The original Bongo Crew consisted of myself and my three friends Autumne (Tummy), Rashida (Shida) and Minkah. All of the original members are still present but the group has definitely increased in size. Since my last year of high school, Abbey, Denni, Shanice and Shantel have joined the crew. It just goes to show that music is a universal language that brings together people from all walks of life.
All of us, with the exception of Minkah, went to Live from Kingston at Hope Gardens on Saturday December 20. Rashida, Autumne, Denni and I got to the venue at the same time. Shanice and Abbey arrived shortly after us but Shantel didn’t arrive until after the show started. By the time we entered the venue a decent crowd had already formed. We opted to stay at the front so that we could interact with the musicians as they did their thing on the stage. Although there were no barriers, the audience naturally formed about two metres away from the stage. This all changed when Jason, the owner of Base Kingston and co-organiser of the event, came on stage and emphasised there were no barriers for a reason. He invited us to come closer and we eagerly obliged.f The newly evolved Bongo Crew stood so close to the stage that we could lean on the speakers for support.
The event stared at around 8.30pm without a hitch when Runkus, also known as Paula’s Son took the stage. The 20 year old walked onstage with his little brother who doubled as his flagman for the night. His set was energetic from the beginning to the end. In between songs the sound technicians would play pre-recorded audio of what I assumed was his mother either speaking highly of her son or inquiring whether or not he did his chores. This helped lighten the mood and aided in transitioning between songs of different tempos. Although this was the first time I was hearing most of his songs I could not help being drawn into his performance. His set tackled topics of love and politics with powerful and witty lyrics. I can definitely see a bright future ahead of this young act.
The thing about live music is that band changes are a must. The MC for the night, Donisha Prendergast (Bob Marley’s granddaughter) came onstage to help kill time. After what felt like forever the audience was finally able to welcome the Beautiful and talented Sevana. She opened with what she called her sob story (I cant remember the title :(). It was a song that told of the struggles she faced growing up. She then put all sadness aside as she dived into her line-up of love songs. She did a cover of Bob Marley’s Satisfy My Soul and two of her original songs ‘Chant It’ and ‘Bit Too Shy’. She glided around the stage in a white mini dress and a fabulous pair of tan heels. Her set was short and sweet and she certainly left the audience wanting more.
After another band change a group I have seen perform a million times came on stage. No Maddz have created a new genre of music which they call Bongo Music (They were the inspiration of the name ‘Bongo Crew because our outings started because we would go places just because they were performing). No Maddz are dub poets with a twist and their performance could go from comedic to serious to romantic in a matter of seconds. No matter how many times I’ve seen them perform, each performance is different and even if they perform the same songs over and over there is bound to be some adjustment that makes each time different. Despite technical difficulties which delayed their performance this group kept the audience moving. They performed new songs like ‘Shotta’ and ‘Romance’ as well as old songs like ‘Ganja Stain’. The Bongo Band closed their performance with the crowd favourite, ‘Rise Above Profanity (Poo Puku Poo)’.
No Maddz (From Left: Birdeye, Sheppie, Onie P, Evie)
Next to take the stage was Kabaka Pyramid. This man is a lyrical genius. He too juggled topics of love, romance and politics. The crowd stood in silence as they listened keenly to how he twisted and morphed words to suit whichever purpose he chose. Words were his weapon and the audience would erupt in cheers as he cut away at the social, political and economic issues which plagued the island. He held his audience’s attention from beginning to end. His band, the Bebble Rockers aren’t to be forgotten as without them, Kabaka’s set would not have been as effective. Their playing was on point! I really am glad that they’re finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Kabaka Pyramid 🙂
Protoje was the last performer for the night. He expressed how glad he was to be back home after spending such a long time on tour and then he jumped right into his performance. He sang songs like Rasta Love and Arguments from his first album, Who Dem a Program and Hail Rastafari from his second album and Styling and Resist No Evil from his yet to be released third album. He gazed into the audience in amazement as we sang his songs word for word. Before finishing his set he called onstage the guest artiste of the night, Chronixx. The two sang their song ‘Who Knows’ after which Kabaka Pyramid came and sang ‘Mi Alight’ with Chronixx. They thanked us all for coming out and showing our support and just like that a wonderful show came to an end at 2am.
From left: Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje
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