How to throw a great show (hint: not like this)

eLDee came to town last week. I had somehow stumbled across the fact that he’d be in town a couple of months back, so had been looking forward to seeing him perform, even though I had no idea who he was at first. I had heard his name before, of course, but I didn’t know his music, or didn’t know he was the artist behind some of the songs that I did know of his. Anyway, I wanted to go because I have a new mandate of Getting Out More and I love to support Nigerian artists, especially the ones who make the effort to come to our (rather stuff and boring) city instead of sticking to the more exciting Toronto.

Well eLDee was great…for the 15 minutes, maximum that he performed.

By the time 1:30am (clubs here close by 2am) passed and we were still waiting for him to show up, and people started saying we had been 419ed, I was starting to think he wouldn’t show up at all. So I just glad that he came that I forgave him for totally cheating us.

To be fair, the evening wasn’t supposed to be all about eLDee, though he was the main attraction: there were suppposed to be two Nigerian DJs there. Dj Don X came, but the other didn’t show up. We were also supposed to have two surprise Nigerian artists performing and again we were let down (the act that did perform was good, though I don’t think they were Nigerian — someone correct me if I’m wrong). They had to deal with an audience that just wanted Eldee to show up already…not the most welcoming of audiences they’ve had I’m sure!

Add to that the fact the event was supposed to start at 9pm, we showed up at 10pm and were told that the place where the event was taking place was not ready, something about the fact that the floors were still being cleaned…an hour after the show should have started. I have no problem with them not starting the festivities until more people showed up but surely the room should be ready for people to enter and mingle and whatnot.

When we were finally allowed to enter the place almost an hour and a half after it was supposed to be ready, none of the guest DJs had arrived yet, so we listened to some other DJ who was playing some random music, and the organizers were still setting things up. One thing that was set up though was a paparazzi corner, where they had some professional photographers taking pictures of the attendees as they came in…it was pretty neat (we all know how Nigerians like to be photographed).

For me the most apalling part of the evening was when the woman taking our tickets came up to us and asked for two of our IDs. Clueless me, I thought she was asking because she hadn’t seen them when we gave her our tickets but no, she wanted us to give her our IDs so she could get her underage friends in! I found it so unprofessional, but maybe I’m just showing my age.

The music was okay but of the many many Nigerian songs out there, why did we hear some songs three and four times!? There are so many great artists out there that I expected to hear new music and awesome remixes of music I already knew. I was very disappointed by that.

Anyway, my friends and I had a talk about this event because this always happens: an event that sounds good on paper (and in the advertising leading up to the event) ends up getting a lackluster turnout or ends up being disorganized and turning people off from attending the next event. And then what happens is the organizers get disappointed by the turnout and the negative comments and decide not to bother throwing such an event in our city again. And then everyone just decides that no one in this city likes to party, that they should stick to having events in Toronto when it’s not true! If you’re going to throw an event, take the time to do a good followthrough: don’t just sell the tickets then forget about delivering what you’ve promised the attendees! I’ve seen it happen time and time again and it’s really sad.

It almost makes me want to go into event planning: either to see if I could do better (and I really think I could) or to see how hard it really is to make it happen.

Now, I don’t think it’s very helpful to criticize someone or something without offering ways they could make things better, so in my mind here are some ways that this event could have been improved (based, of course, on my limited knowledge of what actually led to the disorganization I sensed):

  • They should have chosen a smaller venue. This venue was HUGE, which only served to emphasize how few attendees there were. Better to have a venue half the size, that makes people feel like there are a lot of them than to have a room where you can almost hear the echo. The location was beautiful but there was no feeling of “wow, everyone wants to or wanted to be here!” and I think that has a a large effect on the vibe of the event.
  • They should have created a great mix cd of Nigerian artists (which they could have gotten from one of the DJs who would be spinning) and played that for the first hour, when people were arriving, to get them excited about the music that they’d be hearing, and to get them dancing. There was a lot of waiting around to hear good music.
  • There should have been periodic announcements as to when the guests of honour were expected, to build interest and curb people spreading rumours that eLDeeb likely wouldn’t even show. That sort of got folks down.
  • Those other opening acts they promised should have shown up!

