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I-Octane brought mello mood to Sumfest stage

Artiste changed planned set at the last minute

Published:Tuesday | July 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Renowned for his amazing high-energy performances once he touches any stage, it was a 'cooled down' but no-less-electrifying I-Octane who treated patrons at Reggae Sumfest's Dancehall Night to a European-styled performance recently.

The singjay, who has been dubbed 'The Closer' - owing to his history-making back-to-back closing performances at the festival in 2013 and 2014, performed during prime time in a slot that followed insanely uptempo sets from two of dancehall's luminaries. Taking an on-the-spot decision to switch his set from the bouncy, rhythm-driven, fast-paced flow to which his fans have become accustomed, the Busta Soft Drinks brand ambassador, instead, chose the more evocative songs from his extensive catalogue and went into straight singer mode as he wooed Reggae Sumfest Dancehall Night with a thoroughly entertaining reggae package which earned him huge 'forwards'.

Ably backed by the award-winning Ruff Kut band who, fortunately, knows the artiste's entire catalogue and was able to seamlessly move from the set rehearsed for the festival into this new, unrehearsed tracklist, the singer and the band were in complete harmony as Octane cemented his space in Sumfest history with mellow songs, including My Story, Once More, L.O.V.E., Hurt By Friend, Study You Friend, Never Sell Out, Mama You Alone, and others. He closed off with one of his most recent singles, Ghetto Life, a powerful, thought-provoking song which many critics say could very well have been the song to close the entire festival.


keeping in tune


In an interview after his performance, the Lose A Friend singer explained that he rarely makes changes to a rehearsed set, but his experience dictated that significant move last Thursday night. "As an artiste, you have to keep in tune to the vibrations in order to give the audience maximum satisfaction. I know that Ruff Kut knows my songs, so although I went on stage with the high-energy Buss A Blank as we had rehearsed, I signalled to them that we were going a different route, and by the third song, we were well on our way. It was good to give my fans a taste of a mellow Octane, and I think they loved it," he said modestly.

Music critics, radio disc jocks and musicians have lauded it as a "brilliant move".

"What I-Octane did had the hallmark of experience," said the drummer for Ruff Kut band, Ricardo 'Ricky' Davis. "He realised that with the pace at which the show was going, the set he had planned might not have had the desired effect, so he changed up things, and this made for a much more interesting Dancehall Night package overall. It was a good move and I would have advised him to do the same thing."

And was the band fazed any at all by the last-minute change?

"Not in the least. We've worked with the best of the best in reggae and dancehall, and this is the type of reaction we have come to expect from those extraordinary artistes who have a deep passion for their craft. Once he paused and held up his hand to us, we knew what he was about to do. Immediately, Beenie Man comes to mind as an artiste who would have successfully done the very same thing, given the same circumstances," Ricky concluded.