07/01 - 07/03 2022
Festival Report... SummerJam 2022 - Friday (July 1)
07/01/2022 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.
Friday, July 1st - Songs of Fire
Compared to yesterday, today's weather is a blessing, at least initially. Clouds that slowly give way to blue sky welcome the festival visitors, who enter the island from 2pm. Asking some of the new arrivals what they are looking forward to most at Summerjam, the following answers were given:
"To spend three fun days with my family!" (Dirk)
"We are Yasmin and Nicole and we are looking forward to dance with our friends!"
"The music and the people!" (Katta, Johann, Kathi and Tobias)
Ok, let's go!
"So good to be back on stage!" Memoria start the Red Stage program with an hour of passionate music, resonating with a crowd that was deprived of this stuff far too long as well. 'Die Leute haben Bock!', as they say in Germany. With new hairstyles and new music, the band introduces We Are One and What Goes Around from their EP by the same name. Special surprise, Jamaican newcomer Zhayna joins them on Outside before she proceeds to the Vibez Village where she has a solo showcase. With some Latin flavor in Lucha Conmigo and the Ganja tune Legalize, Memoria bid their farewells. "Welcome to Cologne!"
Horst Wegener, the artist on the Green Stage, closes his set with an exercise for the audience. "Jump! Jump!" echoes through that side of the island, and his instructions are followed by a sizeable crowd before moderator Ganjaman announces the next act, Rote Mütze Raphi. This powerful singer is not strictly speaking Reggae, but she underlines todays' focus on HipHop and Trap on this stage (later continued with Majan and Megaloh), representing a confident new generation of German artists.
It's a new generation of festival visitors as well. A lot of them have made a special effort with outfit and styling, and from a walking sunflower to glittering or colorful faces to a golden halo around the head and fantastic hairdo, there is a visual surprise every few meters.
Whatta Bam Bam! There are people in this biz who have found and completely embraced their style, and Hollie Cook is definitely one of them. She takes the Red Stage in a beautiful pink/yellow (silk?) dress and sings pieces like Bam Bam, Angel Fire, Milk & Honey and Happy Hour (the title track of her new album), accompanied by her band Sam Huelin (guitar), Jake Smith (bass), Sam Ross (keyboards) and Alex Dawson (drums). It's not only her sweet voice that makes us melt, though, because, apart from a small strip of shadow right in front of the stage, the place is flooded in sunlight, and the temperatures quickly rise to a felt 30 degree. In less than 24 hours, we've thus been through thunder and lighting, winds and rain and scorching heat… Festival training!
Green Stage, Miwata. After the first few minutes on stage, he tells us that his bassie had an accident and won't be able to perform with him (he's ok though, which is a blessing to know). Miwata's songs reach the audience nevertheless, and a personal favorite, Nie Mehr Wieder Weg, makes me mingle with the dancing and waving crowd. His last piece, Reggae Music, has a whole chorus of sunshine people sing along to.
Time is right for a stroll around the festival grounds. Shadowy places are greatly sought after, but most people seem to enjoy the sunshine. A wide variety of food stalls feeds the wide variety of visitors, and who feels like adding colorful clothes, sunglasses or jewelry to his or her outfit has a multitude of options to choose from as well. In a very clever promo act, the Ruhr Reggae Summer Festival has several outlets of fine Rum Punch all over the place, and with each drink they sell, another potential guest is won. While some people have a mission and head straight to whatever performance they wish to see, others just go with the flow, stopping here and there to talk with friends, or settling down on the grass for a little nap. With a sting of regret, I realize that I'm going to miss the performance of Elroi and Zhayna at Vibez Village, but alas, there is so much going on at the same time…
Lila Iké on Stage Red! In a fiery red, tight leather two-piece by Seora Clothing, she makes the stage her own. She is backed up by a full band comprised of musicians from Protoje's InDiggNation band (Lamont "Monty" Savory on guitar, Danny on bass and Peter "Kongz" Samaru on drums) as well as Donte on keys, Stephen "Genius" Welsh on guitar and Ovasha Oshka Bartley and Tiffany Lamour Gordon on backing vocals, which know her songs perfectly well. Lila interacts a lot with the audience, asking if the know her knew single Wanted before she delivers it in her unique, at the same time fragile and powerful voice. The well-known bassline of the Promised Land riddim flows into her beautiful piece Second Chance, and the crowd gladly follows her invitation to wave and swing with her in the following Where I'm Coming From.
It's remarkable how the Summerjam organizers made sure that there is a representative proportion of female artists on the line-up (they reach almost 30% of the total acts, which is among the best ratios that Reggae festivals have in international comparison), and the ladies of the day shine indeed!
