Sumfest's Dancehall Night was sizzling

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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FOR the first time in Reggae Sumfest's history two rising acts were given pride of place alongside an established one to close Dancehall Night of the festival.

Montego Bay's Rygin King and Tee Jay, along with Tommy Lee Sparta, held the attention of a packed Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre in St James until daybreak on Saturday as they brought the curtains down on the first of two nights of live performances at the 25-year-old event.

It was, however, Rygin King who was the strongest of the three, earning numerous 'forwards' amidst a cacophony of vuvuzelas, as the predominantly young audience showed their approval for his set. The festival's organisers struck a brilliant note in paying tribute to the Second City by utilising its acts in this prominent position.

Tee Jay earned his full share of accolades during his set, but Tommy Lee, though highly appreciated as the closing act, came at the end of a very long night — 11 hours of scorching dancehall performances.

Artistes of this genre have truly stepped up their performance game over the years and are now able to offer strong, entertaining, well-thought-out sets in order to appease patrons. As a result, the weak performances were few and far between, particularly as far as the major acts are concerned.

An artiste like Agent Sasco rarely gives a weak set. on Friday he performed early and showed a level of maturity which is indicative of his status in dancehall. The Winning Now singjay masterfully delivered a set which engaged, entertained and artfully stuck to the designated time frame down to the final second.

Like Agent Sasco, Clarendon-born I-Octane was in festival mode, dropping another of his signature performances. He was awarded by the festival organisers for his 10 years of performances on Reggae Sumfest. History was also on the side of ace deejay Bounty Killer, who has performed on 25 of the 26 stagings of the festival, and he too delivered a mature set in which he called for an end to the social disorder which has been plaguing the country, Montego By in particular. The addition of Wayne Marshall to his set, who dropped his current hit Lord I Pray, only served to heighten the Warlord's message.

The name of incarcerated deejay Vybz Kartel was on the lips of many a performer as they called for him to be released from prison.

Among those making the call was his former protégé Popcaan, who was among the night's masterful performers, as he had his supporters in a frenzy manner as he dropped his past and current hits including We Pray with Dre Island. Other acts, such as the ever-improving Aidonia, shared the 'Free Kartel' sentiment amidst a very strong showing. His stable mate Govanna is making all the right moves and the audience is loving him for it.

Lone major female deejay on the festival, Spice, almost wrecked a solid set with an unwarranted outburst against the security team hired by the organisers.

Being the self-proclaimed queen of stage, Spice, who is fresh from her appearances on the American reality television show Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, gave another of her signature entrances, this time in tribute to the cinematic blockbuster Black Panther. she arrived dressed in costume as Lupita N'yongo's character Nakia complete with the all-female army, the Dora Milaje. However, she almost ruined it all when she hurled expletives and insults at the security teams who were reportedly blocking her supporting cast from entering the stage.

Other acts, including young turk Masicka, the perennial favourite Sizzla, dance master Ding Dong and his Ravers Clavers, Shane O, and African dancehall sensation Stoneybwoy all contributed to a strong showing on Friday night into Saturday morning.

Reggae Sumfest boss Josef Bogdanovich was pleased with the showing on night one, noting that it was indicative of the festival's trend for the previous five days.

“I feel really good about night one. We have a really good turnout here. There is a real festival feel and it is getting more dynamic. The entertainment is fabulous. Bounty Killer was awesome, Octane was wonderful, as well as Shane O, as was Agent Sasco, everyone was great … just one after the other,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

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