Youth Music Zone a hit
If there was any lesson to learn from the inaugural staging of Youth Music Zone, it would be that barriers work on adults, to some extent, and for children, they are completely ineffective.
Though the stadium field was only at half capacity, the screaming voices of throngs of children and pre-teens filled the air with the excitement only a rock band could incite.
Media personality Emprezz Golding and her mini-cohost Journey took to the stage shortly after 6 p.m., opening the show with an impromptu dance competition among kids.
This set the tone for the dance-centred energy-filled concert, with Don Andre performing with child dancers of his own to help him deliver his hit song, Tom Cruise and his newest single, Jog.
Bling Dawg followed with an energetic performance with the Dance Ja crew, led by Latonya Style. In a heart-warming moment, Bling Dawg gave the spotlight to a student of School of Hope, who Aji Bounced almost like Aji himself.
The barriers soon disappeared behind a wave of small bodies when the rapper who catalysed this year's dance craze took the stage.
"Can I come down there?!" Silento asked, with the audience screaming feverishly in response. Instead of entering the crowd, they came to him. Within moments of leaving the stage, Silento was swarmed by a mob of excited kids.
Silento performed to the roused and rowdy crowd with the same high, kinetic energy that filled the stadium where the bodies did not.
Voicemail followed Silento with a tightly choreographed set, also driven by dancing, in a performance that was wholly appropriate and kept up with the energies that had permeated before.
Undoubtedly, the headliners, R5, generated the most buzz. Led by Ross of Disney Channel fame, R5 played an hour-long pop-rock-driven set accompanied all the way through by the enthused melodic screaming of the youngsters in the audience, who sang along to every word.
Like a rite of passage, the rock band took its time to pay homage to Jamaica's indigenous reggae music with its version of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Three Little Birds, accompanied easily by kids and their parents. The youngsters were able to sing along with the entire set from beginning to end to encore, an indicator of sure-fire success.