Pan party!

Mas, Que Nada, is Brazilian Portuguese slang, literally meaning “but, that [is] nothing”, or “no way”, “whatever”, or “yeah, right!”.  It is also the name of a popular standard, originally written and sung by Jorge Ben, which in a later cover version became the signature song of Sérgio Mendes And Brasil 66, later being voted the fifth greatest Brazilian song.

You might be wondering where all this musical history is headed. It’s coming right back home here to Barbados. Brandon’s Beach, to be more precise, and the marquee event of the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) Pantastic Weekend.

Mas, Que Nada speaks of not wanting the music, samba music, to be more precise, to stop. And for the over 8,000 people on the beach on Sunday for Pan Pun De Sand, by estimates from the Royal Barbados Police Force, this was true.

From as early as 2:30 p.m., scores, then hundreds started to trickle in from all directions along the Spring Garden Highway, not only to be a part this somewhat permanent fixture on the Crop Over calendar, but to witness what was arguably one of the most historic World Cup football matches in the history of the game –– Germany’s nail-biting win over Argentina by one goal in the last few minutes of extra time.

This was the latest innovation, a giant daytime screen showing the match which, the organizer of the event, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), had put in place to circumvent any fallout from the event being held on the same day as the FIFA football finals. Bouquets and applause on NCF’s part as this paid off for the German fans especially who partied hard, as they savoured not only sweet victory but also scintillating pan from the Central Bank Band CampPlay As You Go and the SKF Steelband.

There were also the staples of pan in Barbados –– Olakunde and Mosiac; and out of Trinidad and Tobago, Massy Allstars who thrilled many –– including Group CEO of Massy, the sponsors of the event, Gervais Warner –– into the night, from the massive two stages set up to facilitate the seamless transition throughout the show.

Olakunde put down a simply “amazing” set, as one Trini said while enjoying her cheese and crackers and glass of Pink Moscato. It was as if they were trying to cheer up those Argentine fans left heartbroken after the match.


The set list ranged from Biggie Irie’s Pankatang to the same Mas, Que Nada, to which I alluded earlier. They kept everyone moving, and as for the bass pan player Troy Hoyte, his antics onstage kept the energy flowing.

Over on second stage a massive set-up of what looked like hundreds of pans, some on wheels, others on trolleys, had many wondering who might have been up next, as the emcee for the evening, Kirk Brown, introduced Mosiac.

“Who dem?” asked one woman.

“I doan know. And wha’ it is dem playin’ dem doing? Dem ain’t realize that de futbawl match dun,” one man in an Argentina jersey retorted with a long steupse –– much to the amusement of the others he was liming with.

The reference was being made to the opening of the orchestra’s performance. Outfitted in the football jerseys of the teams Argentina, Portugal and Italy, they set the mood for what some saw as friendly match between Barbados (Mosiac) and Trinidad, represented by Massy Allstars.

Massy Allstars
Massy Allstars

They played everything: from John Legend to Justin Timberlak. But what had the crowd really rocking was when the band was joined on stage by Red Plastic Bag for Rollercoaster, his 2014 offering. Both had everyone up on their feet, young and old going up on it, down on it and round on it, moving to soca, almost everyone on Brandon’s Beach singing in chorus.

Then came Mikey, who is celebrating ten years in the business, with Next To The Rope in a stellar performance. However, he was given a red card and sent off for excessive wining –– much to the amusement of the crowd.

Then it was back to the medley of music, staples of which for most groups was Gorg’s My RumBig People Party by Farmer Nappy and, of course, Pankatang by Biggie Irie.

Next came the Allstars and their eclectic mix of hits, from Earth Wind And Fire, Taurus Riley, and the soca hits in a set that was about half-hour long. They would combine with Mosiac for another 35 minute-set which had the sea, sand and stage rocking.

Imani had her time on stage with the combined pan orchestra, but it was not as well received as the other two appearances by RPB and Mikey.

One thing was clear, though, everyone wanted more. More theatrics, more antics, more pan, more music. One word on everyone’s lips as they left what has been unofficially dubbed the Crop Over Panyard –– Pantastic!


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