Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The K2K Review

K2K asked that masqueraders provide feedback about their experience with the band. I'm using their headings as a guide for my review. I'm also sending this post to them.

Registration Process

I found online registration to be very easy and any questions I had about the costume was immediately addressed. I then got a quick confirmation for payment and registration. However, I felt that the user should have been able to select more than one costume in the shopping bag, but I guess this was to prevent mass purchasing.

Website

I loved the professional pics on the website, which gave a good idea of what the costume looked like. Viewers saw the various options for each section with all of the important registration information. I like when a website is simple and easy to maneuver.

Mas Camp Experience

I first visited the mas camp on Feb 3 and was blown away by the prototypes. At this point I was, extremely excited especially when Mummy Norman allowed me to be to try on the wings for Dead Sea. However, the many questions that I had about the Monday wear and accessories were not really addressed, but I wasn't bothered since it was a bit early.

The following Friday I returned to try on the corset and for the hubby to try his pants. The adjustments for the corset and pants were noted, which is not typical for bands who expect you to deal with adjustments on your own. The hubby did order a size 38 pants even though he is size 36. After years of not getting an actual size 36 that was not too small, he decided to order the bigger size. But in this case, it was way too big. A few days later, the adjustments made the pants too small, and another adjustment was promised.

Costume Collection

I must admit I felt that K2K announced costume collection too late, and the collection on the Thursday and Friday before Carnival was also too late. But once I got there, it was a very easy and a smooth process. As late as this was, we were told that we had to return on Sunday to collect the Monday wear as they were not ready. I also did not get my head piece. I think any masquerader would agree that it would have been better to collect all pieces on one day.

As a small band, the venue for costume collection worked, but when the band grows next year, a new venue will have to be considered because parking in a residential area could be a problem.

Monday Costume

The costume for Monday was FAB! I am so over wearing a tshirt and hot shorts on Monday. Sadly, I did not play Monday but on TV, they looked great. Everyone looked uniformed, and it was a welcomed break from Monday tshirts. The dress could have been worn several different ways and guidelines for draping it were included in the very cute organza bag. K2K's attention to these little details is what I enjoyed the most. I really hope they keep this Monday concept and don't leave it up to the masqueraders.

Tuesday Costume

The hubby eventually got his pants to fit but opted not to wear it since he did not like the feel of the material. But you know men, they don't make a big deal about these things, so he just wore a black cargo pants that he bought and settled with that.

On the other hand, I took my costume more seriously. I'm glad that I wore a cami under the corset because the material was itchy. But everything fit really well, and it was not heavy or cumbersome. I did not feel hot in the black or with so many pieces of costume. And most important at the end of the day, the costume was in tact as if I could have worn it again.

Even though frontline masqueraders were told that we would receive our wings on Tuesday, Dead Sea got no wings until much later in the day. On arrival, I asked one of the team members about my wings and was told that "it was on its way"....2 hours later, it was still on its way.

Bar Service/Meals

Although there were 2 bars, it didn't seem like this crowd was big on the hard liquor. I also had to opt for soft drinks since I was heavily medicated. The lucozade, water and coconut water were flowing until we lost the bar at the entrance to the savannah. No one could have known that the wait would have been that long and tiresome, but this is when we really needed our drinks and food. It would be a good idea to have carts or a roving bar and food service at this point especially if we know that we would not get to the lunch stop on time.

I really hope K2K can do Id bands next year because I saw lots of masqueraders from Ronnie and Caro being served drinks from our bar.

Road Experience

On Tuesday, the band left their starting point at Lord Harris Square too late at almost lunch time. If the trucks left their departure point at 6:00am, they would have gotten to the square very easily. It is sad that the band took most of the day to get from the Square to the Savannah which is less than a mile. If we left earlier, we would have gotten to the Savannah earlier and avoided that tiresome wait. The NCBA also has to take some of the blame in this instance. There needs to be a system to accommodate the large number of bands crossing the stage because this nonsense cannot continue.

Security

Now this was a big problem....where was the security???? The number of security guards was inadequate. This is an important aspect of band management and the safety of masqueraders must be a priority. This has to be addressed next year.

Music

The DJs were good. My only complaint is that I wanted to hear more of the road march contenders on the road, and not just on the stage.

Wee wee Truck and Spa Truck

Shockingly, I didn't use the wee wee truck or the spa truck (even more shocking), so I can't really comment on them. But please keep the spa truck!

Overall, I expected a lot more from K2K. The excellent promotion of the band in the beginning made it seem like everything was in order. They had all the elements of a great band, but failed in many areas.  Carnival is more than just about costumes but the experience on the road.  I've been with 2 bands in their first year, so I know there must be hiccups but there were too many in K2K. Masqueraders are not interested in hearing about problems with suppliers, tailors or seamstresses; we just want what was promised in a timely manner. On the road, we expect easy access to drinks, a meal at a reasonable time in the day, clean toilets, a rest truck and adequate security. In fact, this is what we believe we are paying for along with the costume.

