On the first of May, Flying Fish had guests descend upon Fourways for their #FlavourChilas Backyard Festival! Before ever reaching the main entrance, the sounds from the stage traveled to the outside area. Based on what we could hear from the front entrance, we knew that the function would be a good one.
Upon entering, guests were treated with a brilliant ceiling fastened photography backdrop. Flying Fish didn't waste time in getting their beverages into the hands of their guests, as there were wheelbarrows waiting at the entrance with cold ones. Around the mainstage, folding chairs, bean bags, and blankets featured around the grass for people to cool off during the shows. It truly reflected the essence of a backyard hangout. If I had to compare it to anything, I'd imagine the scenes from movies made in the early 2000s where American high school/university students are seated in the "quad."
Related to food and drinks, there was a perfect selection of foods to choose from. Often people resent cardless systems, however as the years go on, one should just come to anticipate them from events. The food vendors had filling options, of course, I didn't try everything, but I didn't see anything weird looking. As for the selection of drinks, patrons were slightly less impressed in this regard. Granted, one should anticipate that Flying Fish would prioritize their own beverages above any other alcoholic drink. However, only providing guests with alternatives like water, Coca-Cola, and Fanta Orange wasn't the movement. Guests may have been asking for too much, because in all honesty what else would one want to imagine on sale at such a function.
The actual entertainment, however, bore nothing to complain about. Jumping into an active crowd to perform may be the trend among performers this year because since Afropunk it is a stage trick I've noticed frequently. Granted, it's questionable whether we'll ever see such a move from events that don't bear a hint of intimacy, or where the crowd is likely to get rowdy with a quickness. At Flying Fish, the crowd was not only calm, but it was also intimate. When Muzi jumped into the crowd, even though he did explain that he was spent, then proceeded to perform a stellar rendition of "Zenzile," fun was had. Muzi is a class act, one with a strong fan base, stellar collaborations, and mad stage presence. For instance, if you missed Una Rams' set, the duo thankfully has a collaboration titled "Chocolate Dreams." Their on-stage chemistry is so potent that it feels natural for the two of them to be on stage together, instead of it coming across as if Muzi simply called a friend to help him do a song.
Another beloved in music took the stage, and the treat was that it had been a while since crowds in Johannesburg had seen her perform. Not to keep you in suspense it was Shekinah who took the stage next and performed some of her hit songs. While she isn't the type of performer to dance and be highly hyped on stage, especially given that her set didn't support that type of style, Shekinah's performance made the crowd feel good. Now, Shekinah is no "opening act," in that she has achieved enough success to be considered a headliner, she did perform before Masego and get the crowd happy enough to be in good spirits by the time he hit the stage.
Masego is a class act, to say the least. He comes onto the stage with swagger beyond his years and this cool yet playful personality that I've only ever seen mastered among West African and American acts. Masego opened his set with his saxophone, and for those of you who have never held the instrument, understand that it takes arm strength to so much as hoist it while in motion. In addition, his ability to play and sing his songs is indicative of great vocal and respiratory strength.
The crowd felt nothing but love for Masego and his band. The "Tadow" singer has a way of speaking directly into the crowd and making event goers feel as if they're having a one on one moment with him. Getting crowd buy-in for his set is part of what amplifies the moment. For instance, in one part of his set, Masego made a song on the fly. Having the crowd form the chorus by singing back to him every time he took a sip of water from his water bottle. In another moment, he made a song and titled it "YEBO" on stage. Between his crowd interaction, the crispness of his vocal performance, and the vibe he brought to the Flying Fish #FlavourChillas Backyard Festival, South Africa's May 1st public holiday was a day well spent.