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SummerJam 2024 - Festival Report

07/05/2024 by Gardy Stein

SummerJam 2024 - Festival Report

In our highly functional daily routine, getting lost is not seen as a good thing necessarily, but sometimes, it is by getting lost that we find ourselves. Walking around aimlessly can make you discover special places, and asking for directions can lead to beautiful encounters.

"Lost in good vibes", the motto of this year's 37th SummerJam edition, thus sounds like a promise. For this weekend, let's leave our worries behind, let's enjoy the here and now, let's get lost together in music and the celebration of life. And herb, as this is the first festival after legalization in Germany!

Of course, Reggaeville is on the spot to provide you with photos and videos of the live shows as well as behind-the-scenes stories, so make sure you bookmark this page and witness the good vibes unfolding!

CHECK OUT: PHOTOS | INTERVIEWS | VIDEOS 

THURSDAY, July 4th 2024

Arriving in Cologne this Thursday afternoon, reaching the P2 parking area and meeting up with Team Reggaeville, the characteristic pre-festival buzz of excitement is in the air. All around us, people unload their stuff, heading to the camping grounds to set up their tents and get comfortable. 

Despite rain forecasts, the sun is shining bright, and the Vibez Village stage is in full swing with selections by Queen Tafari and Top Gyal, part of the announced all-female DJ line-up.

First live act of the evening, a local artist called Amiaz. performs a smooth-flowing HipHop-induced set, with singer Maria, drummer Harris and DJ Ice-C actively sharing the stage with him. Uplifting songs like Es Geht Mir Gut ('I'm fine') or Glaub An Dich ('Believe in yourself') set the mood right, and at the end of his performance, he even gets the audience to squat down and jump up with him.

After another hour or so party vibes with the DJanes mentioned above, Boneshaker Sound (the one with the pineapple) announces the arrival of Andrew "Mr. Summerjam" Murphy, an artist who has performed at the first ever Summerjam with his band Rhapsody and has been part of the festival ever since. He starts his set with covers like Imagine and Legalize It, and after the latter, he announces, in German, "I have a crazy idea!"

"Let's all meet tomorrow before the concerts start and light up in front of the stage! Bring your spliff and let's smoke together!"

As more and more people finish setting up their tents and join the happy crowd, the party continues with high-energy Dancehall, Afrobeats and Amapiano, music selected by Lolo Sace, DJ Sinè, DJ Irini, Yaneena and Romana. We're off to a good start, folks!

FRIDAY, July 5th 2024

Day one of getting lost in good vibes starts a bit chilly, and by the time Team Reggaeville has established its workstation at the Press Area, a slight rain accompanies the last preparations. The SummerJam Crew has done an amazing job setting up (the stages, the stalls, the sanitary spots, everything!) and decorating the island, I'm talking lanterns and colorful lights and garlands and cardboard parrots - special thanks to Marina! At 2pm, the gates to the island open, and the first visitors cross the bridges, adding their glamour and individual styles to the festival grounds.

We learn that the upheaval caused by hurricane Beryl in the Caribbean prevents Beenie Man from coming – Gentleman will perform in his stead tomorrow. But, as we are supposed to get lost in the here and now, let's concentrate on this first festival Friday, some highlights of which you'll find below:

3:11pm, IVAN's JAMAICAN COOKING & GREEN STAGE
As soon as the rain stops, we take a little walk to say hi to Ivan, who is at his usual spot close to the lake (the waters of the lake, by the way, have considerably risen this year so that the festival staff have asked people to move closer together in the remaining camping area). His Jamaican dishes are one of the highlights I always look forward to at SummerJam, but many other food stalls look tempting as well. A wide variety to choose from if you're hungry!

