Festival Report... SummerJam 2022 - Saturday (July 2)
07/02/2022 by Gardy Stein
Feel The Beat! The motto of this year's Summerjam couldn't be more fitting after all this time of lockdown and isolation. Finally, we are outside again, gathering, celebrating and feeling the music we love! Our Reggaeville Festival Report will take you all across this weekend's highlights, sharing photos, videos and stories with you so you can join in, remember or re-live the experience.
FESTIVAL REPORT: OPENING PARTY | DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3
CHECK PHOTOS HERE | VIDEOS HERE | INTERVIEWS HERE
Saturday, July 2nd – Keep Cool
After more or less sleep, the Summerjam festival community gathers again. Before doors open at 1pm, a boat passes with at least eight African drummers, mingling their wake-up call with the soundcheck. As yesterday, we ask visitors what they are most looking forward to today:
"Gentleman! And the whole event." (Jenny & Marko)
"Spice and Stefflon Don! And Stonebwoy, and Stylo G… this is special occasion for us because it's the first time in 10 years that we come here without our children! " (Tabby and Christian)
"Marcus Gad and all the music… everyone!" (Moses, Leonie and Colin)
"I'm really looking forward to see Guacáyo. They'll start now, so I have to hurry!" (Janine)
At the Green Stage, the local band Conscious Culture just kicked off this Saturday with a mix of covers (When I Fall In Love, 54-46 That's My Number) and their own repertoire, presented full of self-confidence by the 3 female front singers Kira, Malijah & Nadia Eva. On the other side, the Hamburg-based quartet Guacáyo initiated the Red Stage program. They found a special style for their music, a style that can be described as soulful and breezy (in a good way). Their content is deep, though, and singer Sophie invites us to create room for our emotions, to go through the highs and lows of life in consciousness. Their song Thorn Spikes treats the important subject of depression, not often addressed in this genre. "Stay in motion," the singer advises us, "both physically and mentally!"
Turning our attention back to Stage Green, we see Marcus Gad from New Caledonia and his band The Tribe in full effect. Such a highlight, so early on! To those that don't know the artist, he introduces himself with Rebel Form Of Soul and Walk A Talk.
"We are very tired because we drove all night to get here… we need your energy!" Marcus says, and big cheers are the answer. He has to sing facing the sun which is really hot right now, and thus his next track Keep Cool easily turns motto song for the day. Before the subsequent Honoring The Soil, he announces that he wants to share out seeds for us to plant – a symbolic contribution to Mother Earth's fertility!
Tamal, dubwise! The French sound engineer intensifies the signals emitted by the band, skillfully weaving a sound cloud for us to dive into. Attention thus assured, Marcus explains about the next song, Kanake. "At the island where I come from, this word is not a racist insult, it means a human, a person. We are proud of being Kanake!"
Similarly instructive, Cane & Cotton incorporates teachings about slavery and resistance, while their last song Ready For Battle grants us a glimpse on an upcoming project. "Mother Earth a general!" Marcus Gad then passes on his farewell message, "Take care of yourself, take care of each other, and, most of all, take care of Mama Earth!" before he leaves stage to enduring applause. Moderator Ganjaman confides to us that "there is no artist that touches me to tears with his lyrics like Marcus does" and asks for another round of applause before announcing the next act, Nkulee Dube.
The switch from a meditative Green Stage experience and more worldly party vibes on Stage Red that will accompany the day start right here and now. Still floating on that sonic cloud of Dub, Und der Bass schiebt ('and the bass pushes') is the song I-Fire throws in the ring over there, directly followed by Policeman A Pass and Irie. The crowd has gathered already, obviously having rested well, as vibes are on and movement is high. Let's go, Summerjam!
Back to the Green Stage, Nkulee Dube delivers a fantastic show despite the scorching sun she and her band are exposed to. Her music breathes the memory of her father Lucky Dube, both in sound and in message: "Just show a little love, just love each other – that's it!" she says before jumping into a cover of her dad's Freedom Fighters. The band and the background singers/dancers are just wow, and this show obviously touches many fellow festival visitors. One of them tells me that, upon hearing of Lucky Dube's death in 2007, he cried very hard because he so felt the world's loss… as we see and hear, though, Dube's impact is still honored and perpetuated!
Passing through the Meet & Greet at Riddim Tent, we witness lively interactions with Marcus Gad and, a moment later, German singer Junior Carl. The neighboring Youth Rebels Sound Station is in operation but less frequented for the time being, so we turn our steps to the Red Stage next where a big artist from West Africa is up...
