In the wake of overcrowding at last year’s festival—resulting in long lines, vendors running out of food and water, and an uncomfortable congestion on the amphitheater lawn—organizers decided to spread the festivities over two days. The verdict? Everyting irie, mon. The atmosphere was immeasurably better this year, with plenty of room for face-painted little girls to twirl hula hoops, run around on the grass and engage in squirt-gun fights—with the temperature exceeding 100 degrees, no one minded getting caught in the crossfire.
As for the music? Once again, the festival featured some of the biggest names in reggae. With the sun keeping much of the crowd camped underneath the trees around the perimeter of the lawn, pioneering Jamaican group Wailing Souls provided a cool vibe before reggae priestess Marcia Griffiths, best known as one of Bob Marley’s “I Threes,” paid tribute to her former boss with “Who the Cap Fit,” “Buffalo Soldier” and “Could You Be Loved” before her “Electric Boogie” prompted large pockets of the crowd to do the Electric Slide. Once night fell, Grammy-winning British legends Steel Pulse closed things out with an hour-and-a-half set, showing their virtuosity on “Prodigal Son,” “No More Weapons” and “Steppin’ Out,” providing an upbeat ending for an annual event whose popularity now demands an entire weekend. And deservedly so. ★★★★☆