There is a slow-moving sensation taking place in Addis Abeba’s nightlife. Live music is gradually but surely unseating DJs – nightclubs quietly displacing mixers and recorded music with bands and solo performers. The evolution is occurring, especially at upscale establishments that cater to an income group with deep pockets and a taste for musicians performing live.

Nostalgia is popular, with music from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s popping up, like the shots and hard liquor that fly around. Unfazed by the escalating cost of living and oblivious to a raging civil war affecting the rest of Ethiopia, patrons pay hard cash for such luxury. Singles and doubles are rarely heard of; instead, they are expected to get bottles for the night. Live performances are usually more costly, and the bouncers are strict with the “quality” of the crowd allowed in.

If there is no entrance fee, the beer and alcohol cost double that of regular days. The waiters, or even a friendly bouncer, can make well over 100 Br in tips. Spending thousands of Birr, most people’s average monthly salary, is standard. Splurging dough in the tens of thousands of Birr is rarely a surprise.

The establishments have taken note of this demand; they are responding in kind. A night with DJs is only half as profitable as when live performers are hired in some venues. The expenses for the nightclubs are likewise steep. A band usually takes in tens of thousands of Birr, so do solo performers – this is not to include the rewards they get from patrons. Veteran musicians such as Tsegaye Eshetu and Neway Debebe also take the stage, and as they draw in the crowds for the establishments, they get paid five or six times what a newbie could hope to make.

Industry players believe that the newfound interest in live music in nightclubs is pent up energy from the COVID-19 pandemic being released, especially as concerts have largely ceased to exist. They also credit music talent shows such as Balageru Idol and Fana Lamrot. Welcome to the New Year 2014!

You can read the full story    here    

PUBLISHED ON Sep 10,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1115]

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