When I was younger, I would watch these movies, some with scenes of superstars at the back of a stage, in front of a shimmering mirror with a drink and a costume costing all the ticket money for that night. And I would think to myself: I want to also experience that. One day. I looked forward to the day I would create something so beautiful people would show up to enjoy and experience it and I would be back there holding their hopes and dreams in my head. And voice. I would be sober. That would be the only difference.
I would get on stage to a rapturous applause from strangers who only knew my music and had never met me. This is what America does to you and your childhood. You see Hulk Hogan and think, that must be cool. Or Van Dame stretching his legs to do a split and you want to be that. So I wanted that.
It would take ages to realize that America and Kenya are not just divided by miles (or kilometres-see?) but also nuclear power, an impregnable Airforce One, million dollar studios, sound engineers and an industry grown up to the point of filling up stadiums with hundreds of thousands of Rock or HipHop fans.
I now know the day before a show will find you in some padded room with the band finishing up on that kapart because the drummer or guitarist who you had practiced with has been whisked away by a better paying prospect. I know that you will be the one making calls and running to a printer downtown to pick extra posters and Toi or Gikosh to get a slim fit tie. You will be panting, dusty and nervous. Not the good kind of butterflies. The nervousness that comes from fear that people will not show up for your gig because it might rain or they might just decide that they don’t feel like doing anything or that some nondescript Naija act is in town for a three minute performance which can’t be missed. Your fears will be whether the guy from KTN who promised to show up will or that your video guy will bail out.
This is what happens the day before or sometimes the day of the show. Minutes before going on stage, you might be in the washroom, not a posh cubicle-dabbing at the sweat patches on your skin and tying your blue slim tie. At that moment, everything else is forgotten. You can’t wait to give a show. At that moment, it is all worth it. You wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world.
In the real world promoters are a handful and that means before you get their attention you have to be everything. The musician and the PR guy, the accountant and if you could you’d run your own sound, shoot and edit the video.
When I asked these two songbirds whether they would like me to help them put together this concert, I was not sure they would accept. Because musicians. It takes one… So it’s been fun running around and making calls. It has also been scary. They are scared too.
You could choose to stay indoors, hang out at Ole Polos with your girls, go hiking or go for another gig. But if you saw how Kalahi and Hulda Serro are looking forward to their “Day before the show” butterflies, you would pass by for the #KASHA concert this evening.
Michael Joseph Centre. From 6pm onwards.
See you there, hopefully.