Tiger Balm, Kearra Amaya Gopee's senior thesis installation, uses archival photos and manipulated video to explore questions of identity, nationality and immigration.
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Bunji and Machel mash up the Rama
Some of Rama 2K13 can’t be written, like Machel’s playful rudeness to the women crammed against the front fence. Some can’t be described: the sounds made by Trinidad James when he charged on stage as part of Machel’s set; the variety and complex design intricacies of fishnet stocking; the meaning of ram-out; Patrice Robert’s earrings (although there is nothing mysterious about her little-wine song; that call to everybooodyyy! is a road anthem if I ever heard one).
Scheduled to start at 8 pm, Rama actually started at midnight, which is to say when Bunji came on. Destra planned “a quick mash-up and go” but didn’t really mash up; the crowd wasn’t ready. Each time she performs, I marvel at the body of sweet Carnival music she has accumulated so that even if one year she doesn’t hit hard, she has an opus that consolidates her as a soca stipulation.
At 10.30, I speculated, outrageously, that the Rama was a bust, by Rama standards, of course. There was space for much bubbling in general admission. At 11, more people arrived but not enough. Between 11.30 and midnight, however, an exponential increase swelled the Hasely Crawford venue into the now customary massive Carnival fete crowd.
At midnight, the familiar notes of Differentology unleashed a piece of Rudder madness. By the time Bunji roared “Viiikiiings!” all Rama doubt fogged over. “This is Rama/Unity/No drama” was but one of the freestyle champion’s invocations, directed at, perhaps, both the immediate moment and the larger national political moment. Equalled, I estimate, by Machel’s “Doh tote/We come out to float,” but Bunji has evolved the rapso into such a special art that he had many, many more in the bag.
The Asylum couple represented SuperBlue—Fay-Ann officially endorsed him for the Soca Monarch final this Friday—and Bunji was on his knees re-enacting his marriage proposal.
They performed Fantastic Friday and so much more, by which I mean not only songs but they performed a soca-family theme the audience ate with the relish of a good roti (a better quality, hopefully, than those thrown at Aloes in Skinner Park; we shouldn’t be throwing away good food even if we want to make an eat-a-food statement; when Trinidadians start throwing away roti, you know is flour more than water).
Judging from Machel’s performance, his Machelements tonight will be a spectacular concert. I wasn’t sure if he was saying something with his bmobile-green capri; I know he was saying much else with his lower half. The irony of this winer boy-turned-man being convicted for offences precipitated by taking-a-wine was inescapable.
It occurred to me, too, that male soca artistes wine less and less, which is to say apart from Benjai. So it’s always a pleasure to see Machel perform, in addition to his Fog and Float, the disappearing male wine of which, incidentally, there were some jokey renditions among the audience. Screwed-up man-wine faces behind bubbling women were few but present, as were the soca fashionistas’ ice cream shoes (bright, milky colours).
But I’m old and these late nights are for young feet. It’s 2 am, Asylum and Machel done; I gone.