Vanessa Obioha reports that Folarin Falana, better known as Falz Tha Bahd Guy, first headline concert which cost the princely sum of N300 million was an experience worth reliving
Falz performing ‘Soldier’ with Simi
“The call-time is 8pm. There will be no African time. Even if nobody is seated at the time, the show will kick off.” This announcement was repeated frequently by the organisers. They drummed home so hard that many left their homes early despite the agonising traffic on the streets of Lagos that f Wednesday night in December 2017.
It’s not that entertainers and music lovers are punctual people per se, but that Livespot Entertainment, the company behind the production, has made a name for its prompt and seamless events since the maiden edition of Darey Art Alade’s ‘Love Like a Movie’. Livespot has become famous for outstanding concepts and also putting its exceptional creativity behind other productions like the children reality show ‘God’s Children Got Talent’.
Yet, in a city like Lagos where traffic is a constant excuse for lateness, in addition to the fuel scarcity that compounded the situation at the time, the organisers were forced to mellow the rule. With few empty seats waiting patiently to be occupied, they pleaded with the audience to be considerate of the latecomers who were still stuck in traffic, while DJ Crowd Kontroller and Hypeman Shody set the mood for the night with an eclectic mix of recorded music. At a point, those with the regular tickets who were already seated at the back were asked to fill the seats closer to the stage – a very good last-minute move by the organisers because this allowed the fans to connect with their idol. They were further placated with a bottle of Coke and snacks. Judging by their happy disposition, they were content with the music. It kept them entertained.
As the minutes rolled by, more empty seats were occupied one-by-one. The Eko Convention Centre of Eko Hotels and Suites venue of the concert began to boom with happy voices and feet. Satisfied with the turn-out, the show finally kicked-off, close to two hours after the advertised time.
Truth be told, not many expected Falz the Bahd Guy to pull such a crowd at his first headline concert. At least, he is still a newbie (or is it wannabe rapper?) according to the yardsticks laid by Chocolate City boss M.I in his diss song categorising rappers. How long has Falz been in the industry? Three years! With three albums to show for it and an Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, a BET award, alongside huge followership on social media. Who exactly is Falz to stage one of the most trending shows of 2017?
Notwithstanding, Falz answered these boggling questions and stunned the doubting-Thomases by having the time of his life at the ‘Falz Experience’. From the moment he made his grand entrance to the stage through the roof to the subsequent performances that earned him a standing ovation, there was no questioning of his artistry. His talents spoke freely of their capabilities. Interspersed by a movie titled ‘Bad Guys’, with a storyline that revolved round his two alter egos – ‘Brother Taju’ and ‘Barrister Folarin’, and featured Nollywood actress Adunni Ade, former Big Brother Nigeria housemates, Bisola and Soma, Frank Donga and Gregory Ojefua, the concert highlighted his three distinctive passions: acting, music and comedy. The series of interconnected skits showed Falz as Folarin the Barrister and Brother Taju in various costumes ranging from an average lawyer to a ‘white garment’ prophet.
Born Folarin Falana to prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), and his wife Funmi who is also a lawyer and rights activist, Falz was expected to be a practising lawyer. But he realised on time that the courtroom was not his ideal office and went against his parents’ wishes. The Falanas are popular in the legal field so having the only son veering into the creative industry was not something that augured well with them.
Falz’s foray into the creative industry didn’t start overnight. It is a calling that he embraced while still in secondary school. In a 2016 interview with THISDAY Glitterati, Falz revealed that though there was a piano in their house, it didn’t necessarily steer the passion for music in him. Of both parents, his mother had difficulty accepting his decision to pursue music. He recalled an incident where his mother had paid a surprise visit to his school only to find him singing a new song which he penned to his female fans. The situation turned out worse as the song contained some lewd lyrics. His enraged mother landed a dirty slap on his flustered face, ruining his party.
After much stalling, his parents finally caved in to his desires. Interestingly, Falz didn’t just storm into a studio to record music. He had a carefully crafted script to launch his career in music. What he did was to create a funny persona and uploaded comedy skits on his Instagram page. His hat-trick was an affected Yoruba accent tinged with colloquial expressions, enhanced by his unique pair of framed spectacles without lens, similar to that of a popular Yoruba actor.
Over a short period of time, this character gained the required attention. It created the opportunity he desired to introduce his music. His first major hit that shot into the spotlight was the single ‘Marry Me’ featuring Yemi Alade which earned him a nod in the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
Today, his parents are exceptionally proud of him for adding a distinct eminence to their name. They were very much in the hall to support him. Also present at the concert was Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Lagos State, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, and Richard Mofe-Damijo among others.
