The 17th renewal of Reggae Sumfest will certainly go down in history for its record attendance on all three nights, especially on Dancehall Night, which attracted close to 20,000 patrrons inside the Cathering Hall venue in Montego Bay.
The greatest one night reggae festival on earth took place from July 19 -25, with Dancehall Night kicking off on Thursday July 23 to a packed-to-capacity venue. It was a night on which dancehall artistes gave their best … and then some. After all, it was Sumfest, the most international stage on which to perform locally.
The women of Sumfest, led by Marion ‘Lady’ Saw Hall, aka the Muma of the Dancehall, announced in no uncertain terms what she was at Sumfest to do. Entering centrestage dressed in lily white, flanked by two ‘angels’, Lady Saw declared with reverence, “Mi a go bless the stage before mi wreck the stage.” That was a signal of what was to come as she changed into maculne clothing and unleashed a string of hits from her versatile repertoire. Clearly in a playfully rude mood, she left mouths agape when she encouraged a Caucasian member of the audience to “pat” her kitty. A little in awe, he did as instructed, but it was just too soft for Saw and she urged him to pat with a little more force. It was just too hilarious.
However, whereas Lady Saw skillfully rode that thin line between slackness and downright vulgarity, deejay Macka Diamond bulldozed the Sumfest stage with lewdness and left nothing to the imagination.
Part owner of the infamous Rompin’ Shop, deejay Spice was in her element and she deejayed, danced and even sang. Yes, Grace, as she was christened, was amazing and gave a memorable performance.
D’Angel’s set was in three segments, but it is the go-go, pole gyrating, foot-in-the-air segment that stands out most. She did her songs, had all the props but somehow failed to really command the attention of the audience.
Among the males who performed on Dancehall Night, Beenie Man was clearly a class act and his ‘crowning’ by the festival organizers was an indication of the respect this deejay has garnered over his 30 years in the business. The closing act of the festival, Beenie held the capacity crowd captive for 23 minutes and was the only closing act to achieve this, as on the two nights which followed, patrons walked out on both closing acts, Jah Cure and Inner Circle.
It was a very mature, saying-all the-right-things Bounty who took charge of the Sumfest stage during the Alliance segment. Backed by his band, Anger Management, Bounty was in a good mood, declaring that he had matured and was doing a set dedicated to his mother Miss Ivy. Nothing could stop the Killer and his fans eagerly cheered him along.
Unfortunately, his Alliance counterpart and ‘son’, Mavado, didn’t have the best of showings on Sumfest and didn’t effectively represent for the Gullyside. His nemesis, Vybz Kartel had a much easier task as the crowd seemed to be in favour of the Gaza, which Kartel represents. But even so, Kartel had to word extremely hard for his forwards.
Earlier in the evening Mr Dem And Dem Yah, the The Flossing King’ Flippa Mafia, dripping in Gucci, represented well and entertained his fans. He had all the props, the champagne popping and of course, the money which he threw intothe audience – both Jamaican and US dollars, which the patrons climbed on top of each other to retrieve.
A potential heavyweight Kip Rich was not a flop, but he fell short of expectations. Demarco justified his space on the Sumfest stage, but just barely, and Assassin gave a good account of himself. Busy Signal held his own and made way for Bounty Killer who gave a performance of a lifetime.