Thursday 6 August, 2020

Great opening night for Sumfest despite police pulling the plug

Combination of photos by Marlon Reid.

Combination of photos by Marlon Reid.

Dancehall music was the winner on the opening night of performances at Reggae Sumfest 2019 inside Catherine Hall in Montego Bay, St James, in spite of the police drawing down the shutters on the event prematurely.

The police of the Jamaica Constabulary say the event was called to a halt after the performance of Jahvillani about 8:30 Friday morning. The closing time for the event was 6:00 am and they had no other choice but to enforce the law after a two and a half hour extension. In addition, the police cited profanity used by at least one act who had performed after the sun had come up.

The event closure left a bitter taste in the mouths of fans of scheduled closing acts, Chronic Law and Montego Bay's own Squash 6ix Boss, who didn't get the chance to utter a syllable on stage. Many of the fans claimed they only attended the event to see them perform.

Munga Honorable

That hiccup aside, Reggae Sumfest Festival Night One was a good look for dancehall artistes. The performances all around were worth going miles to see and it would prove a difficult task to select a particular entertainer who stood head and shoulders above the rest of the lineup. 

The eccentric Munga Honorable set a blistering early pace. Neatly attired in a shining gold outfit, the artiste gave a performance worthy of praise. Backed up by his five member strong ‘Fire Choir’, Munga stuck to his task of giving the patrons their money’s worth and set the right plot for those who would take the stage after him to follow. His hits 'Nah Mad', 'Bad From Me Born' and 'Stars' were well received.

Then came Spragga Benz.

Spragga Benz

If Munga was hot, then the audience would be given no cooling down period. The artiste, who hails from the community of Dunkirk in East Kingston, was in no mood to be bested and he reeled off his catalogue of dancehall anthems, which included 'We Nuh Like', 'She Nuh Ready Yet' and 'Coulda Deal'. It seemed as if the tempo could get no higher but in reality things were just warming up.

The introduction of the ‘Energy God’ Elephant Man was just what the doctor ordered. ‘Ele’, as he is affectionately known, brought back the glory days when dancehall was nice again and carried the audience through their paces in his dancehall gym as they 'Signalled the Plane', did the 'Gully Creepa' and 'Willy Bounced' among other moves. When he finished he barely resembled the man who was adorned in the outfit of a Roman Tribune as sweat soaked his garments to his body. He also received a well deserved encore which was demanded by the crowd.

Agent Sasco has always managed to keep his image clear of controversy or anything negative that the dancehall culture has embraced and has gained a lot of respect from the public for it. That love and admiration that he has attracted was all too evident inside Catherine Hall as the audience saluted him for his principled musical stance. He too was not to be outdone and the vuvuzelas kept blaring throughout his well presented set.


No one can deny that Spice is among the top tier of females in the dancehall and the self declared 'Queen of the Dancehall' went all out to prove that her doubters will be found to have been on the wrong side of dancehall history.

Choreography is one of her strong points and some patrons stood in bewilderment as Spice’s team brought out a jerk chicken pan, a sound system speaker box, a vendor box with lollipops and other condiments reminiscent of a dance in progress upon her introduction by MC Miss Kitty. Their questions were soon answered when Spice sprung into action from inside the speaker box and immediately launched into her sexually laced lyrics extolling the virtues of her most intimate body part. She also scored well with her comedic lyrics in which she stated that she was being sought after by most of Jamaica’s top male artistes.

Then it was time for the double whopper of Bounty Killer and Beenie Man in combination. That brought the house down. After being fierce rivals for decades, the show of unity was a heartwarming sight which was welcomed by Catherine Hall’s eager throng. None of the two missed a beat as they reeled off their many hits in quick succession. 

Beenie Man and Bounty Killer on stage together.

Bounty Killer probably summed it up perfectly when he uttered:

“This is not Beenie and Bounty, This is Moses and Rodney. We used to war for 20 years and see we hear now in love and unity. Ghetto people, we can settle our differences.”

So exhilarating was the concert up to that point that the audience must have welcomed the band change so they could catch their breaths.

The darling of reggae, Koffee performs at Sumfest.

Under normal circumstances, a 19-year-old artiste with just over a year's experience would be daunted by the task of taking the stage after the train that was blazed by two veterans, but not Koffee.

She revelled in the warmth that was extended to her by the patrons and gave off her best to come out smelling like roses. Even though she did only four songs, it was enough to keep the audience well satisfied as they waited for headliner Chronixx.

Selassie’s soldier did not disappoint. He displayed a calm, confident demeanour throughout his 75 minute set in which he stamped his class as one of Jamaica’s premier modern reggae performers. Chronixx delved into every topic and is living proof that the ears and brains of dancehall fans are ready to willingly accept uplifting message music without even flinching.

Chronixx (right) with dad, fellow reggae singer Chronicle.

He was the master of his students and Chronixx taught with aplomb. He had them 'Skanking Sweet' while he taught them to trust while being uncertain and not to do anything just for the 'likes'.

Dexta Dapps is the modern day sex symbol of Jamaican popular entertainment and he had many wondering what it is about why the females drool at the very mention of his name. Many of the females inside Catherine Hall were seen salivating at the artiste as he stripped himself of jacket and shirt and performed bare chested in the early morning Montego Bay sun.

He was truly a man in his element.

Dexta Daps

Govana also performed excellently and his set was further boosted with the surprise injection of 4th Genna stablemate Aidonia, who entered the stage wearing a black cloth face mask. Both proceeded to tear down the house. 

Shane E and Jahvillani continued in the same vein before the strong arm of the law saw it fit to exercise its proper authority and bring an end to what must be hailed as one of the better dancehall-themed shows held on Jamaican soil in recent years.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: