December 28, 2010
Lacklustre Sting 2010
By Richard Johnson
• Sizzla, I-Octane, Lady Saw save the day
Kingston, Jamaica - SOME blame the recession, the absence of Vybz Kartel and Mavado, Kartel's event in New Kingston, and a myriad of other factors; whatever it was, Sting, the much-anticipated 27-year-old music festival failed to hit the mark on Boxing Day.
Perhaps the greatest initial indicator that the event would fall short of previous years was the crowd support. By Sting standards, the huge Jamworld venue in Portmore St Catherine was empty, even after the midnight hour, when the event faithfuls would usually been seen streaming in to catch their favourite reggae and dancehall acts.
The poor crowd support aside, those inside had to endure lacklustre performances, which were punctuated, every now and then, with an act which managed to stir the crowd. The absence of Bounty Killer, whom it is alleged did not receive his deposit and therefore opted not to perform, and the anticlimactic closing featuring, Kiprich, Blak Ryno, Beenie Man and Assassin further deepened the disappointment experienced by the patrons.
After a long night, the break of dawn brought the first sight of a glimmer of hope on stage. At 6:15 the man from Judgement Yard, Sizzla Kalonji, brought a flurry of excitement with his high-energy set. Drawing on his string of hits — Simplicity, I Need you, Thank You Mamma, Can't Keep a Good Man Down and more — this was just what the battle-weary fans needed so he could do no wrong. Even in Portmore he took what seemed to be jabs at other artistes "Seh him a bad man, how him a bleach?" Kalonji questioned and received salutes in all forms from the audience.
Sizzla's performance and the hour that followed would prove to be the best of the festival. In this slot were a number of the acts who formed the '13 Warriors' segment of the festival. The conscious kings ruling the airwaves at this time, Khago and I-Octane, as well as dancehall's mumma, Lady Saw, were the clear standouts.
Khago was first up and like his performance at Reggae Sumfest earlier this year, he was able to hold the audience from the opening note of his hit tune, Cyaan Cool. From then he just kept going culminating with Nah Sell Out and the follow-up Part 2. Portmore's own I-Octane was another act who the Sting fans had come out to see. Dressed in red from head to toe, this conscious crusader was taking no prisoners as he unleashed his popular tracks on the entertainment-starved patrons. Tracks My Life, Mamma and Lose a Friend sent fireworks and fire crackers exploding in the morning sky.
After a seven-year break the queen of the dancehall, Lady Saw was truly ready for her Sting audience, who in turn, by their reaction, clearly missed her performance. In recent time, Saw has brought out her alter ego, Marion Hall, the smoother, more gentle performer -- but for Sting, Marion was obviously left at home back it St Mary, possibly tucked in, under the covers fast asleep, as it was vintage Lady Saw in full flight.
She managed to keep on her wig and shoes this time round, and 'lucky' cameramen were spared being used as props, as she dipped into her bag o' tricks and came up a winner even earning a legitimate 'forward'. Her fellow deejays were not spared, Kartel, Mavado, Lisa Hyper, Aidonia, Beenie Man and even Buju, got a lashing from Mumma. However, in Buju's case she said she could not hit him too hard and prayed that his legal situation ends. She would close with anthems If Him Lef' and It's Raining, these left Jamworld on a high.
Billed as the collaboration — deviating from its usual diet of clash-inspired performances — the performers in Sting's early segment of the show seemed content on sticking to the old formula of 'dropping words'. However, what would have been the night's major clash between the talent show runners-up — Kings and Queens of Dancehall's Reggae Queen, and Rising Stars' DJ Face — had to be aborted due to the use of profanity. But before that abrupt end, Sting 2010 was treated to some of the classic clash lyrics from both females with Reggae Queen declaring, "me come fi kill the Clarendon clown" and Face's rebuttal in which she referred to her challenger as "Reggae King Kong".
Deejay Kiprich, who has been known for his biting performance in recent times, was true to form, but just had to be content with 'dropping words', as there was no one to pick up. His set was interrupted as Beenie Man did a 'run on' and Assassin later joined what should have been a collaborative finale, but this fell flat.
The sparks also included Ce'Cile, the hilarious parody king Food Kartel, Romain Virgo, Richie Spice and Etana.