By Prince Mushawevato
That the “Mafikizolo Back in Town” concert was an epic disaster is now common knowledge.
Claims of sabotage by organisers of the show, Proma Events, and xenophobic violence-related boycotts have been thrown around in efforts to try and explain the flop.
But the truth is that times are changing, show-goers no longer tolerate disorganisation, extortion or being taken for granted.
Clearly, a combination of poor selection of artistes and the exorbitant US$10 advance/US$20 at the gate or the interbank rate equivalent, caused the catastrophe.
Furthermore, there were glaring technical and logistical glitches. The show lacked proper coordination and MCs did not have a programme to follow.
Reports indicate that Mafikizolo only got their work permit a couple of hours before they landed in Harare. Moreover, the gig started late as the sound provider refused to switch on his system until they got full payment. The lighting system was faulty in the initial stages of the gig, which disrupted Tocky Vibes’ set.
Selmor Mtukudzi almost cancelled her scheduled set in protest over the organisers’ sloppiness while Andy Muridzo, Diamond Musica and Gemma Griffiths withdrew from the gig.
However, to their credit, the tumult and paltry audience did not stop Mafikizolo from delivering their traditional best on stage.
Meanwhile, the gig confirmed that there is a massive shift in local showbiz.
Themed events like Unplugged, CookOut, Shisha Saturdays, PicnicOn, Braai Out, Fiesta Fiesta, etcetera, are now the in-thing. People are no longer just after wise waters and good company, they are becoming particular about the ambience and experience they get at an event.
Music shows, even those involving the so- called “big five” have lost their lustre.
Prior to the Mafikizolo concert, a memorial and posthumous birthday concert for Dr Oliver Mtukudzi attracted a poor crowd. The commemoration gig boasted top performers, among them Jah Prayzah, Alick Macheso, Enzo Ishall, visiting regional acts Mi Casa (South Africa), Amayenge (Zambia) and James Sakala (Malawi).
Earlier on, Dr Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo’s follow-up gigs that took place after his initial well-attended April 2018 “Welcome Back-Big Bira” attracted miserable crowds.
Revellers have become choosy about how they spend their hard-earned cash. Gone are the days when they used to unconditionally follow gigs.
Socialite and music promoter Wanisayi Mutandwa aka Mahwindo argued that some show organisers are suffering because of ignorance.
“It’s unfortunate that some of the promoters take revellers for granted. When organising a show, you need to first analyse market trends so that you bring acts that people are interested in.
“It will not do you any good to book an artiste whose last hit song was some donkey years ago. Fans are no longer gullible, they now demand the real deal for them to loosen their pockets,” said Mahwindo.
The aforementioned outdoor events, including corporate sponsored ones like Star FM’s Zim-Ntulikazi, are doing well because of their innovativeness. Part of their characteristics, like the “bring your cooler box” concept, have won the hearts of many hedonists.
Braai Out organisers noted that indeed, innovation is the way to go in showbiz.
From the look of things, tired themes like the often abused “all-white-party” and the “big five” are no longer viable business concepts.
“We have live music performances but this is not like your usual gigs. The event is punctuated by a number of other activities, thereby making it is all encompassing,” said the organiser.
“We create a flexible and unique family outing environment. We allow our guests to bring drinks of their choice from wherever they source them. Our overheads are mainly recouped from gate takings and a few other items that we sell,” said a CookOut official.
Delta Beverages-ponsored events like the recent inaugural Zambezi Bonfire, the Chibuku Road to Fame, Chibuku Neshamwari and the Castle National Braai Day, also continue to attract massive crowds.
The Delta Beverages events provide a platform for the public to watch their favourite acts performing free of charge or in some instances for a nominal fee.
In addition, the company directly sells an assortment of their brands at wholesale prices at the events.
Delta Beverages national sales executive Stan Muchenje said: “The idea is to respond to market demands by creating events that they can identify with.”
Merrymakers now find it absurd to, at present, to part with $40 for a single pint of their favourite beverage at a show when the same amount can get them more elsewhere.
This is in addition to the other costs involved, for example transport and food.
Many promoters choose to peg general admission charges in United States dollars or the interbank exchange rate equivalent, which is beyond the reach of many. The Sunday Mail