Stonebwoy's set starts with slight technical problems, but once these are fixed, his show is impressive and eagerly followed by the audience. "Let me take you to Ghana!", he says, and his dance crew underlines this suggestion with beautifully choreographed movements. Africa is well represented on this festival indeed, from artists to visitors to vendors and food stalls!
No, this is not a side project of Gentleman, but a band from the UK. Gentleman's Dub Club kick off their show on the Green Stage with the announcement "Take the hand of the person next to you and hold tight!", and indeed the amount of bass showered on us next requires a firm stand. The seven musicians (Nicholas Tyson on guitar, Toby Davies on bass, Luke Allwood on keys, Daniel John on drums, Alex Moody on percussion plus the brass section Matthew Roberts on trumpet and Sam Glaser on saxophone) set the stage on fire, and singer Jonathan Scratchley heats up the atmosphere further by his energetic presence. Down To Earth, Music Is The Girl I Love and Castle In The Sky are some of the tracks they chose to present here, and a crazy Dub section after the Ska-infused Emergency has the audience jumping despite the heat.
A lot of wining is going on at the Red Stage, where some hot girls spice up Stylo G's set. The singer was born in Spanish Town in Jamaica, but his family relocated to London after the tragic murder of his father, artist and producer Poison Chang. It's been there that Jason McDermott linked up with the right people to bring him to the level he's on now – just take songs like Call Me A Yardie or Dumpling! He makes the crowd go wild, Dancehall style, with scorchers like Closer To Me and Badd.
With Max Romeo on Stage Green, we enter a whole different universe again. While the first song is lost to mic problems (the backing vocals are heard louder than Max himself, and my suspicion is that some hall and echo effects are still on the line from Gentleman's Dub Club), the following set was intelligently assembled and steadily delivered by the charismatic patriarch and the band, consisting of Gregory Emonet (guitar), Rudolph Bennet (keys), Eric Gaultier (sax) as well as Sandra Oijagir and Linda Rey (backing vocals). From Roots to Ska to Nyabinghi the ride went, with Romeo's teachings on top, as in Love Of Money: "If life was a thing that money can buy, the rich would live and the poor would die.", accompanied by rhythmic clapping by the captivated crowd. In the second part of the set, he brings his children, Azizzi Romeo and Xana Romeo, on stage, both accomplished musicians on their own. "Blessed is the man who gives praise to Selassie!", the latter sings in Righteous Path, her unique voice washing over us. She gets a lot of forward after Rate Rasta and the greetings she send out: "I am Selassie I Pickney!" Max Romeo finishes the set with War Ina Babylon and Chase The Devil, and I wonder how many of the younger visitors know that he is the originator of the track, not Prodigy.
Cut! On the Red Stage, sexy female dancers make a headstand, accompanied and incited by Spice's voice. The Jamaican "Queen of Dancehall" is fabulously styled with blue hair and pink nails and a crazy leather-strip-outfit, and she holds the crowds' attention firmly throughout her set. Since Spice plays with a DJ and not a backing band, there is plenty of space left on stage, and the artist filles it with ten female dancers from the crowd. They go wild on the track Send It Up, and those who don't know much about Dancehall culture must be left a bit shocked. "Do you think I can make it through the crowd?", the singer then asks, and before security becomes too nervous, she climbs into the photo pit and onto the fence, hugging her fans and taking selfies. Another surprise is the re-appearance of Stylo G during her set for a short duet of Dumpling as well as Shaggy singing the viral Go Down Deh with her.
The interaction thus kept on a high level, Spice returns to the stage and takes to the next song. "My dancers asked me to write this song for them, so here we go!" For what happened next, you'll have to find a video cause it's almost impossible to describe. Spice's dancers present their best and most acrobatic moves, bringing a bucket of ice on stage when the chorus of Under Fire hits and… cool down themselves with the cubes on all body parts in heat. Madness!
Rice'n'Peas, plantains, festival and veggie stew… I'm enjoying another tatsy meal by Ivan's in a rare moment of quietude in the Press Area. The rest of Team Reggaeville is busy with the upload of photos and videos, and the collection of new material. Max, Azzizi and Xana Romeo, Julian Marley, Sean Paul and Nkulee Dube are among the artists interviewed by Munchy, and what they tell her might answer questions that have popped up during these artist's performances. Watch the interviews HERE!