First act on the Green Stage is Omar Jatta, who tells us that he celebrated his birthday yesterday. He is a young artist born in Germany (and singing in German, mostly) to a family of Gambian heritage, which explains the blue-green-red flag he wears. "Do you know my song Recipe?", he asks while six dancers line up alongside him. "I am the opener of this stage, but I see so many people, so many family members, so many Gambians, I feel like a headliner. Thank you for having me, SummerJam!"

3:50pm, RED STAGE
Meanwhile on the other side of the little island: a band called Kasalla rocks the considerable crowd, a punk-rock-folk style that has a captivating effect. The frontman sings in deep Cologne dialect that's hard to decipher for non-Colonians, but the people present seem to know the lyrics by heart. What the song Alle Jläser Huh is about I do understand, though: "To love, life, freedom and the dead - all glasses up!" A special surprise is the acapella piece they sing next, in five-fold harmony, and the crowd joins in with such fervor that it moves the singer to tears. The power of musical get-togethers! "Celebrate yourself, love and life - you only have this one!" they say before leaving, to big applause from their (old and new) fans.

4:12pm, PRESS AREA & GREEN STAGE

By now, all twelve members of Team Reggaeville have arrived (Björn and Rune for reels, editing and backend, HoRo and Ellen for photos, Munchy and Celine for interviews, Julian holding everything together, Jasper and Valentin for distributing our hot-off-the-press Festiville Magazine, yours truly for the words... and even Lena, (9 months pregnant, drops by to say hi) including Meta (from The Cornerstones), who becomes our honorary colleague for the weekend. He's not here to perform, he says, but to enjoy the festival. I ask him if he would join me to watch Jizzle on Stage Green, and together we make our way over to where the Gambian artist performs. He brought a full band (Mouloud Mammeri on bass, Marius Botzenhart on guitar, Maxi Micanda on keys, Pape Mbaye on drums) and a dancer (Lina Zimmermann), and also welcomes two special guests on stage: Tijan Penh and his brother from another mother, Omar Jatta. In the crowd we meet Jah Tung, a singer who came all the way from Australia to experience this year's SummerJam. He and Meta start talking, and next thing I know is that we head to a tam stand where Sista Adelisha sells all kind of headgear, especially for Rastas. Once they're done looking, we continue our stroll and bump into singer Inti and his father who is on visit from Peru. As we stand and chat, it hits me that 4 continents are united peacefully in this little spot: Africa, Australia, Europe and South-America!

5:30pm, RED STAGE
The mysterious L'Entourloop outta France have started their show, and it is always nice to see how people who don't know the project pause, stare, and wonder about these two elderly gentleman behind the DJ-desk. As is their usual custom, Sir James and King Johnny have invited Sébastien Blanchon aka N'Zeng on trumpet as well as vocalists Troy Berkley and Blabbermouf to spice up their productions and remixes with some lyrics, but they also play instrumental tracks, mixing and adding samples live. One of those is KRS-One's Sound Of Da Police, and on the screen behind the DJs we see a black-and-white video with original footage of police violence during riots in France and the UK. L'Entourloop is using their platform for socio-political activism, too!

"Make some noise for Queen Omega!" they prompt the audience before playing the track Florilège they released with her, and people gladly comply, jumping up and down and exploding non-literal glitter. Actually, that's the perfect reminder to change location and go to the Green Stage where the Queen performs.

6:20pm, GREEN STAGE
Royal! Queen Omega dominates the stage with a stunning outfit and her powerful presence, accompanied by her touring band The Royal Souls which consists of a pretty international cast: Thomas Broussard (guitar), Thierry Lechauve (bass), Cyril Colling (keys), Guillaume Briard (sax & percussion), David Sitbon (drums) as well as Sandra Oujagir and Linda Rey on backing vocals. After starting her show with a Gospel rendition of Amazing Grace and original works like Judgement Day, Ganja Baby and tracks from her new album Freedom Legacy, she now belts out "No Love!", and we all know what's next. The viral success of the No Love Dubplate with Little Lion Sound has carried this track to all four corners of the world, and the audience definitely knows it, too. Hands up and movement!

