Bitter taste

Just like many other Barbadians, I made my way to the grounds of LIME at Wildey to take in the Sweet Soca competition last Friday. I must say the crowd was a wonderful sight. Long lines way past the start trying to get in and cars parking on every single available spot they could squeeze in.

Putting all that aside I was in and ready to soak in the action. The smell of the spare ribs on the grill made me forget I had eaten prior to getting there. The ribs looked like they had fingers calling me and saying take a little taste young fellow. I am still seeing it all now and can almost taste it too with the sauce running off them between my fingers as I smack them individually using my tongue as a napkin. Anyhow, let me concentrate on what I really want to write on.

The sound for a start was not near what I expected. It was poor as ever. I tried to stay to the side of the field to avoid the massive crowd in the centre but that was not the best place to see or hear. For me the stage should have been on the playing field more so than on the paved area. It would have allowed for more comfort and easier viewing.

Outside of the poor sound, I must say having the acts perform to tracks did not make it any better. None of the tracks was altered from the original recording to add to the performances or the flexibility of the performer as far as really giving a great performance. Some tracks had the lead-vocals coming back at you when the act was seemingly out of breath and trying to hype the crowd, and even though that is good for live performances, it is not or should not be for competition.

I just don’t know what progress was viewed from that but I believe you might as well sit the judges down again with the CDs and ask them to pick their finalist. Some acts were totally out of it from the start. Outside of “Lil Hyper Chihuahua Board-face Rickey Minaj, Hit Rick, Mr. Crop-Over Reid”, Blood and Mikey, it seemed lost for the others. I don’t think it is because they can’t move a crowd or the songs don’t merit it, but it is a lot to do with the track and poor sound. Some cannot deal with the issues like the others and are therefore disadvantaged.

If I had anything to do with it I would be charging a minimal fee at the door and employing a band to back the acts. It is great doing some freeness at times but if you want a proper show then do what is required. I have no idea what the performance fees looked like but I don’t think it was enough to go back to a producer to enhance already finished backing tracks. Call me old fashion, but I am for live music by live musicians any day to tracks. The Cavalcades had live bands and just like the show on Friday night, it too was free.

I must also add that with the little extension to the festival this season that I really expected things to be really blazing this time around on a whole. Despite having hundreds of songs to party to and blast daily, the atmosphere for our festival is at a low in my opinion. I am not seeing anything making me realise that this is a carnival or Kadooment season.

The talk about licences and noise and all those hindrances that could be thought up is adding to the issue too. What are we trying to do to our festival? To me, complaining about loud music during a festive season is like coming to the Caribbean and saying I don’t like warm weather. It is just for a few weeks, so if one does not want to be a part of it then other arrangements need to be sought by them.

I don’t see too many events being hosted in close proximity to homes, but we need to understand this is a festive season and I would like to think it is given the nod by the Government. It reminds me of how some churches will mount a platform and shout and scream through the mike or bull horn in the neighbourhood and no one dares to complain, because it is church affiliated. Let anyone past through playing their car radio loudly. The police are called in a flash.

I would love to see more done in creating some visuals for tourists and locals to see that something spectacular is about to happen here. I am not seeing it at all in my travels about the island. I dare you to ask any tourist if they know what is going on this summer time here and get an answer as far as knowing.

They haven’t a clue as to what is going on. As far as they can see, they are in the Caribbean and the music is a norm this side of the world and drinks of the alcohol kind is also an expected consumption.

Again as far as the Sweet Soca went, I could see why the judges looked so bored at times. And speaking of judges, I am wondering why there was no objection to an on air disc jock being part of the panel. I would like to think that the tracks they play during their shift will be the ones they see fit to make a final.

What are the requirements to judge these national competitions though? Do you have to be a close friend of or affiliated with certain individuals? I have seen certain buddies of performers on judging panels as they perform. Shouldn’t one for the sake of transparency opt out of judging when their buddies are being judged?

I think that would be the best and wise thing to do so as to avoid talk and controversy. I know it may be hard not to know each other in such a small island but we are not all buddies. The foundation needs to look at these sorts of things and be a bit more careful in picking their pickers for the competitions.

Some of you out there wish to speak of such but seem timid, but I ain’t scared so I will do it for you. Anything that starts wrong would more than likely end wrong, but I hope to see a difference this time around with the Sweet Soca finals.

Congrats to the finalists who are all capable of winning this competition but after the boring show the other night I hope they can add the sweetness back to the currently bitter taste created from the start. I know we can do a whole lot better if only we take the time to think about what we are doing before we do it.

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