ACL Live Review: Koffee

Jamaican reggae teen nuh rise and boast

A audience noticeably sparser than that of Tierra Whack’s on Saturday afternoon slowly filled up the T-Mobile stage area in Zilker Park on Sunday. Koffee (Mikayla Simpson) invigorated unsure attendees lickety-split and gave credence to her potential as reggae’s youthful future during the group’s maiden Austin voyage.

Photo by Gary Miller

Grinning with glee as the midday sun turned her braces into reflectors, the grateful teenager put on a standout performance in a mere 32 minutes.

Koffee’s official touring band, the Compozers, set the tone with a 15-minute hype set much different from typical plays of Chief Keef’s “Faneto” and XXXTentacion’s “Look at Me.” Instead, classic hits including Ja Rule’s “Livin’ It Up” and Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful” received cymbal-heavy play from drummer Stephen Asamoah-Duah before Caribbean hits like Popcaan’s “Only Man She Want” left curious onlookers intrigued.

Modest applause met Koffee’s arrival and accentuated the 19-year-old’s newness on these shores. Art transcends barriers, so her congregation soon bobbed heads and waved hands in the air to tracks mainly written in Jamaican patois. Spanish Town’s rising star demonstrated undeniable charm rooted in genuine appreciation.

“We nuh rise and boast/ Yeah, we give thanks like we need it the most,” she sang in closer “Toast.”

Live conga drums gave a fresh Caribbean feel to proceedings. Those thumps mixed with keyboards from David Melodee and electric bass by Nana Pokes provided a fantastic crossover of raw traditionalism and electric modernity. “Throne” blazed with much power. Even so, the vocals sounded pre-recorded.

As Koffee left burnt grass in her wake, she thanked newfound fans.

“You’ve now become a part of my journey,” she beamed.

Set list

“Haffi Make It”
“Under Pressure”


Sunday, Oct. 6, 3:00pm, T-Mobile stage

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Koffee, ACL Fest 2019, Mikayla Simpson, the Compozers, Stephen Asamoah-Duah, Ja Rule, Snoop Dogg, Chief Keef, XXXTentacion, David Melodee, Nana Pokes

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