6:55pm, LED SCREEN @ FOH RED STAGE
This is surreal. Since the German soccer team is playing in the EM quarter finals against Spain today, the SummerJam organizers have arranged for a live broadcast of the game. Thus, you can watch both the game on a huge LED screen behind the FOH at Stage Red and rapper Majan who is now performing. In fact, this arrangement causes a bit of a confusion for the artist when the back of the crowd howls because of a goal-scoring chance… In any case, this is inclusion of a different sort, allowing soccer fans to enjoy the festival as much as those who are here for the music only, and I've never seen as many Germany flags and T-Shirts on a Reggae event.

7:09pm, GREEN STAGE
"You are a beautiful crowd, and this is a beautiful country! Where are my sunshine girls?" The audience at the Green Stage is having fun with J Boog and his band (Ronny and Carl on guitar, Roots on bass, J Vibe and JayKeyz on keys, B Will on drums and Johnny Suite on backing vocals), and a late sun is illuminating the scenery of waving hands, floating soap bubbles and smiling faces with its golden light. The artist from Bermuda started his set with an AI-translated speech in German (chapeau!), and is now in the middle of his extensive, lovers-rock-dominated catalogue, a highlight of which is Do It Again, of course, and everyone is singing and jumping along to this one. He's obviously using his stay here to expand said catalogue even further, as Silly Walks Discotheque posted some pictures of studio recordings with him in DJ Densen's studio, so good things are on the way for sure!

7:18pm, RIDDIM TENT
Meet & greet with Queen Omega! As every year, Team Riddim has organized sessions with several artists, giving fans the opportunity for a photo, an autograph or a quick chat. There is a long line of people patiently waiting for their turn with the Queen, and right next to them, the Feel Good Area Stage supplies the fitting soundtrack. Right now, they play Buju's Champion - rampapapampam! 

8:46pm, GREEN STAGE
"Finally di herbs come around!" Collie Buddz paces up and down the stage, singing to a sea of raised hands, flags and, yes, clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. "It's been a long time since I was here last, in 2016. I'm happy to be here with you now!" A huge forward and instant pull-up receives his sexy Love & Reggae, and the crowd sings along to the chorus on their own together with the band (Ronny Gutierrez on guitar, Shawn Mitchell on bass, Jason Farmer on keys and Brian Williamson on drums). Vibes! After his pre-final tune Sensimilla, he says, "Put your fingers up if you love your life. There's only this one life to live!" – that seems to be a realization many artists bring to the festival.

11:09pm, GREEN STAGE

Tonight's headliner at this side of the island is Busy Signal (over at Stage Red, an artist called Rin was followed by celebrated German rapper Sido), who rules the stage with his band: Jerome "Spangy" Small on bass, Kirk "Kirkledove" Bennett on drums, Ecton Brown aka Elly B on guitar and Brenton Messado on keys. From ladies' pleasers One More Night, Sweet Love and Lady In Red (accompanied loudly by hundreds of voices) to the well-known Brighter Days riddim, which he presented with his own version and, a tribute to fellow singer Romain Virgo who watches the show from backstage, Soul Provider.

"I've been doing this for 20 years now, Germany!" the artist addresses the crowd, "thank you for supporting me all this time, thank you for having me, SummerJam! Can we turn up the energy?" Yes, we can, and the following excursion into Mento (with a spicy version of the traditional Rukumbine) and Ska (with the legendary 007) is met with a dancing craze from the crowd.

Before leaving, Busy says that he really appreciates live performances, since they allow him to connect with the people, and delivers his new song Happy Birthday. "No matter what day or month or year you are born, celebrate life, every day!" After roaring applause, moderators Ganjaman and Nay Honey express their heartfelt gratitude to the visitors, stressing that this was just the first day and that we have many more artists to look forward to – and a whole night of partying for those who choose to do so! 

