The North Stand and the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah were noticeably sparse, as spectators preferred to stay just outside and enjoy the Parade of the Bands on Carnival Tuesday from the free seats just outside the judging area.
Masqueraders, however, were ecstatic to be crossing the most famous stage for the Greatest Show on Earth, many choosing “to wine and fling it up” in tandem with the high-tempo beats of Machel Montano’s Soca Kingdom, featuring Super Blue blasting from music trucks — interspersed with smatterings of Iwer George’s Savannah.
Soca Kingdom was arguably the most played song at the Savannah judging point, with Montano even giving a live performance as Fantasy Carnival crossed the stage in the blazing midday sun.
The intense heat did nothing to faze revellers, though, who enthusiastically danced their way across the stage.
Fantasy’s 2018 offering, The Isles of Olympia, was suitably captivating, with bright colours and a profusion of feathers, but nonetheless embodied the “bikini and beads” zeitgeist.
Following Fantasy was a small band, with just about ten performers, but Moko Somokow’s Magnificent Return of Sunjata” moko jumbie-only band, brought the thrill of tradition to the stage, with intricate sequinned masks, bold gold head pieces, and flowing costumes.
At about 1.30 pm, Peter Minshall made his return to the Savannah after a one year hiatus, as lead designer of Exodus’s The Eyes of God.
The band stuck to its roots with traditional sailor mas, so the costumes were not particularly spectacular, but rather simply, white pants, t-shirts emblazoned with spiritual messages about the eyes of God being non-judgemental, punctuated by black satin flags with all-seeing eyes.
The band did feature this year’s Carnival King, Death and the Maiden, The Fancy King Sailor plays Pegasus, albeit deconstructed, who did a short performance before the judges to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, played by the Exodus steelband. The real action, though, for a spectator wanting to experience the energy of Carnival, was in the line-up area, just before the stage, where the tension was palpable as bands prepared to cross the stage.
The free stands were packed, and the best seats in the house, since all the bands had to pass by anyway, saving viewers the $50 North Stand price tag, or the $150 general admission into the Grand Stand. Queen’s Park East was also bustling, as well as Memorial Park, filled with families out for a picnic.