Monday, August 20, 2007

Beach Party

For the past few years the only live music I’ve seen have been shows in smaller venues in an urban setting. The last large concert I went to outside with all the vendors and space and projection screens and the works was probably in my early college years. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to what would qualify as a pop concert. But this is exactly what I went to last Sunday evening with R. and N.: a Ugandan pop concert on the beach in Entebbe.

How to describe Ugandan pop music? Go to Borders or some such place and find a Putamayo-esque CD to sample—if you have a token world music CD in your collection, kudos for you but don’t feel you need to tell me about it—and listen to all the non-percussion based African music. Does it all sound the same? That’s Ugandan pop music. Okay, I’m being unkind. It’s got a beat. I was able to bop around to it. And all the lyrics were in Luganda so I couldn’t understand a word. It seemed that more than half the performers lip-synced the entire time. The hotter the girl, the skimpier the outfit, the more likely to lip sync.

The concert began just after nightfall on the shores of Lake Victoria. An elevated stage/thatched-roof hut allowed us a good view of the long line of performers over the course of the evening, even when we were standing in the very back of the audience. There were 1 ½ hip hop performances, which were by far the most enjoyable as far as I was concerned, and the rest fell into this world music category. No one performed more than three songs, which really moved things along. All except for the headlining performance by Iryn. Iryn is gorgeous and has a strong, beautiful voice. She sang much longer than anyone else (and no lip syncing!) and had hot, gyrating, back-up dancers in silver sequined mini skirts and bras.

The bars were plentiful and the snacks…interesting. In the display case we puzzled over these large cake-like balls; when told they were egg rolls, we ordered one (despite being sorely disappointed it was not a doughnut). It was indeed an egg roll: a hardboiled egg rolled inside some sort of fried potato mixture. It weighed about five pounds.

Seriously, though, it’s not as disgusting as it sounds or looks. And we can’t say no one told us what we were getting into.

We were the only white people in attendance save one other guy we saw at what we called the VIP table, simply because it was a table, in the front, with dancing girls. But the table was plastic and perched in spongey grass and it was first come first serve and there were dancing girls all over the place.

At the end of the performances no one ever clapped.

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