Steelband Panorama 2011

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My First Pilgrimage to the Mecca of Pan - Entry 15

Posted by Eric Mannweiler on February 23, 2011

Trinidad & Tobago

Semi Finals 2011 - Panorama Trinidad and Tobago

Hello everyone,

I can't describe in words how exciting, inspiring, and overwhelming it was to see nearly 50 steelbands in one place (all of which are way bigger than the biggest bands back home!) Also to see such support for steelband... it's unbelievable how many people showed up to hear the bands! The morning had a fairly orderly crowd with plenty of sitting space on the drag's bleachers, and enough room that bands could move on and off the drag without too much trouble. By the time Renegades formed up in the street, there was standing room only, and that wasn't even on the drag!

Panorama 2011I was in heaven walking around all day hearing steelband after steelband. It was a great thing to be able to compare things between the bands: age and gender make-up of the bands, tunes of choice, tempos, stylistic choices, pan tone and especially instrumentation! It was great to see what different choices bands make in terms of bass instruments (6, 9, 12, or those that I've never seen before: 4, 7, and 10 bass); lead layouts, front line instrumentation, and the wide variety of engine room instruments! My friends and I were talking about engine room back home being thought of as a fairly set instrumentation, but really it seems as though you can put just about any percussion instrument in the line up.

Now for the competition part: Starlift was second to last to play, and thus was seemingly miles from the Savannah when we started. Everything seemed to be pretty chaotic: it seemed like my rack was never close enough to hear the arranger calling out sections; we had to move racks for police and other cars that decided they needed to drive through our ranks; the process of pushing racks seemed more stressful than I had found with my prelims experiences. It started to come together as we took the stage, with a more orderly process of which racks move when. Once we made it to the stage, it seemed to all come together. People were in great spirits, everything was orderly... It was such a rush getting on stage and looking out at the Grand and North Stands (which were not as packed as they were before). I also have to say I was so excited to see my girlfriend holding the banner out ahead of the band! I loved that she could take part in the night, and I think she did a great job! The moment that I really was able to relax and get in the right mindset was when I stepped out of the moment and appreciated the fact that I could be sitting at home in Indiana right now, in the cold snow and ice, and hoping to catch the videos of prelims on the internet. Instead I was in Trinidad, on stage, with my girlfriend holding my band's banner and my teachers colleagues there to support me. I had a band full of new friends, a tune that I loved, and was about to play to make it to the big stage. I kept myself upbeat and ready to perform by reminding myself, "I could be back home..."

Everyone was taking in the moment, taking pictures and dancing to our song as it played for the crowd. All of a sudden the music stopped and the announcer began introducing us. I expected to have more jitters, but I felt surprisingly calm in retrospect! People told me I might not remember much from the performance: definitely the count off and the end, but who knows about the rest. I remember ever note of that song... I remember dancing with the cameras right over my pan and I remember the band jumping up together. I remember the look on my rack mate's faces when we had breaks in the part to jump up together and feeling that no matter what the judges decided, this was an awesome performance.

Once the tune was finished, it felt like we had really accomplished something. Once we got off stage and put our instruments down, someone told me they were about to announce the results. The significance of what we had just done really hit me in that moment. As the bands were called off from 15th place, I kept waiting to hear Starlift. They announced the 11th place and there was this huge rush of excitement with our players! The band made it to 9th place, and I have to say I am very proud of that. It's no secret that we were likely the smallest of the large bands that competed, and many people had already written Starlift off before we even had a chance to play. I knew that the band would really surprise people if we executed the piece correctly. We have lots of work to do, but I think we can be proud of what we accomplished last night!

Now I want to say that I was pretty shocked at some of the results of last night's large band category. I won't get into details, but I was a little upset that a certain band I support didn't make it. I wasn't able to hear their stage performance, but I thought they sounded fantastic on the drag (I might be biased, but still...) In any case, I want to give my condolences to the bands that didn't make it, and congratulate those that did!

I never thought I would see so much pan in one day in my entire life! Semis was such an incredible experience, I will definitely remember yesterday for the rest of my life! This week I will be very busy with Playboyz, Starlift, getting last minute excursions before my friends leave, and with a couple meetings and such in there. I will do my best to update everyone though!


Life for Pan

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