The sounds of Julian "Juju" Marley and his band of seven (Richard Walters on guitar, Andrew Edwards on bass, Leonard Forbes on keys, Dave Richards on drums, Roobney Ligonde on percussion as well as Raquel Stephenson and Rose-Anna Marie Douglas on backing vocals) lure me to the Green Stage again. Starting with Family And Friends, he takes us on a ride from his own productions (such as Broken Sails) via sing-along covers like Tide Is High to his father's classics such as Bend Down Low, Jammin' or Exodus. Thank you for this living legacy, Bob Marley!
Another side of Jamaican culture hits at Stage Red again. Stefflon Don, a female rapper and singer born in the UK and raised in Rotterdam, sports neon pink boots and a matching supergirl bodysuit, arm-pieces, nails and hairstyle. She's one of the hottest Dancehall artists out there, as the way she performs the tracks (and the tracks themselves) prove. "My nipple tape is coming off, sorry guys!" she announces in one of the songs, holding her boops while jumping up and down. I don't think that the guys mind, though. A livication to all mothers, 16 Shots is loudly cheered by the crowd, and when Stefflon brings another lady from the audience on stage, the cheers get even louder. "Girl, I think I need you in my next video!", the singer says approvingly to the dancer who is of Congolese origin. That's sistahood right there!
How am I supposed to decide where to go next? Hearing about the Soca Carnival action with Soca Twins and Fabi Benz happening at Vibez Village adds yet another possible destination to the already densely packed schedule. So much going on here at Summerjam! From the Green Stage to the left, Inner Circle sing Here I Am Baby while, to the right, Sean Paul is getting ready to perform on the Red Stage. It is to there that my feet lead me, although by now the place is so packed that it's hard to pass through. Gimme The Light, Get Busy and Got To Love You are some of his hit tracks performed, and it makes me happy to see how people enjoy themselves to the music they love.
Back just in time to catch Free It Up and Bad Boys, it's a joy to see Inner Circle close their vibrant performance to thundering applause. Somebody tells us that they will play at the ZDF Fernsehgarten tomorrow – a whole different ambience for them to go to! The stage is then changed over for the headliner of the day, Ziggy Marley, and this is a great opportunity to walk around a bit, talk to friends, take in the atmosphere, get a snack or drink or just sit down for a moment.
To an intro of some of his most well-known melodies, the Evolution band (Florian "Stahl" Münzer on guitar, Fabian Zepezauer on bass, Frank Pollak on keys, Johanna Järemo on sax, Giuseppe Coppola on drums as well as Tamika, Nely Allarabaye Daja and Melane Nkounkolo on backing vocals) welcomes Gentleman on stage. Make a joyful noise! For many of the visitors we spoke to, he is the reason for their being here, and accordingly thick is the crowd. Connecting with those of them that stand up front, Gentleman crosses the photo pit to shake hands and wave at his fans. Supporting the cause of Viva Con Agua, a rubber boat crosses the audience on their raised hands until it reaches the stage. To the enthusiastic cheers of thousands of visitors, the singer enters the boat for a ride on the crowd, calling for donations and singing Dem Gone.
From recent tracks off his album Blaue Stunde (Garten or Devam, for instance) to older pieces like Jah Ina Yuh Life, Gentleman leads us to more surprising highlights: the tune To The Top is enriched by the presence of Christopher Martin, and Sean Paul jumps out for a quick combination and takes time to thank Gentleman for the time spent together. Asking people to bend down and give thanks, they do Leave Us Alone together, the crowd jumping along. For the final track Zimbabwe, Gentleman takes a bath in the crowd again before bringing his band of eight to the front for a final bow to elated applause.
Marley's ghost is also present at the Green Stage, where Ziggy Marley presents A Live Tribute To His Father. To the backdrop of a beautiful video installation, he sings big hits like Top Rankin', Burning & Looting as well as I Shot The Sheriff. At the end of the latter, a dubwise section showcases the great talent of the musicians, and the lightshow in this mild summer night adds that special magic that only open air festivals have. You can watch some short clips of Ziggy's performance HERE!
Cheers from both stages acoustically combine at our Reggaeville workstation, where thousands of bytes and pixels are uploading for you to see and listen to your favorite moments. While Hille Soundquake plays with the Riddim All-Stars at Vibez Village, Pow Pow Movement is the sound taking over the Dancehall tonight. In a rush of colors, sights and sounds, this second festival day thus draws to a close.