IT was all-out war at Sunday's semifinal of the 2011 International Power Soca Monarch competition, which took place at the Arima Velodrome.
Destra Garcia proved the bitterest act of the night when she declared, "The b.tch is back" during her performance of "Anything Goes" adding that comments made by fellow competitor, Machel Montano at Saturday's Licensing Fete had driven her to anger.
"Machel say this is war and it eh have no soca friend in this ring. They wanted bacchanal, well the b.tch is back and is bacchanal they will get. I have a cut ass for he," Garcia said before asking the crowd who were they backing for the Soca Monarch. Garcia asked, "Is it Machel? Is It Bunji?" And the crowd began to chant, "Fay-Ann, fire. Fay-Ann, fire." As Garcia continued to speak to the patrons, they continued chanting.
Fay-Ann Lyons had possibly the night's most dynamic performance in which she sang lines of "Consider It Done" then stopped singing, allowing the audience to sing the rest. From the moment Lyons took the stage, the crowd was in a frenzy with those standing near the stage actually lifting the scaffolding of the fence separating them from the front of the stage.
Lyons then took things a notch higher climbing one of the speaker racks from where, with only hand signals, she commanded the crowd to sing for her as she crouched down on the boxes and listened to them. In his heyday leaping to the top of the speakers was a trademark move of her father, SuperBlue who was there, watching his daughter perform.
At one point Lyons told the audience, "Some of them jump into the competition just so. If any of them feel they could come and take the $2 million just so, they lie. I come from the greatest soca monarch ever." For minutes after Lyons exited the stage, patrons were chanting her name, while some were singing, "Consider it done".
Bunji Garlin performed before his wife, Lyons, and he too had the audience going wild with his performance of "Hold A Burn". After the first verse and chorus of the song, Garlin told the audience he was upset that on the night of the Soca Monarch semifinals, the official television station of the competition, CNC 3, had chosen to broadcast the American Grammy Awards instead of the soca monarch, which he saw as disrespectful to the art form.
The four-time Power Soca Monarch also said the competition this year had gotten nasty and competitors were using dirty tactics to frustrate each other. Bunji said that a certain competitor had solicited people to call in to a radio station and make comments that his daughter was deaf. "My daughter is healthy, beautiful and very intelligent and whatever they are trying will never succeed," Garlin said before getting back into the song.
Machel Montano too expressed his disappointment over the failure to broadcast the competition's semifinal saying, "They say we not on TV. We bigger than that. We live on the internet." Poking fun at Bunji, Lyons and Destra, Montano told the audience he was, "Very lyrical also and I doh stick. Dis year Machel come back home and I'm going to take the Soca Monarch throne. Somebody like they vex with me because I come back in the competition," Montano said to the crowd that was so wild they nearly pushed down the fence between them and the stage.
Iwer "The Boss" George chose to focus on his song rather than send any picong the way of his opponents. Delivering one of the of the night's most impacting performances, George went right into the audience singing his infectious, "Come To Me" as the bearers of the big flags danced around him.
Sunday's semifinal attracted possibly the largest audience to have attended the semifinal of the competition in Arima. Due to continuing industrial action there was little police presence, but there were no fights as has happened in the past, especially within the area closest to the stage. The show also ran much more smoothly that previous editions ending before 2 a.m. as compared to last year's 5 a.m. finish.
In the Groovy Soca Monarch Category, which began shortly after 6 p.m., Benjai had the crowd screaming with the announcement of his name and some people were singing "I's a Trini, a Trini," before the band, Vincent Rivers and the Soca Unit started his music.
Kees Dieffenthaller also created a stir with his rendition of "Wotless," in which he was accompanied by members of his band as well as his dancers. Leaving the stage to stand on the fence, Dieffenthaller found himself having to do the best he could to maintain balance as the women began to grab at him, nearly pulling him down. Still he delivered an excellent groovy soca performance.