Sofar Sounds Harare's 13th edition - Zimbabwean music from a room: A Review

Whether it's a mosh-pit under the Dodger Dome at Moto Republik, a festival on the Old Hararians Sports Club grounds, or an acoustic concert at Alliance Française de Harare's Old Mutual Theatre, our appreciation of music has always been shaped by the setting. As if the atmosphere of different venues, has air particles that vibrate differently to sound. 

This utilisation of different venues as a key part of the live music is Sofar Sounds' grounding concert.

Short for "Sounds from a room," Sofar is a 2 year old concept that has spread across the world like wildfire. It is now a global community of curators and artists across 450+ cities, bringing music to intimate audiences at secret locations, that are both traditional and unconventional venues. Since it's debut in 2023, under the curation of Khumbulani Muleya Sofar Sounds Harare has been doing everything it can to live up to this concept.

Gracing locations like the Old Rock Café, Chapungu Sculpture Park, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, and Puttery Barn among others, Sofar Harare has endeared itself to Zimbabwean music lovers. And as one who finally got to be immersed in the Sofar experience this past weekend, it's easy to see why. 

Hosted in the auditorium at Prince Edward School, Sofar Sounds Harare's 13th edition was a stage for artists of the now and artists of future. As a Prince Edward old boy, the concert was a return to old stomping grounds that painted everything with brushstrokes of nostalgia. Entering the venue slightly behind time, we were greeted by the sounds of jazz.

Dressed in the all too familiar maroon and green, the Prince Edward School jazz band were strutting their stuff on stage. Guitar, trumpet, piano and drums were brought together in a well practiced harmony some seasoned professionals would've envied. My streamates may take exception to this but I don't remember them ever being that good. 

The jazz ensemble was followed by the marimba band, with the juniors coming out to do a single song before the senior band took over and delivered a set of true showmanship. We were treated to folk sounds with an urban twist, and most memorable were the marimba renditions of Andy Brown's "Mawere Kongonya", Case's "Missing You" and the boys barely put a foot wrong.

After a brief intermission it was time for the gifted vocalist Tendex, and when I say gifted I don't mean it lightly, because the performance he gave us was an experience that verged on the spiritual. Accompanied by a loop machine at his feet and making use of the mbira, he gave us a truly moving performance. The kind that captivates to the point of stopping even the whispered conversations. 

He walked off to a standing ovation, and midway through his exit he was stopped for another round of applause. This was my third time watching him, and although there's now a lot of familiarity with his set, this was by far his best performance out of the three.

To close out the evening, it was Bryan K and his guitar who took the stage. The Afro-soul was as good as if we were listening to him on Spotify. Simply him and his guitar, having a conversation with 200+ people through musical notes. As he walked off the crowd began singing "One more, one more, one more..." in demand for an encore. The singer duly obliged and he gave us a stirring rendition of the Tamy Moyo and Kayflow featuring "Hakuna."

For the past few months I had always been procrastinating in my application for Sofar Harare tickets, but after Saturday's experience, I wouldn't want to miss a single edition. From the setting, to the performances and MC Rue's hosting. Sofar Sounds Harare endeared itself to me as a concept. I was even on board with the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) part of everything.

Greedysouth rating: 7.5/10

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