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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brian Mac Farlane Carnival 2011 Review

Another Carnival season has passed and while Lent has begun, memories of C2K11 are still fresh in my mind. This year I decided to return to Macfarlane after considering jumping ship to YUMA or Bliss. While YUMA and Bliss both offered extremely attractive all-inclusive deals, the deciding factor for me was the appeal of the male costumes which MacF definitely excels in. So I registered in October 2010 and eagerly anticipated the approach of the carnival season.

It baffles me why for a band that is so well organised when crossing the stage that costume distribution should prove to be extremely challenging. As usual I was only informed about costume distribution dates through trinidadcarnivaldiary, not once did I receive a phone call or email. Someone did note that it was published in the Trinidad express (but I am a Guardian reader)....and at some point it was placed on the band's website (For some reason I had to check the webpage and thats how I saw it)...but I carnival Friday amidst the chaos and bacchanal in downtown port-of-spain I had to journey to the camp to be greeted with a scene of utter chaos. Pieces of the costume were missing, people were cursing at his staff and just complete frustration was in the air. For one his distribution space...yes space is much too small. MacF please take a page from Tribe or YUMA and rent a larger space. That would make things so much easier. Also some of your staff needs customer service skills as one gentleman in particular was ready to quarrel with a dissatisfied he CRAZY!? The customer had every right to be mad because of the length of time distribution was taking AND the fact that after so many months pieces of the costume had not been delivered yet. UNACCEPTABLE....

I was disappointed that for 2011 we were no longer given the sheet of cloth to create something with but instead we were told to wear anything white,black or white and black. Everyone got a bottle of paint to squirt and a white or black bandanna. It was a very jouvert-esque experience but it was fun! We got moving around 11:30 am and did not cross the savannah until after 7pm.

I was pleased with my costume and by extension with everyone's costume that I saw upclose. They were solid and took some serious licks on the road....even the one's that were damaged still held up and looked fine. I must note that a critical strip of velcro was missing from almost everyone's outfit in my section. I could attribute this to a simple 'oversight' but considering that his costumes are not cheap, this I felt was foolishness and MUST to be addressed.

We actually got moving around 9:30 and compared to 2010 we were moving at a prety good pace. The Adam smith sq point and south quay were AMAZING and the use of black and white confetti was GREAT! But the wait to get into the savannah was disgusting ....just TERRIBLE!! Once again we crossed the stage in darkness....geez. How ironic it is that if the road in front of the savannah was used, we would have ended our day much earlier.

Bad points
- macf replaced fruta with minute maid....NASTY...that stuff tastes
like syrup! I was not a happy camper when I was greeted by that sight.
- there was no carib nor heineken this year. Only black wolf (which I
find tastes awful) and stag which was served later in the day.Coke,
sprite and shandy were also available which was cool
- his security is way too laidback especially on tuesday near the
savannah entrance when various 'goontas' were making their way among
- no mobile restrooms!!! Macf get with the program!!!!
- I am still undecided about the presence of Roy Cape on the road as
Blaxx in particular gave some good vibes to keep us
dancing...BUT...roy cape restricted themselves 90% of the time to
Blaxx' 2k11 soca offerings. Oh gosh man it would not have killed them
to play 'tusty' or some other song. After hearing Tantie woi for the
20th time I was ready to throw something!

All in all I would give Macfarlane for 2011 a C....C for Cheapness. Crossing the stages in his band is a fantastic experience that everyone should be part of, but it was evident this year that he cut back on several things especially where the beverages were concerned and Monday wear. And it seems that every year he implements more cost cutting measures. Would I play with him again in 2012? At this point I cannot say. Although his band provides a fantastic costume and stage experience, I keep asking myself If I would get more bang for my buck in the other fully all inclusive bands with food and drink. With the cost of costumes in all bands ever increasing, I think every masquerader really needs to evaluate what they are getting.

On a side note...
(1) Why cant the government get it right and have fully equipped and CLEANED restrooms provided on the parade route? The only years I have seen this done properly was in 2005 and 2009.

(2) The NCC or NCBA or whoever need to allow drinks trucks to STAY with the band once in the savannah. Once Macf's drinks trucks turned off the parade route, the wait to cross the stage was so long that during this time I became dehydrated and became extremely agitated. I must publically thank the CEPEP worker who handed me the most suspect looking bottle of water that saved me from collapsing. Thanks a lot!

(3) Lastly all bands need to respect each other. On monday Dkrewe was in front of us and would stop for 30 minutes or more for no apparent reason wasting time!! They kept doing this even when there was nothing in front of them! Loud watery steups!

Bring on carnival 2012!

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Photos 2011

This list will be added to once more galleries and websites update and if you find any Carnival Photos or Pics online please leave a link in the comments, thanks !

Iroquois Individuals

Dear Saucy,
they tried to ruin it for us, but as you can see they failed!

After being informed on Carnival Sunday that we could not be guaranteed the backbacks by a certain Cocktail Girl, you can see by the pictures that Monique and her team (Wes and Akee lin the second picture) came through for us. They stayed up until 7:30am on Monday morning to make us the backpacks, we must commend them for their high work ethic and the fact that they did not want us to be even more uspset and disapointed than we already were............

