Kes’s Iz We rocks Tarouba… but batrons complain of long lines, traffic

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kees Dieffenthaller, right, with dancehall super star Shaggy at Iz We on Tuesday night. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Despite long, tedious lines at the VIP and Courtyard entrances to Kes the Band’s inaugural Iz We festival, the multi-genre, musical showcase delivered high-energy performances from a packed cast of local, regional and international artistes.

Lead singer Kees Dieffenthaller delivered an over two-hour long set in front of thousands of chanting fans who flooded the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba for a Valentine’s night out under the stars, which was occasionally misted with the lightest of drizzles.

Some VIP patrons were a bit flustered before show time because of an over one-hour wait to enter the venue.

But Kees’ spirited performance alongside his accomplished line-up easily removed their frustration all up until after the concert, when the masses endured a similar downtime in standstill traffic to exit; two lengthy delays well worthy of a “mental day.”

Kees hit the stage at 11 pm, emerging from a cloud of thick fog in a full red suit, with his 2023 mega-hit Fuh Spite, which rocked the south venue. He kept the ante high with Mental Day next and had the crowd sing along word-for-word.

Kees Dieffenthaller, left, performs with Voice at Iz We on Tuesday night. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

He delivered hit after hit from his multifaceted catalogue of songs and was regularly joined on stage with an array of artistes who’ve collaborated with his band throughout the years.

Two-time Grammy-award winning Jamaican singer Shaggy (Orville Burrell) headlined the cast and, alongside Kees, swayed the stadium with their 2023 collab Mood.

Shaggy also switched things up a bit with legendary dancehall songs like Boombastic, Big Up, Virgin and Bashment Party. He and Kees also did joint snippets of some popular 90s dancehall which was lapped up by the reminiscing fans.

“You are the greatest my brother and I’m proud of what I’m seeing here tonight,” Shaggy told Kees, to which he responded that it “was a dream come through” (to perform with him).

Jamaican reggae dancehall icon Busy Signal (Reanno Gordon) also combined with Kees for their new song Honeycomb, which was performed alongside Haitian deejay and record producer Michael Brun.

‘Busy’ also had the women sing at the top of their voices to lovers’ reggae hits Come Over and Night Shift before he made a quick exit.

Fans in sing along at the top of their lungs at Kes The Band’s Iz We festival 2023 at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, on Tuesday night. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Calypso veteran Lord Nelson teamed up with Kees for their 2022 song Do We Ting and also belted out classics like Mih Lover and bits of We Like It.

Patrice Roberts and Kees wowed with Feelin It and Like It Like This before she blasted her joint Roadmarch contender (with Machel Montano) Like Yuhself to a frenzied audience.

J Perry with Liki Tiki, Jimmy October with Magic and Kees and Iwer George’s 2020 Roadmarch winner Stage Gone Bad were also energetic highlights during his set.

But after he and Nailah Blackman delivered their 2017 collab Workout, the atmosphere erupted when Skinny Fabulous joined Blackman to shell the Taraouba facilty with another Roadmarch contender Come Home.

Olatunji’s song Engine Room was hailed by Kees as his “favourite song for the season” but when Voice and the ‘Pres’ San Fernando graduate sang Dear Promoter, the pyrotechnic display increased the vibes. Voice also performed his 2023 hit Long Live Soca.

Kees Dieffenthaller performs with Patrice Roberts at Iz We on Tuesday night. – Marvin Hamilton

Additionally, Kees was brought to tears on-stage as he paid an emotional tribute, through 2020 song Reason To Love, to the band’s former music director and keyboardist Ricardo Rameshwar, who passed away a year ago.

When he climaxed his fiery set with Savannah Grass, Kees brought the stadium’s namesake and legendary West Indies batsman Brian Lara on stage to take a jump with him, which the ex-TT captain easily obliged.

The closing moments saw a image of Kees’ late father, masman Bunny Dieffenthaller, broadcast across the stage screens.

Before Kees’ performance, popular local rock band Orange Sky, Coutain, Keshav and Annalie Prime entertained with alternative and other multi-genre music on the moon stage, located obliquely opposite the main stage.

Some patrons hailed Kes the Band’s first installation of Iz We as the “best fete” they’ve attended so far but found it tough to not make mention of the logistical challenges faced at the entrances and for parking, mainly for courtyard ticket holders.