Let me start off by saying this: everybody should go to one of their shows. Everyone. Regardless of your racial or ethnic backgrounds, your music taste, your upbringing, your prejudices, or your mindset of the world, your life will be changed. Someway, somehow.
I don’t even know where to start. The beginning sounds logical enough.
So, after we (Keonna and I) sat in our seats, I had this sense of overwhelming excitement.
“Wow, I am about to see a legend. In person. I am going to hear how Afrobeat evolved from one generation to another.” I had no words to express what I truly felt. The anticipation was almost magical. The only grounding thought I had was “My dad would love this…” and I missed him more than usual. I really owe this to him, he put me on to Fela Kuti. He introduced me to a universal language.
And it spoke to me.
*Disclaimer: if my mom didn’t see the poster with this show’s information, I would have missed out on a beautiful experience.
Before I knew it, the band was introduced, and from the very first note from the brass section, from the very first rapping on the drums, I was floored. Amazed. Entranced. All I could do was listen. Because in that music, there was something there, intertwined, surrounding, hiding in every note, every voice, every dance move. There, in this universal language, was the spirit of Africa.
And let me tell you, it had people moving!
It was so incredible to see, even though a lot of people were drunk.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Seeing a whole crowd of people unite under the influence of music mainly, along with some alcohol, is a pretty memorable and comical sight.
Every song seemed to connect to another in such an intricate way, there is something truly other-worldly about it. The audience even started to sing along, but I doubt they knew what they were repeating. All too quickly, the music ended, and Seun Kuti gave the audience very off-kilter, inspirational, and truthful information. I wish I remembered more of it now that I think back, but I wasn’t aware that we were going to get a lecture about African politics and its issues. That was disclaimer number two. Don’t judge. Besides, after the show, there was a young woman who did nothing but badger Kuti about controversial issues that dealt with Africa. Why she did I don’t know, post-performance is usually not the best time to try to initiate a system-changing discussion. But I’ll get back to that in a little bit. I think I deserve to rant about the untimely discussion that took the conversation we (Keonna, Kuti, and myself) were engaged in. I digressed. My apologies.
When the last song rolled around, I felt this sense of dread laden sadness. This journey was about to come to an end. With the final note reverberating in my ears, I could do nothing. For a few moments, I didn’t even notice the loud clapping, the energetic drunken cheering, and the sporadic whistles. I didn’t process the sounds the seats made as every single person occupying a chair stood up; the dull slap against the backs of the chairs slowly helped me come out of this dream-like state. In a split-second, I was on my feet, cheering and clapping, expressing my thanks that could not be spoken. Something that amazed me was that, after twenty seconds, forty seconds, a minute, the clapping, hollering, and whistling did not stop. It became the white noise, it became the norm. It was the force that pulled Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 back out on the stage. That was such a treat. I learned that if you clap and clap for long enough, the performers just might reward the audience. What an encore that was.
Just when I though the festivities of the evening were coming to a close, one of the two dancers came up to Keonna and I and she asked if we wanted to meet “her brother”. I of course said yes without hesitation! Maybe that wasn’t the smartest thinking but I didn’t even care. How many chances do you get in one lifetime to meet a legend? I grabbed Keonna’s hand and we were led backstage. As soon as the door opened, I got so nervous. Not the regular nervous, either. This nervousness was felt in my soul. But there we were, face to face with Seun Kuti. I forget the initial pleasantries and the formalities for the most part… He asked us what we like to do besides study, and I said I like to write poems and short stories. And then Keonna said something like “yeah, her poems are really good”, which then led to Seun Kuti saying I basically have to share a poem with him. So I did. Even though I was interrupted twice, he said that I am very talented. I’m never forgetting that night. So, after that whole ordeal, in comes this young woman with fire-red hair. She seems nice, Im not knocking her at all. Yet. This is the same person I mentioned earlier fyi. I hope nobody like sues me for this, which is highly unlikely, but she comes in right after I finish reciting my poem and out of nowhere asks the deepest questions at the most untimely hour. I don’t knock her for getting her two cents worth in I guess, but she was just so pushy, so out there. And I don’t understand why. She starts a conversation only to try to interrupt Kuti. That’s like asking a teacher a question and then answering it yourself. There’s no point. It seemed like she was trying to tell Kuti what was going on in Africa, but who is the one who lives there? Not her, that’s for sure. But, she took at least half an hour up of everybody’s time. Keonna and I both had 9am classes the next day and here she is, blabbing away just to hear herself talk. And right when I think that interruption is finally over, a bunch of other people come in, which of course irritates me because I wanted to just enjoy the moment and then take the bus back to campus in a timely manner. But that doesn’t happen. Keonna and I get home around 1:30am thanks to all of this tomfoolery. Digression part two. Pushing forward, after the peanut gallery leaves, we walk outside and we just start chill in’ for lack of better words. There was such a cool, laid-back vibe. We wound up just talking and joking around. Let me rephrase: when I say “joking around”, I mean everyone was joking on me. But I’m fine with it. It was enjoyable. We did the shmurda dance together. We chatted, laughed, and just enjoyed the moment. It was really an experience to write home about. But instead of writing home, I’m ranting to a computer screen. What else is new.
I wish I could have a repeat of this moment. But not an exact copy or a replica. Going to see them in concert somewhere else. That’d be one heck of a sequel. And maybe it’ll help me keep my scholarship.