Sting is the longest running stage show in Jamaica and is dubbed the greatest one night reggae and dancehall show on earth. The focus is on dancehall, and over the past 30 years a hardcore dancehall crowd has been the critical jury of who’s hot and who’s not. Sting is an important festival for the career of many dancehall artists, who can get instant fame by winning one of the lyrical clashes. Artists are involved in a lyrical battle and the crowd decides who wins. When the crowd is dissatisfied with an artist's performance it used to express this dissatisfaction by throwing bottles to the stage. Throughout the 1990 and 2000s small fights and bottle throwing were simply part of the vibe until (how clever!) bottles where replaced by plastic cups. In recent years the festival attracts a more international crowd and bigger sponsors.
Sting always takes place on december 26, Boxing Day. The 2015 edition was the 32th staging of the show.
Place to be is the outdoor venue Jamworld Entertainment Center in Portmore.
For the 2014 edition a new concept was introduced: 'two shows in one night'. Instead of a strictly dancehall focus, with the backing band playing basically the same riddim the whole night long, the early segment of the show was more like a regular stage show and focused on conscious reggae with artists such as Etana, I Wayne, Tarrus Riley, Iba Mahr, Kabaka Pyramid, Droop Lion and Exco Levi. Capleton, a versatile artist who has both reggae and dancehall hits, provided the turning point for the show after which the dancehall part started with artists such as Masicka, Tommy Lee, Demarco, Blak ryno, Kip Rich and Gully Bop.
Theme of the 2015 edition was ‘From then till now’ with an older generation of artists that ruled the 1980’s and 1990’s performing: Burru Banton, Major Mackerel, Jigsy King, Tony Curtis, Pinchers, Terror Fabulous, Junior Cat, Alozade, Chico, Terry Ganzie. Other artists performing included Lady G, Stylish, Half Pint, TurbulanceAt 6 a.m., way too early for Sting standards, the show was locked off by the police while some of the biggest artists where still waiting backstage to perform. Artists such as Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Merciless, Gully Bop, Ninja Man and Vershon thus did not get a chance to perform.
You can find accommodation in Portmore or you could stay in Kingston. Plan ahead though, some 20 000 people go to Sting.
Check the special hotel deals on the Sting Website. If you do, subscribe to the Sting newsletter, and get updates on the 2016 edition and any hotel or travel deals.
If you cannot make it you can watch the whole show on the Pay Per View Live stream on the Sting website. It’s not very cheap but Sting invests heavily in the quality of the audio and video and the results are great video from different camera angles and crisp audio.