W.I.R.K.’s “Uprising” – A Review

West Indian Rhythm Konnection (W.I.R.K.) at 'Uprising'
West Indian Rhythm Konnection (W.I.R.K.) at “Uprising”

EDITOR’s NOTE: Leslie and company were invited to “W.I.R.K.’s Uprising” specifically to cover it and give a review. Below are their views.

By Zaynab and Leslie
April 09, 2013

On Saturday 30th March, 2013, the Shouter Baptist Liberation Day holiday, the band West Indian Rhythm Konnection (W.I.R.K) shared their music with interested persons in their concert entitled “Uprising”. Under the radiant three-quarter moon W.I.R.K and other featured bands provided alternative musical sounds at Bohemia, a community centre for artists, muscians and the like located in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain. W.I.R.K., founded in May 2012 by the band’s lead singer and guitarist Gerry Anthony Williams aims to promote music, love and revolution.

Cross-section of the gathering at 'Uprising'
Cross-section of the gathering at “Uprising”

Although the event managed to attract some supporters of the bands it failed to pull large numbers with a little under a hundred patrons. Perhaps the small numbers comprising mostly of friends, fans and family members of the performers was a trade-off for increased intimacy.

The venue provided a cozy space for the gathering. The lighting in the venue was quite decent allowing the artwork on the walls to come to life. Additionally, on the backdrop of the stage there was a pictorial representation of a group ostensibly in protest with their hands and fists to the sky. Although this symbol of the uprising was an intriguing focal point it seemed to be the best representation of revolution that the event offered.

The Burning Graves
The Burning Graves

Scheduled to commence at 7:30 p.m., the event was delayed till a little after 8:00 p.m. beginning with the band The Burning Graves featuring Nyerere Hash as the lead singer which contributed a hardcore rock sound. There seemed to be some technical challenges with the sound system – poor mic sound and overpowering background music- resulting in barely audible lyrics. Supposedly due to the aforementioned challenges, the crowd was not moved to assemble to the front of the stage. Patrons preferred to stand to the far south of the stage near the deejay, by the bar, or in the open courtyard.

Nickolai Salcedo from the band Gyazette
Nickolai Salcedo from the band Gyazette

However, the next performer Nickolai Salcedo from the band Gyazette was successful in convincing some audience members to come closer stage side. His renditions were well-received. He started off with the song “Rebellion”; “Mark now my words, rebellion coming up from the underworld…you stupid ass, rebellion coming up from your underclass.” In this song he echoed the familiar sentiment of people from depressed communities not financing the guns and the drugs but being blamed solely for crime in the country. The song also mentioned race being used as a tool to divide politically but it went no further and failed to point out the importance of addressing race issues. Despite his fiery voice and catchy guitar music, Salcedo’s ditty did not have the substance to become an anthem for rebellion; it offered no real solutions to remedy societal wrongs. He sang two other songs: “Down” and “Bread” which is a song to be featured in his soon-to-be-released album.

Freetown Collective
Freetown Collective

Another crowd-favourite was the duo Freetown Collective who began their set with the popular Bob Marley tune “Time Will Tell” in acapella followed by a few other poetically-worded musical pieces. One well-received song by the duo was the tune titled “My Decision”. Part of the lyrics state, “Say what you want, I’ve got to hold on to my decision and that is love.” The word “love” was pervasive throughout the lyrics at “Uprising”. As delightful as the word love may have sounded, hearing it being repeated as the solution for society’s injustices was very anti-climactic. The word love accompanied by hugging, holding of hands and putting blame on an elusive ‘system’ is not convincing as the key to end centuries of racism, sexism, sizeism and other myriad inequities. ‘Love’ in this way, seemed to be a placebo – an easy alternative from doing the real work of individual introspection and making the necessary adjustments.

The band West Indian Rhythm Konnection performs at 'Uprising'
The band West Indian Rhythm Konnection performs at “Uprising”

Finally, with a resounding applause, the band of the moment West Indian Rhythm Konnection was introduced by the MC who appeared ditzy, star-struck and unprepared for the task at hand. With Joshua Salcedo on the drums and providing vocals, Chris Dopson on the bass guitar, Sesalito on keyboards, Javed Juman on the guitar and lead singer Gerry Anthony Williams, W.I.R.K. entertained the audience with a performance lasting approximately fifty minutes. Not opting for the stereotypically popular local genres of strictly Soca or Calypso, the sound was a mix of these as well as Rock, Pop, Reggae and other musical sounds. With songs such as “Run Dem”,” Highway to Rome”, “Mr. Big” and “Desire” the band W.I.R.K. laid bare its musical passion. What was lacking in the lyrics was the impetus for real uprising which was absent throughout the show. The intermittent mentionings of racism, poverty and other societal ills could not drive home the urgency of dealing with these concerns. Moreover, with unexplained images of persons such as Marcus Garvey, Osama bin Laden and what seemed to be a group of indigenous African children flashing across a screen on the wall, the “Uprising” failed to live up to its theme of provoking “evolution, revolution [and] solutions”. The audience, however, seemed to appreciate the music. A crowd favourite was the song “Two Dollars” which showed a musician’s determination to pursue his ambition despite the lack of financial reward and support. Another song that provided food for thought was one that demanded those in authority to “Put Kaiso on the Radio”: a familiar call for radio stations to play local music. The song criticized the invasion of other art forms at the expense of Trinidad and Tobago’s own, and the degradation of Kaiso to a wine and jam music. The band’s position: “No Kaiso, no Trinidad and Tobago.”

Gerry Anthony Williams, sead singer of W.I.R.K.
Gerry Anthony Williams, sead singer of W.I.R.K.

Before his set ended, Gerry Anthony thanked his family, friends and well-wishers for their presence and support in helping the event come to fruition. By this time, the audience begged for “one more.” However, the band promised that they could hear more of their music at Shakers in Woodbrook, Port of Spain which took place the following Saturday.

West Indian Rhythm Konnection presents Uprising in pictures:

A YouTube Clip of “Uprising”:

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