With all the Nigerian talent we have in the city (I’m thinking of this makeup artist, or this graphic/web designer to name just two), maybe having the first part of the evening be some sort of networking event where Nigerians in the community who have a business or are offering services could have gone on stage and shared a two minute thing on what they do and how they can be reached would have been good (especially if the DJs and eLDee weren’t going to show up for so long). I for one would love to know more about where to buy ankara or find someone who does hair well or something. They could have totally had some great music playing in the background while each person had a two-minute slot to tell us what they do and how they can help us. It might not have been the time or place for it though. I don’t know, but I think people would have liked it!

Oya gist me: what are the best and worst Nigerian-organized events you’ve been to?

35 thoughts on “How to throw a great show (hint: not like this)

  1. LOL @ people saying you had been 419ed…..

    Guess we 9ja peeps need to be more professional about stuff sometimes…Not been to any Nigerian-organized gigs in like forever so unfortunately I do not have any extra gist to add…

    Errr.. Might there be an email addy for the organizers that you could use in giving them feedback.. Might actually help them with more ideas next time…..

  2. Ahhhh you were there?….OMG! to say I was sorta dissapointed would be an understatement, what happened was the guy in charge did not want to listen to inputs from other people who have been in the event business for a while, also he did have two other guest, La shellz and Oladele. Dj don x was really good and the other guy was ok. I feel you on the repeating of music tho, got very irritating! I would direct the guy that planned it to your blog tho. I still had a great time tho, my girls and I always have fun together,,,have a fab week!

  3. What is it with naija events being so disorganized most of the time…one hour after the show was about to start and they were still cleaning the floor??? lol

    Thats messed up!!

    Lol@ that women wanting to use your id to get underaged kids in…hahaha

    Later Babes!!!


  4. Lol! Trust naija people to show their colour wherever they go! lol! Hmmmmm…the worst would have to be lol…99% of them were terrible jooo

  5. maybe you should try your hands at doing just that…

    I dislike when events are not organized and you have made some valid points here…

  6. So this is your blog?! It's a great blog- I always read it. Anyways, I was part of your group of partygoers (but I'm not sure which one of you is the owner of the blog) LOL. I thought the event was nonsense! Just had to say it. It was nice meeting some new peeps (wink *) but other than that, the event was not even worth a fraction of the cost that they were charging.

    Anyway girl, keep up the good work! Luv the blog!

  7. Gosh, i thot that only happened in NY where most of the nigerians are very disorganized…Its sad. I went to see 2face and 9ice once, and i was thoroughly dissapointed.

    I do not understand why the artist has to come in when the show is almost done. Ridiculous. And what is it with people paid for the event not showing up! It sucks!

    And its so funny that they are a lot more organized in Nigeria these days!

    Event planning? its quite hard and i can tell you that bcos i tried. It sucks especially when you are dealing with Nigerians. maybe its better with non nigerians.

    ok, imma shut up!

  8. Methinks you should start organising events missy…i'd have been mighty pissed if i was at this event!

    And what was that about the ID? Id have given the woman my opinion!

  9. I would say if I could remember one. Most of the parties always find a way to go into default before the end of the show… long as you enjoyed yourself in the party, thats what matters in my book.

  10. Na wa o. So Naija folks still carry their flawed organizational skills outside the country. It’s a pity that we are very much known for our inability to host events perfectly in virtually every sector- entertainment, sports, etc. If it’s not PHCN, it’s that the artiste to perform is stuck in traffic or the seats are inadequate and what have you. Too bad, we had to take this behavior out of the country’s shores. Follow-through is very important in event planning and that’sone factor Nigerian organizers tend to neglect the most. I’ve been to a worse event . . . Usher Live in Lagos (2002 or so. I can’t remember). Imagine. I heard Usher himself was mobbed and obtained and I left the venue with one leg of my sneakers. It was crazier than hell on that day. The best : Chaka Demus and Pliers live @ FPH (hosted by the Ibrus). I left there with all my stuff intact. lol

  11. I see they pulled a dbanj on you! Last time I went to see dbanj, it was the same thing. Dude only performed for 30 mins max.

    The ONLY nigerian artistes that are worth going to see live are lagbaja and femi kuti.

    Lagbaja's concerts were so professionally done- he had an opening act who played for about 30 mins and lagbaja was on stage for hours!

    The rest of these upcoming artists and organizers are just blah!

    And of course dj don x had to represent! Nuff said!!

