On the 29 July, I went to the Montreal Jazz Festival. There was a time when I used to spend all of my non-working hours there. As I have recently finished my undergrad, I no longer have the same definition of free time. Because of that, I have been looking up each of the artists beforehand, so as to experience the shows that most interest me. On the 29th, those were Wesli and Oy.
I chose to see Wesli because they fuse Afrobeats and Reggae. Wesli is the front man, after whom they are named. Born and raised in Haiti, he is now based in Montreal, along with his multinational band. This I learned when I met him after the show. Wesli is such a nice man, so smiley and jovial, something that did not surprise me after seeing his set. The show itself was outstanding. The music had the crowd dancing and cheering. The band was definitely enjoying themselves, dancing and smiling throughout. A number of times, Wesli even danced with their dancer-backup singer; there was so much energy on that stage, it was contagious! I was so busy dancing and watching, though, that I forgot to really listen to the lyrics. I will definitely check them out, though, so I can make an opinion about those. Chances are I will be seeing them again soon with friends.
Oy I saw because their description had “-Ghanaian” in it and I am a sucker for anything Ghana. I enjoyed their energy on stage, as well as the music. Primarily electronica, the music was easy to move to. I was conflicted about the lyrics, though. Some had a way of essentializing “Africa”, in a distinctly colonial fashion of condescension. It is not likely that I will revisit this duo that identifies with Ghana for the sole purpose of having “street cred”, which is actually far from accurate.
In the end, I most definitely recommend Wesli for any and all interested in Reggae and/or Afrobeats. As for Oy, they are not terrible, but if you listen to their music, remember to treat their lyrics with caution. Africa is a continent with many countries, diverse ethnicities and various cultures. When something is presented in a simplified manner, the meanings and nuances are set aside, significantly changing the context.