For hours at the August edition of the Afropolitan Vibes concert, it seemed anyone reporting the event would need only three words: it didn't happen.
Almost four years and several concerts later, this Lagos event has held without natural disasters, some feat when you consider that it takes place under the naked skies through both dry and rainy seasons. But all things come to an end, and on 19 August, it was the turn of the never-get-wet Afropolitan Vibes.
The evening started with a warning: A few hours before schedule, a few drops of rain happened on the hairs, wigs, and naked arms of the attendees. This was brushed off. There have been close calls in the past—notably during a performance by the late Nomoreloss almost a year to the day.
In any case, on social media, one of the organisers speaks jokingly about the rainmaking powers of her tribe. Perhaps the ancestors were asleep on this night as what looked like an idly threatening rain soon became a downpour. Members of the audience took shelter. Some had umbrellas; others opted for the covering of the sparse erections within the Freedom Park venue. Others got very wet very fast. Yet only a few fled the premises. Many remained—perhaps because the concert has come to be seen as a family meeting, with each person having a hand in its success or otherwise.
Hours later, the band returned, starting things off with a rendition of ‘Valerie’, the Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse version. The frazzled and yet enthusiastic crowd clapped along. Drenched, they could probably relate to one of the song's lines: "...well my body's been a mess."
The first guest performer, Maka, arrived with trademark punk haircut and a set that prepared the crowd for the big hitters. "Thank you for staying this long for me," she said. A number of people had gathered onstage behind the band to avoid the now drizzling rain. The Bantu band succeeded Maka and was in turn supplanted by Ycee, two chains on neck, a bracelet on left wrist. " Why is it the first time I'm on afro vibes this is happening to me?" he asked no one in particular.
He started off with ‘In the Benz’, a not very popular song. The audience followed politely. "I'm feeling a bit lazy," he offered, perhaps as apology. And then his major hit, ‘Omo Alhaji’ followed. The crowd crowed.
"Do you regret the decision you made to stay in the rain?" he shouted, inspired by the crowd’s response to the song. His low-energy set looked and sounded like the product of a man caught between sleep and intoxication. The crowd loved it.
Ade Bantu, lead singer of the Bantu band, strolled past the crowd whispering something about the unavailability of Black Magic. Onstage Ycee kept going in his ripped jeans and chest-open shirt. "So sad I've come to the end of my performance," he announced at some point. But then the band began to play ‘Jagaban’, his other hit. Again the crowd roared, and the trap artist obliged with the song. Soon the place was redolent of the dab.
"I had such an amazing time," Ycee said, before rapping a bit of his recent single ‘Su Mi'. "I have to go, I have to go. Thank you so much." It sounded like another apology. Ade Bantu hugged the departing man and closed the concert, announcing that Black Magic will show up another time.
During the downpour someone had asked about the refund policy of the concert half-jokingly. By the end, such comments had either been spirited away by the well-received performances—or silenced because, well, how do you ask family for money back? Technically, you've all suffered together.
Afropolitan Vibes takes place on the 3rd Friday of every month. Venue: Freedom Park, Lagos. Gate fee: 1500 naira ($8)