Thrills, fun at Sunset Beer Fest

HARARE - The Sunset Beer Fest was successfully launched on Saturday as thousands of beer drinkers and music lovers converged at the open arena to party until well after mid-night.

With bars and braais scattered around the venue, and consumed by the multitude of dancing bodies, the festival launch lived up to its billing.

Open skies, a cool breeze, smoke from the braais and the venue’s marshalled lights created an unforgettable night as revellers loosened up to high voltage sounds.

With all kinds of beers — super masese and larger — going mostly for a dollar, almost everyone you met had a beer in hand creating a drinking jamboree.

Coordinated by Devine Assignments, the two-day festival ended yesterday and is expected to be an annual event.

Before the highly-anticipated dancehall slot which was to close the bash, marabi singer, Kiren Zulu, had audiences in stitches as he showcased his guitar playing prowess which was highly punctuated with teasing humour.

Kwekwe-based singer Peter Moyo and his smartly-dressed Utakataka Express took after Zulu and with popular chanter Shiga Shiga powering the mic, the band performed with zeal and introduced their act to youthful fans most of whom had come for the dancehall splash.

And these young dancehall enthusiasts who are known to bogie to their preferred genre rose to the occasion as they exhibited flashy sungura dance moves, including the drunken kung-fu master moves, indeed a typical dance for the local beer festival and the drunken master!

With standby DJs spinning the wheels in-between acts, theirs was also a flawless affair as they took fans down memory line with teasers of popular local dancehall street hits.

Then it was time for serious business opening with Tally B, a real contender for the Zim-dancehall space. Small in stature the youthful singer has stage presence and masters his vocals to near perfection as he sang songs that touch life in the ghettos, unemployment and the hopelessness that binds poor communities.

Enter Platinum Prince, indeed a controversial singer singing anything from condoms to perceived enemies within the dancehall circuit.

Talented and wearing some funny overall with several colours, he looked like a butterfly on a flower. He is the big teaser and does it so well and in the process teaches audiences sing along choruses that turned his slot into a big unison song.

Platinum Prince was also bitter that there were others who thought his music was there to insult people. And he says he cares not, taking a dig at older dancehall singers while boasting that he was now the real thing. And he goes on and on with the melody following him.

Guspy Warrior’s slot was marred with sound technicalities and he was not happy at all.

“Sabotage, why are you sabotaging Guspy Warrior?” asked an angry Guspy and the selector and engineers failed to power the public address system. And twice he came onto the stage the machine failed. “Why only Guspy, this is sabotage, the engineer is sabotaging my act!”

And when he finally hit the note you could think indeed there was some sabotage as he failed to put his usual display, he was incensed and sang a song dedicated to the engineers and sound selector.

The sound selector seemed lost by the pace of the singers and misled them into wrong tunes which were not as per script. All the aforementioned who are used to flawless backtracks aiding their stage performances were really disappointed by the selector and all of them at one time called; “selector, not that one, selector, selector!”

And Guspy Warrior was so furious: “Selector should know that this is my office, I work here. The stage is my office, respect it!”

And as an old man, I left the venue when Freeman joined Guspy for a duet song, hence the latter introducing his next act.

Before the party began, guest of honour and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, ZTA chief Karikoga Kaseke said such festivals where everyone felt free, safe and merry showed that Zimbabwe was a peaceful country.

“I would like to see this beer festival grow in bounds — if ?10 000 people come today, next year I would like to see 20 000 and then the year after 50 000,” said Kaseke.

The ZTA executive urged local companies and Harare City Council to embrace such a novel and promising initiative that will also see the promotion of artists.

“I am making a passionate call to Delta to support this festival as there are the biggest beneficiaries in all this, actually they should be the biggest sponsors, them and Distillers Distributors as liquor brand manufacturers.”

Kaseke said the City Fathers should jump at initiatives like the Sunset Beer Fest as it brought revenues to councils.

Deputy Zambian ambassador who was also part of the guests said he celebrated the launch of Sunset Beer Fest as it coincided with their independence day. “Today Zambia turns 50 since we were independent and we have had five presidents.”

Devine Assignments director, Biggie Chinoperekwei said the Sunset Beer Fest will be an annual event and hopes to work synergies with City of Harare to maximise the use of the venue, an open space adjacent Harare City Sports Centre.

“This festival employs hundreds of people, from the 15 bars camped here, dozens of musicians performing, more than 40 DJs and other supporting staff. We need such festivals as they create employment as well as promote artists. We are also marketing Harare as a tourism destination.”

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