00:49am, FESTIVAL ISLAND
Picking our way back to the car is like a time travel through different genres and eras of Caribbean music. The biggest and loudest aftershow-party is happening at the Dancehall Area, where Warrior Sound throws at the crowd some highly appreciated Vybz Kartel, Mavado & Co. The Feelgood Area booms with modern roots, while the Dubwise Jamaica Stage (at the lake side next to the Green Stage) resonates with live toasting by the likes of Exile Di Brave, Jah Tung and Jason Panton over some original riddims juggled by Hille Soundquake and Becca D. The visitors of the Vibez Village, instead, are lost in a Soca Carnival, and the latter vibes accompany us on our way to bed. Thank you, SummerJam, for a beautiful Day 1!  

SATURDAY, July 6th 2024
Official storm warning for this afternoon! While, generally speaking, the weather is better than yesterday, there are already strong gusts of wind testing the stability of tents and constructions. Weather-related changes also affect today's line-up, as the aftermath of Beryl prevents both Samory I and D'Yani from arriving in time. In their stead, Stonebwoy is announced, which brings back memories to his show at last year's SummerJam.

In the here and now, we are getting ready for another day of good vibes, starting with a hot coffee provided by the backstage team (special shout-out to Vera, who even organized milk & sugar, and the whole crew!), and...

2:09pm, RED STAGE
Samora! She opens this second festival day, backed by a band of eight (!) exquisitely dressed musicians. After an ode to the children and an excursion into Ska, she is now deep into her empowerment anthem Precious, talking to all the Black ladies in the place, followed by the melodious Reggae I'm In Love. "At 3pm you can meet me at the Riddim tent!", the artist says, "Let's take some pictures, let's vibe together!" She then pays a tribute to the founding mothers of the genre by presenting a medley of Sista Nancy's Bam Bam, and welcomes Junior Carl on stage, a local singer from Cologne.

3:35pm, RED STAGE
He pops up again during the set of Martin Jondo, the performer who's next, supported by DJ Legastechnixx, a percussionist and a singer by the name of Kaya T. Martin delivers his best-known song Rainbow Warrior twice, once in the beginning and once at the end, slowed down and accompanied by the artist's special guitar (strings and frame only). The audience is in a good mood, all hands are up and waving to the beat, and I realize that almost half of them wear the yellow bands of Saturday's day ticket (probably on short notice after learning that Gentleman is playing tonight). To Jondo's track Mrs. Sunshine, we dance the dark clouds away, and at the end of the song, even some sun rays peek through the clouds.

3:47pm, RIDDIM TENT
With a little delay, I arrive at Samora's Meet & Greet just when she and her husband Res Staudenmann are about to leave. We exchange a quick hug and then they're off, so I decide to take a short break. It's quite idyllic here, music playing at the Feel Good Area, a flock of geese foraging through the grass, the waves of the lake gently lapping in the background… peaceful moments like these are important to exhale and ground yourself in the middle of all the excitement going on!

4:32pm, RED STAGE
Excitement continuing right away: Bam Bam riddim again! Starting his set with a selection by DJ OV, Stonebwoy is a surprise for all those who didn't check the updates. With covers like Praise Jah In The Moonlight and Buffalo Soldier, he is turning up the festival mood from minute one, and the first rows are ablaze with jubilating fans. They are enthusiastically waving two big Ghana flags, homage to the artist's (and probably their own) origin, and this brings a big smile to Stonebwoy's face. Hands are up again and people are dancing in the now steady sunshine during tracks like Life & Money, Ekelebe and Kpo K3k3"Stonebwoy, we wanna party!"

5:44pm, RIDDIM TENT
Back at the Riddim tent, it's Romain Virgo's turn to Meet & Greet, say hi to fans and friends and give autographs as well, for example under his feature in the new Riddim Mag. I get a bit lost in the vibes of the Feel Good Area, hosted by Kybba and Jugglerz today. The place is packed, people dancing in the warm  afternoon sunshine, and when Famalay comes on, there's even a palance happening [WATCH IT HERE].   

