Positive Vibration ‘festival of reggae’ has recently won an award in being the best new festival this summer so as avid journalists and music fanatics, we felt it would be rude to not include this in our summer schedule therefore a couple of us guys at ‘The Noise Gate’ took it upon ourselves to check it out and see what all the hype was about!
The festival took place in Liverpool’s Baltic triangle across the weekend of 8th and 9th June 2018 consisting of a selected array of musical arts, reggae and performance. Open to all, Director of the festival itself; Rory Taylor stated that the festival welcomed a family friendly environment (with the terms that any under 18’s had to be off site by 9pm on the evening). Alongside all the day and evening events the festival also held a special reggae Q&A and ‘Art of Reggae exhibition’ which the founder’s Michael Thompson and Maria Papaefstathiou were extremely honoured about the festival hosting again for the third year running. On top of this activities and workshops for young people were set aside, including a great choice of market food, drink and art stalls.
After speaking with our PR agent and knowing the festival was so close to Manchester (where we planned on coming from), it was agreed that we would attend Friday evening and return to Manchester for a good night’s sleep so that we could again attend the festival on Saturday daytime, giving us more of an idea to how the festival shaped over the weekend.
So as Friday evening arose we got on our way. Arriving at the festival around 7.30pm we queued for our tickets at the box office and went on in from there. When first entering we took it upon ourselves to have a float around the site and get a feel for the layout and structure. We did this by using the handy festival maps that were given to us by the helpful staff as the festival site was scattered around different arenas within the Baltic triangle itself. Once we had sorted a clear itinerary for the weekend we then went to the first bar; ‘Districk + Yard’ (as you would) in enthusiasm to try a reggae cocktail and then enjoyed the general festival feel before the sun had set and the larger performances kicked off that evening!
See below for a snippet of the cocktail menu with prices ranging between £4.00 – £8.00; we thought this was very fairly priced for a festival!
If we just quickly refer back to when we first arrived, we feel it would be good to mention that when we collected our tickets we were expecting a backstage pass so that we could complete interviews with the artists however the festival had not provided this to us at the time, which was fine but didn’t stop us asking as we had discussed interviews with our agent. What we decided to do was message the festival director to see if this option was still available. Within five minutes of sending him a message, we bumped into him. We asked about the option to interview and was told that the artists had requested no press were to be backstage, which as press, we respect all artists wishes and was just glad to get this information confirmed however at The Noise Gate we always try to work that little bit harder to please our readers so given the situation we felt we should try and get more up close and personal shots from the front of stage and get really stuck in to each performance as we all know that artists can change their mind and in all honesty, we remained hopeful that we may still be able to get an interview…
At 10.00pm ‘Lee Scratch Perry’ AKA the Dub Godfather and pioneer of reggae was playing in the ‘Constellations Club’ alongside ‘Subatomic Sound System’ so this was where we headed next!
Lee Scratch Perry has over 60 albums in his name, born in 1958 and at the age of 82 he still stands as one of the official originators in reggae. Touring the world, Lee Scratch Perry has a fulfilling background and has played with artists suchlike ‘The Beastie Boys’, ‘The Clash’ and ‘Bob Marley’ to name a few. His style takes the sounds of ska, jungle and electronic music together to produce a rolled reggae feeling that takes listeners on a poetic journey. Still jamming at his age, Lee Scratch Perry was a delightful treat to watch as he connected with the audience and even though his vocals were scattered at times the sound remained consistent and his croaky flow was what keep the crowd mesmerised and hooked onto his performance.
In 2003 Lee won a Grammy award for the best reggae album of all time and in 2013 he first appeared in the ‘Dub Champions Festival’ which was also backed by the same guys he worked with at Positive Vibrations, the ‘Subatomic Sound System’. Lee has recently bought out yet another new album which we listened to at the festival as he performed some of the tracks for us. Lee really gives off relaxed and positive feelers therefore as we said above; his performance was a great insight into his influence and tradition.
Just before his set finished we bumped into a guy I recognised from Manchester who was working at the event. It turned out that he was in fact part of the management team for both Positive Vibrations and Parklife festival and ‘Monkey’ was his name. He was really friendly and had a nice little chat to us about the interviews we still hoped to get and even said that he would put a word in for us with ‘Roni Size’ as the closing act.
Next up on our list was ‘Mungo’s Hi-Fi with Eva Lazarus’ at 11.00pm at ‘Hangar 34’ (the dub room powered especially by Sinai Sound System).
Founded in 2000 ‘Mungo’s Hi-Fi’ is a sound-system from Scotland that follows the traditional Jamaican Reggae sound. Since they have founded they have increasingly made a popular following and now appear at many big festivals every year including Glastonbury and Outlook. While they bring up to date dub and reggae sounds to the dance floor, they also DJ and produce their own music which a lot of the time can consist of working with another artist alongside their production.
Birmingham born and Bristol raised, Eva has stormed the charts and festivals alike with her BIG voice and BIG vocals. Eva continues to thrive in her industry and puts her music at the forefront of every path she now chooses to lead. This was evident while watching Eva’s performance as her vocals appeared to capture the crowd like no other and her flavours span across such a wide range of genres; no wonder she is seemingly becoming more and more popular. Eva can perform hip-hop, Drum and Bass, Reggae, Jungle and more. Eva like Mungo’s Hi-Fi has also performed at Glastonbury and Outlook therefore the pair have developed a good relationship and if you wasn’t already aware then the pair have also been on tour for a three week period. Finishing their last gig just over three weeks ago with Positive Vibrations being the final part of their tour and the end of what has been an amazing jaunt in their work together then what you’re about to read next was most definitely the utmost exciting part of the festival for us as we didn’t even see this one coming….
