This year’s St. Louis Fresh Festival was truly a jump and certainly the biggest party we’ve attended this year in terms of size, ambiance, dope line-up and good vibes all around. It was undoubtedly Botswana’s freshest festival in years and the weather was pretty cool too, allowing revellers to party down a storm unperturbed under the cool summer breeze until the wee hours of the morning. Powered by Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) and held at the Duma FM Grounds this past Saturday, the St. Louis Fresh Fest is an annual festivity hosted by the local and light-fermented beverage, St. Louis Lager to appreciate its copious stakeholders and customers.
The Saturday festivity was headlined by Nigerian superstar, Davido, RSA’s Nasty C including an array of talented Botswana artists such as SCAR, ATI, MMP Family, Sasa Klaas, Dramaboi, DJ Root, Vee, Mr. O, Robbie Rob and Brando, Amantle Brown alongside Juju Boy, DJ PJ, BanT, Ricky Lamar, Team Distant, Guyvous, Kuchi, Han C and Benny T.
“Unlike your typical music festival, the St. Louis Fresh Festival is primarily about bringing mixed gender groups together through music to create unique shared moments and lasting experiences. The festival also seeks to create a point of differentiation to deliver the mood by orchestrating befitting environments where the right people come together, at the right place, with the right music and entertainment. A combination of elements that fuels friendships, shared moments, and truly connected experiences,” said KBL Marketing Manager for Mainstream Brands, Mpho Motlhabane.
The VIP and Organisation
Well, #BotswanaUnplugged crew sauntered into the venue, Duma FM Grounds just a few minutes after 2pm. Despite us missing out on a few performances (just two), we must hasten to add that this year’s Fresh Fest was professionally organised – from start to finish, with minimal or no teething problems at all. From the moment one joined the road leading to Duma FM Grounds, there was visible security personnel all around, who carried out their duties proficiently as expected.
KBL had truly made sure they left no stone unturned as everything from start to finish flowed with ease. The public access area was nicely divided with steel barricades for easy flow of traffic. VIPs were ushered into the readily available shuttles which then ferried them into the venue – a welcome development which lessened congestion inside the venue.
Arriving inside the VIP marquee was pure bliss. The fridges were overflowing with copious amounts of all things thirst-quenching and mind-altering; soft drinks, cordials, St. Louis beer, other assorted KBL brands as well as a cocktail lounge which served all the colourful drinks one can think of. OMG, there was sumptuous food too – lest guests had the urge to drink on empty stomachs – KBL had that on lock!
The VIP marquee was well-equipped with a bevy of sultry and alluring ushers who constantly served guests all their needs. The marquee was spacious enough for all invited guests to move around at ease. Anything one needed was right under their roof; from food, drinks, conversational engagements and shared moments, there was absolutely no need for one to wonder out and about.
The positioning of the stage and the VIP marquee also favoured the VIP guests, as they watched every performance at ease, relaxed as they imbibed refreshing pick-me-ups, and those who didn’t want to gawk deep towards the concert stage, KBL had provided some LED screens for them to watch from the comfort of their seats.
Gaborone’s cream of the crop all looked swanky as they filled up the VIP marquee in no time. From the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng to various Chief Executive Officers, corporate executives and varied socialites, the VIP marquee was teeming with a plethora of all and sundry as conversations got heightened throughout the cool summer breeze interpolated by the blasting music from the superstar St. Louis Fresh Fest 2017 line-up. It was truly a star-studded and bespoke affair.
The jubilant Hoi Polloi
Enter into the ‘Lion’s Den’ A.K.A the informal sector, nom de plume, the general masses, these group truly knows how to party down a storm and are always the flavour of any fiesta. The general access area at the St. Louis Fresh Fest 2017 also teemed with multi-coloured and multi-cultural albeit animated merrymakers from all walks of life who boogied down to the thumping musical storm courtesy of all featured entertainers.
The annual #FreshFest summer jamboree is solely put together by KBL with these particular people in mind, as the St. Louis Lager brand honours and rewards all its dedicated customers with a stellar music festival featuring only the best talent.
The weekend celebration was no doubt lit as it featured fresh and crisp performers such as Nigerian megastar Davido and Nasty C alongside some of Botswana’s illustrious musicians and disc jockeys who one-after-the-other set the Duma FM Grounds roof on fire with their pristine and grand performances. Everyone was well-behaved and well-cultured, as they adoringly sprawled their colourful picnic blankets, some comfortably relaxing on camp chairs while others lovingly sat on their cooler boxes, united by one locally-brewed drink, St. Louis Lager.
A walk around these crowds even though intimidating was well worth it. They were extremely friendly, sociable and welcoming as they took turns posing for pictures, some snapping selfies while others generally lived up to the St. Louis Lager crisp promise and tagline, “Keeping It Fresh,” – inspiring Batswana to find celebration in every moment and further representing a new generation of Batswana that celebrate positive, inspiring and sociable spirit that defines Batswana culture; that of people who want to make the most of every day, celebrating with family and friends.
The St. Louis Fresh Festival has fittingly branded itself as one of the Top 5 major festivals in Botswana by many things; amongst them their extremely expensive line-up, whopping throngs of revellers, vast venue and stretched hours. Putting together a show of this magnitude clearly would not come easy and one can at least comprehend the many vexing logistical headaches that come with hosting this mammoth event.
However, unlike last year’s, the 2017 Fresh Fest has unquestionably set the bar high, turning the heat up several notches. As night time came with music blasting through the spacious Duma FM Grounds, one could only hear muffled voices of the copious and excited revellers as they danced the chilly summer night away non-stop.