6:35pm, RED STAGE
"When I'm looking at SummerJam, I see beautiful people!" Lila Iké says before diving into I Spy. She is here with her band of 6 (Kristoff Morris on drums, Stephen Walsh on guitar, Dane Peart on bass, Donte Rose on keyboards, Ovasha Bartley and Telecia Lewis on backing vocals), all dressed in sharp-looking outfits of black and red - for more info on the conception of this design and more, check the new episode of Wha' Gwaan Munchy. Together they deliver a stunning show, with extended soli and an excursion into Marley's Waiting In Vain during True Love and reasonings during Peace Of Mind. "It's the safest place you gonna find in life" Lila tells us, "you won't find it in the church or in your house, it's in your mind. And you have to protect that place!" That's definitely one of the lessons in life – protect and defend your peace of mind at all costs!

During the final Grateful, she says "this is a very important stage, a very important festival, we give thanks for being here!"

7:21pm, PRESS AREA
Back at our working station, putting into words some of these experiences, a woman approaches, expressing her gratitude to Julian for the work we do. Jana, as we learn she's called, tells us that, before she went to bed last night, she scrolled through some of Reggaeville's reels. In one posted of Busy Signal's show, she discovered her old friend Karl from America in the first row [WATCH IT HERE]. Immediately, she contacted him on Facebook and he answered saying that he came here with his family. Today, they met during Samora's show - not lost, but found this time, a happy reunion made by Reggaeville.

8:18pm, RED STAGE
Biggest respect to Romain Virgo, a solid performer and great vocalist, and his band (Jared Ansine on guitar, Jevaughn Latty on bass, Evad Campell and Rhoan Johnson on keys, Mauiri Whyte on drums as well as Janeel Mills and Tori-Ann Ivy on backing vocals), who perform flawlessly and bring across the joy this music makes them feel. They take us through Fade Away, Soul Provider and Stay With Me, and with his approachable manner, Romain makes everybody present feel good and part of something big.

A goosebump moment is when the artist announces the touching Feel Like Letting Go. "To all those who feel like giving up – hold on! To my people in Jamaica who have to face so many problems after hurricane Beryl – stay strong! To my Kenyan brothers and sisters who go through so much right now – hold on!" Big forwards from the crowd and dozens of flags greet his words, and he presents a few more songs from his new album The Gentle Man before leaving.

10:33pm, RED STAGE
The flags are fascinating the next act as well. After his DJ started the set with hits like Welcome To Jamrock ("Can I take you to Jamaica?"), Konshens kicks off his show in style with Good Girl Gone Bad and explodes a firework of Dancehall hits on us, including Gal A Bubble, Pull Up To Mi Bumper and Hot Sexy Gyal. After this high energy set, he signals to the accompanying musicians (live drums, bass and guitar plus the DJ) to turn the music down for a bit and turns to the crowd. "Wow, I see the Jamaican flag. Hold it up high! What else we have, Kenya, Gambia, big up Africa! And ova de so, Grenada, Bahamas, Trinidad… Wha this, Uganda? Big up!" This man knows all of them! During the next song, he reaches out to the man holding a large Kenyan flag in the first row, takes it from him and waves it on stage while singing. He then jumps down into the photo pit to shake hands with his fans – niceness!

A special moment is when Konshens calls Romain Virgo on stage at the end of his set and they perform We No Worry Bout Them together – for the first time ever, as he informs us on his IG later!

10:12pm, GREEN STAGE
Santa Claus in summer? In one of his ingenious, visually appealing live shows, Greeen wears a red-and-white costume for his song Highnachtsmann, while, during the subsequent Klick, two women dressed in police uniform come on stage, waving green flags with a broccoli emoji. The German artist predominantly treats the subject of "the holy herb" in his songs, and his mostly young audience knows the lyrics by heart. Vibes are high! "When you love your life, it loves you back!" Greeen says before starting the final two songs of his set, Stoned Durch Den Wald and Eismann.   

