Red Bull and Major Lazer give Carnival Wings
Hidden beneath the A10 and alongside the Hammersmith and City line lurked the venue for the hottest ticket at Carnival. Red Bull Music Academy, with help from Major Lazer – back for a third year – put together one of the finest line-ups this side of Kingston for a celebration of West Indian music and its many evolutions. The selected accomplices were Douster, Sticky, Poirier, Drop the Lime, Joker and reggae royalty David Rodigan - with an even more special guest making a dramatic late appearance.
The letter of the day was ‘s’ – sunshine, smiles, summer, sound and selebrations – as the lucky few revelled in a party atmosphere akin to a pack of Skittles – filled with the most vibrant of colours and stacked with enough energy to power a rocket to the moon.
“I’m actually perfect” is how Douster described his mood after finishing his set.
“It’s good vibes, everybody is just having fun - no fuss, no fight - everyone just enjoying Carnival.”
The French DJ/ producer set the tone for the day and the benchmark high – very high – absolutely smashing it with his mix of reggae, dub and dancehall.
He continued: “Every single kind of music I make or listen to comes from Jamaica – there is a lot of bass in my productions and the main bass lovers in the world are Jamaican.”
Indeed as the hoards descended to Acklam Road – a strict one-in one-out policy in force as early as two o’clock – the cans and cups conjugated on the speakers and jumped up and down with the beat of the music.
Graffiti-art decorated the walls of the arena the DJs filled along with the scent of freshly baked patties and the chink of empty rum bottles.
Poirier was up next, also making his Carnival debut, describing the whole weekend as a great experience: “It is just mayhem.
“Music everywhere and sound systems’ bass blasting from everywhere”
Sticky continued to hype the crowd – but the best was still to come.
With fire-breathing metal horses and robots smoking whilst drinking Red Bull, there was total sensual stimulation.
Drop the Lime took the revellers on a journey with his own spin on 1950s Rockabilly, carrying a suave leather DJ-bag, which wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalks of Milan, and without a strand of hair out of place.
“Unbelievable!” exclaimed the 2010 Teddy Boy.
“There are unbelievable vibes and everyone is just having a good time.”
Again the music switched as Joker spun some of the finest dubstep, winning the seal of approval from David ‘RamJam’ Rodigan.
“I love it,” Rodigan said.
“It’s exciting and comes from the same roots as those dubs in Jamaica which I first discovered in my early twenties - it’s the same foundation and the same point of contact.”
And even for someone who has been coming to Notting Hill since the mid-1970s, there is still something addictive about the music and its latest incarnations: “There is more to be excited about now it’s much more diverse – Major Lazer being a perfect example.”
The legend then let his turntables do the talking and gave an education from My Boy Lollipop through to Major Lazer, jumping around and shouting down the microphone with the youthful exuberance he would have had when he put on his school dances in the late sixties.
Finally Major Lazer took to the stage – the headliners everybody had come to see.
The duo rocked it from beginning to end with a sea of adoring fans throwing everything up in the air from gun fingers to phones, cameras, skulls on sticks and cushions before the show went supersonic with the extra special guest appearance from Lee Scratch Perry.
The 74-year old godfather of the scene, who has produced Bob Marley no less, took to his mirror-covered mic with dyed blue hair, military-style jacket and shoes adorned with the colours of his native Jamaica for an awe-inspiring climax.
To the uninitiated it was an education, to the learned it was a master-class – Red Bull’s Carnival party was everything the crowd, and the whose-who backstage had hoped for – a celebration and party of the highest order.
Roll on Carnival 2011.