  12. I went to see Dbanj in Baltimore Summer 07.The event was supposed to start around 10pm and end at 3am.It didnt start until midnight and he had some "performers" start the show for another 2 hours.He finally came on for 15 mins as well and that was it,He left and the promoters turned the whole thing into a big party.I had driven from Philly,left work early,and bought VIP tickets (there was no VIP).I did not even meet the guy.I have not yet fully recovered.

  13. I know event planning is not easy, but I also know that my African peeps are often too lackaidaisical about organizing stuff.

    I see it even with my friends. I am an organizing nazi. If you put me in charge of an event, I want to make sure every single detail is looked over and taken care of. But with my friends, I have to constantly badger them. Then they'll be the first ones to complain if something doesn't go according to plans. Ugh!

    Me thinks you could start doing it… You can start with something simple and cool as Social Night at XYZ…. Just make the word go around and let people chime in ideas. For some reasons, I know you will be GREAT at it.

    Nice reading you as always!

  14. I'm thanking that woman's star for her o!cos I sure would have told her what to do with her self…*no good thots trust me*!!!

    It happens here too…though not all time…but it is just typical of them to keep people waiting…well…that's 9ja peops for you…

    please step out and do this event planning thingy abeg!

    I'm sure you'll do just fine!…no make that great!!!

  15. Good organization should not be compromised when putting together a show, because it's also a good marketing plan -as people are more likely to come to your next show if your previous show was well organized.

    As for performers coming late to their own gigs, well that is another topic for another day!!

  16. â–ºJustDB

    That's a great idea about looking for a way to share feedback…they had a facebook group so maybe I'll drop a comment there.

    â–ºMs O

    That's her name — La Shellz! She's the act that I said was good (didn't know she was Nigerian). Was Oladele the other DJ that came on before Don X?

    I had a great time too: I love to dance so I danced to the music, even when it was repeated more than once. And you have spoken the truth of it: when you're with your girls you will always have a blast!


    lol the whole thing just made us laugh! I mean are you kidding me?!?

    Have a good week!

    â–ºhot doug

    How did I not notice this new adjective before your name? What are we basing this declaration of hotness on?

    lol 99% of them were terrible. I refuse to believe that…think well well now.

    â–ºDiAmOnD hawk

    Thanks lady. I bet you'd be a fabulous event planner too. My thing is I don't have any connections but it's a matter of baby steps so maybe I could look into it, you know, in conjunction with my other plans to create some networking opportunities in the city.


    Thanks so much! As if we met…now I'm wondering which girl you were…I think you were the one in the turquoise top! I'm going to email you :)


    And here I thought for sure that the Nigerians in the USA would be on point when it comes to throwing organized events! So it's all around that we need help. I think we have great potential but for some reason between the original idea and its execution, mistakes happen.

    It's quite the sign of disrespect in my opinion for the guest of honour to arrive so late and give the fans a fraction of what they were expecting: it's an insult!

    I feel you on the difficulty of event planning…I think it would be a very humbling experienced if I decided to give it a try.


    Yes you would have been so annoyed! But ultimately, there was nothing we could do about it, just pray that he would actually show up…and he did…briefly! We had a fun time joking about being 419ed here sha….you know how Nigerians like to believe we're immune to being 419ed right? :)


    You're right! But there's a part of me that worries that they may never throw another event because of this one, and I don't think that's the right answer: instead they should focus on those little things that would make the attendees happy.


    I'm sorry but your whole comment made me laugh out loud! There are Nigerians who can organize like it's nobody's business…and I'm sure many bloggers know them.

    You hit the nail on the head with the idea of followthrough: it's often ignored but it's what the attendees remember the most. Let's hope that anyone who's doing event planning will take your words to heart.

    lol I'm glad you left with your stuff intact at the Chaka Demus concert.


    Ugh! I seriously thought that those of you in the states were reaping the benefits of well organized events. I hope Lagbaja comes to Canada then!


    That was something I didn't mention: the idea of VIP tickets and not delivering on what it was supposed to entail! I'm sorry about your experience because it really sucks when you get your hopes up and get disappointed.


    Thanks for your very insightful comments! I just know that anything you put together would be top-notch! I like your idea of starting small and I promise to update if I go through with it.


    I think what was funny to me about the ID incident is I was so surprised by what she needed the IDs for that I was struck speechless!

    Thanks for the faith in me o!