11:53pm, RED STAGE
The meadow all around the stage is packed tight with people, as the one and only Gentleman now performs. A great substitute for sure, but I'm still a bit sad that Beenie Man didn't make it. He is appreciated by the German performer, who says: "Big up Beenie Man, big up Samory I and D'Yani same way, big up all Jamaicans struggling right now because of hurricane Beryl!", adding the wise words "the only constant in life is change." He keeps up a lively interaction with his band, flying through his set of old (Intoxication, Rumours, Warn Dem…) and new songs (Time Out, Ahoi, Schöner Tag). "I see a lot of smiling faces, that's what music does. It makes us smile in this difficult time, and it's great to see that you are still around, you are still making babies, we still celebrate together – put up your lighters!"

Special moments are the live features of Stonebwoy in Can't Lock The Dance and Konshens, joining Gentleman after his grande finale of Dem Gone and Superior (partly spent in the crowd) on a final Change Of Thoughts.

1:22am, FESTIVAL ISLAND
The concerts are over, sticking to the strict curfew at 1am, but the night has just started for most of the festival visitors. Again, the Dancehall Area draws the biggest crowd, and the Jugglerz crew (Meska, Shotta Paul, Cutlass and DJ Smo) along with several dancers on stage are in their element, bringing across authentic Jamaican Dancehall culture. Kaboom! At every spot where there is music, there are people as well, enjoying the afterglow of another day spent with friends, nature's elements (we had rain, sunshine, wind) and… music.

SUNDAY, July 7th

"The Almighty is definitely a SummerJam Festival fan!" (Amiaz)

Above quote sums up nicely how this festival Sunday feels. No bad weather warnings, no rain, even a warming sun comes out when the gates open – perfect conditions for this last SummerJam-day to manifest! Almost as pleasant as the excitement in the beginning is the approaching calm on the last day of such a big event. Somehow, security, technicians, stage hands and organizers are more relaxed, as everything has worked out well so far, all newbies have found their place and everybody does a great job. Props to the team!

2:25pm, RED STAGE
First act on Stage Red is Khalia, a young Jamaican singer who has released her first EP Stay True last year. Right now, the band (in a classic set-up of drums, bass, guitar and keys) plays the Answer riddim on which the singer, beautifully dressed in shiny green pants and a gemstone-decorated top, delivers No Answer. Most people here probably know her for the next song, though, a sweet reggae version of Miley Cyrus' Flowers that was released by Silly Walks last year. My special moment comes when Khalia makes an excursion into Buju Banton during her song Love Is Real

2:47pm, GREEN STAGE

Taking a short trip to the other stage, we see German artist Miwata in full swing. Together with guitarist Felix, he present some of his ingenious songwriting, evident in Verändert ('changed') or Auf Dem Weg Richtung Sonne ('on the way to the sun'). This is one of the few artists who explicitly sing about ecological subjects in their work - check his 2019 release Eukalyptus, for instance! Another goosebump-moment is the heartfelt delivery of the love song Nie Mehr Wieder Weg ('never leaving again') to which he asks people who are here with their loved one, the one "that feels like forever", to raise their hands.

3:14pm, RED STAGE
"It's amazing, this is my first time at SummerJam and I feel like I've always been here!" a smiling Jah Lil tells us as he celebrates his stage debut. With drums (Joel Whynn), bass (Travis French), guitar (Raymar Rochester) and keys (Aldaine Goodall), his band is playing in a classic set-up, presenting his debut album Can A Man Cry. The answer is definitely yes – we all are humans and have deep feelings, no matter our gender – and now the artist almost moves us to tears by crying himself on stage after singing Monsters. "Right now in this world, there is so much war, so many people are dying, it breaks my heart. So I had to put pen to paper and write this song!"

