As Positive Vibration returns for its 5th year, Getintothis’ King Tubby was there to see if the expanded festival would live up to its award winning previous year.
Coming from its relatively humble beginnings in the Kazimier Gardens, Positive Vibration has now grown to encompass not just Constellations, but also District, Yard and Hangar 34. This year has also seen the linup increase to over 50 acts, including high profile attractions such as Jah Shaka, Scientist and the Selecter.
The first act we caught were Leicester’s Vibronics, who managed to draw a sizeable crowd into Constellations’ main room and got them moving with their live dub experience, complete with live drummer and MC. Next stop was the Constellations garden to see former Portishead man Andy Smith, who gave us a tour of his notoriously deep record box, drawing selections from his Documents series and dancehall classics, showing the garden why he’s so sought after as a DJ.
Our last call for the evening was the mighty Jah Shaka who was holding court in District for the late shift. As might be expected he drew the largest crowd of the day, treating them to the bass pressure and dubplates that have been his signature sound for over 40 years.
Saturday started off somewhat hungover, but things were perked up immensely by seeing the always reliable Selecter in Hangar 34. Fronted by the impeccably stylish Pauline Black, these Ska stalwarts are clearly crowd favourites and were great from start to finish. Highlights included an early 3 Minute Hero, Pauline complaining to the engineer ‘Can someone turn the lights on? There’s black people on the stage, they can’t see us!’, introducing a storming On my Radio by telling anyone claiming politics has no place in music to fuck off, followed by Too Much Pressure and Pressure Drop, before finishing off with an encore medley and crowd singalong featuring Carry Go Bring Home and My Collie.
Next on the agenda is Scientist, responsible for some of the greatest dub albums of all time and a crucial figure in the history of Jamaican music, it’s clear from speaking to people over the weekend that he’s a real coup for the festival, and fortunately he doesn’t disappoint. Although he only plays for an hour, he treats the crowd to an excellent selection that culls hits from throughout his career and makes it clear why so many people were excited to see him. We finish off the evening back in Constellations Garden with the Soul Jazz Records Soundsystem. The masterminds behind the 100% Dynamite! series, amongst others kept a packed garden rocking until the end of the night.
This year has seen Positive Vibration really come into its own, bringing a solid line up to the city and marking the start of the summer in fine rubadub style, without the planning and queuing issues that affect so many similar festivals in the city.
We should also call attention to the large number of local soundsystems and DJs who kept the party going throughout the weekend, including Marley and Vegas, Nicky Talent, Schmame Industries. Funkdub, One A Penny and No Fakin’. We caught up with clearly tired festival organiser Rory Taylor some time past 1am on Sunday morning, and asked him how he thought it had gone, and his reply summed up the weekend perfectly.
“It’s been a success, it’s been a great mix of people, all ages and all cultures enjoying positive music.”
Pictures by Getintothis’ Brian Sayle.