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Happy cheering crowd with hands in air at music festival

Concert culture in Ghana, can it really work?

With the country’s capital rapidly becoming one of the hottest spots for the creative industry, music concerts have been uplifting recently, and fans have grown/bought into concert culture. The increase in attendance feels like a blessing in disguise. It has brought out flaws from organisers, and echoed the cries of “Day 1” concertgoers regarding problems they face at these concerts.

Going into Accra’s 2022 December, standards for music concerts/Festivals had already hit new heights thanks to Global Poverty Project’s Music Festival in September. The annual music festival brings together artists, activists, world leaders, philanthropists, corporate leaders, and more with one collective mission: End Extreme Poverty.
The actual concert, which was hosted at the Black Star line square in Accra, Ghana, for the first time, was almost a flawless one.

From tightened security (a number one priority for concerts) to an enthralling production, and quality performances from Sarkodie, Sza, Tems, Gyakie, Usher, and a virtual performance from John Legend, the concert was a realisation of how mediocre Ghanaian organisers have been and an unforgettable memory for attendees. The concert became some syllabus for organisers, sparking conversations on social media and serving as an inspiration for upcoming shows.

The first concert to kickstart “Detty December ” was LiveHub’s Wizkid in Ghana, which did not go to plan. The show (which the headliner didn’t even show up) detailed the litany of failures by organisers, which led to concertgoers getting their stuff snatched from them thanks to well-disorganised security detail. Fans stayed from 7 pm to 2 am for Wiz not to show up, summing up what Ghanaians regarded as disrespect.
The uproar from concertgoers was loud, and this played a role in people trying to cancel concert culture. Throughout the festive season, multiple shows were cancelled due to tickets not selling, proof that fans were willing to boycott shows, especially in an era where the country’s economy was/is on a down low.

Expectations from organisers were now on a larger scale, and only a few could match them, just a. Manifestivities was a smooth concert (as expected). The Bukom Boxing Arena was filled with fans by 8 pm, with a strategic seated system to ensure every guest had a great view of the stage.

By 8:50 pm, the first act was halfway through her set. With a double barrier check at the main entrance and arena entrance, the show filtered troublemakers, seeing off a very smooth show which ended by 1:30 am, with quality performances from all the artists. This show breathes life into concert culture again, proving that you’d have a successful show if things are done well.

As if that wasn’t enough, Black Sherif’s Mozama Disco concert (easily the best concert in 2022) was a five-star concert. The concert’s creative direction theme leaned heavily on his debut album, with a recreation of his album cover and a meet-and-greet at 4 pm (yes, a meet-and-greet in Accra, which saw fans come through).

From a monstrous stage with LED screens to a state-of-the-art sound system that produced crisp and clean sound, with optimised arrangements and positioning of the equipment to enhance the guest experience, it was one for the books, and the live production was excellent with a PPV streaming option that went for $7. From a structured parking system to a lively crowd, fans left with fond memories of one of the country’s favourite acts.

For solo artists, that’s as good as it gets for music concerts. To think music festival organisers would do better was the default, just that they didn’t. Afronation Day 2 also did not go to plan. From the entry where general admission ticket holders weren’t scanned/given bands to a disorganised entry and a stampede which led to the show getting cancelled halfway through, it was the same as day 2 for Afrofuture FKA Afrochella. The only difference is Afrofuture kept the show going despite the gate’s stampede.

Performances from both shows were good with quality logistics, only for it to be marred by circumstances stemming from the gates, mind you these are concerts that gleam with promises of bragging rights and Instagram photos dotted with culture filters, and they still failed to prioritise safety of their fans. Black Star Line was a pretty good show in terms of securing the safety of attendees. With a swift medical attention team on stand-by and a well-mounted stage, take away the technical faults that slackened the entire mood of the show, and you’d have a pretty decent show.

Concert Culture is not thoroughly dead, especially with how Ghana’s creative scene is shaping up. There will be more of it. The only difficulty will be attendance (a problem the same organisers created.) In a hardened economy, concertgoers will be pickier than ever.

If they pay vast sums of money for a show, they deserve every experience in full effect. For the typical music lover on the ground with a general-admission wristband, hiding from the sun and trying to fuel your body with expensive food is a bit doable.

It’s enough to sacrifice, which should prompt organisers to do better with security detailing and a better plan to see concerts through. Until event organisers take full responsibility for the safety of fans at concerts, concert injury attorneys should be available to hold them accountable, another angle that might hopefully be in effect in the coming festive seasons. The message is simple, Ghanaians love a good time, plan your stuff accordingly, and they will come in their numbers.

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