Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Post Carnival Recap - Part 1

I suppose I am a little late with this recap but cut a brother some slack, I'd been partying non-stop 4 days straight.

WOW what an experience. Atlanta Carnival 2013 met and greatly exceeded my expectations from Cooler Fete through breakfast fete on Memorial Day, I definitely had a blast. It wasn't all fun and games of course, I did have a few gripes and quibbles here and there but nothing major.

I started partying from the Thursday night, having taken Thursday and Friday off work. My first fete was Anti-Stush with Bunji Garlin. For all intents and purposes, it was a great, damn good fete and Bunji had that crowd going from start to finish. You know what wasn't so great? The flipping sound system. How hard is it to do a sound check BEFORE an event? Maybe we'd learn a few things like "the microphone volume is low" or  "why is the music way louder than the mic?"........I'm just saying, maybe we'll be able to actually hear the artiste sing next time. It was even worse at the Blaxx fete but more on that later.

Also, Atlanta does not have a sizeable enough, active Caribbean community to adequately support multiple fetes with multiple artistes on the same night. So Anti-stush had a decent turnout but the place certainly wasn't packed, you know why? Because somebody decided Destra needed her own fete the very same night. Yes there's a lot of politics in party promoting especially here in Atlanta but for the love of Christ it would be nice if soca lovers only had one fete to go to see their favourite acts on any given night.

The same thing happened the very next night and soca lovers were forced to choose between either Kes/Shal/TC/Ravi B  in one fete or Iwer, Cassie and Lyrikal in another. Imagine how bess Friday night would have been if we'd had a Iwer, Kes, Cassie, Shal, TC, Ravi B and Lyrikal fete.......oh well.

Kes was good, don't get me wrong, but in this day and age, why is it still impossible for big artistes like Kes and Bunji to fill venues in Atlanta? The people who brought Machel seemed to have figured it out because gawd damn that place was packed. One show, multiple major artistes, no other competing RAM.

Saturday May 25th of course was the day of the parade itself. Masqueraders and spectators alike enjoyed themselves tremendously and with the exception of one overzealous police officer "catching a whif" of some weed, the event mostly went off without a hitch. My son and I hooked up with a riddim section coming across MLK and we had a ball. As anticipated, parking was a bitch and the traffic snarl around the parade route was biblical. I hope people took the train, I sure did.

Truth be told, I had a few misgivings about the new venue which I've chosen to discuss here:

Saturday night after the parade (and after more than a couple Red Bulls) I managed to make it to the second Kooler Fete featuring Blaxx. I talked about the problems with the sound system at the Bunji fete earlier. It was worse at the Blaxx show; it's almost like they learned nothing from Thursday night. Further compounding the problem, this was an indoor/outdoor party, and if you'd suffered the misfortune of setting up your cooler in the outdoor area, you had to deal with the outdoor speakers tripping on and off at random. After a while, the outdoor speakers went off entirely and never bothered to come back on so either way, it was a shitty situation all round.

To make matters worse,  the deejay didn't seem to have any of Blaxx's music. So when the big man himself came on stage to perform, the deejay seemed to have two or three of the man's songs on hand. Blaxx was calling for chunes, and the dummy would drop a Machel or a Bunji or some other fuckery. Eventually Blaxx  had to ignore the deejay entirely and started singing acapella.....bad, bad, bad, bad. I was shaking my head through the entire performance.

In case you're wondering, the Bunji and the Blaxx fetes were both held at Karibbean Konnection. The folks that run the place clearly need to do better with setting up the sound system correctly and hiring proper deejays. Needless to say, I came away from this particular fete with a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

I'm going to cut this short here or this post would end up being too tedious to read, I'll come back with a recap part 2 in a day or two.

Until then, hol it down, doh rape it.......... :)


Carnival Village Shenanigans

I had some mixed feelings about the new venue for the Atlanta Carnival Village. For years, the Village had been located on Fort Street between Edgewood Avenue and Auburn Avenue, in the area alongside and beneath the Interstate I-75/85. Fort Street itself was perfect as it allowed for multiple points of entry and provided a long, wide route for bands to organize themselves and a wonderful viewing point for spectators to experience the mas in all it's glory.