With his record label Bahd Guys Entertainment on board, the movie and the performances were delicately synced to tell a delightful tale dripping with themes on love, fame and wealth. The show started with the movie showing Falz lookalikes playing his alter egos. There was the naïve barrister who was deceived by the con prophet, Brother Taju. The same Barrister again was hypnotized with the charms of his deceitful and greedy wife Constance, as well as being lured to the concert ground by Brother Taju who was mistaken for the real Falz. If not that Falz introduced the lookalikes in the audience, there was a high possibility that most people would have left the concert with the thought that Falz played the three roles through the help of a magician who carefully directed the script. The striking resemblance could even earn the duo an inheritance in the Falana family.
The story led to a short-lived performance. The introduction of a multi-media device enabled the producers to switch from a live performance to a recorded show alternatingly. While the movie was comical, it also carried a message for those who undermined his skills, particularly the court scene where he clapped back at M.I. by pleading guilty for breaking the rules of the hip-hop world.
Each of his performance was a theatrical display – from the various costumes he donned, the large group of dancers that stormed the stage with choreographed steps to the performing artistes who were featured in his songs. For instance, for his ‘Soldier’ duet with Simi – a group of dancers which had Chigul and Simi stormed the stage – Falz imitated the marching routine of soldiers, adding his own comical spice to it which elicited laughter from the audience. An earlier performance with Phyno had Chigul chasing Falz away in an attempt to ban the evil spirit of Karishika – a popular Nollywood movie in the 90s. Karishika was also the title of the song. No one could miss the eye-catching dramatic act from Yemi Alade when they performed ‘Single and Searching’. Another funny moment was when a young man ran onto the stage with a hen in hand in response to Falz ‘Bring the Chic In’, a line from his feature in Reekado Banks’ ‘Celebrity Girlfriend’ hit.
Other collaborative acts at the event included Davido, Ycee, Ajebutter, Wande Coal, Chyn, Poe and Reminisce. Each of these performers was loudly cheered as they waltzed onto the stage. For most performances with fellow artistes, Falz changed outfits, with every costume contributing to the storytelling of the entire concert. Every part of The Falz Experience, including the fashion and the styling, was clearly thought out and deserves commendation.
In more ways than one, the show was immersive; starting from the point of arrival where members of the audience were given his signature framed glasses without lens and a copy of his latest album ‘27’ to the creatively scripted cinematic show that glued the audience to their seats all through the night. His name was written all over the musical experience. Of course, the clinical precision of the show was made possible by Livespot. In fact, Falz Experience bore similar patterns to Darey’s ‘Love Like a Movie’. From Falz’s entrance through the roof, which reminded many of a similar grand entrance by Darey, to the storyline, everything brought back memories of ‘Love Like a Movie’. The grand entrance from the roof looking all sporty in a comfortable fitting black hoodie to perform ‘La Fete’ signaled what the rest of the show was going to look like-filled with surprises. Perhaps, it was Livespot’s way to make it up to its teeming fans after depriving them of Darey’s theatrical show last year. If the production bore similarities, it, however, did not leave any room to compare the artistry of Darey and Falz. They are two worlds apart.
But ‘Love Like a Movie’ is not the only entertainment event that resonates with the Falz show. The choice of the phrase, ‘The Experience’ also rings a bell and brings to mind the biggest gospel music concert in Africa hosted by Pastor Paul Adefarasin’s House on the Rock Church.
Expectedly, the stage was aesthetically designed to highlight the glitz and glamour of such event. However, the three huge screens on stage were not effectively used. They would have been better deployed for extra viewing than the visual effects -which were mostly clips from music videos. As seamless as the show was, it suffered a microphone mishap during Simi and Falz performance of ‘Chemistry’.
Apart from this, Falz Experience was an experience worth reliving.
A major point of fascination about the Falz show was the huge entertainment he presented to the audience. On his own, Falz has so much to offer he would have still had a brilliant show without the extra hands on stage. So entrenched and large was his presence that the attendance of equally (if not more) famous celebrities did not shift the focus from him. His showmanship was exceptional. He was able to weave a peculiar magic that had the audience eating right out of his hands. Whatever he asked them to do, they indulged him willingly, after all they were there to celebrate his ‘Soft Work’ as well as tell him ‘Weh Done Sir’ for keeping them entertained.
If Falz thought the show would be successful, perhaps he did not ascribe that degree of success to it. One could not miss the look of astonishment and gratitude on the face of the rapper as he looked round the filled hall. Perhaps, he did not believe that he could pool such a crowd. He repeatedly expressed his gratefulness while acknowledging his parents, family, friends, and sponsors who footed the N300 million concert. Now, he can also thump his chest that he shut down Eko Hotels too.