The battle for steelband supremacy heated up on Saturday night with the Tobago preliminaries of the medium conventional bands competition.
The bands – NGC Steel Xplosion, Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra and Carib Dixieland – pulled out all the stops to secure a spot in Sunday's Panorama semi-finals in Trinidad. They were judged on general performance, rhythm and arrangement.
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, Culture, Tourism and Transportation Secretary Nadine Stewart-Philips, Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore and Tobago Tourism Agency CEO Louis Lewis were among those who witnessed the lively performances.
Although the event got off to a slightly late start, Steel Xplosion, dressed in yellow, purple and red, delivered an enjoyable rendition of their tune of choice, Erphaan Alves' Soca Global.
The Odie Franklin-arranged piece had supporters at the Buccoo Integrated Facility hanging on every note. But it was evident many onlookers weren't too familiar with the song.
The band, comprising mostly young players, placed eighth in last year's Panorama finals at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
From the Buccoo Integrated Facility, it was off to the Katzenjammers Pan Theatre in Black Rock. There, the village's pride, Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, gave an explosive performance to the late Merchant's (Dennis Williams) Caribbean Connection.
The piece, arranged by Terrence "BJ" Marcelle, was dedicated to an ailing Kenneth "Fish Brain" Williams, one of the bands oldest base players. The large crowd roared after the set.
The band, which placed second last year in both the THA Pan Champs and the national finals, is hoping to win both events.
Manager Maxsom Ramsey said: "Our performance was out of this world – fantastic. It definitely lived up to our expectations. I think it is the best piece of work that has been put down for us so far."
Mt Pleasant-based outfit Carib Dixieland is hoping to rebound after failing to make it to the finals in last year's competition. And, judging from its performance of the Chris "Tambu" Herbert classic Dis Party Is It, the band may very well be on its way to a spot in the semi-finals.
Carib Dixieland surprised many with the Ojay Richard-arranged presentation.
"I seeing a completely different Dixieland. This new arranger really working some magic," one avid supporter said.
Manager Keston Duke agreed.
"The band's performance was excellent. We had a good arranger but we also had some old players with the new ones. So, our performance was great. We are all excited."
Judging in the preliminaries of the large conventional bands in Tobago was held on Monday night.
THA Pan Champs takes place on Wednesday and the finals of the medium conventional band competition takes place at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, on February 16.