In one of those rare moments of overarching clarity, I realize how much is going on parallelly here: a member of Jah Lil's crew is filming his performance with 2 smartphones at once, the stage hands make sure that the artist has enough towels and water at his disposal, a technician shows Jesse Royal's manager (or band leader) where the instruments will be positioned in their upcoming show – and that is just on stage! All around me, different party crews are having a good time, drivers are carrying artists and their entourage to and fro, stall owners and caterers prepare delicious food, and backstage they are getting ready to welcome the headliners of the night… cool runnings for real!

4:26pm, RED STAGE
Skip, skibedibdib… It's time for Roots & Culture with the one and only Jesse Royal! The artist has been here since day one, enjoying the festival and even getting to ride one of those cool little scooter cars the crew uses to transport items and people from one end of the island to the other. It's his time to shine now, and, accompanied by Robert Rose (guitar), Akil Karam (bass), Lukel Miller (keys) and Ricaedo Henriques (drums), he does just that with his Ganja anthem Finally or the well-known Lionorder. He delivers revolutionary teachings as well: "I may be on the stage now, but after this weekend, you'll be on the stage of life again. You must understand how important you are – there's no power that is as powerful as people power. Peace is possible, but you have to speak up, you have to wake up the government. No more war!"

5:17pm, GREEN STAGE

A whole different world awaits us over at Stage Green where the Grüngürtelrosen ('green belt roses'), a men's choir, are rocking the stage. Around fifty members, all in green shorts and white shirts, sing a crazy mix of hits and TV-soundtracks (the German Pokémon theme, for instance, switching to beatboxing and Baby I Like It Raw midway). A nice way to break genre chains, bring people together and have some fun!

6:02pm, RED STAGE
Ky-Mani Marley
sounds a bit hoarse, but this doesn't diminish the pleasure of following his performance, especially since his band does such a fine job: Frank Burt (bass), Alston Brown (drums), Brian Newton (guitar), Clayton Gresham and Kavan Witter (keys) as well as Samantha Mundle and Tabrika Francis on backing vocals rock! From Marley covers like Jammin', Iron Lion Zion and One Love to pieces from his new album Love & Energy, the highlight of Ky-Mani's set definitely is his hit New Heights, as the crowd joins in loudly as soon as these lines start: "Working all day, and this me a wait for…"

6:34pm, GREEN STAGE

Switch of vibe and location: Culcha Candela brings a musical-like stage show to the Green Stage, featuring a dynamic group of dancers in matching outfits (Neomi Vuyani, Bella Garcia, Lina Zmn and Barbora Pytlikova) and many other surprises. The band is celebrating their 20 years stage jubilee – to the day, as singer Johnny Day informs us, and in a spontaneous answer to this announcement, the crowd sings "Happy Birthday to you" loudly back to them. A delicious cake and several bottles of champagne await the group backstage, so we'll leave them to the partying and hunt down some food!

7:11pm, FOOD STALLS AT THE LAKE

Since there is an impossibly long row at Ivan's stall (they have suffered a power cut earlier today and now the main dish, rice and peas, is not quite ready), I walk down the neighboring stalls until reaching an Ethiopian food stand. A delicious vegetarian Injera dish and some lentil Sambusas nourish and recharge me sufficiently for the night ahead, so back to work!

8:01pm, RED STAGE
One of the songs that stands out during this festival is YG Marley's Praise Jah In The Moonlight. Not only is it on constant replay at many music hot spots all over the island (and in our CEO's car), but it also features in several stage shows, as in this one. For the first time ever, Skillibeng stands on SummerJam grounds, and he has a firm grip on the people who came to see him. Next to the few covers he does, he performs his own songs for the most part, accompanied by a fitting choreo as in Brik Pan Brik. Dancehall time!

