With all the talk of possible changes coming to the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions in 2015, Biggie Irie and Gorg, respectively, made this year’s event count for them, whisking away the crowns in both competitions at the recently refurbished Bushy Park Racing Circuit in St Philip.
Gates opened at 11 and, according to official estimates, more than 10 000 patrons where thrilled by 18 acts, nine in two shows in the National Cultural Foundation’s
In the first half, opening the batting was Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch Ian iWeb Webster with Doin’ Me. Decked out in fluorescent orange and green, his performance had many in the early stages believing that he would be in the top four. He laid a solid opening act for Mikey, who had drawn position number two.
Bushy Park was alive and rocking along with Next To De Rope, as Mikey went through his paces. There were splashes of colour, not only from the confetti and the costumes, but from the dancers. Mikey definitely had the crowd with him, as they held onto the rope that was stretched far and throughout.
Things started to cool down after the energy that had been brought to the stage earlier dwindled somewhat. Brett and Khiomal’s performance of Right Now seemed a bit lost on the audience. There were instances when their performance seemed not at all connecting with this massive audience of soca lovers. If it wasn’t that, it might have been that Bret and Khiomal were lost among their dancers decked out in their white PJs.
However, Mistah Dale would seek try to redeem things.
His Stressless started the groove again, as his dancers declared such and discarded the black outfits they had donned to come onstage.
Blood’s presentation wasn’t bad as he took his dancers through their course at the end, graduating each as a Certified Feter. The performance earned his class no valedictorian status though. He only amassed 382 points for a fourth place finish.
The top pupil position would go to the next performer. Biggie Irie was wheeled on to the stage on a gurney and screened off as his “medical emergency condition” was treated.
After examination, the doctor pronounced Biggie would need an injection to the liver. And with that the artiste was on his way with Pankatang. Decked in a white double-breasted suit and matching white top hat, Biggie, along with his dancers, had come with a mission: to drive away with the close to $80,000 Ford EcoSport and about $9,000 more in prizes. For this competition, he was the only one who received such a tumultuous response.
It proved a hard act for Lorenzo, with Yuh Mad Or What?, to follow.
The veteran Red Plastic Bag came out fighting, all dressed in his signature red. He had a different approach in his presentation, his dancers simulating his Roller Coaster. Under the showering of vast amounts of confetti, RPB would be joined later onstage afterwards by males carrying a Chinese dragon imitating the up and down movements of a roller coaster ride. This effort placed Bag in second position with 432 points.
Sanctuary took the stage by storm with a white banner with the words Mega Monday, accompanied by colourfully outfitted dancers with equally colorful flags, that matched his very multi-hued hair. Oh yes, and there were the confetti and pyrotechnics.
In the crowd there was a host of flags from countries like Grenada, Barbados, the USVI, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia. They denoted the countries that had their various carnivals, climaxing on, you guessed it, Monday. Many had considered Sanctuary the dark horse in the race, but after his high-energy performance, he was left a favourite to be in the top three. And he didn’t disappoint, scoring 393 points for third position.
In the second half, Gorg in the Party Monarch was the only performer who did not use pyrotechnics, fireworks or special lighting effects. He rode his bicycle onto stage for Meh Rum, and it was this simple presentation that gave him 383 points, putting him in winner’s circle. He beat out last year’s monarchs Soka Kartel and their Turn Around by just two points.
Soka Kartel singers Mikey and Blood were singly also in the top spots respectively with No Shame garnering 373 points and placing third, and Road earning 356 points and coming fourth.
The lone female in that competition, Chrystal Cummins-Beckles, came fifth with 349 points for PanTuk.
It appeared, though, in this segment that fireworks were going at four for the price of one as in some presentation, rather than the artiste performing, it was more about who could set off the most pyrotechnics and confetti, and the like.
In one instance, after one finalist had finished singing his song, his fireworks display was still going for about a minute after he had left the stage.
One wonders, with Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley saying that a decision will have to be taken to the effect of possibly moving both the Sweet Soca and the Party Monarch competitions to the night time, if in future shows we will be treated to laser lights cum fireworks –– with even less emphasis on song rendition.