The internationally acclaimed Sumfest happened last weekend, right here in lil ol’ Mobay. We had Trey ladies-keep-your-panties-on Songz and Damian sexiest-rasta-alive Marley headlining the two international nights, though I hear Shabba Ranks stole the show on Friday night. Not that I’m entirely certain who Shabba Ranks is. . .
Reggae Sumfest has origins way back before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye when it started out as Reggae Sunsplash, an annual festival of Jamaican music that everyone in my parents’ generation likes to bring up as their version of “back when music was actually good”. But my point is that Sumfest has been around for a while, and judging by the consistently insane crowds it draws, it will probably be around for a while longer. Which is a good thing, because I have never been to Sumfest.
It’s kind of sad, really. It happens almost literally in my backyard every year, and every year it comes, I wave, and it passes on its merry, memorable way. It’s a quintessential Jamaican, nay, Montegonian experience that I have yet to acquire. That is a travesty. At first I was too young to go to Sumfest and then as I grew older, I grew less interested in the artistes that were actually showing up. I mean, you wouldn’t catch me dead at Dancehall Night (no offense, but there’s no way I’m paying almost $8000 just to bend over and back it up). And there was this whole phase where I swore off concerts unless a rock band was involved. I’m serious; I joined the Facebook group to prove it.
So Sumfest continues to be marketed as the greatest show on earth, with that iconic symbol of a dancing Rasta (that may or may not be Robert Nesta) pushing its brand beyond local borders. It’s one in a long list of things that keep Jamaica being the leading Caribbean destination (sorry, other touristy islands) and keep Montego Bay being one seriously awesome second city. So what if I haven’t been to Sumfest once in the twenty years I’ve been alive? Maybe I’ll go the year they finally get Fall Out Boy as headliners.