8:22pm, GREEN STAGE

Another Marley son rocks this festival now: Julian "Juju" Marley and The Uprising band bring good vibes to the Green Stage, performing a fine cover of Bend Down Low. The dancing and partying is not limited to the audience, but also spreads to the back of the stage. Here, Ky-Mani Marley and his band observe attentively what the musicians are doing, while Jesse Royal dances with two little girls (aged 3 and 6, maybe) on the other side, where Jason Panton is also chilling. Among those "holding a vibe" during Juju's show is also Mr. Brozi senior himself, the founder of all this musical magic, who walks around in a fancy blue Hawaii-Shirt – thank you for making SummerJam a reality, sir!

9:30pm, RED STAGE

"On the low, on the low…" The music booming across the island leaves no doubt as to who is on stage right now: Burna Boy, straight outta Nigeria! He came with a phat line-up, a full band and two backing vocalists, three horns, four dancers, four or five percussionists, plus the visuals of the show, including sparks and smoke and lights… impressive! His crew's arrival on the island caused a turmoil earlier, as the whole backstage was suddenly a no-go area because nobody was allowed to pass his dressing rooms. The madness went as far as hanging up large sheets of blue plastic in the corridor so that nobody would even get the smallest glimpse of the artist off stage. Do you remember that E.T. movie, when they sealed Elliot Taylor's house after the alien got sick? That's how it looked like.

Outside, it is almost impossible to move through the tightly packed crowd, as there seem to be many many Burna Boy fans here, most of them directly in front of the stage, screaming and jumping and waving flags to songs like Enter Body, Kilometre, his version of Jerusalema and, once again, a YG Marley cover of Praise Jah In The Moonlight.  

10:22pm, GREEN STAGE
The perfect band to close a Reggae festival is this one: Steel Pulse! Celebrating 50 years on stage, the musicians around singer David Hinds are professionals and make this show a memorable one, delivering hits like Your House or Life Without Music. A big part of the fascination of this band, next to the impeccable sound engineered by legendary Errol Brown, comes from their wholesome interaction, both among each other and with the crowd.

Especially bassie Amlak is always good for a spontaneous surprise, such as this: he comes running from the stage, hands an unconnected bass to Meta, who was watching the concert from the back, and tells him to pretend playing while he himself continues the bassline, unseen by the crowd. So, Meta appears on stage, makes a round to big applause, then comes back and hands the bass to another guy, who does the same [WATCH IT HERE]. Finally, our team member Celine gets the bass, goes on stage and is joined by Amlak for the final notes. What a closing [WATCH IT HERE]

From the other side, the traditional fireworks that signal the end of this year's SummerJam have started, and the unmistakable voice of Andrew Murphy singing the Redemption Song calls us over to the Red Stage. He thanks all artists and crew members involved for this wonderful edition, and also remembers his "crazy idea" of last Thursday: "Did you all bring a spliff? We have to light up together, right now!"

11:44pm, PRESS AREA
Three days of musical bliss thus come to an end, and we have to begin packing up and saying goodbye until next year – always the hardest part! It was an intense weekend for sure, meeting old friends and making new ones, listening to artists we've known for ages and to those we've never heard before. Despite all the new styles out there, it's great to hear how many singers have included references to old foundation pieces in their works, be it in the riddims or in the lyrics. Pass the knowledge on!

25,000 people got lost in good vibes, and as far as we know, everything remained peaceful throughout these days of coming together. And thus, by getting lost we have found the resilience to face the challenges ahead: stronger, happier, and richer in experiences than before. As Jesse Royal said during his set, it is our responsibility to speak up and make governments do what they should - people power!

Thank you, Team SummerJam, for making this festival happen again! Respect goes out to each and everyone doing their part, from the stage hands to the security, from the cleaners to the bookers, from the drivers to the sound engineers, from the artists to the musicians. And to Team Reggaeville, of course! Such a joy working with you guys… see y'all next year!

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