Gazing up at the night sky, one could see clouds latched to the unending sky as a downpour threatened to soak all of us but fortunately it never drizzled. During this time, the general access area was filled to the brim and everybody seemed ultra bibacious and nicely bevvied up – hic!
The star-studded line-up
There’s absolutely not an iota of doubt that the St. Louis Fresh Fest 2017 featured the heaviest and creamiest line-up of performers from as far as Nigeria, South Africa and Botswana. These renowned acts included 24-year-old Nigerian superstar, David Adedeji Adeleke popularly known as Davido and 20-year-old South African rapper, songwriter and record producer, Nasty C including an array of talented Botswana artists such as SCAR, ATI, MMP Family, Sasa Klaas, Dramaboi, DJ Root, Vee, Mr. O, Robbie Rob and Brando, Amantle Brown alongside Juju Boy, DJ PJ, BanT, Ricky Lamar, Team Distant, Guyvous, Kuchi, Han C, Benny T.
Upon arrival at the venue, we found the ever so talented, South African rapper, David Junior Ngcobo alias Nasty C spitting rhymes to the merriment of his profuse Botswana enthusiastic fans. The “Hell Naw” and “NDA” hit maker had several revellers eating out of his artistic and melodic palm.
Up next was Botswana’s gifted mix-master, DJ Ricky Lamar, who took to the wheels of steel like a duck to water, throwing undoubtedly pristine and fresh mixes which had revellers dancing excitedly in awe. Immediately when Ricky Lamar left the stage, there was yet another hot set delivered exclusively by an award-winning group, Team Distant. These boys’ force and charm on stage is indisputably woke, and was cognate to the Setswana adage, “Yo osa bineng, mmaagwe wa loya”.
Their musical fusion of pulsating drums entwined with soothing vocals reverberated across the vast Duma FM Grounds, making revellers lose their marbles as they indulged in boisterous St. Louis Fresh Fest 2017 festivities.
The Fresh Fest stage was already lit when the Yarona FM morning duo of Robbie Rob and Brando came on-board. The double act, affectionately known as Stupid 1 and 2 was refreshing and a marvel to watch as Brando crooned revellers in soothing R&B fashion while Robbie Rob took care of the ‘ones and twos’, unleashing flawless mixes to the already excited Fresh Fest fans.
Legendary Botswana hip-hop maestro, Thato Matlhabaphiri alias SCAR was also exceptional on stage, followed by the sexy and sultry, Sasa Klaas of “Mmamongwato” fame who turned up the heat with her raunchy and stimulating twerking moves.
The “Seileng” hit maker, Hanceford Magapatona known as Han-C in the music scene was up next in a typical ‘dynamite comes in small packages’ fashion. This young man is truly talented. Throughout his performance, a few VIP guests were utterly blown away, with some wondering how a miniature character such Han-C can pack such a powerful punch.
The party was already smoking hot when legendary disc jockey and seasoned broadcaster, Mr. O came on stage. Like fine vintage wine, Mr.O, often referred to as ‘Tshaba-Tshutshu’ as usual delivered a nice set followed by yet another favourite Botswana group, MMP-Family. These guys are exceptionally brilliant on stage and on the mic too.
The St. Louis Fresh Fest 2017 party continued to hot up when Dramaboi jumped on stage. Well, no surprises here, as revellers sang along throughout his entire performance.
Love was in the air, when Botswana’s musical couple of Amantle Brown and Jujuboy serenaded the masses mutually. The #Follo hit makers were equally dazzling on stage courtesy of Amantle Brown and her dancers’ inspired Lady Marmalade (Moulin rouge) rage.
The award-winning Neo Moahi a.k.a DJ Root was up next as he unleashed a scintillating and inspired Hip-hop set, paving way for Botswana’s whizz-kid ATI. Born Atlasaone Molemogi, ATI is a virtuoso Hip-hop artist currently on the crest of wave courtesy of his club banger and anthem, #KhiringKhorong
This song has become hugely popular in clubs, street and house parties, public transport thus leaving an indisputably huge impact across the country and abroad. His entrance on the St. Louis Fresh Fest stage was not only legendary but heroic too. The grandmaster of all things Hip-hop now, stunned everyone when he appeared out of the eerie darkness of the night dangling from a crane above.
This was truly an OMG moment for everyone at the Fresh Fest. The versatile and creative rapper had once again achieved the unimaginable stunning everyone in the process. Personally, I couldn’t fathom how ATI managed to dangle from a crane so high above the night sky, slowly dropping into the stage as he waxed lyrically unflustered. Like a canopy of luminous stars, ATI materialized amongst the ocean of blackness. What a grand entrance! What a stunner! This, will have so many of your contemporaries playing catch for a very long time.
This for me was the highlight of the many refreshing St. Louis Fresh Fest moments. To cap off the spectacular night was Davido’s overdramatic performance as he closed down the Fresh Fest in grand style. Twice Davido left the stage to connect with his fans at the general access area. To reach out, he rumbled and danced atop the cordon fence separating him from his animated supporters, as his bodyguards and bouncers worked overtime to control the stirred crowds.
The Nigerian megastar sang several of his famous songs as excited revellers joined in and sang along especially to hits such as “If” and “Fall”. The St. Louis Fresh Fest earns a coveted spot in my heart as the best party I’ve attended this year. Kudos to KBL and St. Louis Lager for keeping it fresh!