Sun. May 19th, 2024

Forceful Close For LITFest 2!

By WK Admin Mar12,2024 #Jamaica #Music #Reggae
_JIK9339-Lost-In-Time-FEstival-2024-police-lock-off-Jesse-Royal#LITFest2 headliner, reggae artiste, Jesse Royal (centre), attempts to reason with members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force at #LITFest2024.

As anticipation built for Protoje’s second Lost In Time Festival (LITfest), we reflected on the resounding success of its debut. Last year’s staging left an indelible mark on the entertainment landscape, setting high expectations for what’s to come. Now, as the dust settles on its return, Writes and Kulcha reflects on another immersive experience, but not without a critical eye towards enhancements and improvements. We are, after all, about how to efficiently solidify and elevate Jamaica’s music business to greater heights. Last year was a revelation—an immersive, meticulously planned affair in a vibrant oasis of music, artistry, and community. From the beautifully styled patrons to the scintillating performances, LITfest delivered on its promise of a captivating experience. Amidst the accolades and celebrations, we had constructive feedback on a few areas for refinement, so our team attended to not only enjoy the show, but to also highlight any new and improved developments. (Photos: Jik-Reuben)

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Lila Ike (centre) with her mentor/friend, Protoje and her lively grandmother, “Wurl Gramz”.

While the 2023 staging of the festival was admirably organised, with seamless stage transitions and timely, brilliant performances, we noted the need for improved amenities and highlighted the importance of attendee comfort. Their 2024 marketing campaign was equally gripping, even incorporating a pre-event college campus tour, so there was a palpable sense of excitement for the second chapter. With the community’s support, Protoje’s visionary leadership and the expert execution of his team, Lost In Time is now a must-do event on Jamaica’s cultural calendar, and rightly so. It’s also a perfect fit, as it happens near the end of Reggae Month. Notwithstanding this significant contribution, the show’s unfavourable ending caused a great deal of controversy, reviving long-standing debates about Rasta and Babylon (the system). Read on as our team (and some of the event patrons) discusses #LITfest 2024.

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Jazz-on-Dub singer/songwriter Jah9.

The experience

Considering the torrential rains all afternoon, the expected damper on the al fresco event was nowhere to be found. Yes, the traffic was insufferable and barely moving, parking existed, but getting to it was a nightmare. Some very disgruntled ticket holders abandoned the mission after waiting three hours in traffic without ever reaching Hope Gardens. The line to get into the venue was unending, the ground was understandably saturated and there wasn’t much shelter to take refuge under in the event that it rained again. Still, the venue was packed with spirited patrons determined to get their money’s worth. The infrastructure was solid, so the overall event quality remained uncompromised, and it was so well-planned that up to Romain Virgo’s announcement, the show was running a mere five minutes behind time, which, given the weather conditions they were up against, was exceptional. 

All the artists and disc jocks delivered entertaining sets and the audience revelled in it. Notable highlights were jazz-on-dub empress Jah9, who hasn’t performed on the island in five years, sharing tracks from her Note To Self album for the first time; songbirds Sevana, Jazz Elise, Khalia and Naomi Cowan, who mesmerised us with powerful vocals and soulful reggae-dancehall performances (shoutout to their outfits, too). Romain Virgo’s impassioned delivery and Dubwise highlighting the increased global attention on Jamaica and Rastafari with the recent release of the Bob Marley One Love movie was a moment. 

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Romain Virgo was overcome with emotion during his performance at Lost In Time 2024

Overall, the energy of the space was high and vibrant and their performances set the stage nicely for the three-artist headliner collaboration of Protoje, Lila Ike and Jesse Royal, who would, of course, introduce a few guests in their finale.

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Dubwise disc jock, Jason Panton at LitFest2.

The finale 

Expectations were high. The combination of the team’s first-rate promotional endeavours and 10/10 execution despite the inclement weather had us primed for a superb closing.  Cue fanfare, phones in hand, it was about to go down. Protoje’s entrance had the audience frenzied and wanting more, then his introduction of the ‘Small Axe’, Jesse Royal and ‘Wurl’ songstress Lila Ike, who revealed a never-before-seen platinum pixie hairdo, creating an even bigger uproar. A few minutes in, we realised we were not being treated to a triple-headliner performance, but more like a jam session, similar to what would have happened at a New Wave Block Party. Though this was still a vibe, the marketing seemed to convey otherwise, so we were expecting more structure, and, at least, more of each song being performed. 

