This past weekend, Saturday, September 30, 2023, Lila Ike played to a full house at the Piccolo Rialto as part of the Pop Montreal Festival. One noticeable thing was the demographics of those in attendance: An incredibly small contingent of the English Caribbean community was present.
This is not the first time that an International Reggae artist has come to Montreal and the community claimed they were left in the dark. Nevertheless, the shows did well, either sold out or came very close to it. Meanwhile, shows that target the Caribbean Community have a hard time breaking even, with most of the attendees coming from outside the community.
I don’t think we should fault Pop Montreal or any other festival, for what many perceive as a slight to the community, given they do not market to “Us”, as if they needed Us for a successful show, which again, they did not. From the local media personalities, to DJ’s, Sound Men, promoters and supposed fans, it’s full time you take some responsibility for being or feeling left out.
Koffee, Sister Nancy, and others have graced the stages of Pop Montreal in previous years and the same complaints can be heard “me never know” “how come they never reach out to us?” The hard truth is that they don’t need to. Sold out shows year after year, without marketing to Us says so! We need to do better, period.
Music Festivals and promoters across Canada routinely showcase Reggae Artists and Music in a variety of forms and we are consistently absent, except when it’s a free show, which is sad but true. I can’t find the words to express how disappointing it has been over the last three years, attending Reggae events/shows in Montreal and feeling like I am in Europe as the venue is sold out and I am one of a very small group of people of colour and many times the only Anglophone present.
Until we start supporting our own through more than just talk, we can complain all we want but nothing will change. Those in the media need to step up and get in the know, fans need to support shows, DJ’s and sound men need to play our home-grown talent and big dem up regularly. Words without action are just empty words.