Orgánica roots festival is held every year in Panama City, Panama around August/September. This year I had the chance to cover it for my first assignment for Mind Equals Blown. I was pretty excited about it because Matisyahu is one of my favourite artists and I wasn’t able to see his show in Costa Rica when he played there.
Orgánica is a one stage festival that since its recent birth, has brought to Panama huge names in the genre such as The Wailers, SOJA, and Matisyahu amongst other more recognized international artists. On the other hand some other important names in the Latin American reggae such as Zona Ganja, Cultura Profética and Ojo de Buey. This year’s headliners were Cultura Profética and Matisyahu.
The show started around 7:00 PMand the audience was slowly building up excitement. The festival began with the local band Joc Polo. I found his show interesting, but not exactly entertaining. Afterwards a few Panamanian bands called Cellula and Raices & Cultura, the most popular Panamanian reggae band. The last of the local bands, I-nesta, took the stage for a whole hour full of different styles and lesser known local artists that they were collaborating with for a show that was full of interaction with the audience and a lot of energy from the musicians. This was definitely something that a local fan could have been familiarized with, and even though it was fun I was glad it was time for the headline bands.
Cultura Profética was the band that played the main stage. These guys have been touring in the US recently. If you haven’t heard anything from them I would recommend going straight to YouTube and looking up “Ilegal”. Their sound and lyrics are amazing, but even more so live. They had great audience interaction, the lead singer Willy Rodriguez even shared a few stories, with the most interesting one being about how he believes the inspiration for their sound comes from psychedelic mushrooms and how since they tried them the band’s sound was never the same. To be honest, their concert was the only one in the festival that gave me goosebumps throughout their whole set.
Then the grand finale and what everyone was waiting for. People started pushing forward and the venue was packed. Matisyahu came up to the stage, but it was not actually the show I was expecting. I thought that he would have given a more energetic show; instead he chose to sing the mellow songs of his new album “Akeda” mixed with some of his biggest hits. Perhaps it was the language barrier, but he had very little interaction with the public. Despite all of this, the show was great in its own way, something I had never experienced before with any type of music or concert. The feeling of show was so peaceful, almost a religious experience with his chants sounding like mantras that came from the dim stage. Matisyahu was barely visible between the smoke and the very dark lighting, but this all gave a sense of mysteriousness to the overall experience. At the end, it was pure bliss for me as he closed his set with “One Day”, my favourite song of his.
The overall experience was great, going to a reggae festival in the country where allegedly Spanish Reggae was born was a very pleasant experience. The local artists tried to give their best and the international artists had a lot of respect for the audience as they knew they were real fans of the genre. If you ever happen to be in Panama around this time of the year or check out a live performance by Matisyahu or Cultura Profetica do so even though you might not understand what the lyrics say. They are able to convey so much with their music alone that I can almost guarantee you won’t regret it.
If you want to see more pictures, click the link here to see the whole gallery.