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Groovy takes over at Soca Monarch semis
High, shrill, excited screams pierced the air as Kerwin Du Bois was announced to take the stage at the Arima Velodrome during the Soca Monarch semi-finals on Sunday night, testament that Du Bois’ 2014 hit Too Real is a strong contender to dethrone Machel Montano as the Groovy King. Du Bois made his way on stage dressed in black and accompanied by four female dancers, in very little clothing and fishnet tights, while asking fans for permission to “wuk” them. That’s exactly what he did, breathing life into an almost full velodrome audience. He was one of the first of the competitors to do so at an event which started promptly at 4 pm and finished after 4 am. Du Bois performed shortly after 6 pm.
The Groovy category, which featured 40 competitors, proved to please patrons the most and is likely to prove difficult for judges, as from crowd response, 18 of the competitors impressed the audience. Reigning joint Power Soca Monarch Super Blue (Austin Lyons), who was expected to perform in the Groovy category, was not present. Du Bois was not the only performer to shine in the Groovy category and is in for some healthy competition as he aims for the crown. From further up the islands St Vincent’s Skinny Fabulous (Gamal Doyle) had more big flags waving, bodies moving, hands raising and women wining than any other competitor. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed his interaction and the song itself. Grenada’s Talpree (Wilt Cambridge) caused fire officers to stand by with extinguishers as fire-blowers spat flames at the dark sky while he performed Jab Nation. Farmer Nappy’s (Darryl Henry) performance featured ballroom dancing and had patrons copying the dance moves in the crowd. The song Big People Party was well-received.
Erphaan Alves also delivered vocally with his presentation for his performance of Contagious. While the Groovy offered a lot in terms of competition, this year’s Soca Monarch semi-finals featured a lot of songs which patrons did not know, judging by the confused looks and the repetition of the phrase, “I never hear this song in my life.” The Power performances, usually the big draw for fans of the competition, were a bit dull, though Grenada’s Mr Killa (Hollice Mapp) made a huge impression on the crowd with his antics for Rolly Polly. The semi-finals featured just over 70 performances and were punctuated with intermissions, during which DJs entertained the crowd along with lengthy commentary from hosts Hansley Ajodha and Lurbz from Slam 100.5 FM. This year, Caribbean Prestige Foundation allowed coolers into the venue, a decision that did not prove popular, as most patrons frequented the many food and drink stalls around the venue. The crowd trickled in steadily until by about 8 pm, the Velodrome was a sea of waving, jumping bodies that spread from the front of the stage to the stands about 200 metres away.