Afropolitan Vibes has definitely made its name as a platform for alternative music where music lovers gather to enjoy contemporary singer-songwriters and musicians perform genres like afrobeat, afro-funk, afro hip-hop, afro-pop and highlife music live on stage.
Ade Bantu and Abby Ogunsanya founded the event which began as a monthly live concert and has gone on to host over 40 editions spanning four years at Freedom Park—where more than 160 guest artistes have performed. In those four years, Afropolitan Vibes helped cement Freedom Park’s image, transforming it from a place of suffering—as it was a former colonial prison, into a space of exhilaration. The park became the premium place to seek out good live music, it’s stage hosting everyone from Nneka to M.I. Afropolitan Vibes has easily become Nigeria’s longest running monthly concert gig.
The event has since moved to the beautiful and serene environment of Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island, Lagos, where it held on Friday, 29 June. Muri Okunola park is decidedly much bigger than Freedom Park’s venue and has largely been underutilized. By moving, Afropolitan Vibes is giving itself yet another opportunity to grow.
The performances which started in a tiny venue with fewer than 100 audience members has grown to see some 2,000 to 3,000 people visit each open-air event, and is still growing. One of the contributing factors is that it’s not just wealthy people who can afford a festival ticket. The tickets for this year’s event cost N1000 ($3) — and that’s affordable also for students and workers.
Afropolitan Vibes is the only show that can probably boast of starting dead on time—eight to eleven; and whose variety of music and quality of the performances lead to quite an eclectic collection of people who come to watch the show. “Expatriates, ‘area’ boys, returnees, top executives, and regular nine to fivers, all come to the Afropolitan Vibes because of its unique atmosphere where they can let loose,” Ade Bantu was quoted saying in an interview with Omenka Gallery.
The new space includes a bar area, food vendors and a special dedicated picnic space where friends and lovers can relax while sipping on the readily available palm wine—freshly tapped in Sagamu on the morning of each show—that is sure to rapture the senses with its sweetness.
The last of the concert series held last December featured the hit-making duo of the 2000s Danfo Drivers, 1990s great Shina Peters and newbie Teni Entertainer. This time, the event saw opening performances from Adunni and Nefretiti, who began the job of stoking the flames of what would prove to be a fun filled night with raw, undiluted, African music.
The night soon transformed into a party as still more people made their way to the venue and the likes of the African Gentleman Ric Hassani took to the stage to render some of his hit songs such as “Gentleman” and Believe”. With the way he serenaded the audience with his soft vocals, it is hard to believe the singer was once a rapper who went by the name, Rico Slim. Ric Hassani’s debut album “The African Gentleman” was released late August last year.
The 13-piece Bantu collective, led by Ade Bantu were also on ground filling intermissions and hyping up the crowd with selected songs while swaying the crowd with their ability to transform from one performance to the other without losing a beat.
Brymo, however, was the star of the night. The socially conscious artist who wasn’t a stranger to the event stepped on the stage with the members of his band all dressed in black. The singer, who is working on publishing a book next year, put up a rendition to remember. He performed his hit songs from his past albums igniting the crowd with favourites like “Ara”, “1 Pound”, and “Dem Dey Go” from his Klitoris album. Surprisingly, Brymo did not render any song from his latest album, “Oso”, but that did not in any way hamper the stunning and energetic performance that the soulful artist has been known to deliver on stage.
It was indeed a befitting 49th edition with DJ Java leading guests onto the dance floor for the after party of the event. The next edition of the Afropolitan Vibes festival, its 50th, will take place on 21 September.