What you can't beat K2K with, is their costumes. This was the best costume I've ever worn which made me actually feel like I "played mas". The costumes were original, lacked the generic bikini and beads factor but was still  contemporary. This is their strength; they just need some experienced personnel to fill in the blanks for road management. Would I play with them again??? Yes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Welcome to the House of Bacchanal

Pan Semis


After not being to Pan Semis in 10 years, I was really clueless about the Greens. I am ashamed to say that I had no idea that the Greens and Pan do not go hand in hand. But I have to admit that the lime in the Greens is like no other especially if you moving with Caesar's Army who offered a package that included a tshirt, lunch, snacks and drinks. The Caesar's Army posse had lots of vibes, but I still wanted to hear more Pan. There was a small set up near the stage for persons who wanted the Pan exerience, but it was not an ideal viewing or listening position. If I ever get the opportunity again, I will definitely opt for the North stand.


Kes the Band at Normandie

Well if you have been following this blog, you will know that I LOVE Kees so there was no reason for me not to attend this show. I even got my Dad to purchase the tics before I got to Trinidad! The parking was easy and I got a good viewing spot once I was inside. On a side note, Normandie needs to reduce the number of chairs which just took up wining space. I mean who really wants to sit during a performance from Kees???

As usual, Kees gave a bess performance with some guest perforances from David Rudder, Shal, TC, JW and Blaze, Michelle X and Lord Nelson. I really enjoyed this show which was on time, well choreographed and just confirms why I love Kees. It was also a plus that Normandie always has reasonably priced drinks and yummy local dishes. The show was over by 11:00pm but the DJ played until about midnight. This show was another plus to arriving in Trinidad early.

Mai Tai

I was skeptical at first about Caesar's Army's Mai Tai on Sunday since there were no advertised performers and there was an animal print dress code. But then they released that Bunji and Benjai would be there. The female tickets were TT$300, which included drinks. It was a long drive to the venue, but once you got to the designated parking, there was a shuttle service to the venue. I must commend the ample security in the parking area and even at the venue. The premium drinks were flowing and there was little wait at the bar. Even though the fete was promoted as a drinks inclusive, we were treated to corn soup, douples and geera chicken. Well done Caesar's Army!

Machel Monday

I was looking forward to Machel Monday more than any other event since I've never attended this show. The biggest lesson learnt here is either get there very early or get someone to drop you because parking is a bitch. Showtime was advertised as 8:00pm, so we were there about 7:15pm which was very late. It took me almost 2 hours to find a spot close enough to the stadium until I eventually got a park in Movie Town for TT$40, which apparently is the new rate for parking. I would like to think that this TT$40 goes to Movietown management and not that security guard; yes I would fool myself with that one.

After missing Kes the Band *sad face*, I was finally inside the Platinum section which should have been called "General 2" because there was nothing special about this section- no drinks, food or vantage point included in the TT$500, just people and more people. The bars were over crowded and there extremely long lines for food. Let's just say that Machel made his money off us fools in Platinum.

Overall Machel gave his best proving why he is the greatest soca artiste in the world. Most of the guest performers were pretty good. I was actually surprised that I like Pitbull's performance. I wanted to hear more from the Iz from the Caymans. Benjai, yes I love you too-keep it up. Kerwin, you are the BOSS- Bacchanlist is my theme song! And Beenie man, you shoulda stay home...

Bacchanal Wednesday

After my Trini Posse experience last year, I said that Johnny Soong will not catch me with his nonsense again so I got a General admission ticket for TT$300 for Bacchanal Wednesday. Somebody please tell me when did they start charging to park on the beach opposite the Hangar in Chaguaramas???? And yes, the secuiry guards who apparently own or leasing the space charged the standard TT$40.

Once inside, I was happy that I was in General. I got a good spot near the stage and had a good view. Destra and her band was up first which can best be described as a lackluster performance. Remember that she was booed severely at this same fete 2 years ago, so I would think she would have done better. But the Bacchanal Wednesday crowd is tough and showed very little appreciation for Destra even when she drew for her old songs. Not even her Power soca contender, "Link up", did anything for this crowd. At one point, the crowd started chanting "Kerwin, Kerwin!".....no comment.

Kes the Band was better and got a better response, but the man who mash up the party was Swappi. I'm trying really hard to not like Swappi, since he just seems like he's pissed he wasn't born in Jamaica. But the bucket is the new must have item for Carnival....I left before Machel got to the fete.

What I did not like about this fete was the cost of the drinks. I mean, TT$50 for a Johnnie Walker and coconut water and the bartenders not even fulling the cup! That was a major fail. To top it off, you could only buy the drink chits in $100 batches. So the math is simply 4 drinks= TT$200. Bigger FAIL!


Blue Range

This was my first time at Blue Range which I would recommend as a good choice for carnival Friday. The ticket was only TT$250 and coolers had to be in by midnight. The parking was easy and there was a shuttle service to and from your car. This was a well organized event with great vibes. We even saw Bunji and Faye Ann, who gave their usual good performance. Chutney Soca Monarch, KI, also did his "Single Forever". I left about 3:30am so I'm not sure if there were more performances, but Blue range is a definite do again....


Sunny Side Up

Even though I had my tic, I had to miss this one *sad face*. Unfortunately, I became really ill on Saturday and had to even go to the doctor. Big up the Health Centre in Chaguanas where the workers wanted to go home and dealt with patients really quickly....And the sadder news is that I did not play mas today even though I had my gorg Monday wear and accessories. This was the doctor's order, but Tuesday will see me for sure even if it's not for the whole day!