  17. I didn't go!…Kinda had a clue of the eventuality! Though the after party somehow ended up in my house after the real one was shut down!…Dunno anything about the organization and thanks for thinking of me as a great make-up artist *blush!… p.s. I can fix the meanest weaves ever!….lol…but you're right we should somehow network…but this city is so small…almost everyone knows everything!…bt I don't think La Shellz in Nigerian or is she?…Have a great week!


  18. My dear, they are all always late and clumsily managed…

    plus they end up in fights….thank God they didn't fight at this one…

    We went for a show here that started 2 hours later…then those of us that bought vip tickets couldn't see s much as the ppl who got ordinary tickets…

  19. i guess this happens everywhere now…rather annoying too….considering the fact that we paid good money….

    went to a 2face and a dbanj show and same thing happened…

  20. â–ºBob-ij

    Oooh, so you were in the know abi? You should have warned me jare! So you hosted the afterparty…did eLDee come too? ;)


    lol at "late and clumsily managed". Ok, I'm glad that I have never witnessed a fight: Canadians are peaceful types sha.


    Yeah…our hard earned money at that — and we're not getting our money's worth! What can we do to change this?

  21. naija events never change…… i once went to a 9ice concert here…. it was supposed to start at 9…. he didnt come on stage till about 12 or 1….. and he performed for only 45 mins… it was good in the end, but the wait???????? never doing it again!

  22. I just don't get it. if you want to have a good show, then plan & organize like you mean it! You can't gloss over details and expect it to be the bomb!

    one thing I would really hate tho' is to get VIP tickets and have nothing to show for it!

    I think these promoters need to get PROFESSIONAL Event managers to do their stuff for them and GNG?….I nominate you! lol!

  23. lol @ the african timing..

    If you're thinking of going into events management I think you should..

    What do they say always rises to the top again sef?

    Most of the ones in Uk end up in fights or are overwhelmed by Police presence..

    Either way it ain't a good look..

  24. am sorry but i dont go for shows…esp the ones done by nigerians. waste of money and time…we have a long way to go when it comes to planning and organising.

    pele GNG

  25. I've only been to one Naija show, when 2face came to ATL and it was a MESS. Same scenario, we were there for 4 hours b4 the dude finally showed up.

    I was like if this is how naija events are, then i'm not missing anything. Never again. I have better things to do with my time… sleep.

  26. yet to see an event organized by nigerians that is perfectly smooth..

    as long as u had fun!

    p.s. thanx for ur comments..mwah!

  27. hi first time on your blog..nd I'm loving..

    gosh this eldee concert!! there i was thinking my friend was exaggerating when she said he performed for 15 minutes!!…I'm so happy I didn't go cos I would just get very upset!

  28. I have been to quite a few in Nigeria that were properly organised.

    Methinks they are improving. Locally at least.

    I have been to 2 shows outside Naija and the events were disasters. AH ah!

  29. â–ºfunms-the rebirth

    Never again? Come on, give them another chance now. As long as I can afford it I don't think I'll be able to resist another poorly planned event…yup, I'm a sucker!


    I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID. Hopefully the bloggers among us who either know an event planner or are one themselves are listening.


    I honestly wasn't thinking of going into events planning/management: I think you'd have to have a lot of contacts and be a bigtime networker, two things that I am not.

    lol about what rises to the top.

    I can't believe this about police presence or fights…we're so peaceful here…or maybe I'm going to the wrong…or is it right?…events.


    Sista mi! How nice of you to show up! ;)

    Thanks for feeling my pain. But if we don't go and support them, they'll stop trying to have shows…that's what keeps me going sha.


    Ugh! And I always here about Naija events happening in ATL or DC and think they must be organized to the hilt. I guess not.

    lol at better things to do, and sleeping being what you name. I don't blame you: with your busy life sleeping would be a better use of that time!


    Thanks o…any tips would be appreciated.


    I did have fun and you're welcome :) *muah*


    Hmmm, you'll have to gist me on what made the thisday africa rising so lovely.


    Welcome to the blog and thank you for your compliment!

    Are you in the area then? Yup, you didn't miss much, and you still have your money in your pocket…or in something more worthwhile.


    Thank you! Congrats to you too :)


    Maybe the key is to attend Nigerian-run events…in Nigeria!


    Ah hah! I sent you an email but I called you the wrong name. My sister told me your name but I'll let you confirm it by email.

    You're the genius aren't you?

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