La Fete’s hypnotic grooves help raise awareness of vital cause

La Fete hit all the right notes. Photo: Seb Wheeler

JJ Bola, the poet whose task it is to open this month’s instalment of La Fete, does so in a fine, charming and wholly relevant style: “I look at her hips and I see the future.” With one line he warms the audience and the start of the evening. For tonight, La Fete rolls in conjunction with I Love My Vagina, a campaign dedicated to raising awareness of women’s rights in the Congo, that will also benefit from proceeds on the door.

JJ Bola aligns his spoken-word performance accordingly, delivering three poems illustrating his appreciation of the female. His words conjure simple, sometimes obvious metaphors, but instead of falling onto the side of cliché they come alive because of delivery.

JJ Bola speaks with a wonderful sense of rhythm, mixing the style of a traditional bard with that of a hip-hop lyricist. Poems come smattered with cheeky puns and innuendo, drawing laughs from the crowd and swoons from the ladies in attendance. It’s hard not to like JJ Bola, and after three pieces he receives a round of applause and is ordered to deliver one more.

Once again, La Fete resident DJ, Oya Bun, fills the gaps in between acts on stage and, just like last month’s performance, he destroys the dance-floor with ease. Last time ELL saw him play, we described him as hyper-kinetic, a tag that he won’t be shaking anytime soon if he continues to drop the fizzing, turbo selection of dancehall, soca, kudoro and African bass-music that has become his trademark.

Kasai Masai also played at La Fete’s last session and, as another of the resident acts, they took to the stage for the headline slot. Their take on traditional Congolese music is smooth and hypnotic; they play soft, intricate rhythms that lock into a taught, elongated groove. Vocal chants bounce across the surface of instrumentation. Kasai Masai create music so mesmeric that you could become caught within it for hours, and at La Fete, that is exactly what happens.

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