To the seaside: the calm waters of the Fühlinger See invite for a moment of groundation. A drumming circle provides the soundtrack to this breathe-off, and the big meadow slopes of the hill are populated by families with children and sportive visitors playing table-tennis. The Riddim Tent, which is located in this relaxed area, is filled to the brim with Memoria band members. Eva, Alma, Greta, Rafael, Emil, René, Inti and Chaski pose for pictures with their fans and chat with them – the Riddim Meet & Greet Sessions are really a great opportunity for folks to get in touch with their favorite artists, so make sure you check out their timetable!
Dinner time! I've been looking forward to cross the island to reach Ivan's Jamaican Cooking for this occasion, and his delicious Ackee and Saltfish, served with Rice'n'Peas and a home-made hot sauce, are definitely worth the wait in line (all the more since this wait is sweetened up by Milky Chance on Stage Red). Ivan's finger-licking menu will definitely have me return tomorrow.
Boasty, boasty! The Youth Rebels Cologne and Sino Royal run the sound station today, playing a little Afrobeats set right now that has almost everyone present dancing. At the Riddim Tent, a considerable crowd is drawn by the double presence of Lila Iké and her mentor, Protoje, who calmly films all the excitement with a hand-held Super 8 camera. Looking forward to that footage!
Taking a moment to recharge at the Reggaeville working station, I want to take the chance to express my deep gratitude to Team Summerjam for the wonderful preparation and decoration of the place - we really feel at home here! Next to our table, Brushy One String is getting ready for an interview, bringing out his guitar and strumming on it a bit. He will open the Red Stage on Sunday, and hopefully we'll all get to hear his viral hit Chicken In The Corn then!
Where to turn to next? From the left, frenetic cheering announces that rapper Juju has entered the stage (an artist that regularly sells out shows with her project SXTN), but I follow the luring voice of Patrice reaching my ears from the right. He has a vibrant stage show going on, despite the fact that there are only four musicians on stage: Kwame Yeboah (guitar), Philip Sewell (bass), Kirk McDowell (keys) and Brian Sauls (drums). Together they present some brand new Jugglerz productions to which everyone jumps up to, but also some older, calmer pieces like Everyday Good and Shine On My Way.
Not calm at all is the atmosphere at the seaside stage. Soundbwoy Sino Royal presents surprise artist Lidiop, and WOOOOi is this man fire! From vocally excellent singing to a low-key Raggamuffin delivery, he shows his impromptu versatility on four or five randomly selected riddims, and the little crowd that has gathered to watch goes crazy. Where did this singer come from and why is he not on a big stage yet? When talking to him later he reveals that he has an album coming up this autumn, so make sure you check him out!
SEEED is up now, and the place around the Red Stage is packed to maximum capacity (in fact, I can't remember having seen the Summerjam area so full, ever). What follows during the next hour is a firework of music and show, with whole truckloads of extra equipment brought in just for this concert. Starting with newer hits like Ticket and Lass Sie Gehn, frontmen Dellé and Peter Fox heat up the ready crowd with Augenbling, Geld ('money') and – accompanied by an instant pull-up – Waterpumpee. "We have been waiting so long to do this!" they say, and everyone present obviously feels the same. Nosliw, who is a background singer in the formation, gets his solo spot in a tender love song, and also Rote Mütze Raphi has a short guest appearance.
Ting called stage hopping: because the headliners are on parallelly (a fact that has been criticized a lot ever since the timetables have been published), I take a quick excursion to the Green Stage where Konshens rocks the audience with Gal A Bumaye. Contrary to his name, the Jamaican artist focuses not on consciousness, but on gyalis tunes for this set, and a lady called DHQ Headtop Aneika spices up the show additionally with a glaring outfit and an acrobatic dance show.
At one point, she even ties fireworks to her shoes, impressing those who are able to see her with headstands and sparkles. She then invites four girls on stage who dance a short set with her, and to the sounds of Stop Sign, the crowd goes wild. Touching on his Tarrus Riley combinations Good Girl Gone Bad and Simple Things, Konshens then tells us that Tarrus would have loved to be in Europe this summer but couldn't make it, and passes on his greetings
Ding, Dickes B, Aufstehn… the final songs of SEEED mark the end of an exciting, beautiful first festival day (dampened for some festival visitors by a long wait of up to 2 hours at the ticket booth), and since the weather promises to hold, we are looking forward to another one tomorrow.
For those who are still in the mood of partying, Jugglerz now start their set at the Dancehall area (which is in fact the open space on the parking lot between Red Stage and vendors), and a sizeable crowd gathers to dance the night away.