‘Wi Fete-ing’: Machel Montano leads charge for Caribbean unity at Wi Fete
Machel Montana during his set at the first staging of Wi Fete at Sabina Park in Kingston.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – There is no denying that many Jamaicans love soca. And Machel Montano is making sure that never changes.

And he did just that when he led the charge for unity among Caribbean nationals through their undiluted love for soca at the first staging of Wi Fete at Sabina Park in Kingston on Saturday.

“We have to represent for unity. We love reggae and love dancehall,” Montano said to the hundreds of patrons at the historic cricket ground after introducing dancehall artiste Agent Sasco to the stage.

“There’s an energy, and Jamaica has the energy right now. I love soca. We love soca…We gonna show the world that they should be here in Jamaica.”

Dubbed the ‘King of Soca’, Montano, who at Wi Fete performed in Jamaica for the first time in eight years, gave classics from the very start to the end. He had Sabina Park in a frenzy, and those who were not die-hard fans of the soca giant before, left the venue with his majesty imprinted on their hearts.

From his arsenal of hits, he performed tracks such as ‘Waiting on the Stage’, ‘Soca Kingdom’, ‘Light Yourself’, ‘Mr Fete’, ‘Go Dung’, ‘Haunted’, ‘Like Ah Boss’, ‘Bend Over’, ‘Vibes Cyah Done’ and many more, leaving patrons in awe.

In addition to that, Beres Hammond’s ‘Tempted to Touch’, ‘Trying to Get to You’ by Richie Stephens, Tony Rebel’s ‘Fresh Vegetable’, ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ by Damian Marley and ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley were some of the reggae songs that he used to take patrons down memory lane.

But his promotion of unity did not stop there, as Voice, who performed during Montana’s set, came out holding a Jamaican and Trinidadian flag in solidarity of the two nations coming together through soca music.

Voice, whose given name is Aaron St Louis, left it all on the stage with his hits such as ‘Fire Go Bun Dem’ (Year for Love), ‘Dear Promoter’ and ‘Cheers to Life’ among others.

Meanwhile, Bunji Garlin proved why he is nicknamed the Viking as he had revellers raving for not just his tracks, but his ability to freestyle, which kept onlookers screaming for him to not exit the stage.

Garlin, whose birth name is Ian Antonio Alvarez, told a story of his first time performing in Jamaica and being booed off the stage. But he was left to marvel at the love he received on Saturday.

For this very reason, Garlin said his love for Jamaica and its people is neverending.

“When we are back home (Trinidad and Tobago), for every one soca song playing on the radio, plenty more dancehall music is playing. We love Jamaica. I cannot understand how people would say Jamaicans and Trinis don’t like each other.”

‘Hard Fete’, ‘Famalay’, ‘Big Bad Soca’, ‘Carnival Tabanca’, ‘Differentology’ (Ready for the Road), ‘Umbrella’, ‘Truck On D Road’ and ‘ATSA’ were some of his songs he performed.

It was no different when the ‘Princess of Soca’, Nailah Blackman, Skinny Fabulous and Iwer George graced the stage at Sabina Park.

Nailah used her unique melody to captivate her listeners as she poured out tracks like ‘Baila Mami’, ‘Badishh’, ‘Come Home’ and ‘Work Out’ to name a few.

Skinny Fabulous’ ‘Up and Up’, ‘Behaving the Worst’, ‘Hurricane’, ‘Come Home’ and ‘Famalay’ among other hits had the stadium jamming and waving their flags all night, while Iwer George gave fans a blast from the past as he allowed those who have been listening to soca for over 10 years to sing along to some of the genre’s classics.

The lone let down of the night was dancehall artiste Valiant, who did not seem to be able to reel in the crowd with his performance.

Valiant, who rose to fame quickly last year and is known to have released hits after hits, missed the mark as only a few patrons were delighted by his performance.

Songs such as Glock 40, Speed Off, Narcissistic, Dunce Cheque and North Carolina were the few that had the minority rocking.

Athena Clarke , OBSERVER Online reporter

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