Dancehall Night @ Reggae Sumfest – A Hot, Fun Festival Party

Reggae Sumfest 2013 – a week long music/dance festival marathon in Montego Bay, Jamaica – done!

The 3 concert nights kicked off on Thursday with Dancehall Night – basically a really fun, happening and hot all night party on festival grounds.

“Just One Part of Our Culture “

Before Dancehall Night, a Jamaican named Macky (a roots reggae lover) told me this:

That dancehall music you heard last night is only one part of our music culture in Jamaica. Dancehall Night will get the biggest crowd at Reggae Sumfest, but it won’t be the nicer one. 

Was Macky right?

  • Dancehall Night drawing the biggest crowd of the 3 Reggae Sumfest concert nights? Definitely.
  • Dancehall music being only 1 part of Jamaican music culture?  Of course. But it was the biggest crowd because dancehall is a huge part of contemporary mainstream music and culture.
  • Dancehall Night crowd not being “the nicer one”?  Well, Dancehall Night definitely had a certain vibe– a bit more intense than the earthier, more chilled crowd at the 2 International Nights that followed with their roots reggae rock vibes.

The Dancehall Night crowd was fun. They knew how to have a really long, good, fun party –  more than any other festival crowd I’ve been in.

Reggae Sumfest Space

The festival space is a grass field near the centre of Montego Bay (Catherine Hall).

1 main stage at the front of the field.

A VIP area front and side of stage –  filled with tourists, and Jamaicans who can and do pay the extra $ for the VIP ticket. The rest of the field space – the livelier, grittier and generally more fun & happening area of the festival.

Reggae Sumfest 2013 - Dancehall Night - Beaver on the Beats

Around the outside of the field are food stalls, bars and toilets.

There are also lots of structures set up by sponsors. Lots of them have a members box on the top level.  One has dancers and DJs. Two are mini stages hosting short performances between main stage sets.

Reggae Sumfest 2013  - Beaver on the BeatsReggae Sumfest 2013 - Dancehall Night - Beaver on the Beats

Movement around the festival site is easy. Stage visibility is good from everywhere on site – with lots of screens. Quality of sound is good in most places. Stage lighting and visuals are beautiful. Band changeovers are quick and efficient.

Reggae Sumfest 2013 - Dancehall Night - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Dancehall Night Music

All Dancehall Night artists except I Octane were straight up dancehall.

I don’t love dancehall music. Reggaeton music came from dancehall.  I have a healthy loathing for reggaeton. To me most reggaeton music sounds the same – and most dancehall music sounds the same.

There’s also a whole conversation we could have about some dancehall lyrics.  It would kind of go the same as the one about reggaeton lyrics.

No matter what can be said about dancehall music, one thing is for sure: each and every live performance at Dancehall Night was incredibly entertaining and fun.

The performers sang and toasted brilliantly – each with a sexy and energetic stage presence.  Outrageously awesome outfits. Quality musicianship from the bands. Constant dance and movement by both the artist and dancers joining them on stage some times.

Dancehall Night Men

Male artists on the bill included Beenie Man, I Octane, I Wayne, Popcaan, Aidonia, Bounty Killer, Assassin, Kip Rich, Tommy Lee Sparta, RDX & Bugle.

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Check out some videos of I Wayne’s Dancehall Night show…

King of Dancehall

Musically I Octane was my favourite male artist of the night.  I’ve crowned him my Dancehall King – even though his music has more reggae flavours than the other dancehall artists on the program.  Sorry Beenie Man.

IOctane

I Octane

Dancehall Night Women

The female artists at Dancehall Night kicked all the wannabe Dancehall Kings’ butts!

Lady Saw Macka Diamond – Spice – Baby Tash Danielle DI.

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Talented, feisty, hot women powering the stage.

Check out a video here of Spice performing on Dancehall Night…

THE Queen of Dancehall

One of those Dancehall Night ladies is the rightful title holder of Queen of Dancehall. She is Lady Saw.

Her feisty and powerful performance was the most incredible one of the night for me.  When Lady Saw was on stage it felt to me like she was the Queen of every single person and thing at the festival.

I’m told The Queen is switching from dancehall to gospel music. I think Lady Saw will sound divine singing gospel.

Lady Saw - Queen of Dancehall

Lady Saw – Queen of Dancehall

Lady Saw @ Reggae Sumfest 2013 - Dancehall Night - Beaver on the Beats

Must-see video of Lady Saw’s first song on Dancehall Night…

Where’s the Vinyl & CDs?

No music cds or vinyl for sale at Reggae Sumfest – what a shame for the artists with so many tourists at the festival with money in their pockets to spend on Jamaican music.

Dancehall Dance

Dance is an integral part of Dancehall culture – so Dancehall Night was as much a dance fest as a music fest.

Everywhere you looked you saw amazing dancers – on the stages, in cages and in the crowd.

Macka Diamond

Macka Diamond

Reggae Sumfest 2013-Dancehall Night - Beaver on the Beats

Spice

Spice

The amazing dancers were just another reason, maybe even more than the music, why I loved every single hour of Dancehall Night.

Sponsors Supporting Music?

Be prepared.  Being at Reggae Sumfest was like watching a very awesome music and dance show on a commercial tv channel. Between artist sets all those great viewing screens are filled with commercials – for insurance and phone companies, car parts, hair products, beer, energy drinks, and the morning after pill.  There are also those sponsor booths I told you about.  I’m told it’s the norm in Jamaica.

Every poster I see for parties in Jamaica seems to be sponsored by some (generally big) company.  I wonder if those corporate sponsors are a necessary part of keeping the Jamaican music and dance culture alive?

Dancehall Night Vibes

Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest = Fun vibes. Party vibes. Hot vibes.  Jamaicans know how to party real, real good.

I loved being part of it. I was entertained from start to finish.

Dancehall Night was just the start of the marathon that is Reggae Sumfest. It was the first of  3 mornings I watched the sun come up with the rest of the crowd  – so tired – but so happy for a night of great music and amazing dance.

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Beenie Man – The King of Dancehall?

The taxi driver home from the Beenie Man gig at Tracks & Records in Kingston last night, thinks Beenie Man is THE King of Dancehall.  Another Kingston taxi driver told me that the “Jamaican music industry” crowned Beenie Man as the King, and I have read that he crowned himself as such.

So then, is Beenie Man the King of Dancehall?

Beenie Man He is certainly talented, yes. Entertaining, yes. Successful in Jamaica and overseas, yes. Beenie Man has a long list of albums with high sales figures, yes. He is multi award winning, yes. Apparently the ladies love ‘dem sugah’ that is Beenie Man, yes.

For me, an artist’s popularity, album sales, entertainment value or awards doesn’t necessarily make him or her the best artist in a genre, or even a good one.  Nor in my eyes do they necessarily make Beenie Man the King of Dancehall.

He definitely put on a good show last night, and the band was great (although they did seem to me to look a bit bored at times during the show).  But I don’t really think that the music is my thing.

 

I am reserving judgment about Beenie Man being THE King of Dancehall or otherwise, at least until after Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest next week in Montego Bay – where he will perform, as will many other talented Jamaican dancehall artists on the bill.

Check out the video and see what you think.  Is Beenie Man the King of Dancehall? 

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