Read our review of our first day at the Rototom Sunsplash 25th edition
We arrived around 6:30PM, when the conference “I’M A ROCK – Women in Modern Day Reggae and Dancehall” music starring Cocoa Tea’s protégé Koffee was ending. We came in just in time to hear her announce the release of an upcoming 4-track EP, and drop a short preview of a brand-new track a capella. After the conference, our team started going around to take a look at what’s going on at the Rototom Sunsplash for its 25th anniversary.
A slow start
Things were setting up slowly. A couple hours later, it seemed to us like the place was still kind of quiet. Except the sound of a band of percussion banging in front of the main stage, and some music playing near the media area, nothing much was really going on musically-speaking.
Nevertheless, people were participating in various activities and chilling out. So we decided to walk around, grab a drink, and take a couple pictures.
As the sun sets down, around 20:30, Freddie Kruger (Killamanjaro) starts playing on the main stage, putting an end to the sound of percussion. It was only a 30-minute session to warm up the crowd before the arrival of Julian Marley on stage. We are not really fond of Julian Marley‘s music, so we just listened to the concert away from the crowd.
Apart from music…
At the Rototom Sunsplash, you can find plenty little food stores. There’s food of all kinds for everyone. You can eat German food, vegan food, kebabs, just to name a few, and of course, Jamaican food.
Therefore, I —Krazygyal— decided to check out Wayne’s Authentic Jamaican Food. I had jerk chicken with rice and peas, sauce, hot sauce, the whole thing… It’s the least to say that I was kind of disappointed. In my memories, the last time I had jerk chicken —in Toronto, Canada— it tasted much better. That night, Wayne’s jerk chicken wasn’t worth my 8€.
On the sound systems side
At 21:45, on one side the Dancehall Stage was gearing up, and on the other side, Blackboard Jungle and Greenlight Sound were warming up at the Dub Academy. It took about 20 to 30 minutes before people really came in. Somehow, the music didn’t really move us there, so we moved back to the Main Stage to check out Cocoa Tea who was about to start.
Sometimes, his voice was breaking when he was hitting higher notes. It would have been lovely to see him perform some of his Dancehall classics like “18 and Over” or “Pirates Anthem”. Instead, he performed two brand-new tracks “Medical Marijuana,” produced by Walshy Fire, and “Fyah,” on the overheard “Bam Bam Riddim” alongside Spanish artist Inés Pardo. He continued with a cover of “What a Bam Bam,” made famous by Toots Hibbert, which made no sense to us when you know many hits Cocoa Tea has to offer.
Cocoa Tea covers “Waiting In Vain For Your Love” Bob Marley
Then, Koffee came in after that. She performed a couple songs. Then, Cocoa Tea covered “Wait In Vain For Your Love,” made famous by Bob Marley. That’s when we decided we had seen enough, and went back to the Dancehall Stage. It didn’t drive me crazy either. So I started stumbling around. Then I came across some Jamaicans, based in Europe, who are working on a project called Reggae In Europe (@ReggaeInEurope).
Ben Harper pays tribute to Steel Pulse
After, a while, we decided to go get a closer look at Ben Harper’s show. We don’t know very well his entire discography, yet one can admit Ben Harper and his band are amazing musicians. He wrapped up his show with his 2003 Reggae-oriented hit song “With My Own Two Hands”. During the finale of the show, instead of covering Bob Marley like everyone else seems to do, he paid a brief tribute to Steel Pulse, dropping a few lines of the sweet “Your House”.
Spice tears down the place
We didn’t want to leave until we saw Spice. So, we waited until 2:30 in the morning. We were not disappointed. Though, it’s a shame we had to wait for more than 5 hours before we get to see something really interesting.
A little before she came on stage, the sound system started playing some serious modern Dancehall music like “Who Am I” by Beenie Man, “Do Sumn” by Konshens. Even though, these songs are a bit overplayed, it’s always nice to hear them.
Spice really did the job. She was by far, the best Jamaican act of the day. She started with “Fight Ova Man” on the “85 Riddim”—the single that launched her career—, followed by her groundbreaking hit “So Mi Like It” and the hit song “Ramping Shop” featuring Vybz Kartel. We were in the crowd trying to get to the front row, but it was so packed, we just gave up.
Squeezed in her tight and shiny outfit, the Dancehall Queen, didn’t came alone. Spice brought with her, two dancers who were wining ont heir heads, climbing on the scaffold of the stage lights. It was crazy. She invited two guys on stage to get into a wining contest. Then she invited girls to dance to her new song. For a moment the stage was full of people. She was throwing hit after hit. Things were gradually getting madder. But good things always come to an end.
While leaving the festival, we came across the African Village, which was playing some Afrobeat. A couple minutes, we passed by the Caribbean Uptempo area while they were bussing “Pempelem” by Azie Lawrence. That was an invitation to skank that one couldn’t refuse. So, we actually left after that last song. This is how the night ended for us.