Building a collective path towards peace is the objective that has been set to pursue the Rototom in its 28th edition under the slogan “United for peace”. Benicàssim, in its particular week dedicated to the reggae scene, establishes itself for another year as a macro cultural event capable of bringing together veteran reggae music artists such as Capleton, Burning Spear y Barrington Levy with the innovative spirit of proposals close to new currents such as Biga*Ranx, Kabaka Pyramid o Dub FX that make up the wide and idiosyncratic sound range of this edition.
Vibrating to the rhythm of the sparkles of the Main Stage
The main stage gave way every night to the most established artists on the national and international contemporary scene. A whole display of talent that, taking Jamaican music as its central axis, gave us truly inspiring performances like that of the Jamaican Lila Ike, who wearing a dress in her signature hope green color, radiated energy and positivity through her frequent interaction with the public. Her unexpected collaboration with Chi Ching Ching in the recent “Wurl a Baff” and the closing of his show with “Where I’m Coming From” was one of the highlights of his live show.
The French Biga*Ranx, one of the greatest representatives of the new generation of European reggae, was in charge of giving the hip hop touch to a track completely exalted by its frenetic rhythms. Inexhaustible, he set the stage on fire wrapped in hypnotic visuals presenting the essential songs from his latest album “Eh Yo!” and reaching the climax with “Montagne” and “Emoji”.
Continuing with hip hop, dub and reggae cadences. The also French L’Entourloop finally had their moment in the Rototom of this edition after its cancellation last year due to strong gusts of wind. On this occasion, the duo that has spent more than a decade mixing and collaborating with a multitude of high names in deejay, dancehall and hip hop culture, was the protagonist of a brilliant performance accompanied by N’ Zeng y Troy Berkley & BlabberMouf. In addition, the unexpected appearance of other artists that made up the poster such as Queen Omega o Las Ninyas del Corro promoted a dynamic show to outstanding both in stage design and in its set.
Kabaka Pyramid constituted another of the obligatory appointments of this edition. The Jamaican artist awarded at the end of 2022 with the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for “The Kalling”, produced by Damian Marley, lit a proposal around poetic messages for the claim of roots reggae before a crowded esplanade chanting the themes inspired by freedom and own power.
Trueno premiered for the first time on the Main Stage and did so by filling the first rows of the edition’s youngest audience. Representing one of the new forces of Latin American hip hop, the very young Argentine rapper delighted his fans with his most anticipated songs: “Dance Crip” and “Mamichula”, a song in collaboration with Bizarrap and Nicky Nicole which exceeded 220 million views on YouTube in a little less than 6 months. The freestyler singer thanked his fans for the love with which the Spanish public welcomed this song.
Leading the veteran representation of the reggae scene made in Jamaica, Barrington Levy, Capleton y Burning Spear They showed us one more edition that the old school still has the power to successfully congregate the faithful of traditional reggae. Showing off his incredible voice, Barrington Levy he opened with his mythical “Here I Come”, interpreting well-known songs from his career as “Murderer”. A special mention deserves the performance of Capleton, who through a complete dedication to his audience, not only made the stage vibrate with a frenetic energy and the collaboration with Jah Thunder, but also with the columns of fire that made up the special effects of his show, a fire that fanned the reggae flame in the hearts of the attendees. From the same generation as Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, from the consecrated Burning Spear we were able to listen to news included in his recent album “No Destroyer”. He did not want to miss the occasion and ended the concert by dedicating a few words of affection to his wife, who she invited to go on stage, in front of the hundreds of festival attendees.
Another of the classic exponents of African reggae was precisely the veteran from the Ivory Coast, The bitch Jah Fakoly. In a show in which the tone of protest for the freedom of Africa and rejection of political corruption reigned, his intervention was marked by his special influence of roots reggae and the mixture of neighboring genres of Jamaican music. The essentials “Africa”, “Plus rien ne m’étonne” and “African à Paris” were combined with songs from his recent EP “Braquage de pouvoir”.