….So after seeing how much Mungo’s Hi-Fi and Eva Lazarus engaged with the crowd, we took it upon ourselves to get involved in this interaction also. Eva was a bundle of joy, so smiley and bubbly and really did make time for her fans afterwards.
While her fans were complimenting her performance we thought, why not ask if she would like to talk to us for 5-10 minutes, and as to our joy and amazement, SHE DID. The next thing you know she had whisked us off backstage into her dressing room and was happy for us to hold an exclusive interview which we have uploaded for you to watch below.
(Please excuse the sound… we have done our best to improve it on our systems however with the interview being so ‘off the cuff’ and of course; with it being held in Eva’s dressing room we was unfortunately sat right above the main Sinai Sound System) – Which by the way was BANGING some awesome sounds out all night long…
You can find more information about Eva Lazarus by clicking on her website link available here.
What we found the most endearing and interesting feedback from speaking with Eva was her profound passion and concern over keeping her vocals safe from harm and protecting them from external damage. Eva speaking about the fact that she requests to NOT have smoke machines present while she performs at gigs was something which really struck us as being humble and true to her act. This leads us on to talk about artists in the music industry keeping both their physical and mental health protected in order of remaining successful. Self-care is a massive part of every human being in every walk of life, especially when you are working in such a fast paced, stressful, demanding and performing environment therefore to hear Eva speak in this way; was noticed and respected massively by us guys here at The Noise Gate and I feel it would be a shame to not mention how important self-care really is in today’s fast moving culture and society.
The importance of this factor was even brought to attention in the most recent ‘Ibiza Music Summit’ which we feel was a good thing to mention as it shed more light on the crucial importance of looking after yourself and also how important it is to recognise the traits in others that may be signalling a downward spiral, (unfortunately this was brought to attention following the dreadful death of young electronic music star, ‘Avicii’ however we can only hope that this is something to all reflect on and learn from for future generations of clubbers and artists alike).
Following our time spent with Eva we got ourselves a drink, had a quick catch up about the evening and then headed on over to see Roni Size finish the night off at 01.30am!
Roni Size is a powerful influence on both the drum and bass and reggae scene; he personally cites reggae as being one of his earliest influences in music and this can be heard and understood by clubbers who follow his scene as a lot of his albums have consisted of a very jungle/reggae vibe!
Roni’s track ‘wishing on a star’ hit the UK top 10 charts back in 1989 so as you can imagine, he has been producing and DJ’in for quite some time now! Personally I have seen Roni perform on a number of occasions and he never fails to entertain. Roni was the perfect ending to an incredible evening at Positive Vibrations. He was true to form and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed every moment!
Saturday was all about enjoying the chilled reggae vibes while taking a good look around the ‘Art’ and exquisite ‘Exhibitions’ the festival had set up so this is exactly what we did. The constellations and choice of posters were phenomenal, and what a great day for it as the sun really did shine bright that day.
See picture below of the prints which were entered into the ‘The Art of Reggae Exhibition Poster Contest’…
At points in the day we had to sit in the shade and what a better way to do this than by enjoying some of the typical reggae selections of food vendors available. ‘Jamdown Market’ was probably our favourite part of the market stalls that were organised as it offered such variety with a lot of the goods for sale bringing something unique and different to which you probably wouldn’t usually find anywhere else!
The most amazing thing about Positive Vibrations Music and Contemporary Arts festival is that of its ethos. The Festival takes pride in its achievements across the globe as the ‘International Reggae Poster Contest’ had over 1142 entries from 80 countries and that was even back in 2012 when it first begun. The contest itself has launched a platform for the Reggae Hall of Fame in Kingston and has been worthy of Jamaican popular music. The shift in paradigms for the Reggae arts contest was when it became an important objective in Kingston to be the face of important change in our current climate and culture and for younger generations ahead. Michael Thompson; founder of the idea wanted to create more artistic culture and action relating to the reggae culture and we feel he has done just that as he has raised funds for Alpha Boy’s School. This is a heart-warming story and a massive impact into why attending Saturday’s festival was so important to us. An auction is held at the end of every exhibition and all funds and proceeds go towards the music department of the school.
Alpha Boys School was opened in May 1880 by a young Jamaican woman names Jessie Ripoll in Kingston. This still exists today and has had a major impact into today’s influence and continued existence of reggae music. Alpha Boys have influenced the direction of Jazz, dancehall and reggae worldwide and this has been down to the sheer passion and devotion that the child development agencies have put into place to keep this school continuing in its excellence of music, wood work, screen printing, life skills and knowledge.
Other than taking a profound interest in the reggae roots of art and culture we obviously had to sneak in a few key reggae acts in-between all of this before heading home back to Manchester. With ‘The Majestic’, ‘Medicine Men’, ‘Funkdub’ and finally ‘Macka B and the Roots Ragga Band’ we was more than satisfied with the reggae sounds sampled on the day and we cannot wait until next year’s festival and what it has in store for us then!
Positive Vibrations, give yourselves a pat on the back!
A thoroughly POSITIVE EXPERIENCE!