The 9th Annual International Music Festival was held Sunday, September 20th at Newark Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium. A function of Newark’s own Streetz96 - 96.5 FM and Roadblock Radio, the evening’s top billing included national favorites Fabulous and Rick Ross, and international flavors Buju Banton, Beanie Man, and Machel Montano. The festival doors opened at 12 noon as advertised, while third party vendors greeted early-bird patrons on the concourse with cash-only food, drink, and trinket options in hand. What started as a refreshingly, beautiful day easily turned into one of discomfort and confusion, especially those folks who bought the $6o tickets from ticketmaster.com.
Let’s review how this was not a Pink friendly event:
You were locked-in! If you needed something from your car (pick up diaper bag, left digital camera, change shoes)– it wasn't going to happen. If you needed to take your disruptive child to a sitter, so you and your partner could return to enjoy the show – it could not happen,. If you didn’t bring cash because you figured there would be an ATM machine on the premises – there was not, and it just wasn’t happening. If you neared the gate to even think about lighting up a cigarette, you were reminded there was no smoking in the stadium, and once you left, you would not be allowed back in! So much for human decency.
The audience was not recognized until 2:45 PM! That is, three and a half hours after the doors opened, and forty-five minutes after the show was supposed to start.
The hosts were embarrassing! Either they were someone’s family member, or the event producers hired two island guys off the street in an emergency -that morning, and told the lucky winners to “go host a concert.” Throughout the entire eight-hour production, the hosts burned time by bull-horning, rhetorically mundane questions at us in between sets. “Whose here to see Beanie Man? Whose here to see Rick Ross? Whose here to have a good time? Whose here from Jamaica? It was like watching Showtime at the Apollo and D.L. Hugely asking, “are you ready for your next act say ‘oh yeah’,” except, D.L. took 5 seconds to allow backstage to prepare their transitions, not several minutes, hours, moments.
Just when I thought I captured all that held me in contempt; for these two, I noticed the chant that obviously served as their instruction and script. When an artist finished their set and the hosts returned, the hosts engage the crowd with “we gotta keep the show going, yeah yeah….we gotta keep the show going…” every single time!
As if it weren’t painfully obvious that the independent artists who were selected to perform were in no way ready for a live crowd, they were introduced as the minor artists and were blatantly referred to as filler treats, while the real artists took their time showing up for the event.
Hours were wasted between major artists with performances by non-manicured independent musicians who lacked raw talent, and DJ music mixes that were loud, sloppy, and insisted on asking us if we were having a good time.
If this is the 9th edition of an International Music Festival, I’m skeptical to learn how years 1 through 8 turned out. Moreover, how is it even allowable to name an event an international function, when the roster includes artists from three islands of the Caribbean and America only? Interesting.
From the hand of…