Uncle Waffles Live At Fiesta Fiesta Zimbabwe Review

Over the past weekend, Reserve Bank Sports Club in Harare's Mabelreign suburb was host to the latest edition of Fiesta Fiesta Zimbabwe which featured King 98, Anita Jaxson, and Uncle Waffles as the headline acts. It was a highly anticipated event, riding on the wave of Uncle Waffles' international popularity and her recently released EP with the hit song Tanzania.

 Uncle Waffles Live At Fiesta Fiesta Zimbabwe's April Edition: A Review

For event hosts who've been at it for a while now, I have to say I expected a lot better from Fiesta Fiesta. We only just missed the "excitement" of teargas being thrown at the crowd right outside the venue on our arrival, but there was still plenty to make us flinch with tasers being used to keep people properly in line and menacing German Shepherds for crowd control. It felt a little like arriving at an opposition party rally.

The security guys had to help lift me over a meter-high embankment because the venue didn't have any disability access, which is ridiculous. In 2022 how can you exclude a whole demographic from your event by simply not having ramps? Anyways, we finally made it inside through the one small gate that all the 100s in attendance were supposed to use to get in & out and I had asked myself "Why?" countless times.

Inside the Reserve Bank Sports Club grounds, it was just a sea of people, and more were coming in every minute. From a commercial standpoint, Fiesta Fiesta had pulled it off. I couldn't even put a number on the number of people I could see. As much as there was anticipation in the air, there was quite a bit of tension. Anticipation for a trending international act about to perform and probably tension because with Zimbabwean events you never know.

To add more to our early disappointments, the vending stall selling chairs had run out which eventually resulted in the cat & mouse game of people stealing chairs from each other and they were minimal toilets for the 100s in attendance resulting in horrible lines. But we soldiered on because of "Waffles" and we can't afford the flights to SA where she performs regularly.

MC Tatts (Image: Instagram/mc_tatts)

Now often it's always the artists that are talked about in high esteem and who steal the spotlight but we have to take a moment to appreciate MC Tatts. MCs often seem so unimportant to the lineup but they're a key ingredient and MC Tatts has certainly mastered the craft. The way he energizes a crowd and maintains that level is currently unmatched. 

Amard and Abisha Palmer among other performers we got to see who weren't artists definetly held their own in terms of stage presence but MC Tatts was almost as good as a headline act. Of course it shouldn't be lost that on the night MC Tatts wasn't a solo act, but he was alongside DJ Butler as the now duo "Tha Nu Vyb". A group that has become a permanent fixture on Zimbabwe's entertainment scene and this past weekend's performance made it easy to see why.

The lineup of DJs which included Raydizz, Madeherbelieve & Chucknosis among others, brought a refreshing mix of sound. It was a welcome change getting Dancehall, Electro House, and a HipHop set that gave local HipHop its deserved airplay. This all would've been great if it wasn't for the constant technical difficulties because I'm not sure what was going on in the background but sometimes the music would suddenly go down and at times cut off. I would instantly have flashbacks to the nightmare that was Major League Djz' Harare Shutdown hosted by Rimo which was just shut down.

It finally came time for King 98 to hit the stage and he arrived at a fairly lukewarm reception, but it was as if he was done as soon as he started. He performed a selection of 4 songs which was about 15 minutes at the most and he was off. It was actually more of a cameo than a performance and the crowd didn't get a chance to fully warm up to his performance. Abisha Palmer and one of the local DJs took the stage next before the act everyone came to see finally performed.

Uncle Waffles Live
Uncle Waffles on stage at her Harare performance as shot by Uncle Smith

Although Uncle Waffles has been riding high on the international performances, the success of her EP, and the Drake co-sign, a lot has been made of her skills behind the decks. I can say the internet was wrong on this one. Uncle Waffles is not only a gifted entertainer in her stage presence but she's also talented at spinning the decks. The set she gave us had a lot of really good transitions and great track selection yet it felt like it just ended abruptly.

She gave us a performance of 40 or so minutes, an hour if we're being generous and an hour-long set of amapiano no matter how good wasn't going to be this event's saving grace. Besides, we've become accustomed to 4 hour-long piano sets that last well into the night.

Uncle Waffles
Uncle Waffles on stage at her Harare performance as shot by Uncle Smith

I absolutely enjoyed a lot of what Uncle Waffles' played and when Iy'ntsimbi Zase Envy came on I was losing all morals but I have to say the crowd's excitement felt like it peaked during the HipHop set especially when the DJ played Saintfloew's "Silas Mavende" and somehow Uncle Waffles' performance didn't quite capture those highs. Before 21:30 Waffles had wrapped up her set and the place just felt deflated.

A while later Anita Jaxson came on for another brief cameo but by then a lot of the crowd had made their way out and half of those who were still there seemed a little uninterested. Which was a shame because Anita was energetic and if she had just been scheduled before Uncle Waffles things could have been different. In the end, everyone was just hard done by the organization, from the performers themselves to the crowd in attendance.

Leaving the venue was just like hell as coming in. The 100s in attendance and all the cars had to fit through the one gate at Reserve Bank Sports Club. We probably spent more time trying to get out than Waffles performed.

At the end of the day, they needs to be a serious conversation about how Zimbabwean event organizers run their events, from accessibility to security, crowd control, and how they line up performances. Because if you ask me right now would I go to another Uncle Waffles, I'd have to say only at the club for the after-party like everyone who was smart on Saturday and waited for Waffles to come to club Karma.

Also, a thing to note about stage setups, instead of giving us 2007 Windows Media Player graphics on the big screens at the backdrop of the stage, how about showcasing footage of the artist performing? Food for thought.

Greedysouth rating: 3/10

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