(Flip through the slideshow above for the latest photos of KAABOO Cayman. The story will be updated throughout the weekend. — Ed.)
(UPDATE SUNDAY 8 AM Spencer Fordin): Duran Duran capped the first KAABOO Cayman with a spellbinding run through their hits as the evening approached the witching hour.
Simon Le Bon, clad in a white suit with a black Wild Boy’s t-shirt, spoke about the festival between songs at an early juncture of the headliner’s 90-minute set.
“First year?” He said. “I hope it goes on forever and ever and ever.”
Duran Duran played “The Reflex,” “Notorious,” “Wild Boys” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” among other hits during the body of their show, and after a brief encore they played “A View to a Kill” and “Rio” to close out the festival.
Then, after two straight days of satiating themselves in music, art and food, the assembled masses walked into the Cayman night weary and exultant.
(UPDATE SATURDAY 8 PM Mark Muckenfuss, Spencer Fordin): As the sun set on the second and final day of KAABOO Cayman, the band Live pumped up the crowd with a furious rendition of “Selling the Drama,” while thousands of fans sang along with lead vocalist Ed Kowalczyk.
The powerful set was only the intro for the rest of the evening’s music from Sean Paul, Zedd, Jason Derulo and Duran Duran.
Concert goers seemed pleased with the experience.
“I’m wonderfully impressed,” said local attorney Natasha Hernandez. “The lineup has something for everyone.”
Earlier, Shaggy had held the crowds rapt attention on the Ironshore stage, turning up the intensity and talking about his long history in Cayman.
Shaggy said he first came to Cayman in 1993, and he told the crowd that he knew the island had a “strong Jamaican presence.”
Later in his set, before he played his megahit “It Wasn’t Me,” Shaggy tried to pass off some advice.
“You must not get your hand caught in the cookie jar,” he said. “You should not be like Tiger Woods.”
Blondie took the Coral Reef stage wearing platform Nike sneakers and a cloak emblazoned with a profane environmental message.
Fans of all ages dotted the stage to watch the New Wave songstress bring her songs to a new era.
Ian Ross, who painted the mural at Mitzi’s, was on hand painting a fresh new canvas at Kaaboo.
(UPDATE SATURDAY 3 PM Mark Muckenfuss): Wearing a yacht captain’s hat and backed by dancers in Carnival feathers and shimmering bikinis, Matt Brown kicked off day 2 of KAABOO Cayman, trying to generate a dance party feel — no easy task with only a couple dozen audience members from a sparse crowd of early arrivals.
His DJ-based set was the first of three Cayman bands that were at the beginning of Saturday’s lineup.
Shameka Clarke was second, bringing a teasing, sometimes breathy style of hip hop/reggae to the festival. With only a DJ and four dancers, only two of which were on stage at any one time for most of the set, Ms. Clarke looked a bit lost on the big stage, but made the best of it for the small crowd.
The Lion Fish followed after a short delay due to sound problems. The nine-member group brought a garage band sound to such tunes as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and “On My Way.” Its lead singers struggled a bit to rise to the occasion, but many in the crowd of about 200 were on board, waving their hands along with paddles bearing The Lion Fish logo, which band supporters were handing out.
Hirie brought an energetic and reggae-infused set, featuring an eclectic band with brass and even a didgeridoo.
And Salt N Pepa brought “Shake That Thang” as an opener to a crowd of several thousand, following a montage of their Grammy Award footage.
“This is not a show,” they told the audience. “This is a Salt N Pepa experience,” before launching into “Ooh Baby, Baby.”
(UPDATE FRIDAY 10 PM Mark Muckenfuss): Traffic and crowds flowed smoothly into the KAABOO Cayman festival Friday afternoon and evening, alleviating some of the fears expressed ahead of the island’s biggest ever concert event today and Saturday.
Caymanian Kristen Ford, 35, said she and her three sisters had little trouble arriving at the venue in mid afternoon.
“It wasn’t as busy as we thought it would be,” Ms. Ford said.
Her sister Amy, 34, said she was excited about having such a large event come too Cayman.
“It’s a good opportunity for the island to bring down a lot of by artists,” Amy Ford said.
As they spoke, Flo Rida took the stage with a rousing dance filled hip hop performance.
Even Sir Richard Branson, head of Virgin Enterprises, one of the concert’s backers, looked on from one of the elevated VIP boxes.
Caymanian Suzette Grant said the act was all she needed to justify the VIP pass she purchased.
“Oh my God,” Ms. Grant said. “Flo Rida, that’s enough for me.”
But she was also looking forward to seeing Duran Duran on the Saturday night.
“And I can’t wait for the Chainsmokers,” she said of the electro-pop duo closing Friday’s lineup of artists.
Her friend Vashti Bodden said the size of the event was “unprecedented.”
“It creates opportunity (for Cayman),” Ms. Bodden said. “I’m looking forward to it’s growth.”
As darkness set in, Bryan Adams took the stage opening with a blitz of songs including “Run to You.”
Counting Crows pulled off a rousing set, playing a volley of their best-known songs including “‘Round Here,” “Mr. Jones” and polishing things off with a power driven version of “Rain King.”
Sir Branson stepped onto the stage to introduce the Chainsmokers, who treated the crowd to some pyrotechnics and a grinding electronic intro before breaking into their hit “Don’t Let Me Down” to open the show.
(UPDATE FRIDAY 3 PM Mark Muckenfuss): Two local Cayman bands lifted KAABOO Cayman to an energetic start Friday afternoon. Rico Ronaldo and Suckerbox kicked off the festival with back-to-back performances on different stages.
Partly sunny skies greeted festival goers who found the lawns in front of the stages still soggy from Thursday’s rain, but absent standing water. Jason Felts, chief brand officer for KAABOO, said staff worked through the night Thursday with blowers and vacuum units to clear away the water.
Dampness seemed the last thing on the mind of most attendees who watched as Mr. Rolando, in a T-shirt and silver quilted pants, danced and sang his way through a set of recently penned hip-hop songs. A crowd of about 100 — the festival’s earliest arrivals — watched the band, augmented by four backup dancers in white outfits and white sunglasses, provide the opening strains of the two-day event.
Suckerbox powered through a punchy punk performance. By the time they took the stage, the crowd had swelled to about 300. They polished off their set up with an ear-jabbing version of “Drunken Cigarettes,” with lead singer Reno Cianter belying his grey beard with youthful energy.
There were a few early glitches, including problems with the on-site Wi-Fi and equipment problems that left Transviolet without sound the first few moments of its set.
The crowd grew as the afternoon went on. Organizers expect 10,000 people each day of the festival.