To Monique, Wes and Akeel, a big thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

And to the Cocktail Girls, one who is extremely rude and the other one in particular we have to tell you that you when you deal with people who are paying large sums of money for an item they expect to get good customer service and the item in excellent condition. If the task at hand was to much for you to handle then that's all you had to say, you had absolutley no right to string us around, and then avoid our phone calls and hit us with a last minute bombshell that we could not get the backbacks, that was downright poor and displayed terrible work ethic. If you cannot handle a simple task like this which you knew about since August 2010, then you have no future in any kind of business Carnival or otherwise.

Best Wishes, Nicha &  Shelly

TRIBE Way of the Warrior Review

Just some quick notes on tribe 2011

All in all, I would say the experience was great. I have only ever played mas with two bands in my life: harts for years and years, and recently for the past few years with tribe.

I’ve never written a review before, but there were a few things that i took note of over the two days, and I thought that they needed to be addressed. i did NOT play mas last year, so I’m not sure if some of these issues arose last year, prompting people to migrate to a new band in 2011 or a more intimate experience. I had a blast, more-or-less my perception of tribe's organization remains for the most part unchanged. Nevertheless, I’m accustomed to a certain quality of service from tribe, and I think that there has been some decline in the areas outlined below:

On Monday, tribe ran out of food. This, as far as I know has NEVER happened before. Not only were masqueraders affected but staff as well. I overheard a caterer telling masqueraders that they were asked to cater for a certain number and it appears that the demand far exceeded the supply. I also overheard staff members grumbling that the band was short on food, urging others to "hurry-up to get because it running out", and others saying that "they eh working late today because they eh get no food". Masqueraders who were at the back of the band either did not get lunch at all or had to settle for the few remaining vegetarian-only options. Luckily, in terms of the food itself, the portions were HUGE, so masqueraders who did not receive lunch could have comfortably shared with their friends (assuming that they had friends in the band, and the said friends had not eaten it all). i do not think that this situation re-occurred on Tuesday.

there was quite a lot of inconsistency between the various bar trucks, and the attitude of the staff on some of these trucks. For example, I was at the front of the band on both days, and thus was among the very first group of people to cross the stage. having exhausted my bottle of water which was acquired before the trucks departed at Keate street, I IMMEDIATELY found the bar trucks after leaving the stage to be told at one truck that they were "closed while d band on stage". I walked down to another truck and was promptly served without any issue. My friends had similar issues, being greeted by generally sour staff members who decided that an explanation was too much effort and got blank stares of hand gestures as responses. Even WITHIN a truck, at one point my wife wanted water and one of the women told her that “they were locked off for now" whereas i asked another lady with some sweet talk and a smile and was able to get what i needed. Nonsense! Another disturbing inconsistency (which i cannot recall ever happening before in previous years) was asking for coconut water and being told that it was for "chaser only" but getting as much coconut water as i wanted at other trucks.

Security was definitely relaxed this year. I thought there were more stormers than usual, and quite a few were able to stay in the band for hours without being detected. Even in the park there were a lot of people who should not have been there taking up space and blankets. I was not actually AFFECTED by this, but it the observation must be noted. This occurred on BOTH Monday AND Tuesday.

I can only speak in relation to my section - Mayan Eagle. My wife's headpiece was falling apart before ever putting it on her head. The glue that was used to hold the adorning was POOR. Luckily I reinforced with crazy glue at home, so things remained intact. The male headpiece on the other hand was of MUCH better quality. By the way how practical was it for the ladies to go to the bathroom if the top was tied to the back through the loops on the hot shorts?

I’ve always liked the 'big band bacchanal' but the band really is too big. As I did not play last year, I discounted the many reviews that spoke about this issue. But from my last point of reference (birds of a feather) to 2011, it SEEMS that the band has almost doubled. I was at the front of the band for both days, so did not have to deal with TOO much congestion, but getting to the wee-wee truck was quite an ordeal! Obviously the size of the band impacted on lunch being short on Monday and security being lax this year.

There were many things I loved about my 2011 road experience. The jump through St. James was great! Despite the overwhelming positives, the aforementioned issues need to be fixed. At the end of the day, were the logistics too unrealistic with two brands? Were the resources diverted or stretched too this? Tribe is the signature brand and product and it cannot seem to masqueraders that they are second-rate even to the company's newest brand, Bliss.


Saucy's Bliss Review

On Tuesday the full complement of the band could be seen and felt. I am guessing that there were approximately 2500 masqueraders plus road marshals, security, concierge services and other supplemental staff. The size was perfect, not too crowded and not too small that the beauties of sections are lost. Honestly, I would love for the size to remain the same in numbers for 2012 because that was the strongest factor for me and many others choosing to playing in Bliss and it is also the main reason the experience was so great.

