Reggaefest 2006: Where Thy Beer Cup Overfloweth and the Music Nev

For many Orange County students, the image of a contemporary music fan involves tight pants, bangs combed over one eye and dark clothes. But last Friday in Aldrich Park, UC Irvine students were offered a respite from the O.C. punk and emo scene and given an opportunity to experience something other than trends created by teens looking for ways to appear rebellious.
Historically, reggae has served as a tool for political reform. It was developed by the lower classes in Jamaica to oppose government oppression. Nowadays, it is known for evoking serene moods and laid-back behavioral patterns in listeners, a good fit for easygoing UCI students according to ASUCI Program Coordinator Alex Kushner.
‘This is the second year it’s been held in the park,’ Kushner said. ‘I think this festival fits UCI students because of the atmosphere it creates.’
Half of Aldrich Park was riddled with students from all backgrounds. Some were eating free food and others were sporting the Monday Night Football halftime look by holding a cup of free beer.
‘I maxed out on my beer,’ said fifth-year sociology major Charles Sun as he left the event. ‘Only three were allowed!’
Booths and tables were set up to serve food and beverages, and to accommodate vendors.
Corica Rodgers, a third-year biological sciences major, observed that there had been a slightly larger turnout last year.
‘There was more food last year, and they advertised it more too,’ Corica said.
Despite the diminished turnout, attendees enjoyed the music and peaceful environment. Directly in front of the stage was an area for dancing.
Ras Michael, a reggae and Rastafari legend who grew up and collaborated with Bob Marley, exuberantly exclaimed, ‘UCI students are different from other audiences we’ve played for. They’re more into it.’
Michael’s chants of ‘What do you say when I say roots rock? Reggae!’ mesmerized the audience. This captivation led even those students far from understanding the essence of the Rastafari movement to partake in dancing and singing. Two students went the extra mile by wearing a Jamaican flag as a cape, pretending that it held mystical powers.
The Jamaican colors were quite attractive and were complemented by a colorful style of music. Michael’s band, the Sons of Negus, consists of two percussionists, two saxophonists (who sometimes also played the tambourine and the cowbell), two guitarists, one drummer and two keyboardists who also fiddled with synthesizers.
Michael called himself a ‘Nyabinghi specialist’ whose purpose was to incorporate drums, keyboard and wind instruments into reggae. Dressed in an eye-catching robe that represented ‘Mother Africa, fullness, culture, inspiration and aspiration,’ Michael explained that reggae is more than just a type of music