Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Beat FM’s Xmas Concert 2015: The good, the bad and the dry

The 2015 BeatFM Xmas Concert held last night at the Federal Palace Hotel. Beat FM stayed true to its demographic and it showed.  It was a young, chic and urban crowd with even an impressive turnout of teenagers. If anything, it demonstrates how Beat FM is a station that is very aware of the market it serves.
But understandably, the older generation of guests at the event might have felt old, like they had accidentally bumped into a high school reunion- the high school being that of the urban and elite neighbourhoods of Lagos, which caters to the crème de la crème of society.  However, it was about celebrating listenership, and an audience that has stayed with the station overtime. And that, is good.
The BeatFM Xmas Concert Stage
As one would expect of a BeatFM event, the Xmas concert had an impressive list of artistes, there is no denying that. However, it was a true test of the artiste in Nigeria as a performer. The one-size-fits-all approach to performances would never have worked and it didn’t.
Attempts at memory jogs were not useful. They failed to create the desired effect. The reason is simple; the crowd was largely very young and didn’t even know the songs, especially from the older generation of artistes. That was what happened to Bracket for example, who could not get anyone to sing along, worse still, when they tried an Igbo verse. Sound Sultan could only try. When Iyanya left the more popular tracks like “Applaudise” and even “Reggae Blues” which the audience liked on cue, I didn’t expect it would turn out well and it didn’t. I didn’t see the Iyanya that we all know and always trust to get us dancing. He raised hopes but didn’t match his promise.
The BeatFM Xmas Concert Stage
I like to think that the true strength of any artiste is the ability to understand his/her audience and adapt to them on the spot. More impressive, is if they are willing to profile their audience ahead of time and perform with that understanding. I doubt that this is the case with our Nigerian acts. Seyi Shay came on stage very energetic and in another time might have blown the roof, but this was a crowd that didn’t even know her biggest hit “Right Now”. So while she was up on stage, facing an unresponsive crowd and asking “why are y’all so dry?” the young lady behind me was keenly asking her friend in very polished British accent “what’s her name, who is she?” Eventually she had to say and I quote “My name is Seyi Shay and I am here to warm up the mic for the next artiste”. LOL!
Dear Artistes, please study and try to understand your audience ahead. It is wrong to think that the crowd is the same everywhere. The folks in the crowd were not snubs, they just could not relate.
The BeatFM Xmas Concert
Shina Rambo of the HKN group was a typical case of “DJ give me track two syndrome” in Nigeria; pausing to change songs with as much indecision as possible during his performance, so I would not even dwell on him. But it was the Cameroonian act that got my attention. Probably the biggest thing that is happening to the music industry in his home country right now, he was all loud music and no connection with the audience. Even reciting the lyrics of the song, like he did or telling the story behind it could not help him.
DJ Case tried to win with the audience, playing the more popular hip hop tracks, but breaking the ice and bringing it home with Olamide’s Shakitibobo. YC’s performance took it a little further and BOJ was everything else but good. Tecno also tried to connect with the audience. Falz easily had a great performance, where say Bracket and Seyi Shay struggled. His was a blend of skits and music, which worked, getting them to laugh where they couldn’t dance but ultimately doing both. Yemi Alade may just have been the darling princess of the night.
Olamide remains “a force” and very easily had his way with the crowd, baddoo style. Davido nailed it as well with his “Fans mi” and ‘Dami Duro”. You can imagine the energy and fun packed between Olamide and Davido’s performances. “Alobam” set Phyno up for greatness for the night but he delved into his Igbo lyrics which the crowd didn’t connect with, and so, could not fly. He should have just performed “Alobam” very well and left, honourably.
Again, I cannot say it enough, understand your audience and know what works for them!
Krept and Konan. Stormzy. Skepta. They soared. Stormzy was arguably, the night’s best but without a doubt Skepta got the crowd where he wanted them, despite the technical issues that disturbed his performance. The crowd could relate with him and his music and for them it must have felt like running into an old friend. So yes, the later part of the evening had the crowd on its feet, dancing and cheering on happily, with the right dose of fun! It was just a London thing, really!
It was certainly a good night, with an impressive turnout. The organisers might want to consider a bigger venue for next year’s concert. Also, if they are to stick with this demographic for next year’s concert, then artistes who can really engage with the crowd, so that the disconnections are better managed, should be the priority.
Still, it was a great evening by all standards. Thank you Beat FM for a good evening and for that intimidating line up of artistes!