Live Shots: Reggae Fest

Yellowman
Yellowman (Photo by John Anderson)

Reggae Fest

Auditorium Shores, April 17

Ever gotten a new carpet and then started freaking out if a little mud got tracked on it? If so, you understand concerts at Auditorium Shores. Since the park's east lawn reopened for South by Southwest after undergoing a barely noticeable multimillion-dollar renovation, a case of "turf paranoia" has become such that rain equals cancellations. It happened during SXSW when minimal wetness annulled a Latin music concert and again last weekend, when on-again, off-again showers quashed Reggae Fest's best lineup ever.

At 5:45pm on Friday, hundreds of bummed-out Jamaican music fans queued up outside the fence, wondering if they'd be let back in after a hard blast of rain evacuated the grounds. An hour later, the gates reopened and Rastas paced the stage with squeegees as host Jah Ray assessed audience welfare with, "Ya irie?"

Proceeding dancehall royalty Yellowman was a one-song performance from his daughter K'reema, who buzz-killed with a karaoke version of her debut pop single that goes, "Everybody hands up, 'cause we don't give a what!" That dreadful hook was forgotten as soon as her father emerged, adorned head-to-toe in American flag spandex and mesh, bouncing aerobic footwork and singing "Ooh We/Sea Cruise." Backed by venerable session musicians the Sagittarius Band, the albino toaster – whose jaw remains deformed from cancer – stormed into dancehall classic "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," accentuating the beat with air-humping to the audience's delight.

The bliss proved temporary.

Shortly after true-love ballad "Letter to Rosie," umbrellas bloomed for a 10-minute downpour that prompted Jah Ray to announce no more music. That meant Friday's headliner, dub legend Lee Perry, was "Scratched," and with no makeup show, we couldn't be "Upsetter." While Auditorium Shores resumed operation throughout most of Saturday, festivities on the scorching hot Sunday were canceled over municipal concerns that the park's new grass would get smoked.

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