Unplugged's October Edition With South Africa's Costa Titch: A Review

This past weekend, the Unplugged music festival held its October edition at Greendale Sports Club in Harare. It was the festival's first change of venue this year from the usual event at Rylance Farm and what Greendale lacked in scenic views, it more than made up for in being a shorter drive. The artist lineup which was headlined by Costa Titch included Adiona, King 98, Leo Magozz, Holy Ten and ExQ.

Unplugged Festival Zimbabwe 2022

It was a matter of seeing if these artists could dominate the stage as much as they were doing the airwaves; some fell well short. We got to Greendale Sports Club when Adiona had already taken to the stage and from the brief bits of her performance we witnessed, Adiona is a gifted singer. There was something soulful about the way she sang and I instantly regretted not having been there 30 minutes earlier. However, it had been a painstaking wait for the music to start for everyone who had arrived earlier.

Unplugged Festival Zimbabwe 2022

For a festival that kicks off at 2 pm, music had reportedly only started well after 4. While disappointed in that my heart goes out to the organizers, because their usual stage supplier had let them down, so they had got one without a waterproof canopy which resulted in the stage caving in and getting flooded and six speakers blowing out. So in the words of the organizers, it was a miracle that they even had any sound at all, even though the sound system had moments it sounded like it was fighting a mild bout of covid.

But the show must go on as has often been said and the show did go on. I was especially looking forward to what the current dominating Zimbabwean HipHop acts would do but it was a story of hits & misses. Although extremely talented, the stage proved to be a little too heavy for Leo Magozz. In some moments he had the vocals and the stage presence but overall, he just wasn't there. 

Leo Magozz Unplugged Festival Zimbabwe 2022

He seemed to lack confidence in the renditions of his lesser-known tracks and you can only sing the hook of your hit song so many times. You can tell there's potential there but a lot of work is still needed and the temperamental sound system didn't do him any favours too. 

There seemed to be something in the air on Saturday though, because even Holy Ten who's been highly regarded as a great performer didn't do expectations justice. He had great energy but somehow that didn't translate into a great performance and instead of the concert feel, it felt rather pedestrian as he went through some of the hits in his catalogue. Yet they were beautiful moments like when he brought out Kimberly Richards to perform "Too Scared" with him but the crowning moment of his performance has to be when Leo Magozz came on stage as the two performed "Fire Emoji", the entire venue came alive.

Unplugged Festival Zimbabwe 2022

The night can be best described as an extremely slow, slow burner or a tale of two halves. King 98 gave an entertaining performance that was half carried by his dance crew but it wasn't until Mr. Putiti (ExQ) took to the stage that the crowd's attention was completely on the music.

Unplugged Festival Zimbabwe 2022

We came for Costa Titch but the night belonged to ExQ. He didn't miss for a single moment. From crowd favourites on his previous albums to his most recent work, ExQ captivated and entertained. The crowd sang along to his entire set and it was a tough act to follow for Costa Titch. But Costa came loaded with all his hits and bag of tricks. 

Unplugged Festival Zimbabwe 2022

One thing that instantly set Costa apart is his ability to sing and dance which allowed him to own that stage. From the moment he stepped on stage, he just kept going and the crowd was with him. He dropped Superstar, Areyeng, and Nkalakatha among others and his 30-minute set was vibrant and in tune with the crowd. I still feel it was short-lived, but every second he was on stage, Costa Titch gave us everything.

DJ Rimo closed out the night and although he played "All I Do Is Win" he dropped a memorable set. He had us shouting "Rimo we want to party" as if we had forgotten the Major League fiasco and for once when the DJ asked "Can you feel it?" people actually replied "Yebo" instead of repeating "Can you feel it?" Rimo's set could've been easily top 3 performances on the night and from a lacklustre start, Unplugged somehow peaked just before the end.

Now, a lot of the good about the festival gets overshadowed by the bad. The music started way too late, the sound system was temperamental, a few of the artists failed to translate their dominance of the airwaves to the stage and the festival still has zero accessibility. Another thing to note about the music is artists always seem to cut off their songs midway and then jump on to the next one. I mean you're not a DJ, we want to hear the entire record and we want an encore.

Greedysouth rating: 5/10

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