At 4 am, the average person is sleeping. But at that time on Sunday, December 22, Popcaan was strapped to a harness, flying across the massive crowd at his second Unruly Fest concert held in his native parish, St Thomas.
The act may be viewed as unruly, indeed, defying the typical performance of dancehall artistes. But it was also like a ‘dream’ – ironically, the 2010 hit song that Popcaan sang as he flew back and forth in a sea of phone lights.
The moment, much like the lyrics, symbolised the deejay being at the height of his career (figuratively and literally) and was nostalgic of the young boy named Andre Sutherland who visualised having a concert in his parish.
It was also momentous, as it saw thousands of people filling the Goodyear Oval venue, reminiscent of the days of the East stage show, which closed its curtains in 2007. Through the venue choice, opening number and returned concert, Popcaan was bringing a sense of hope to the entertainment and economic landscapes of St Thomas. But even in the showered praises, Popcaan credited everything to one person.
“Big up Vybz Kartel, a you mek dis possible…a nuff people him buss inna di business,” he said.
It was repeated ruption with every tune he belted, which was intercepted by his catchy slangs and comical charisma. From gangster songs like Rup Rup and Stray Dog; female favourites like Addicted and Only Man She Want, to raving classics including Ova Dweet, the crowd (inclusive of VIP, general, and the line of community folks who climbed atop trailers) was well engaged with the ‘fry yiy’ boss.
Popcaan invited a slew of guests during his set, including Protojé who ignited the crowd with politically incorrect music. His protégé, Lila Iké, also performed to the delight of patrons. It was then over to Bounty Killer who had an extensive set, delivering tunes from a catalogue spanning over two decades.
Tensions were high in the audience for the two “biggest superstars” that were promised by the promoter, but when Popcaan resurfaced to introduce his first international guest, some were bewildered.
“Who is Casanova? I was really hoping to see Drake,” Linstead, St Catherine native Shauna Harris told BUZZ.
The American rapper failed to excite the crowd but Popcaan’s second overseas act, Stylo G, did justice with Dumpling and Touch Down (Remix).
Still, for some patrons, the surprise acts did not measure up to last year’s guests, Drake and Tory Lanez.
“A lot of persons like myself came out here looking for an international artiste and I really don’t know who Cassanova is. I’m assuming Stylo G was the other international act, though I wouldn’t classify him as one but at least he brought a vibe,” Portmore patron Joe said.
He added, “The show had high moments but more lows for me and wasn’t as good as last year. If I had to rate it out of 10 I’d give it a six.”
Rajay, who also attended the inaugural staging at Lyssons Beach, differed.
“This year was more exciting, I love the vibes. I don’t want to be biassed but my favourite performer tonight is Popcaan.”
It was raining by the time Masicka surprised the crowd. While many patrons opted to leave the then muddy event, the general section made it a water party, dancing in the rain as he thrilled with songs like Leader and Infrared.
“I’m not moving,” Stacy said as she danced with her friends. “It’s my first time here and I loved Bounty’s performance and Popcaan, of course, did sick, that was an entrance!”
Jada Kingdom was also well-received in her short set, and Popcaan resumed by singing Traumatised in honour of his friend Unruly Shagel who was murdered in 2018. He also delivered tracks from his debut OVO Sound project, Vanquish, which dropped on Friday.
Unruly behaviour backstage
It wasn’t all smooth-sailing for organisers as an entry/exit point for artistes and their entourage was partially uprooted by a mob who overthrew security for a few minutes, gaining access to the venue without armbands. The audience was none the wiser as Queen Ifrica was spreading her lioness vibes on stage.
The event also promoted St Thomas talents like Skillbeng and Chronic Law. Miss World 2019, Toni-Ann Singh, who hails from the parish, was also a hot topic for some entertainers.
The stage also allowed the Unruly Camp to shine, with Quada and Jafrass holding their own with a collection of bangers.
Singers were not excluded, and Sanchez transformed the crowd to a choir, singing tracks like Here I Am, Frenzy and Never Dis Di Man. Richie Spice could not escape the encore requests for classics Brown Skin, Ghetto Girl and Grooving My Girl.
D’Angel was professional in handling technical issues during her set but showed her unruly side with an outfit change and the controversial single Dancehall Trouble which riled up the crowd.
The line up also saw solid performances from Agent Sasco, Capleton, Mr Lexx, Kemar Highcon and Frisco Kidd.