36ºC and extreme humidity at Rototom Festival. The line-up tonight at the main stage in the Mediterranean village of Benicassim left more space to peripheral styles and put the roots away for a while.
Opening the night were Africa Unite, a very popular Italian band, facing all the jamaican styles with a strong personality, from rocksteady to ska. They fight in the business to get a respect as musicians inspired by Jamaican styles, but developing a strong Italian personality for their music. In fact, the style could be very similar to other bands from Mediterranean countries, like the Ska-P or Discipulos de Otilia from Spain or Articolo 31 from Italy.
This doesn’t mean their music sounds the same as this bands. It’s more that they face the evolution of reggae and other Jamaican genres talking about the problems from where they are. “We are not from Jamaica, we are from Italy”.
These bands are extremely concerned with issues in their area, in their country, in the world. As the leader of the band said to Soundsystem FM after their performance: “For Italians, it seems that nothing is wrong, that everything is cool, that there’s nothing to worry about. That’s the reason why people do nothing, they are ignorants. I think that it’s important to find the way to shape an opinion, it’s important to watch the news on TV, it’s important to get deep into reality to know exactly what is happening around and people don’t do that”.
Morcheeba, trip-hop roots
Morcheeba was the big act of the night. Probably for those followers of the festival who are not too deep into reggae this was the most attractive band in the line-up. Not a reggae or Jamaican band themselves, they get some of the atmosphere from reggae and dub and create very heavy rhythms, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes intimate and introspective. Nevertheless the band could be labelled more like a pop band with some trip-hop influences.
“Do you like my dress? I made it myself. It’s true! Do you like my shoes? I’m going to jump with my shoes!”, said the singer Skye Edwards, that showed a gorgeous red long dress and a punk-like hair styling.
Definitely it was something more to see and listen to than the usual reggae band, so it can be considered as a great addition to the line-up despite the Jamaican purists probably didn’t like it. Trip-hop is considered by many as a dub sub-genre anyway.
Bushman, Rastafarian elite
The third night of the Rototom main stage was closed by Bushman. As many other Jamaican singers he started in school and church choirs, and then dubbing in local soundsystems. And as many other Rastafarians as well, his principle is that food should be natural and come from the earth, often avoiding food which is chemically modified or contains artificial additives. An interesting band from France was backing his vocals, and it’s to be mentioned the wind section, which was notable.
His style was very close to dub in the start of the appearance, topping it up during the performance with funky and calypso arrangements and lyrics about cannabis legalization.
Not only the main stage…
The roots of the festival spread all over the village and beaches of Benicassim. Other stages, like the Dancehall offered a good party time as well, with David Rodigan as an example, one of best and worldwide popular DJs, with more than 30 years of musical career, or Vito War, one of the veterans from the Italian scene.