Sunday, February 28, 2010

Superpowers: Episode 05

A couple of weeks back, I got to attend a Penya concert at the Museum. For those who don't know, Penya is a Nairobi-based based record label, home to (among others) Dela, Sauti Sol, Stan, Muthoni and Just a Band.

Anyway, the concert seemed to highlight everything I hate and love about record labels.

The Good of Record Labels:

When a band is it's own record label, the largest portion of time goes towards managing the gig. You make your own posters. Send out the advertisements. Harass your family and friends who owe you favours to show up. Beg random people off the street to come in for free. And then, you're checking. Is there power? Did the sound guy show up? Where is my guitar? Is it in tune? Where is the drummer? What's the song list?

By the time we get on stage, we're usually tired, frazzled, annoyed at each other, and whatever make-up we had on is falling off in large, unattractive chunks.

If, on the other hand, a band gets signed to a label the process is simpler: The artistes arrive. The artists do sound checks. The artists get to chill out and get adored by their fans. The artists play their set. And then, there's a party while the roadies pack up the drums and sound equipment.

Really, it seems like it must be awesome to not have to worry about crappy sound, crappier venues and no advertisement for shows.

The Ugly of Record Lables

Here was the show line up.
  1. Just a Band
  2. Muthoni
  3. Stan
  4. Dela
  5. Sauti Sol
Now, don't get me wrong, since I'm actually a HUGE fan of Sauti Sol, but sometimes, I get the feeling that the other artists get sacrificed at the altar of Sauti Sol. I guess that their reasoning is that since Sauti Sol are the biggest earner, the other artists will forever remain curtain raisers for Sauti Sol? Plus, how good can this be for Sauti Sol either? At the Love Is Show, Sauti Sol finally got on stage at 1.30 am, at a show that started at 9pm. (AFter people had been standing around since 7pm, waiting for the show to begin).

So for 4.5 hours, people had been on their feet, in the cold, dancing, etc. By the time Sauti Sol got on stage, a couple of my pals had given up and gone home.

I braved the cold. The exhaustion. Slight deafness due to my position near the speakers. Alplha's performance. (Which actually wasn't bad. It's just that by that time, I was tired, and wanted to listen to "Nairobi" and Alpha just kept singing).

Then, finally, when Sauti Sol arrived on stage and began...

I fell asleep.

In the cold. Standing up. With the speakers blaring right next to me. And surrounded by shrieking fans. While Sauti Sol performed.

So yeah, I can sleep through anything.

Lovely super-power that one :-)

NB. If a major record label offers, I'm SO THOROUGHLY selling out and signing on.
NB2. These may not be the views of the rest of the band though.
NB3. I categorically state that I have never slept through a performance by Bloodshed, they're awesome.

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