The legendary British reggae band, Steel Pulse emerged as one of the most applauded live shows. Delivering a set well balanced on their tempos, their energetic demeanor from beginning to end served as a review of their extensive discography. “Babylon Makes the Rules”, “Drug Squad” and “Steppin’ out” were the prelude to the Roy Hamilton version, “Don’t Let Go”. His intervention reached its climax with “Franklin’s Tower” after an extensive instrumental section.
to the roar of the indomito Lion Stage
With strength and claw, the Lion Stage quickly established itself as the base of operations for many of the festival’s emerging proposals. Distinctive mention deserves the premiere of Dub FX ft Woodnote, the Australian street musician and artist known for his “one-man band” concept, performed at one of the most well-attended concerts. His productions on stage based on loops and accompanied by the improvisations of the saxophonist Woodnote they quickly conquered the track for their originality.
Miss Bolivia, accompanied by four dancers, performed under the spotlight in a show that was difficult to resist dancing. Her explosive cocktail of cumbia, hip hop, dancehall and reggae in the key of feminist protest dynamited with “Paren de Matarnos”. Music with a feminist perspective continued with the Valencian group Maluks. Empowered and irrepressible, they conveyed their particular electro-tropicalism in their recently released “Cor i foc”. Another of the climaxes was that of the artist of Angolan-Portuguese origin, Pongo. Catchy rhythms, a mix of pop, kuduro and Caribbean soca intertwined to explode in “Wegue wegue” and the freshest danceables “Bruxos” and “Doudou”.
The ration of ska took off with Juantxo Skalari & La Rude Band, the artist from Iruindarra who has been vindicating the scene for more than 25 years, left his skin recovering some of his hymns in the final block of his concert, with “Sarrera II”, “ Puto Alcohol” or “Just Live”. Along the same lines, the Argentine-Colombian band Che Sudaka, celebrating its 20th anniversary, gave free rein to their particular proposal of cumbia, ska and punk. Dedicating his “Sin papeles” to all immigrants, his energy and good vibes quickly infected everyone present with “La risa buena” or “Amores-Trenecillo”.
The Social Forum claims global pacifism as a real alternative to war
The motto “United for Peace” was the backbone of the programming of the Social Forum of this 28th edition, as it could not be otherwise. The Social Forum is the space par excellence that the festival dedicates to reflection and activism for human rights and peace. The correspondent specialized in conflicts Olga Rodríguez and the expert in geopolitics Jesús A. Núñez were in charge of inaugurating the cycle of debates with a dialogue in which they shed light on how the complex international relations of an extremely complex and globalized world are articulated and developed. like the current one.
In “Who Defends Peace?” Tica Font, a member of AIPAZ (Spanish Association for Peace Research) and Teresa Aranguren, a journalist specialized in conflict zones, provided the context of the Ukrainian war and reflected on the reason why there is an absence of peace negotiators in this conflict . For his part, Francesco Vignarca, coordinator of the Italian Disarmament Network, explained to the attendees the importance of fighting the arms industry to contribute to the peace process. In the round of questions, there were moments of tension by a group of attendees who rebuked the Russian moderator Inna Afinogenova.
The screening of this edition was led by the film “En los Márgenes” by director Juan Diego Botto, a film that explores the effects of economic precariousness on personal relationships. During the debate, truly exciting moments were experienced with some testimonies from people affected by the housing problem in Spain. The revelry and joy also had a place thanks to the “Chotis del brick”, a particular version of this traditional dance composed by Carmen, affected by an eviction and participant in one of the scenes of the film.
More than 140 activities are those that make up a very complete extra-musical program and those that make the festival an incredible experience to enjoy with the family. Following this commitment, in this edition Rototom has strengthened its two areas dedicated to them, making the experience of family festivals more complete. After knowing data from the organization, we can say that it has been a success, since the family profile has broken records with the participation of 21,000 children under 13 years of age. Mágico Mundo, the area dedicated to children, opened this year a mini rockódome. For its part, Teen Yard, the space aimed at teenagers, added to its usual urban art exhibitions the premiere of a parkour area and a skate park.
Other cultural activities have energized Rototom on a daily basis: from an open-air art gallery whose pieces have been donated to social causes, Afro dance sessions in the African Jamkunda area, guided meditations and yoga sessions in the Pachamama space, to workshops Mercado Artesano crafts, dedicated to working on the collective creativity of children and adults.
With values and a manifest ethical position, the excellent quality of a musical program that successfully combines both established reggae legends and emerging artists of alternative styles, and the great diversity of activities that complete the cultural experience, Rototom manages to build for 7 days a small oasis of respect and interculturality in which, despite the individual differences that can distance us on a daily basis, teaches us that there is something much more valuable that we have in common: if we love reggae music, we always seek peace .