi opened the night’s events. She performs this Saturday at Purdy Arms (details at the tail end of this post)
June 2nd, 2018
This year’s edition was hosted at Choices Pub and Restaurant along the seedy backdrop of Baricho road. Baricho road by day is populated by the cacophony of mechanics soldering and battering away at car bodies. At night it is desolate. Choices once this scenes most dedicated rock venue remains the solitary night club that brings life to these streets. Within its corridors are walls flanking with pictures of blues and rock legends. A winding alley way leads to the basement that tonight hosts an interesting cast of performers. Inside, various rock fans enjoy the sights and sounds, pregnant with expectation as excitement builds.

This year’s edition features Nairobi’s resident funk/alternative rock virtuosos Murfy’s fLaw with their litany of rock goddesses on bass, drums, keys and vocals. Also on the bill were self-declared afro-punks Crystal Axis, AYS (Germany), Stray from the Path (New York, USA) and local punk trio Powerslide.

Powerslide is Willy Ojiro (foreground) Slammy (background) Qreed (extreme background) – photo by Quaint Photography

First up on stage was Powerslide. Their performance blew me away and I dont just say so for my love of their brand of punk but I feel like “the keeds” killed it. Am sure guys were not ready for such a performance. They are a young band who don’t always succeed in entertaining the crowd. Their raw energy and DIY ethos may rub some audiences the wrong way but things seemed to come together this particular night. everything about their performance was great especially the part of their set where they played the song “Of Monsters and Men” featuring Martin Kanja(The seeds of Datura/Lust of a Dying Breed). However I was slightly disappointed because their setlist left out their most popular song  “Serpents in your heart” featuring Dany Bizzaro.  Why keeds why? What matters is that the performance was good. In other words ‘cha muhimu ni uhai’.
Following swiftly was Germany’s AYS. Two months to the show the organiser, Rico showered us with the “Worlds Unknown” album. Having sampled and reviewed that record, my body was so ready for that band given how heavy and intense that album is. The reality was double my expectation, those human beings are fucking amazing and the energy on that stage, I lack words to describe that performance. That band literally quenched our thirst, our bodies were supplied with a lot of water, they gave us a lot of drinking water and the rest was poured on us to wash away the sweat. They held nothing back, taking their shirts while on stage to reveal intricate tattoos as sweat dripped on their bodies. The mosh pit responded in its typical crazy fashion, tossing and turning in spellbound reverie with those of weaker disposition watching from a safe distance. As they stepped off the stage, the crowd gave them a standing ovation and embraced them as one of their own.

Barebacked and leaving nothing to the imagination are AYS from Germany.
Quaint Photography

Murfy’s flaw were up next. When I saw the schedule I was like wow,an alternative band in between punk bands, knowing how awesome this band is I knew they will pull a dope performance that will make us forget that fact, and yes they did not disappoint. I was genuinely  disappointing to note the absence of their lead guitarist Nambari Tisa who typically dons a top hat while on stage. But his absence didn’t tone down the performance one bit and soldiered on with the services of Mukasa formerly of Music to Overdrive“. The band was all smiles evidently enthralled by the spectacle of their own performance, as were we. They seemed to glow with every progression of their setlist.    cradling her bass broke a sweat midsession as beams or red and blue light danced on her forehead. They punctuated the chamber of Choices Basement with timeless renditions of “Hello Light” , the much loved “Abso-bloomin-lutely” and an homage to the dearly departed Sam Kiranga with a cover of “Sting Like a Butterfly”.

On bass is Murfy’s fLaw’s Jozie

I first came across Stray From the Path a year ago when I stumbled upon their live videos on Youtube. When I heard they were coming to Kenya my ooh my, I was so excited. Stray from the Path are seasoned performing and touring artists having played alongside Stick acts like Stick to Your Guns, Bullet for My Valentine and Parkway Drive. They have showcased their brand of progressive hardcore punk on the biggest stages in festivals across the world. The band’s front-man Drew with his signature Chicago Bulls jersey is a bundle of exasperating and unbounded energy. Their guitarists conducted themselves with suave and unction leaving little doubt as to their professionalism and the strength of their setlist. They take topics like racism, anti-semitism and political rhetoric with the scruff of the neck and throw that at the audience in a way that is fun and most importantly empowering. I walked away from that performance feeling truly transformed. Yes that is how awesome that performance was. The highlight of the night was when Willy Ojiro (Powerslide)joined the band on stage, such courage is what we need, yes we are that good to join the bands from developed nations on stage.I have to say I have new favourite hardcore punk band.

The last band on stage was Crystal Axis; this band ‘yawa’! before they get on stage they are these cool, shy guys wait till they get on that stage, they are monsters like where does that energy come from? It seems it is very communicable and it spreads to the whole band, from the vocalist to the guitarists, bassist to the drummer these human beings are such entertainers. Let us talk about Douglas Kihoro and the bass. This guy is a bass guitar murderer, I stopped headbanging just to watch him slap that bass like its nobody’s business. This performance was the highlight of the night not because it is a punk band but truth be told they are amazing.

Ladies and gentlemen we need to talk about the circle pit; whenever a band requests us to form a circle pit we always end up doing our own shit, I really love circle pits because they accommodate everyone, here is a video link to circle pits hope we learn a thing.                             
The show was really dope, it could have been better if the deejaye would have played one extra hour after the live performances because human beings really wanted to mosh more. I am very proud of our local bands, they keep on improving day in day out and what I saw that night was one thing I will live to remember.
Photo Credits:
Powerslide & Crystal Axis performing and Featured Image – Quaint Photography
All other photos within the post by Shadrach Kobimbo

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