Montego Bay, JA-The fast talking Stitchie, energetic and chubby deejay Elephant Man, Baby Cham and Sizzla were the real hot shots at Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest’s Dancehall Night, which was held on Thursday, August 2 at Catherine Hall.
The above-mentioned artistes put in good performances, which left the patrons inside the capacity filled venue in a frenzy.
Apart from those performances, creditable performances were also delivered by Delly Ranks, teenage female singjay Silva Kid, Hawkeye, Alozade, Mr. Vegas, Bling Dawg, the Montego Bay-based Buss Di Place Crew, Kip Rich, CeCile, Fire Lion and Warrior King.
Delly Ranks churned out a nice set riddled with songs like “What a Gal Can Wine,” “Dem Vex Now,” “Headache,” “Wagga Wagga Fat,” “Work Round Dem,” as well as snippets of Beres Hammond’s “Step Aside Now” and Dennis Brown’s “Revolution.” He was joined on stage by Shocking Vibes artiste Patchy who harmonized on some of the songs.
Bling Dawg, dressed in a black and silver outfit, went the full hundred with “Kiss My Baby Good Morning,” “Floss Like We Do,” and “Robbery.”
With dancers in tow, CeCile created ripples with “Changez” and “Player” among others, while Alozade’s “More Woman” and “Bad Man Nuh Pet Gal” went down well. Hawkeye and his “Twingy Twang” and “Money Making Guy” had lighters flicking and fire crappers firing away, while Silva Kid and Power Man did well to earn themselves a new legion of fans.
The production of the show was an improvement over previous years. Band changes were not as dragged out, lighting was up to standard, while sound was good. A good attempt was made at restricting the movement and access of the backstage and stage area by the organizers. A comfortable press area at the back restricted for interviews with the artistes was a good idea. Representatives from Ashchar Consultants worked feverishly and professionally to deliver almost every artiste to the members of the press.
Some of the performances at this year’s staging of Dancehall Night will go down as some of the worst ever witnessed in the staging of the annual festival, as artistes engaged in the consistent use of expletives and derogatory lyrics. One artiste even went as far as to arm himself with a machete and incite violence. It was a free for all as most of the artistes centered their performances on the killing of homosexuals and lesbians, the tearing down of politicians, and the “bigging up” of area leaders.
The high point of the show was the spirited and conscious lyrics delivered by Stitchie. The born again deejay administered his lyrical potency and spoke out about the almshouse which was taking over the society at large. It was a normal Stitchie performance, the only difference was that his lyrics were not of a secular nature. The crowd loved his stint and lapped up every ounce of his ministry.
Elephant Man was in his element and he lived up to expectations to give one of, if not, his best performance since the start of the year. Dressed in an outfit depicting the colours of the national flag, he leaped on boxes, climbed on rails and “took on” two dancers who were not the least prepared for his “energy.” With songs like “Warrior Cause,” “Jamaica,” and “Watchie Pumps” among numerous others, Elephant bowled the crowd over with his antics and stage charisma.
It was nothing short of an international performance, that was delivered by both Baby Cham and Sizzla. Sizzla gave an unassuming and tight set, which was very entertaining. He “bussed” the place with his familiar material as well as some new goodies, and like the pied piper, had the crowd mesmerized by his musical flute.
Cham had the crowd “wowing” from the word go. Dressed in a casual outfit, the deejay went to work and gave a very professional account of himself. He stayed away for the most part from derogatory lyrics, and avoided any form of “passa passa.” His months of touring have certainly aided in his stage persona and he shone so bright that not even the slightest hint of negativity could’ve dampened the spark.
Armed with “Man and Man,” “Desperate Measures,” “Can I Get A,” “Mama Teaching” and songs from back in the day, Cham stamped his class on the entire show.
A bottle-throwing incident which occurred during Merciless’ performance put a damper on the show in the early hours of Friday morning. The “bottle fest” as it was rumoured days after the festival, rained on the Warhead and saw patrons in the VIP and press areas scampering in a mini stampede.
Beenie Man, Mr. Lex (a.k.a. Lexxus), Bounty Killer and Merciless owe an apology to the patrons who paid their hard earned money to come and be entertained at the show. Their behaviour was unacceptable and only drove a nail in the foot of a sagging genre called “the dancehall.”
It was so embarrassing that even patrons and the international media who were present, voiced their concerns at what happened. However, there were quite a number of persons in the audience who were hell bent on seeing a lyrical confrontation and totally supported the almshouse.
Beenie Man hit the stage at minutes after 4 am and did his usual entertaining set. He called on Mr. Lex who proceeded to “give it to” Bounty Killer in no uncertain terms. He was unceremoniously booed by most of the patrons. Beenie thrilled the crowd with songs like “Damn,” “Crazy Notion,” “Circumstances,” and “Your Bad Luck.”
Bounty Killer came up afterwards and brought the crowd alive in his set. With Wayne Marshall in tow, Killer set down to work and reeled off his counteractions and the hits. The Warlord wasted no time in “tracing off” Lexxus, Beenie Man, Mr. Vegas and others. The crowd loved every minute of the passa passa and reveled in delight when Killer made accusations about the artistes and some members of their management’s sexual practices.
It was at this time that Beenie Man came on stage during Bounty’s set, although attempts were made by the production staff and security personnel to keep him away from the stage. He sat down on one of the sound monitors, and looked at the crowd. Bounty Killer realized his presence, and reeled off expletives. He made it clear that he did not “walk up” on any man’s performance, so no man should “walk up on” his performance.
Killer, exited the stage, and there was a clash of sorts backstage between members of the artiste’s entourages.
Merciless then came on stage, and began rehashing episodes of last year’s Sting 2000 performance and proceeded to “give it” royally to Killer about his allegations on other artistes. The crowd was in no mood for Merciless and began to boo. Bottles then descended on the stage and it was at this point that the show came to a premature end.
It is ironic that the artistes were given contracts prior to Sumfest that stated that in no uncertain terms should expletives be uttered on stage during the performance. And, expletives were what reigned during most of the performances for the night.
The question is, when will we see an end to the foolishness taking place at stage shows? When will someone decide to bell the cat and get things under control? Artistes need to sort out their personal differences elsewhere and not in full view of a public who paid their hard earned money to be entertained.
The show was broadcast live on Irie-FM.