Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Value for the viewing dollar

Published:Thursday | June 16, 2016 | 6:00 AMMel Cooke
Beres Hammond performing at a previous Rebel Salute
Damion 'Junior Gong' Marley instructs the audience to put their hands up during his performance at a previous Rebel Salute.
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The lady to whom I am married is heavily into track and field. I am heavily into the live performance of Jamaican popular music. However, she will go to Rebel Salute (2016) to see Beres Hammond, among other events, and I ended up at Saturday's Racers Grand Prix and the Jamaica International Invitational earlier this year.

While there is no running, jumping and throwing at music events (the tossing of bottles and stampedes that used to happen at some large scale concerts seem to be, thankfully, things of the past), the fusion of music and athletics is a given at the top-class meets held in the National Stadium. Tarrus Riley was the Racers Grand Prix performer and I am slightly miffed I did not get to see him. I expected that once the 100m excitement was over, it would be straight into the music, but when someone said there would be the juggling of "two chune", I left.

 

NO TURNING BACK

 

In music, a selector's "two chune" is the equivalent of "just round the corner" when a motorist is being given directions in rural Jamaica. He did start when we were in the parking lot, but there was no turning back.

I got to thinking about value for the dollar at a professional track and field meet and a large-scale concert (or stage show as we call them, even as organisers insist on festival). The prices are not that far apart. Although there is no stage show equivalent of the $500 Bleachers option at the Racers Grand Prix, the regular grandstand price of $3,000 is not that far off from the $4,000 early bird ticket price for a night of this year's Rebel Salute.

Also, I can think of the $5,000 finish line area at the grand prix as the VIP area at a concert - Rebel Salute's early bird price was $8,000. The VIP tickets at Sting 2016 went for $4,500.

Most times, the entry cost to a large-scale event does not figure into my attending or not, as I will be reporting on it and access has been arranged with the organisers. However, I looked at the crowd inside the National Stadium last weekend and comparisons came to mind.

There were three and a half hours of track and field action at the grand prix, followed by the Tarrus Riley performance, with Christopher Martin in the earlier going. A concert night at Reggae Sumfest 2016 is slated to run from 9 p.m. to 6 p.m., - 12 hours, which is about par for Sting or Rebel Salute.

However, out of that 12 hours, there is going to be varied quality, as it will not all be top-flight acts on stage. I have been to events (not necessarily the three I have mentioned) where, for all practical purposes, it really begins at 2 a.m. because the previous four or five hours really did not make any sense.

And that is where the high-level track meets and the major live performance events differ. There is guaranteed to be quality performers running, jumping or throwing at any given moment at the National Stadium. The same cannot be said for the concerts.

So the value for money is not a head-to-head comparison of entry fees and duration, but if there is consistent quality presented to a paying audience. And that is where the major track meets outstrip the concerts.