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The Very Best @ Festsaal Kreuzberg (8.12.2009)
The Very Best's set at Festsaal Kreuzberg began with a surprisingly small crowd gathered in front of the stage. Despite the initial sparse audience, The Very Best immediately brought on a full blown party. Esau Mwamwaya (vocals) and Johan Karlberg of Radioclit (electronics) were accompanied by two energetic dancers and an additional MC, each performer adding a special element to the flavor of the live show. Thankfully for the band, as the audience in the front of the stage danced back and forth across the floor more and more people filtered into the club and by the end of the show the dance floor was full.
Karlberg lead the songs with the Afro-grooves featured on the recent original recording "Warm Heart of Africa," as well as with highlights of the online mixtape the group gave away last year. While he controlled the tempo and direction of the music, the more forceful and apparent figure of the evening was in the front of the stage. Mwamwaya was a captivating performer; he never lost the smile on his face or the rhythm of the music. Dancing across the stage he radiated exuberance and energy while shifting seamlessly between multiple languages, including his native Chichewa, Portuguese, and English.
The languages featured that evening were just as eclectic as the styles of music employed. The Very Best incorporate a very wide variety of musical influences in order to construct their original and highly infectious sound. Ranging from the more common genres such as electronic house, disco, and indie-pop, their distinctive songs are highlighted by the African sounds of marabi, kwaito, kuduro, and highlife. Not surprisingly these diverse and dynamic sounds translate very well onto the live dancefloor.
The additional MC hyped the crowd even more with his encouragement to participate in the call and response. He would call "The Very!" into the crowd, resulting in "BEST!" shouted back to him, playfully echoing throughout the hall. Only adding more to the entertainment value of the evening were the two dancers featured in a few of the songs, vigorously dancing on either side of the stage. They were blatant examples of just how movement-oriented this music is.
When the show finally ended the enthusiastic response from the crowd for an encore was more than convincing. The group came back on stage two more times beaming with excitement, despite insisting that they were not going to be playing anymore. The sentiment of the music created a feeling of immense lightheartedness rooted in the frolicking beats, the enthusiasm and pleasure of the artists on stage, and the enthralled audience. Although the plastic palm trees on either side of the DJ table were obviously artificial, everything else about this music could not have been more solid and real.
Written and photographed by Brit-Maren Schjeide
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