The second edition of the Pal Mundo Festival in the Netherlands has confirmed its ambition towards a leading European Caribbean and Latin festival. Even though Marc Anthony was simply removed from the show bill after headlining for about 5 months (he supposedly postponed his European tour) and also one of his replacements (Carlos Vives) didn’t come to the festival, the remaining line-up still matched every other.
Although Krosfyah has not released any music for more than a decade, the soca group from Barbados easily managed to set the crowd on fire on the first night. It was a shame they only played half of their biggest hit Pump Me Up though. They were followed by reggaeton gangster Tego Calderon (Puerto Rico), whose show was very decent, despite the sometimes static performance and occasional playbacking. The night was well ended by veteran Juan Luis Guerra who never seems to have any problems getting a good live sound, despite the poor acoustics at the concert hall.
On day two a big mistake was made by unleashing Kassav + Friends way too early and way too short. Half of the people must have missed the zouk legends and featuring artists such as Jean-Marc Ferdinand, Zouk Machine and Princess Lover. I managed to listen to the majority of the show on the radio while driving to the event. The consecutive artists on the main stage were Yandel, from the reggaeton duo Wisin Y Yandel, and Romeo Santos, who closed the festival with the same show as last year.
Altogether both the festival and its venue have surely exceeded the previous edition. A lot of attention is given to fancy promotion graphics, photos, videos and special effects. This is a big asset. Next year it would be nice to hear some salsa as well.
Belgium is a country of high quality festivals, and the 16th anniversary of Afro-Latino Festival in Bree was no exception. Since the last couple of years, the line-up competes with the festival’s big brother, the Antilliaanse Feesten. This year’s edition featured Daddy Yankee, Busy Signal, Farruko, DLG, Kes the Band, Fonseca, Vena (ex-Aventura) and Orquesta SCC (La Excelencia).
Deep down the festival is more Latin and Caribbean than African. That’s okay, considering the fact that contemporary African artists are difficult to book without a network, especially compared to their South American counterparts. And a bit less reliable too.
The festival terrain had 3 stages and a 4th stage for DJ’s and dancing salsa. That’s a lot of space for only 7000 visitors. What striked me was the young crowd with many local people and families. This had an up side and a down side to it. Good was the laid back atmosphere at the festival terrain and the fact that one could easily obtain a front row seat. But, most guests didn’t seem to know any of the songs that were played and the night sometimes lacked the intensity of a real Latin party.
That could also be said from the campsite. Only one booming sound system, not much of drinking rum and no barbecues allowed, but a friendly vibe. In Bree they don’t have the commercial mentality of bigger festivals, no fights, no queuing in front of the shower and no tall security checks.
In conclusion the festival is highly recommended for next year, but unfortunately the organization is having financial problems due to a negative balance twice in a row.
Caribbean Latin festival Pal Mundo in the Netherlands has launched itself by booking both El Rey del Reggaeton (Don Omar) and The King of Bachata (Romeo Santos). While Don Omar just didn´t show up because of a conflict with his tour manager, Romeo Santos gave a big show that saved the festival.
Nonetheless it were the artists on the two secondary stages that compensated for the numerous rookie mistakes of the festival and the poor shows by Elvis Crespo, Jowell & Randy and Tony Dize on the main stage. It was a shame the crowd preferred to stay in the large indoor stage which had the best atmosphere, disregarding artists like Luis Miguel del Amargue, Alison Hinds and Carimi.
I am very curious to see how this festival develops itself in the coming years. They should realize that the soul of a festival can not solely be generated by big artists that attract a more main stream audience. Yet it is Romeo’s powerful performance that combats this thesis.