Exodus Music and Arts Festival was inspired through the rich genre of reggae music, in it’s first year, it headlined Big Mountain.
You may not recognise the band name but most likely, in the mid 90’s, especially during the summer, you’ve heard their cover version of Peter’s Frampton’s, “Baby I Love Your Way”, a top ten single reaching No. 6 on US Billboard Hot 100.
They also have a new album out, and they enthusiastically performed a few of the tracks, along with covers of classics from this genre. Reggae music but with a twist, think a combination of UB40, Inner Circle and Bob Marley.
These guys have been around the block, by that I mean around the world, and have over ten albums under their belt. They toured extensively for a decade, and one of the more memorable events in this circle was the Reggae Sun-splash festival in Jamaica, the mother of all festivals, really put them on the map.
It can be a challenge touring again after coming back from a long break, their previous album was over a decade ago, but not readily noticeable with this performance.
Like riding a bike, it’s something you never forget and it’s doesn’t take long to get your balance even if you haven’t ridden one in ten years. While on the hiatus they did regroup periodically for some fundraising and international events, so rust never gathered.
And skilfully done, vocals were solid, light show was decent, the banter in between songs was inspirational, they moved well together and it was self evident that these guys are top notch, one them regularly tours with Ziggy Marley. And everyone donning the stereotypical reggae style clothing, with dreadlocks all around, of course.
The lead vocalist, Joaquin McWhinney, aka Quino, is charismatic figure and commanded the stage with ease. Caught a minute to chat with him backstage after the show, very easy going and friendly, it’s his first time here and was more than impressed with the hospitality of the Philippine people.
And the rest of the a line-up wasn’t to shabby either, like a whose-who in modern Pinoy Rock, with Razorback, Wolfgang, Urbandub and Franco; to a living legends, like Pepe Smith and Marla Cafra, who basically performed a guitar clinic, at one point using the mic stand as a guitar slide, wow.
Along with an impressive list of local musicians, that many of us recognise, the smooth island sound was abound, interestingly some created music with exotic instruments, like a didgeridoo and a chapman stick.
The day started off clear and sunny, and this one was a 24 hour event, 5am to 5am, folks were setting up and welcoming the early birds, before the sunrise. There was a car show and various art installations, typical stuff you would imagine seeing at a festival type production, I enjoyed the fire dancers.
The food was decent and there was plenty of refreshments available. Considering it was relatively large space, the crowd was relatively thin, could have accommodated many more folks. Although this was hugely beneficial to the fans attending, plenty of elbow room, no long lines and at one point the band asked the spectators in the back to move closer, not a luxury you have at crowded shows.
Pepe Smith in the crowd throughly entertained, watching Big Mountain turn it on. He’s a fan, word has it there may be a collaboration in the mix, him and Quino became friends sharing a stage, I’ll keep you posted if anything materialises.
Some minor improvements here and there, ran a bit late from the original schedule, not uncommon for these events, and it rained on a few occasions, fortunately nothing major and it didn’t last long, but enough to send everyone scrambling for shelter.
This one is worth watching out for next time, towards the end of their set, Big Mountain even expressed their desire to comeback. This event was organised by Phoenix Productions and it was announced last night they’ll be bringing Inner Circle to the Philippine shores, you know them from the meteoritic hit, “Bad Boys”…