Doubtless, KAABOO organizers would have preferred to forgo the drama caused by last Thursday’s rains, which raised the nerve-wracking possibility that the weather – the one factor even the most diligent of festival organizers cannot control – might upend months of planning and preparation and sabotage the sold-out event.
But Friday brought the dawning of a perfect Cayman day, the sun shining brilliantly down on the biggest festival of its kind our island has ever seen. Perhaps even providence thought better of displeasing Sir Richard Branson and the army of planners, organizers and wranglers that worked together to pull off such an impressive feat: An “elevated experience” for 10,000 daily attendees, carefully crafted to delight each of the five senses and complement an eclectic musical lineup. Inspiring artwork, tantalizing food and libations, abundant goodwill and celebration – a one-of-a-kind experience that will not be soon forgotten, and which, hopefully, will be repeated next year.
Thanks to a diligent crew that worked through the night, there was little evidence of Thursday’s rain at the festival site the following day, apart from some squelchy grass in certain areas. Working with blowers and vacuums, they removed much of the standing water on the lawns and stages.
There were a few glitches, of course, as could only be expected for an inaugural event of this size and scope. Spotty WiFi reception and connectivity, especially on Friday, bothered some, while others grumbled about the occasional long lines at bars and restaurant stalls. Los Angeles alt-rock group Transviolet were a few minutes late hitting the stage, apparently because of some problems with sound equipment, but these and any other issues were handled with a quiet and swift competence (often publicly, via KAABOO’s active social media presence).
For the most part, “island time” wasn’t in evidence, with almost every act appearing exactly when they were supposed to. A minute-by-minute countdown on the KAABOO Cayman app of when each act would start and finish let the audience know when it was time to move over from the Ironshore stage to the Coral Reef stage, or when to drop by the Humor Me tent to see the comedy lineup, or when their favorite chef was about to appear at the Palate culinary site.
Thursday’s postponed VIP event morphed into an exclusive brunch on Saturday morning. From there, the show went on … and on … and on – never losing momentum, never growing stale – to a powerful finish by iconic British band Duran Duran.
There were those who scoffed at Virgin Produced’s ambition to pull off the “biggest live entertainment event ever on Cayman,” when it was first announced in February last year, but there is no question that the festival delivered on its promise of an outstanding “curated” experience for a discerning clientele.
One understands why organizers eschewed the label “music festival,” which brings to mind hordes of people massed like cattle into fenced-off venues with little infrastructure, surrounded by dirt and trash. Months of site work and planning yielded smooth flow of traffic and people.
The inclusion of local performers and vendors ensured the experience was as uniquely Cayman as it was world-class, leaving an indelible impression on residents and visitors alike.