When the lights finally went down at the end of the Morgan Heritage show, Ugandan concert goers had had it all. The round of applause that followed the Jamaican Reggae group’s performance the morning after, on social media, was a clear sign Morgan Heritage had put in a good shift. But more was yet to come; up next on the party scene was Diplo (real names Thomas Wesley Pentz) live at the Golf Course Hotel, in the city that never sleeps, Kampala.
In recent years, Ugandans had danced demons out of their bones to tracks by the fast-rising Electronic Dance Music project, Major Lazer, and here was a chance for the selected few fanatics of Electronic Dance Music to twist and shake their bodies whilst the god of EDM, Diplo, did his thing on the wheels of steel.
Diplo, for the past decade has created a reputation as a kick*** music producer with production credits ranging from M.I.A, Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Madonna to South African Die Artwood; rapper, singer, songwriter and but is more renowned for his deejaying skill. It is in no doubt that such a big name, although unknown to many Ugandans who are yet to be hooked on EDM, was bound to set the party scene ablaze with his blend of Electronic Dance Music with ragga.
Cometh the hour, Cometh the man; on 21st April, 2017, Diplo, in company of fellow Major Lazer band member, Walshy Fire who would be the night’s hypeman gave the full packed Golf Course auditorium a night to remember, for years to come. The skeptics that Ugandans had suffered after Wizkid’s cancelled concert at the same venue, were put to rest after pictures of Diplo’s arrival at Entebbe Airport and subsequent tour of Jinja town, circulated online. That is when the fomo kicked in.
[Aside] Did the Ugandans who purchased Wizkid tickets get compensated for the disappointment they suffered?
I am no lighting expert but from a layman’s point of view, the venue had been lit right for a rave with giant LED screens that displaying special effects for the stage background and a smaller screen illuminating deejay’s table. The hall décor was on fleek, as my kid sister would say, with white drapes bathed in blue light donning the walls.
First on stage was DJ Kampire with a set which was largely African EDM. With the highs and lows signature EDM sets are known for, she handled herself well and we need to see more of her on stage. She was a good opening act, didn’t play music that would tire out the crowd, just lots of nice EDM to get the crowd fired up for the headline act.
Up next was DJ BK &RPM, Uganda’s latest dynamic duo. They stepped on the gas; playing a set that sent the crowd wild. They surely did their homework well before jumping on stage. They knew their crowd well and played all the EDM remixes to the popular songs everyone could sing along to.
The night was just getting started; the turntable terrorist Sir Aludah came on and did what he does best. The knight of the turn tables showed off his versatility by playing a perfect EDM set for the hardcore fans of the genre while incorporating some crowd pleasers for the rest of the crowd who are only familiar with EDM remixes of popular songs. The crowd responded in kind by dancing (jumping and throwing their hands up) to every tune he dropped.
Following in behind was Dark Meme (Hell of a stage name!). Dark Meme being the most authentic EDM DJ we have in Uganda (go argue with yourself if you disagree) was the last act before the man of the hour blew the roof off. Dark Meme was terrific and gave us the real stuff, regardless of the crowd’s reaction. And, his hype man is on a whole other level; he came on stage with a long drum and shakers (Yes! Ngalabi and Nsansi).
A few minutes off 11:30 p.m., the long-awaited moment came to pass, Diplo walked onto stage and we, the crowd, lost it. For the next hour and a half or 2 hours (I am not certain of how long we were in orgasmic state so much so that I lost track of time), we were in EDM heaven. The ground before me was literally shaking. I loved his ability to sneak in other genres into his set; even the remaining doubting Thomases, who had no idea what EDM is, had something to dance to when Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You was played.
Diplo was mindful enough to add some local flavour to his set by playing Karama’s Amasanyalaze Negagenda before highlighting his Ugandan spin off with a pinch of Nigerian Tekno’s Pana while making reference to Boda bodas and matooke.
Halfway-through his set, Diplo too and Walshy Fire lost it. Diplo lost his shirt, thereby going shirtless for a brief moment before he changed into Uganda Cranes jerseys. This sent the ladies, in the crowd afrenzy. Walshy Fire’s crowd engagement role was well executed and they we totally in sync.
Diplo’s performance is one I have not experienced in my close to three decades existence under the sun. When curtains finally fell on the high-energy show, my friends and I weren’t sure of what to do with our lives, for the rest of the night, because our spirits were screaming for more but our exhausted bodies were demanding that we count our blessings and call it a night.
[Lessons to Future self-] Seeing as this was the first rave for majority of us in the crowd, we learnt a few things; before you go for an EDM show, feed on a high-energy diet (and workout, you do not want to suffer cramp), you do not want to run out of energy at the peak of the performance. Take the next day off from work, your body needs time to recover from the high-energy workout. This is not your usual night out on the town turn up; this is a ***king mosh pit. Finish your drink before the main act or its best to pre-game; you will certainly spill your drink with all the physical activity involved (and you wouldn’t want to spoil someone’s night or even worse, your own). Wear comfortable clothing (I’m looking at you ladies that showed up in high heels and long dinner dresses). It’s a mosh pit, not a dinner date with your bae.
[To the Organizers] Next time, organizers please provide glow in the dark accessories; they make for a cool and fun crowd (at least like I see on TV).
[And for our local deejays] A new benchmark has been set; we expect something similar to the Diplo experience every time and everywhere you play.
A special mention goes to J Selector Jay for investing in world class equipment; the EDM god used Jay’s turntables to put on an epic performance. We can’t forget Mr. Aly of Talent Africa; thanks for enabling us attend a 600k worth show at only 100k. Great show that was…