San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Reggae Concert Delivers Direct from Jamaica

THE first major reggae event of this year, Reggae Roots at the Polideportivo Monserrat in Alajuela, was a smashing success, as more than 40,000 fans were able to feel the rhythm of this music in their veins Feb. 21.

Fans, who were lined up patiently since before the sun came out, were duly rewarded when the gates opened precisely at noon and to everyone’s surprise, the concert started on time! Security was said to be tight. Upon arrival, however, I found this to not be the case. Though I entered with absolutely nothing, I saw other people enter with knapsacks, which security personnel didn’t even open. A brief feel was enough, apparently.

The surprise opening act was a local hip-hop dance group. Next on stage was the Tappa Tap Kru (Banton, Toledo and Kike), then Radicales (Tapon, H-uba and Ghetto) and, to close the local segment, the renowned roots group, Mekatelyu. Opening the international segment was

Inner Circle

from Jamaica, followed by more Spanish reggae from Los Cafres from Argentina. Then the Big Act, the sole reason I went to the concert.

T.O.K. – also from Jamaica – for the first time ever in Costa Rica, came out on stage. For a little more than an hour, these four young black men with shoulder-length locks, dressed in white shirts and black striped sweatpants had the crowd jumping and shouting and waving madly whatever they could find.

At this point, people in the crowd started throwing what appeared to be empty plastic water bottles in the air, which sort of looked cool as they floated and danced about in the evening wind. To my horror I was informed later that not all the bottles flying around were actually empty. Some of them still contained liquid, and apparently some of them had even been maliciously filled with dirt, which obviously created a safety hazard.

The lack of oversized football and basketball jerseys, baggy pants and brandname footwear was unusual. In a crowd I assumed to be mostly dancehall fans, everyone was dressed for a day in the park.

HALFWAY through the concert, before the Jamaicans held the mics, more than 30,000 bottles of water alone had already been consumed, and the food stands had completely run out of beverages and had to send for more.

The concert finished around 8 p.m., after Buju Banton, another Jamaican, had spent approximately an hour and a half on stage. By this time the crowd was weary, and he didn’t get as much response as the previous group, though he is the more famous of the two. This too was because his presentation contained various songs that a large percentage of the audience seemed not familiar with.

Upcoming events include a concert by Sean Paul on March 20. For more info call 253-9696.


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