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JOJO ABOT & STAY JAY @ Chevron Gardens gets 7.5/10

Jojo Abot and Stay Jay @ Chevron Gardens
Saturday, March 3, 2018


Saturday evening saw a Ghanian takeover of the Chevron Gardens. Jojo Abot, who’s work transcends music and includes fabrics, installations and photography was the first, but headline act. What she dubs as ‘afro-hypno-sonic’ translated to a soulful, rhythmic, playful and energetic set of love, fun and inclusion. Stay Jay, dubbed in the program as ‘African future soul’, was less soul and more rave MC, bringing more dance floor vibes to the Gardens.

Jojo Abot

With red balloons hovering around the stage Jojo Abot bounded to the centre, waist length, red and yellow braids swaying. Flanked by a drummer and keyboardist, both dressed in sharp, but flowing red garments (making the keyboardist look a bit mad scientist), the band quickly launched into the set. Playing, as far as this reviewer could tell, mostly new and unreleased songs from an upcoming debut album, it took a while to get the majority of the slowly growing crowd engaged. Nonetheless, Abot’s verve and joy eventually made its way through to the punters and by the third song the crowd was hopping.

From there it was a party of communal smudge stick burning, balloon (energy balls) tossing, hugs and high-fives, and call and response. A group of audience members were bought on stage to shake their things which, rather than distract, added energy to the show. There they remained till the finale and a dance floor livening set of songs. Culminating in a heavier, more upbeat version of To Li and newly released single Alime, Jojo had the crowd in the palms of her hands.  Sadly, to the disappointment of both the crowd and Jojo, the show had to come to an end. After everyone on stage coming together for a communal hug, we were left “showered with melanin”, in awe and wanting more. The general opinion was that we’d witnessed something special.

Stay Jay

After a short break Stay Jay came out to quite a thin crowd rapping over The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back. He then moved into My Baby, a rap song with a saccharine pop chorus, which he tried to get the crowd to sing. With the majority not knowing the song it was a bit of an effort to teach them. They maybe, eventually got there in the end. This set the stage for most of the early part of Stay Jay’s set, him trying to teach the crowd to sing parts in Ghanian dialects which seemed a bit too hard for most.

Regardless, his band and DJ kept the rhythms flowing. Moving through hip hop, drum and bass and dub sounds, the crowd was won over and the Gardens turned into a dance floor. Though not as visually engaging as Jojo Abot, Stay Jay kept the bodies rocking with his MC Conrad like delivery over the various beats. Things got awkward when he invited Jojo on stage to ‘freestyle’ with him. It may have been a poor choice on his behalf, as Abot dominated the stage whilst Stay Jay glanced at his phone for lyrical cues.

The band departed after 40 minutes or so, which left Stay Jay and his DJ. Things turned quickly, despite Jojo Abot and two other ladies appearing on stage to dance for a couple of tracks, the crowd began to thin out. Stay Jay moved between rapping and engaging the crowd to standing with his back to the audience, talking to his DJ and posse. Despite the dissipating crowd and lack of engagement from the stage the beats continued and those on the dance floor were having a great time.

It ended up feeling pretty strange in the end. Jojo Abot definitely won the night. Stay Jay could have come a close second, but it seemed he tapped out half-way through his performance. Still it was a great night for those looking to dance on the freshly installed Garden grass.


Photos by Cam Campbell

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