Big Tunes bring back the Reggae Concert Ghosts

Reggae Singer and International Recording Artist Alpha Blondy who maiden performance in Nairobi failed to take off

Saturday 15th June was the day that a live concert ( in one of the many set )to celebrate 50 years of Kenya’s Independence was to be held at the KICC.

Jamaican Reggae artist Tarrus Riley known for such hits as ‘She’s Royal’, ‘Likkle One Drop’ and Ivory Coast-born reggae artist, Alpha Blondy were to be the main acts at the much publicized event that was organised by Big Tunes Live and promoted by Kriss Darling and Otieno Mak’Ochieng. The tickets were going for KSh.2,500 (advance) and upto Ksh. 5,000 for VIP which did not seem to deter the many fans who went to the KICC as early as 5pm despite the cold and wet conditions experienced in Nairobi.

Despite the proper organisation that was applauded before 2 a.m, things quickly turned chaotic when, after more than 6 hours of waiting, Tarrus Riley and Alpha Blondy were still nowhere to be seen. The MC and DJ tried calming down the crowd but did not disclose that the organisers had refused to pay the agreed remaining 20% of the fees as per the contract with the two artists.

Things headed South after that in what many will term as the usual Reggae crowd behavior of looting everything and anyone in sight.

In what is now becoming a blame game between the organisers and promoters.Big Tunes Live released an official statement on Monday which neither explained why the two artists never performed nor how they will go about refunding gate fees to those who purchased the tickets. There was also no formal apology to many who lost their belongings.

After many calls to the ticket vendors Ghafla and Ticket Sasa for refunds, Ticket Sasa announced on their official twitter handle that they would refund everyone who purchased tickets from them for the concert.

Ghafla however, are yet to refund their customers as they handed over the ticket proceeds to the cash-strapped organisers. This has put them in a very precarious position and online ticket buyers will think very carefully in future where to buy online tickets.

At the time of writing this post, Big Tunes Live issued a statement stating that they would not refund ticket sales and would instead organize another Reggae event in which those tickets will be valid.

This is all a bucket of hogwash that they are trying to feed Kenyans in order to avoid refunds ( they do not have the cash as we all have deduced by now).

The question is, who in their right minds will attend the ‘ yet-to-be-organised’ concert after having lost their phone, camera, money and other belongings?

What Big Tunes fail to get is;

a. Kenyans don’t care if you have organised 1000 other successful events

b. Those who bought tickets want to be refunded. Not another concert, not promises…. refunds

c. Its not a favour they were doing the Reggae fans, they were selling a service.

So what lessons have we learnt from this fiasco?


Jamaican-American reggae singer, member of the Rastafari movement , Tarus Riley

Know your Promoters
Kenyans will need to learn who has organised the concert right after knowing the main act. As you have learnt by now, the whole concert became a sham just because of two promoters who decided to play games the artistes and Kenyans without as much as a guilty conscience.

This is not only to Kenyans, corporate firms as well need to see the promoter’s portfolio and talk to the artistes they have brought before if need be to confirm that the promoter is a professional.

Buy your Tickets online and from a Credible Source
It was quite unwise of Ghafla to hand over ticket sale monies to event organisers before delivering the product. Maybe this is because they are only a few months in the online deals business with a lot to learn. Thus they need to have clear guidelines that protect them and their customers from such embarrassing situations (still looking to see how they will walk out of this one unscathed)

The Ghost of Reggae Concerts is real
We simply cannot run away from this and it just keeps haunting us every now and then. I am informed that its not the first time that Big Tunes have been caught up in a similar ‘situation’. Fortunately, fans were saved the embarrassment by Carnivore restaurant who stepped in to save the day.

Maybe we should just be content with watching Reggae songs and concert videos as we seem to be doing better with concerts on other genres.

The need for an Association for Music Promoters
Many of the fans who purchased tickets and will not get refunds will not find any redress unless they decided to take Big Tunes to court as there is no Association that exists to protect the public from unscrupulous promoters.

In order to reassure international artists and corporate sponsors, all event promoters will need to come together as this weekend event is bound to hurt all despite it being very clear who was at fault.

Any industry that seeks growth needs to assure its customers of honesty, fairness and professionalism.

There currently exists an African one and maybe Kenyan promoters should borrow a leaf and learn from them.

Anything less than this, Kenya shall remain a fiasco of sorts in organising international concerts even as our neighbours keep upping the stakes and gaining mileage from hosting international acts while still on top of their game.

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