The organisers of Sumfest must be elated. They have gone on record to state that, in its 17-year history, this was their biggest Dancehall Night ever, and a very successful festival overall.
Informal estimates have put the throng of reggae/dancehall music lovers inside the venue at near 20,000 on Dancehall Night. According to an insider, at nearly there were still hundreds of persons on the outside waiting to enter and see their favourite acts. And the two international nights benefited from bumper crowds as well. It must be noted that despite the large numbers there were no reports of any major incidents at Reggae Sumfest 2009.
Traffic flowed into and from the venue with relative ease. This was due to stringent monitoring from the local police on the outside and Sumfest employees on the inside.
The crowds inside the venue were definitely a reflection of the interest generated by this year’s line-up. At a time when there is a global recession and economic crunch, persons still chose to spend as much as $4000 per night for entertainment. It was clear, however, that patrons thought the line-up was worth spending that type of cash for.
Thursday’s Dancehall Night featured the top acts in the music, and they all performed. International Night 1 had on its billing, along with top local performers, three of the most current R&B/ pop artistes – Jazmine Sullivan, Keri Hilson and Ne-Yo. Of the three, Hilson was the weakest, with Sullivan being impressive and Ne-Yo stealing the night and emerging top performer. Saturday night’s offering saw local acts Tarrus Riley, Etana and Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, joining the overseas-based performers Toni Braxton and Nas. Again this proved to be a popular mix.
Aside from the technical gaffe during the Toni Braxton set, technical – lighting and sound – were up to the standard that audiences have come to appreciate. The fact that all the performers could be viewed on the large screens also went over well in the large venue.