By Nigel Telesford
A FEUD seems to be brewing between the two promoters responsible for the ‘Big Bad Soca’ event at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy car park, Tarouba, on Wednesday night, as many disappointed patrons sought answers for obvious disorganisation, confusion backstage and the non-appearance of several billed acts.
Over 4,000 patrons were in attendance, but Road March contenders Patrice Roberts and Iwer (Neil George), along with fete-smasher Shal (Stevenson Marshall), reigning Soca Monarch Voice (Aaron St Louis), US-based singer Lyrikal (Devon Martin) and comedian/host Majah Hype (Collin McPherson) all failed to appear onstage after weeks of promoting the event.
Roberts, Martin and McPherson were all present backstage, but reportedly left the venue before performing after an unpleasant altercation with two employees of Jay Upscale Promotions.
Roberts’ publicist, Adanna Asson, said the singer was ‘upset at the time but was moving forward with the rest of her season’, and did not wish to comment on what happened directly.
Intermittent rains also dampened the spirits of some in attendance while others heeded the call of Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez), Fay-Ann Lyons and the Viking band to ‘party in the rain’ because ‘yuh done wet already!’. Excited by the opportunity to see US rapper Cardi B (Belcalis Almanzar) and others onstage, some patrons sheltered in between the showers and had a time jumping and dancing to the extensive catalogue of Garlin, Fay-Ann and the Viking band.
Local and international media personnel were left stranded outside the venue for hours as security personnel failed to allocate the list of accredited media at one point. Eventually, the list was found and the media gained entry.
According to New York-based promoter Jay Upscale: ‘Both the management of the venue and the booking and accommodations for the local acts were to be taken care of by 66 Entertainment.’
Apology to artistes
Upscale insisted they were ‘only responsible for delivering Cardi B and the last-minute addition of Machel Montano’.
He said: ‘My reputation as an event promoter is known worldwide, but I clearly need to be more stringent and vet the people I do business with a bit more. Despite all the angst and tension, I wish Mr Roberts nothing but success and enlightenment for all his future endeavours.
‘I want to personally and professionally apologise to any artistes and media that were adversely affected and promise that we will address and rectify all issues for future endeavours.
‘This was our first event in Trinidad Carnival, so we will definitely accept all constructive criticism and work toward bigger and better organisation and management of these events.’
‘Error in judgment’
Meanwhile, Rondell Roberts, of 66 Entertainment, said simply he ‘made an error in judgment’ in teaming up with the foreign-based promoter because in his opinion, ‘They do not understand our culture.’
He said: ‘Firstly, I want to thank all the people who spent their money and came out to support this event because without them, we would have nothing to talk about today. ‘I know some things went wrong and everything was not perfect, but I’m prepared to work on those things and improve over time so that I can deliver quality events to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. ‘It was a different concept to the norm and that required a bit of collaboration, but not everyone can work well with others…. We all want to unite people from all walks of life and cultures through music, but we may differ on how to execute that idea exactly, so I think that’s what happened here….’
Hip-hop star Cardi B appeared to remain oblivious to all the confusion that was taking place around her as fans and media personnel flocked around her every move backstage.
Soca star Machel Montano arrived shortly after Cardi B and spent a few moments in her trailer before they both came out to perform one after the other. Garlin, Fay-Ann and Asylum backed them both and delivered a highly energetic set that kept most patrons partying happily despite the rain.
In a video posted to his almost 200,000 Instagram followers, Garlin saluted all the acts who were billed to perform and indicated he had personally spoken to those who did not perform.
He said: ‘Wow! What a night into a morning… Last night, we had Big Bad Soca in the Brian Lara Stadium car park and before the show start, rain fall and soak everybody, so by the time the show start it was just non-stop vibes and jump up… Big Bad Soca was nice, crazy energy. Kinks we go work out-next year we bad again….’