Well at least we're not looking at the underside of I-75/85 anymore
 For one reason or another, after 5 or more years of success at this one location, the powers that be decided to move us to Herndon Stadium at Morris Brown College. I've attempted to articulate my misgivings in a few bullet points:
  1. Carnival village ticket/entry clusterfuck                                                                     You'd think that after running the 3rd largest Carnival in the US for 25 years, they'd have figured out some things by now. Yet after all this time patrons still found themselves having to stand 30-45 minutes in line just to purchase tickets. Then after that harrowing experience, folks still ended up in yet another 30 minute line just to get in the damn place.

    I'd like to offer my opinion on a simple, somewhat elegant solution. For those who haven't bought tickets online, let people pay at the gate, forget the ticket thing entirely. Once you pay you get your armband and you go in, no more having to wait 30 minutes in line then realize, oh shit, you're in the wrong line, etc etc.....simple is always better.

  2. Where are we.....Chernobyl?                                                                                          I'd like to know the reason for switching the venue to Herndon Stadium........derelict, abandoned, total state of disrepair Herndon Stadium mind you. The Carnival did quite fine for the last 5 years down on Auburn Avenue. I suppose the City wanted to hide away all the gyrating waistlines, wanton alcohol consumption and unbridled debauchery us Caribbean folk are known for.

    But did they have to put us on an abandoned college campus? They didn't even try to clean the place, overgrown bush everywhere, grit and grime and broken glass. And it seems like vandals had a good time destroying the commentators box, smashing all the glass windows. Did anybody bother to clean the glass that rained down on the seats below? Nope.

  3. Brainless layout                                                                                                                I'll give the organizers the benefit of the doubt, that this is their first year using Herndon Stadium so a couple lapses in judgement are forgivable. To be honest I'm not even sure why a fire marshal didn't shut the place down because had there been an emergency or something, we'd all be dead, nobody was getting in or out of that place alive. It's a college football stadium right? It'd be reasonable to assume that there would be multiple staircases coming leading down from the stands onto the football field right? How many of those access points do you think were open for patrons to pass? NONE.....not a single one.

    Upon entering the stadium, one had to walk all the way down to the other end of the stands and access the grounds through a back staircase. All the other access points were blocked by food tents and food trucks. Even when you got down to the grounds, folks still had to squeeze through a small space between a food truck to get on the damn field. Oh and it gets better; there is normally a separate section away from the main stage where deejays play dancehall music to cater to the yard crowd. It's a fairly popular part of the Carnival Village every year so as you could imagine it was pretty packed.

    Guess where they decided to locate the dancehall area. Exactly, right at the top of the main only staircase access to the field......brilliant.

    Not pictured, picking the glass out my ass

  4. Performances                                                                                                                    I am all for giving everyone their fair share of time in the limelight. But does it not seem logical that we limit performances at a Caribbean Festival to those that are Caribbean in nature? I'm not sure I understood the need for more than a few rap performances. I don't have a problem with rap, I love rap actually. What I don't like is having rap acts taking up precious time, only to rush through the soca segments later. At a point I swear artistes barely had time to say "Hello Atlanta" before organizers were rushing them off the stage. 
Honestly, it might seem like with all my griping that I didn't have a good time, quite the contrary actually. Logistical issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Carnival Village. I didn't have any issues getting in as I'd purchased my tickets online, and though some of the performances were lacking, the big names in soca came through in the end and really saved the day. Burning Flames, Iwer George, Pumpa, Rudy, Lavaman and Edwin Yearwood, completely destroyed the place, but came on much too late in the evening, by then a good portion of the patrons had already left.

Thank you Iwer for making it all worth it.
I certainly hope that the organizers will learn from the various mistakes made this year so that they can provide us with a top notch festival experience come 2014.

But until then.......blessings.