As customary, the trio introduced a series of special guests like Yohan Marley and Mortimer, who had the crowd eating out of his hands with his timeless lovers anthem, Lightning, Agent Sasco and Chi Ching whose first run was a bit ill-timed, but he was able to redeem that when Lila called him out again. Dancehall young bloods Jahshii and Valiant gave just enough to keep us wanting more, and chart-topper Masicka kept the vibes going to a chorus of rifle sounds.

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Dancehall artist Masicka (right) being greeted by the Festival’s principal and fellow artist, Protoje.

The most endearing moment of all, however, was Lila’s grandmother or as she calls her, Wurl Gramz, whom she credits as a primary inspiration in her music career. She called her up on stage to acknowledge her influence and spontaneously nudged her to sing, which she started shyly and quickly amped up the energy to resounding screams and applause.  Protoje even shared his overall goal for the festival and industry with the audience, stating, “Every time we keep show, we haffi go some far place. Mi just want Kingston be known as the capital of Reggae music, and Reggae music fi deh yah suh [and] dancehall music. Music is what put Jamaica pon di map, don’t? Suh we need fi do dis, but maybe next year, we haffi do it two days, because one day cyaan hold di artiste dem.”

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Lila Ike’s grandmother, affectionately called Wurl Gramz, was credited as a primary inspiration in her career.

At some points the segues weren’t seamless and the headliners seemed notably distracted, but it didn’t drag long enough to cause a major drop in energy. Then it was time to close out with a bang, but no sooner than Popcaan made his exciting entrance,  in came the police right behind him to pull the plug on the event at 12:01 AM. Reminiscent of a similar stance taken at his own Unruly Fest event last December. 

_JIK9894-Unruly-876-Gud-Jamaican-dancehall-artist-Popcaan-St-Thomas-Lost-In-Time-2024
Popcaan delivering his short-lived closing set while organisers attempt to reason with the police.

Writes and Kulcha understands a permit was given until midnight, and the organisers had asked for just a few additional minutes to wrap up, given that the closing act was underway. Still, they received no grace as the officers proceeded to bring their festival to a forceful and uncomfortable close.

JIK9899-Unruly-876-Gud-Jamaican-dancehall-artist-Popcaan-St-Thomas-Lost-In-Time-2024-close-up
Dancehall artist Popcaan’s performance at at Lost In Time Festival 2024 came to a forceful end.

Ending with a thought-provoking last word ahead of dropping the mic from the Festival’s principal director, Protoje, who was understandably quite infuriated: “Yow Jamaica, dem say no more. Make sure the government know say we need reggae music fi play inna Kingston!”

Patrons say:
“Great experience despite a few setbacks. The venue layout, bar, production, food court, security and the show itself were on point. The lines to get in and out were terrible and some performances weren’t as on par as others. But for the most part, everything within the control of the organisers went well. Overall, we’d say 8/10.”
Writes and Kulcha team

“Loved the show! I wish the bathrooms had better lighting for safety reasons and also for touching up my make-up. I was also shocked to see segregation with things like VIP pricing and sections at a reggae event in Jamaica. It doesn't go with what I hear in the music, but outside of that, it was great!”
European female tourist

“It’s the best! I’ve attended both times and I’m still impressed.”
American female tourist

“This is one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to in terms of how it’s organised and how well the performances flowed, and I’ve been to many, worldwide.”
Male recording artiste (UK)

“I am livid! This festival costs so much money, even more than I’d pay for an event in Europe. My friends and I bought our tickets early, left home early, and still haven’t reached inside to enjoy the show. To say we’re disappointed would be an understatement.”
Group of three European women

“Last year was a little better, and I expected that because of the rain and stuff, but this one was still great. I prefer the closing performances last year though.”
Jamaican male patron

“Show nice bad, but me foot dem tired now!”
Jamaican female patron

“Something felt very off with the closing of the show, it looks like the headliners were probably a bit drunk. I thought about that after hearing someone talk about needing to pee on the stage. It wasn’t terrible, but it felt disorganised to me, even though the songs and the artists were good. I wanted more, because they have given us better performances before and also because it’s so expensive.”
Jamaican female patron

“Bwoy, all now we still a find ways to disrespect Rasta, and then we love talk ‘bout culture and reggae. A just hypocrisy all ‘bout.”
Jamaican female patron

“I’m not happy with how it ended, but I understand rules are rules. If the police gave Protoje a bly with the cut-off time, what does that say to the rest of Jamaica?”
Jamaican female patron

“I'm embarrassed. The police dem never haffi lock off the show like that. It’s Reggae Month and the whole world is watching, we need fi do better. Other than that, it was a good vibes.”
Jamaican male patron

“Dat is it, one Proto!”
Jamaican male patron

Watch the show’s shutdown on our Instagram account here.

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