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Yam Carnival: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

photo credits: Elliot Hensford

When the pandemic started, I became so fond of Afrobeats, discovered Amapiano, stumbled across artists like Omah Lay and Focalistic. When restrictions eased, I started to go to lounges as clubs were not yet open, they were playing ALL the current tunes. But hearing DJs mix and watching live performances is not the same experience. I was really excited to see a festival with native African and other international artists flown right to my doorstep!

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 28: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Omah Lay performs during YAM Carnival 2021 at Clapham Common on August 28, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

Unfortunately for me, I was in the gueslist queue for press which moved one inch every hour. I was in there for almost 3 hours! I had time to go to Five Guys, eat, go to an off licence to start the wave again, come back and my plus one was basically in the same place. This meant I missed most of the acts I was excited for. Fortunately, I managed to blag my way into the VIP queue thanks to the initiative of my friend, we were going to be in VIP anyway! Sorry to everyone else that didn’t make it in.


As I walked in Beenie Man was performing, I also saw a lot of people I knew saying they were going home because the sound wasn’t great and artists hadn’t stuck to their performance times. I wasn’t going to turn around after everything I went through, I was determined to enjoy the rest of the night.

The drinks queue looked mythical so I decided to go straight to the golden circle and enjoy the rest of the performance. Luckily, the sound quality was better right next to the stage, but I couldn’t fully hear the band which was a shame, they were going off.

According to the lead sound engineer Temidayo Oladehin, firstly, he ensured he got there early, despite not having enough time to liase with the house production team. Secondly, when he got there, the council told him there was a sound limit of 92db or they will shut it down. Temidayo explained that a stadium of people shouting is 95db alone, it was never going to work! Thirdly, there a bunch of other technical issues with artists, in-ears and stage movements. Big props to him for withstanding all the abuse and not even wearing earplugs to deliver the best outcome possible.

View this post on Instagram shared by Tèmídayọ̀ Oládẹhìn (@toladehin)

After Beenie Man performed, we decided to get drinks so we didn’t miss the next performance. We queued for 40 mins and still weren’t even half way. We decided to miss out on alcohol and go to an ice cream van to get soft drinks as the queue was shorter. I was carrying a cardboard box of 3 drinks so I’d never have to come back 😂

We went to other stages but they were playing music that catered to other crowds – we weren’t really feeling it. My friend got super hungry so we decided to check out the food stalls. The queues were a myth, we spent almost an hour in queues around the park. When we finally were seen by someone they said cash only. Cash only? In a pandemic? My friend starved for the rest of the night, there were no card queues that were under an hour long.

We went back to the main stage and sat on the floor whilst waiting for Kelhani’s technical issues to be sorted, took almost an hour too. How were my feet hurting and I hadn’t enjoyed yet?! When Kehlani, her dancers and band were finally able to perform, they only rocked the stage for 15 mins, sad.

I won’t lie, Davido’s performance made up for the whole night. The way he sang, the way the Compozers played like rent was due, the way the crowd danced like David did (pun unintended), it all became worth it. That was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in my life. I think I’m a member of #30BillionGang now.


Davido mid air whilst performing at YAM festival 2021

Davido bringing the energy at YAM Carnival 2021. photo credits: Elliot Hensford.



Would I attend YAM carnival again? The short answer is yes. 


Giggs Super fan, cultural commentator, writer, presenter and creative writer <3



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