For the fifth annual Gidi Culture Festival, only the biggest names would do. Wizkid, 2Baba, Adekunle Gold, Brymo, plus an appearance by Tiwa Savage. Par for the course for a festival that fancies itself as the biggest deal in live music this side of the continent.
Powered by Eclipse Live, Gidi Culture Festival set up two stages, one tagged the Next Generation Stage hosted up and coming acts like Odunsi the Engine and Terry Apala. Doors were scheduled to open at 12 noon but it wasn’t up until much later in the night that performances by Lady Donli, D-O and Maka opened up the main stage.
Casting a dark pall over the awesome performances lined up throughout the night/morning were numerous technical glitches. Excellent live performances were a hallmark of the night, but each one took needless long minutes to be set up such that successive artistes had to start from scratch to work up the energy of the audience. Countless productive hours were lost to technical glitches, malfunctioning equipment and band changes, resulting in an over bloated show that ran until the wee hours of the morning.
Because of this, the patience of the audience was sorely tested and appreciation for the artistes waxed and waned where they should have remained steady. Mayorkun was one of the early favorites, coming up just before it began to be made clear that technical malfunctions would be a huge part of the night and he put up a really good account of himself.
Maka reached into her bag of soul numbers and came up with a confident and effective performance. For her new song, I Just Got a Cheque, she was joined by former beauty queen, Muna who obviously still has a fascination with rap.
Rapper Ycee was satisfactory, where his colleagues were terrific. On the other side of hip hop, veterans of the game and MVP of many a rap record, Show Dem Camp 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. 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 lineup was a fine mix of high wire pop acts and edgy alternative acts. Tay Iwar, armed with the confident presence of a veteran, and churning out the sound of one who should be doing it for a long, long time was an instant stunner. Naturally his set wasn’t to the taste of the average Gidi Culture Fest crowd but what a triumph it was.
The most intuitive set of performers can adapt to please whatever crowd they are faced with and Efya did just that. Arriving at a moment nerves were beginning to fray, Efya took control of the stage admirably, with an inviting rendition of Mr Eazi’s Skin Tight, before carrying on with her own stuff, including a reggae-lite mix of Wizkid’s Daddy Yo.
Brymo also suffered from the flagging energy that came to characterize the night when he kicked off the superstar leg of the festival with spotless renditions of his later day tunes, One Pound and Alajo Shomolu, before finishing strongly with Chocolate City era hits, Good Morning and Ara.
Fingers were crossed for 2Baba on account of a past history of phoning it in at shows where he isn’t properly 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. Wizkid may have gotten top billing but 2Baba was the MVP. His songs (Implication, Only Me, Ihe Neme) are pretty much anthems by now but it was his peerless stage control and mastery in switching seamlessly between songs that made all the difference.
Easily the best dressed performer of the night with a glittering top matching with his shoes, Adekunle Gold delivered a set 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, this in spite of technical challenges that bedeviled his act.
And the underwhelmers? Tiwa Savage, billed as a surprise appearance, thanks to her relationship with Pepsi, major sponsors of the event, was quite unimpressive with her brief set. The same fate could have befallen Starboy Wizkid, who fared better only because of charisma and a bigger bag of hits.
It is hard to have only warm feelings about Gidi Culture Fest. The entertainment was thrilling but even that becomes counterintuitive when the patience of the audience is stretched beyond reasonable limits.