Stacks of speakers strung like beads on a cable were being hauled into place along the edge of the Ironshore stage at the KAABOO festival grounds on Tuesday, one of the final pieces of the preparation for the start of the two-day entertainment event.
Somewhere else in Cayman, Rico Rolando was getting ready.
The local musician will be the first act of the main festival, taking the Ironshore stage at 1:15 p.m. Friday for a half-hour set. That is, if his nerves do not get him first.
“The pressure right now is unreal,” Mr. Rolando said late last week. “But we’re ready to pull off our biggest show to date.”
His band and backup dancers have been rehearsing “mostly every day” in recent weeks, he said, with morning sessions for the backup dancers, an addition to his act, and afternoon practice for the band. Mr. Rolando is also putting the finishing touches on a new album.
“It should be very entertaining,” he said of the KAABOO performance. “The visuals are going to be dope. I’ll be introducing four of my new songs and I’ll have two very special guests.”
He’s looking at the gig as an opportunity that might open new doors for him in his career.
“I’m going to be thinking, ‘Let’s give it the very best show you’ve ever given and let’s get on [the lineup for] KAABOO Del Mar and KAABOO Texas.”
Mr. Rolando’s act is one of five featuring Cayman talent that will be playing the two-day festival, which features music, comedy, art and culinary elements. The event is a spin-off of the four-year-old KAABOO Del Mar festival near San Diego. The first KAABOO Texas event is scheduled for May. Other local performers include Suckerbox, The Lion Fish, Matt Brown and Shameka Clarke. They will have the first few spots.
Ms. Clarke said she also sees KAABOO as a career lift.
“The fact that there is a huge number of international acts is definitely a benefit,” she said, referring to such artists as Duran Duran, the Chainsmokers and Jason Derulo. “It will add to my portfolio.”
She’s hoping she will get the chance to meet some of those performers, especially Shaggy.
“He’s the one artist I would like to work with,” she said.
Tara Thompson, a singer and manager for The Lion Fish, admits to being a bit gaga for Duran Duran, a band she grew up with.
“I’ve a bit of Duran Duran fever,” she said. “The sight of Simon Le Bon or John Taylor, it wouldn’t be bad to shake their hands.”
Ms. Thompson said The Lion Fish has played to large crowds before, such as Taste of Cayman, but KAABOO is, well, a different kettle so to speak.
“We want to make sure we give it much more,” she said of the five song set they are planning. “You’re obviously going to have your little jitters, but more than anything, it’s definitely excitement.”
The band, which plans to donate its KAABOO paycheck to the upcoming Kiting for Cancer event, has been rehearsing four times a week to get ready for the show, she said, which is not an easy task since she and other band members have full-time day jobs.
With only 20 minutes on stage, it will be over in a flash.
“It would have been nice to have a longer set,” she said, “but we’re thankful we have 20 minutes. Maybe next time.”
Suckerbox’s Derrick McKay said some friends have complained to him they think local bands should have been given more stage time. But, he said, he’s happy for the gig and he’s hearing plenty of buzz about the festival.
“A lot of people are talking about it on the street,” he said. “Most people are very excited.”
The festival is a big deal for his band, he said.
“We’re definitely excited the closer it gets,” he said. “We definitely want to get some video and shoot some stuff for sure. You never know what could happen. We may be able to reach a few more people.”
They will be reaching a lot of people live. The festival was nearly sold out on Wednesday. More than 10,000 people are expected on each of the two days.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been on a nice big stage,” Mr. McKay said. “As a performer it’s a very big difference. It’s a matter of relying on your bandmates. You have to go to instinct and you know your band’s going to be there for you.”
KAABOO has a phone app where people can register to get notifications when a particular band is going to take the stage. Mr. McKay said he’s been encouraged to see the number of people who have added Suckerbox to their list.
“We’re one of the bands they want to see and it’s nice to see that,” he said, before quipping, “I wish they were coming just to see us.”