Art x Live, a part of the Art x Lagos event (brainchild of Tokini Peterside) was once again the definition of a true success. The level of improvement at the Art x Lagos event overall is atypical for a project which is only in its second year, but the team delivered without fail. Despite the tremendous success of last year’s (inaugural) event, Tokini Peterside and her amazing team refused to settle on a repeat formula. Instead, they added a super Saiyan kick of exciting engagements this year. The most remarkable one for me had to be the Art x Live event which was sponsored by ABSOLUT vodka on day two of the three-day event.
It took me a good moment to remind myself that the Art x Live event was really happening in Lagos, Nigeria and not one of the Mediterranean party-heavy isles. The sounds were infectious – typical of any set played by DJ Aye (pronounced like the first letter of the English alphabets), the visuals were beautifully curated and the scene was befitting of the mood which was invoked.
With performances from an incredibly talented artist line-up which included Wavy the Creator, Tomi Thomas, P.O.E. and visual (digital) artists Osaze Amadasun and Williams Chechet creating a live digital art piece which formed the backdrop for the musicians on stage, Art x Live was an emotionally-charged, high-spirited journey through time; past, present and future.
The live samba band was not displaced by the electronic sounds from the decks, nor was the guitarist lost in any sonic distortions. The vocalists stayed pitch perfect right through and added a depth of soul and character to every rendition of every edition of every song. The crowd stayed hyped from start to finish, and for this we must also give one massive shout of appreciation to the MC, Idris King.
In the middle of all the excitement was a question that has been avoided for so long. What is the future of our cultural heritage as millennials from a land that has so much of its history lost in the political shambles of yesteryear’s?
The balance between the modern and traditional elements which was presented to us visually and sonically gave us a glimpse into what the future could hold for creatives on the Nigerian art and music scene. There is something powerful about that collaboration between music and art which was presented with such a remarkable level of precision. It is by no means a stretch to say that what DJ Aye, Leriq and the rest of the team put together was nothing short of spectacular, and dare I say it, audacious. It was quite simply a transforming experience.
On the surface, these alternative sounds seem to speak primarily to a subculture, but we must remember that these subcultures sometimes push the boundaries so far that they end up becoming the very definition of pop culture – think Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
There I was, drinking in hand, spirits high, dancing at the cusp of a cultural renaissance. Was this Tokini’s intent when she created this platform? The stage figuratively and literally served as a black canvas, and by the end of the night, an important story was told – the power of the Nigerian youth.
Do I need to launch a new paragraph detailing how inspirational it was to witness such a world class event pulled off by some very young Nigerians in this very country where geriatric dinosaurs think us unfit to accomplish anything worth noting?
I love the fact that Art x Live is not a passing conversation. It is bursting with relevance which can be referenced daily and for a long time to come, but the beauty of it all was that it didn’t just constitute a conversation by Nigerians in Nigeria, for Nigerians. It is a conversation by Nigerians in Nigeria, for the world. It’s not enough to have the world watching us or talking about us, the world needs to speak with us. Tokini Peterside and the Art x Live team have opened the floor… Who got next?