Everyone who's anyone and their mother was at Blankets & Wine this weekend for the celebration of their 10-year anniversary.
If you enjoy Kenyan music, that is, if you don't, you were perfectly warranted to sit at home and enjoy the sunny Sunday afternoon. Can you believe it's been 10 years?
The line-up was brilliant and the performances shone – of course, Sauti Sol brought the house down with their two-hour set (it's been 10 years since Sauti Sol released their first album. I wonder if they're going to do a 10-year commemoration too?).
Muthoni the Drummer Queen was fire, from the dancing to the amazing futuristic costume, to the laying of that bass. I also loved Nyashinski – it's a weakness from having grown up in the time when Kleptomaniacs was Kleptomaniacs. And of course, Blinky Bill – I mean, it was Blinky Bill. And Just A Band reunited briefly on stage. What more could a fan ask for?
The venue was beautiful and well organised as well. I've been to concerts at Ngong Racecourse before and let's just say I was not impressed. But Blankets & Wine managed to partition sections of the field into functional circles that did not interfere with each other.
The stage and the people in front of it were in one section, then a different DJ and a couple of bars behind them, then the food section to the side that had a separate eating and seating area, separate music and a family zone for people who come to late night concerts with their children for reasons that are beyond me. But hey, I don't have children...
The food section, for me, was lacking – but I guess you can't have it all in a concert. It can be a really good concert with not so great food, or drink.
The lines at the bars, of course, were way too long, to the point that I was being that Kenyan who just gets wine from her friend's bottle, her friend who came much better prepared than she did.
I'll have to keep that in mind for the next Blankets & Wine I attend, because it is entirely possible to spend half of a person's set standing in line waiting for one drink. It totally defeats the purpose of a festival. But that is not something that B&W could have anticipated or assisted in, I guess, considering the large numbers of people that were present.
Maybe when they know that they have a fire line-up, they should just get more bars. Or mobile bars, like the way Carnivore, every time it has an event, has people walking around with beers and dawas and such. That might work.
For the food area, specifically, I liked that they had seating, minimal though it was, and I liked that it was completely removed from where the festivities were happening. And it was organised in and of itself – many vendors, with clean trucks and food stations, and many choices, as advertised on the flier for B&W.
There were more popular stations than others, and thus while some trucks and tents had long lines, some had no lines at all (you would think, then, that the people like me who were hungry would have just gone to other lines, right? Wrong).
When I was hungry, I went to the Pork Pit tent on someone else's recommendation, and because we stood there for so long, I nearly missed the beginning of Sauti Sol's set. They had a lot of people waiting for pork (I guess a lot of people recommended them) but they had no idea about how to handle that volume of people.
They ran out of coleslaw, then they ran out of fries, then they had to keep making the pork, which was taking quite some time – and we ended up standing around for 40 minutes. Disastrous. Even more disastrous was that when I finally got the pork, it was a bit undercooked (I ate it anyway. I had stood for too long).
It would behove the companies who offer a food stand to be prepared for the type of crowds that regularly attend these events, and come hungry. There needs to be more bars, and more capacity (instead of one cook and one flipping pork guy and one grill), so that the food experience matches the music one.
Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.