SoundFEST heads to Kingston
Cham and Bounty Killer in performance at last year's staging of SoundFEST (Photo: Oneil Grant Photography )

THE annual SoundFEST event, which was previously held in St Ann, will head to Kingston at Sabina Park on Saturday, February 25.

The event will feature eight sounds in what the organisers are promising, epic performances, vibes, and high energy.

"SoundFEST celebrates and highlights authentic sound system culture. Beyond the signature sound boxes, it is the foundation of all genres of Jamaican music. It is a cultural haven to nurture our dancehall experience — from fashion to food to lyrics. Every country has their version of Jamaican events — SoundFEST is to set the bar as the mecca, the creator, the influencers of 'our ting' and welcoming everyone from everywhere to immerse in a true Jamaican entertainment product," Yaniq Walford, Bass Odyssey and co-organiser of SoundFEST, told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

Walford shared the history of SoundFEST and how it started.

"[The year] 2012 was the first staging, back then it was known as Bass Odyssey Anniversary Dance. The venue then could not hold anyone else after 10 pm and we moved into Grizzly's Plantation Cove in 2014 as Bass Odyssey SoundFEST. We experimented with the name 'Jamaica Sound System Festival' from 2016 - 2018. The event was rebranded during the pandemic to SoundFEST and we launched it as a two-day festival in August 2022 where we featured a sound clash of sound system machines," said Walford.

"We have always had Kingston in the timeline and would have started in 2020. Kingston is the birthplace of the 'sound system' and our music culture. It is owed to the history of our music to have Kingston as the landmark staging," she continued.

Eight sounds will be featured at SoundFEST. They are Bass Odyssey from St Ann, Warrior International from Europe, which won the Reggae Sumfest Clash title in 2019; Dynamq (winner of the 2022 Jamrock Cruise Sound Clash and winner of the Rebel Salute sound clash), Killamanjaro, West Kingston's Swatch International, Yardbeat from Japan, Ruff Cut from St Elizabeth, and in-demand selector DJ Banka.

"SoundFEST is not a competition but rather an opportunity to see the best of the best at the top of the game now on a big stage together. Everyone is focused on delivering an epic performance which means excitement and vibes for patrons. It is a night for everyone to bring their best performance showing why they are trending as the biggest and baddest in the world," said Walford.

GKG Entertainment is a co-organiser of the event which is promoted under the theme #ThisIsDancehall.

"SoundFEST is also known for impromptu surprise appearances from the biggest names in reggae and dancehall — they are usually there as patrons but decide to thrill the crowd just for fun and tribute the sound system culture. Expect anyone," said Walford.

The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Sports & Entertainment is a sponsor of the event and will be part of the UNESCO Creative City of Music project for Kingston. The event will also be among the events for Reggae Month in February.

Another view of the stage at last year's iteration of SoundFEST (Photo: Oneil Grant Photography )
A patron shows her support for the selections being played at SoundFest. (Photo: Oneil Grant Photography )
This patron uses pot covers to show her appreciation. (Oneil Grant Photography )
The crowd shows their appreciation. (Photo: Oneil Grant Photography )
The sound of vuvuzelas ring out through the night air. (Photo: Oneil Grant Photography )
Kevin Jackson

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