Daudi Ngauya of Mystique Band strums the guitar as Rickie Beat plays the saxophone to Wizkid\u2019s hit jam Joro. Daudi is the lead guitarist for the band that has been in existence since 2016. Most of the diners at Pinotage Bar and Restaurant on Lenana Road, Nairobi, are now up and dancing to the acoustic rendition of the popular song. Some willingly offer the information that they are regulars at the entertainment joint solely because of the live music played every Wednesday and Saturday. At the Captain\u2019s Terrace Restaurant on Mombasa Road, one can almost feel the palpable excitement of the crowd as The Hornsphere band plays live. There is a certain quality and energy of music that a live band performance has that cannot be transmit- ted or felt in a livestream or a record. The Hornsphere is a solely horns band that has four members. Eric Kimaru aka Kimbassax, the alto saxophonist who has played professionally for eight years, Danson Rabuka aka Danso is the trumpeter who has professionally played for five years, Denilson Ochieng aka Babu is the ensemble\u2019s tenor saxophonist who has played professionally for five years and Peter Kabia alias King, a professional soprano saxophonist of four years. Many revellers and diners are frequenting the social scene looking for live bands that play acoustic and vocalized renditions of popular songs. Most establishments are now leveraging this to draw crowds, a thing that is leading to a re-emergence of live band performances post-Covid-19. \u201cWe met at a concert called Praise Atmo- sphere in 2019. We realised that there was a smooth blend in our sounds and tones and decided to form the first horns-only band in Kenya. We named the band Hornsphere, which literally means filling the atmossphere with the sound of horns. We have been lucky to work with various amazing artistes. We are glad that the music scene is growing with Kenyans\u2019 appreciation for instrumental music increasing and artistes being more willing to incorporate bands in their live performances as opposed to using backing tracks. Our fan base is growing and we are eternally grateful to our fans, supporters, families and fellow musicians for the love and support,\u201d shares Denilson. Success in unity The Hornsphere shares the importance of teamwork and hard work. They have been consistently practicing in order to maintain the quality of the sound they produce. They attribute their cohesive sound and team spirit to their friendship and professionalism. Five years before The Hornsphere came to be, Gravitti Band was formed in 2014, to become one of the most renowned bands in the coun- try. They are a reggae band of many firsts, one of them being the fact that they are the only band to do music tours. They have played alongside many musical heavyweights among them Duane Stephenson, Etana, Richie Spice, Wyre and Tarrus Riley. In partnership with the House of Panache Agency, the band did a 21- day tour around Nairobi county in December 2019. They were the headlining act during the K24 rebrand party in 2019. They are currently on a Pilsner-sponsored musical tour around clubs in Nairobi. The band is a big team whose main members include Ian Maestro aka Si- ren, vocalist Miss Okinda, drummer and band manager Mathew Rabala alias Mathewmatix, Jacob Okelo aka Mark van Jack on the keys, music directing and production, Mike Munene on bass, and Tindi on backing vocals and keyboards. \u201cWhile we are best known for playing reggae songs, we are versatile and can play many other genres well too. When we were starting out eight years ago, we wanted to change the perception of reggae music, as many believed that reggae fans are rowdy and dangerous. We believed that reggae music is a great conduit to entertain, as well as influence change. The band logo includes the saying \u2018Following in the Footsteps of the Greatest.\u2019 Gravitti has been influenced largely by different reggae and global music legends. This is why we always incorporate cover songs of artistes that continue to inspire us no matter the genre,\u201d van Jack tells Spice. Gravitti team believes in the power of collaborations and have often worked with live musicians, additional instrumentalists and vocalists such as the Hornsphere and Motra. The main criteria they use to decide who to collaborate with is the musical prowess and the discipline of potential partners. The band believes in staging great sets with tight ar- angements and invests in a lot of band prac- tice hours. They believe that live performing is a career just like any other. They can attribute their longevity to work ethic, discipline and the growing appreciation for live music culture among Kenyans. Qlassic Band, set up in June 2019, formed two teams under the same name due to unmet demand for live music. Each team has nine members and one sound engineer, and are currently the most booked band with events at Naliaz Grill in Upperhill every Friday, Muthaiga Golf Club every Friday, Sax and Violin in Waterfront every Saturday, Summers Grill in Langata every Saturday, and Coyote Haven on Waiyaki Way every Sunday. The band attributes its growth to consis- tency, hardwork and sacrifice. They say every live gig is a chance for them to play to their best and show professionalism. Challenging roadblocks However, the Covid-19 related restrictions have been a tough challenge for the live per- formance scene. Fred of the Qlassic Band says they had to stop practicing, as there was no money coming in. Gravitti reiterates this, citing that funds are tight even though big sums of money are necessary to record their own music, videos and other related content. Being dependent on event organisers is also limiting, and the band is working on a way they can curate their own events without a middleman. \u201cGetting media recognition as reggae artistes who are just as good or bet- ter compared to our Jamaican counterparts is another major hindrance to growth,\u201d the Gravitti band members share. They are, however, really thankful that live events are making a comeback. But they are intent on diversifying revenue streams and are in the process of recording their album Distance over Time that will be released soon. The Hornsphere has similarly embraced recording music over and above performing live. They have an eponymous YouTube channel where they have cover songs of famous songs as well as their original compositions. They recently released their extended play (EP) titled Sherehe that was produced by Mutoriah. They believe that EPs allow artistes to showcase their skills and talents and is a great way to give fans something they can listen to in between live performances. \u201cThe collective sounds of our EP describe African heritage, love, growth, culture, expression, uniqueness and togetherness. It draws a lot of inspiration from the African roots, sounds, rhythms, polyphony and feels while still being modern. Sherehe is available on all online music streaming platforms including Boomplay, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play, and for purchase on Mookh. We are also doing live performances to promote it. We just did a performance at Capital Terrace alongside Mutoriah, Tha Movement and Ayrosh,\u201d says Denilson. Fame effect Live band performers also struggle with the ravages of fame and public applause. Qlassic Band\u2019s Fred intimates the band has had to let go of some very talented members after fame got into their heads. \u201cHaving the crowd scream encore, or an- other one or just shout your name is a heady experience. Some of our band members felt they were indispensable after the crowds started falling in love with them. They would show up for practice late or not at all. We tried to guide them and show them that no matter how good you are, you have to show up for band practice as playing in a band is a team effort and we are always finding new songs to add to the set and reimagin- ing old songs, to no avail. They sadly had to leave. Luckily, the team we have now is very grounded and instead of getting distracted by the crowd\u2019s applause, we use it as fuel to push ourselves to be better,\u201d he says. Mystique Band\u2019s Daudi shares that reli- gion has played a huge part in keeping him grounded in a world full of public applause and fleeting attention. He started playing in church as a teenager and faith is what has kept him going. He adds that having a team that one is friends with also helps as they can keep each other in check. He adds that playing with a band also grows not just the collective unit, but also the individuals as well. \u201cOne gets a better appreciation and understanding of other instruments and how they come together to form a piece. This has pushed me to keep working on bettering my skills,\u201d says Daudi, who is in the process of releasing his debut 10-track album Uhatswe (a Rabai word that means to be blessed). He believes that live bands should use live music to both entertain crowds during such a challenging period, as well as an oasis of peace away from day-to-day life struggles.