There were production problems with several sections which led to delays in getting pieces of costumes on time, a frustration that will anger any masquerader. In the end I think customer service tried to resolve as many issues as possible. I fixed my own costume to my satisfaction even though Customer Service offered to decorate my new bra for me. Strips of trim were coming undone on my belt by Tuesday afternoon but because I had a lunch stop and magnatac in my car, a quick fix and I was ready to go. Other than that the rest of my costume was intact for the day. Izumi Clan’s copper jewelry turned my friend’s skin green and some of the gems fell off the bra. The backpacks used in Titans needed to be secured by more than just flimsy ribbon. Sections that looked great were Titans, Amazonia, and Izumi Clan. Fingers crossed that Bliss really knocks the costume design out of the park for Carnival 2012, just having two strong sections for people to choose from, numerous costume changes and an unadvertised section will not cut it. I think it is a pro and a con that there are no private sections in Bliss, in all honesty the private sections can stay in TRIBE as I heard they ALL had production and quality issues except for Persian Gold.

Food and Drinks
The bars advertised Malta but I could find none on both days. When it came to premium drinks I saw a long list including champagne that people were drinking in plastic flutes! My drink of choice and coconut water never ran out so I was happy. We had adequate supplies of water as well. Breakfast arrived when we were at Memorial Park and they were serving from Keate Street. I had a chicken sandwich, on the menu was also doubles, hops and ham and bake with buljol; not too sure if there were more options since I did not actually go to the truck myself. At the lunch stop a variety of options were provided, lunch was tasty and because we were on time it was fresh as well. Evening snack was the usual pizza, bake and shark and Calzones.

Lunch Stop
The resting park is a great size for the band and I liked that it is fenced in; only Bliss masqueraders were allowed inside by showing their wrist bands. Lots of blankets available however they need more umbrellas and large tents as there are no trees, save one, in the lunch stop. I saw some people resting outside the gate. It would be nice to have some music during the lunch stop as well. The wait was not too long compared to TRIBE, post lunch I had time to go to where my car was parked on Cawnpore Street, freshen up at my friend’s house, change my boots and tights before we heard the band passing by and left to join them.

DJ 4 Play and Private Ryan were good. I enjoyed the after lunch session more than earlier in the day. A good mix of tunes though I did not care for truck #1. Maybe next year they can look into switching up the DJs that play on the road.

On Tuesday we took a slightly different route to Monday. After crossing stage the band went down Tragarete Road to the lunch stop. After that it was down St James, up Mucurapo Road, down French Street and unto Ariapita Avenue (where some of us crossed the Synergy Stage) crossed the judging Point at Victoria Square then headed down Tragarete Road for last lap at Jennys… whew! BEST part of the experience was no long wait to cross the stage, we crossed early enough, third behind Pulse 8 !

No complaints about the bar service, some were more crowded than others but I was always served promptly. Meal service was prompt as well. Special shout out to the concierge who were assigned to the Individual Masqueraders as once they were able to they extended the service to Frontliners and other masqueraders as well, bringing water and helping stash headpieces and backbacks in an assigned vehicle.

The Security and Rope team have to be the hardest workers in the band. Incredibly were not bombarded by stormers on both days. I saw security ask people who were not in costume to leave the band and I also saw them physically remove someone who was accompanying a masquerader which angered said masquerader and some choice words were passed. The extra security detail when the President joined the band was insane as usual, I just moved away from them, did you see how much equipment they were loaded with? And then we had to all move to one side of the truck when passing the Mosque on Mucurapo Road even though we passed the same route without having to do this on Monday.

I enjoyed the mix and the crowd in Bliss. There were lots of familiar faces and some new ones as well. And this crowd seemed to be less “stush” than it was rumoured it would be! I cannot tell you how many times random men took a wine on me! My friends were pleased with the eye candy! One person I know mentioned, that her co worker said that there was a “vibe” lacking. To me people were simply having FUN from what I could see, but everyone's experience is different. The reality is Bliss cannot accommodate everyone for 2012 anyway. So for every person who will be looking for another band hope you find your fit elsewhere.I personally know of some one who will be going back to TRIBE because that is where their friends are.

Soapbox Rant
As a FIRST time band I will give Bliss A + for execution, as so many things could have gone wrong with one management producing two bands. I for one do not look at Bliss as an extension as TRIBE since we shared NONE of the services and both bands operated independently. That meant Bliss’ own distribution, meeting point, lunch stop, DJs, Road Management and Security detail. Yes the experience from TRIBE lended itself to the production of Bliss but it is still a new entity that could have flopped and failed just as easily.

Just because TRIBE’s connection is behind it has nothing to do with immediate and instantaneous success. Donald Trump is a successful business man and even he has attached his name and finances to developments that failed big time. And I find it hypocritical to expect that Bliss as a new band should be held to a different standard ( less leeway for hiccups) when other bands are boasting over 30 years of Carnival experience yet their negative points as dismissed as first year growing pains.

ALL new bands come into the Carnival arena claiming that they have so much experience, how come that experience is never held up to task when they fail to live up to hype? So kudos to Bliss even though some people think you are not worthy of getting a “bligh” for slip ups because you are not a “new band” thankfully no bligh was needed because the experience was almost flawless for me!
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