Caribana for awhile was known as one of the best carnivals in North America, but lately it seems as if the city of Toronto does not embrace Caribbean culture, though this parade and its associated events bring millions of dollars into the city. I did not attend but I had so many masqueraders submit their feedback that I decided to consolidate for you all to read. Let’s get into these band reviews.
*Caribana 2018 pictures included are not pictures of the masqueraders and the stories enclosed*
Band: Atlantic Mas
The most horrible experience of my life. Can we talk about the stampede that happened due to lack of security? Can we also talk about my costume literally falling apart on the road. I have pics as proof which are time stamped. What about the fact that I have bruises on my body from this stampede. Or section leaders sticking Up their middle fingers to all the angry participants who were hurt in the stampede. I can go on for days.
Band: Carnival Nationz
Overall Experience: 5/10
I’ve been playing Mas in Toronto ever since I was a young girl (10+ years now) so I know what to expect! This was one my worst experiences ever…mainly because of the roaches that intervened aka STORMERS.
So my friends and I got down to the parade around 11am ( we missed breakfast, which was served at 8:30am) but weren’t bothered because we were told that lunch and dinner would be served later on.
As we started making our way down the lakeshore around 11:30-12pm the vibes was NICE, music was good, when we needed water, we knew where to go…I was having fun until we got closer to the stage. STORMERS intervened, our section leaders were nowhere to be found (I don’t even remember seeing them at the beginning of the parade to be honest ). I will say, the marshals tried their best to get the stormers out of the way. It was so bad that they ended up giving up and left….I don’t blame them one bit.
I gave food 1/10 because there was a box of Pizza + Peanuts ( although I’m allergic) being passed around like we were f*kn savages…..no napkins, no plates. There were so many people digging their dutty hand in the box and I was just disgusted.
USUALLY, bands hand out small meal boxes of food…pelau and veggies or some sort of vegetarian option. That wasn’t the case this year. I saw some people in my section with food but I wasn’t sure if it was bought elsewhere …maybe my band ran out of food. I wouldn’t know because everything was very unorganized and there was no clear communication.
They ran out of water around 5-6pm so they were handing out “BUSTA” pop which was good…I didn’t complain.
Now listen…..as for music, I was expecting to hear NEW soca, especially Lucian soca- they’re killing it right now. I was like “WHERES THE DENNERY SEGMENT?!” I was waiting to hear BEND DONG FOR DI HM, MOVAY TUH…etc etc. Iz a Trini/Jamaican and I love love Lucian Soca + Bajan soca. I heard the same SIX songs for the whole mf day….I tiyad of it oh gossssh.
Split in Di Middle
& and maybe a few throwback soca songs.
If they did play any Lucian soca it was literally for 2 minutes then they switched it.
DJS! THEYRE TOO MANY SOCA SONGS FOR YALL TO PLAY… TO BE PLAYING THE SAME 5 BLASTED SONGS IN ROTATION.
Motto was there, I took a wine on him. That was the only highlight of my day.
As for my costume, half of it fell apart as the day progressed. Wire bra broke…belt mash up, leg pieces mash up. It was pretty while it lasted. At least I got my pictures
I usually play with Toronto Revellers (they feed their people!) Tribal or Saldenah. Maybe I should try a smaller band next year, I don’t know. Every band seems to have their flaws.
Band: Venom Carnival
I had a great time until the cockroaches aka stormers came out, they tried to take over our band. They felt entitled to be on the road with us; especially when we were trying to cross the stage. I had a lot of people try to rip my feathers and gems off my costume. I don’t come up to you and take your earrings just because I like them. SMH! But I will say that I didn’t get attacked like last year so it was better. I say do the stage before we hit the road.
Band: African Alliance
The road was the worst ever. I couldn’t even find my band. Just complete chaos, I spent 80% of my time fighting past stormers which I don’t mind but damn.
Band: Saldenah Carnival
Saldenah. Costume was 10/10 NONE of my gems fell apart. My costume stayed in TACT all day and I was getting on real bad. My costume was hanging on to guy’s belts and everything but didn’t break. Vibes on road….AMAZING. Music NEVER STOPPED. No system issues NOTHING. Now lunch…that was a downfall. I saw them handing out pizzas on the road and I asked a marshal where I could get one and he said I don’t know. Which was super trash cause other marshals were passing them around. Water was constantly being handed out. Especially while waiting to cross the stage and after crossing the stage. Section leaders were on road with scissors, tape and incase they needed to fix up a costume. NO STORMERS were on road with us from beginning until after we crossed the stage which was AMAZING. Overall 8/10. And that’s only cause of the lunch. Can’t say shit about breakfast cause I came super late.
Band: Carnival Nationz
We didn’t officially start moving until well after 11am. Not one of the 14 sections were ever organized prior to judging. The band ran out of water/juice before we even got close to the ‘stage’. Our only source of hydration was rapidly melting ice, given to us by the marshals with their bare hands. All I had to eat and drink was 3 slices of cold square pizza, and 1 bottle of water. By 5pm my crew and I left, after waiting over two hours to cross the stage.
I must add that the pizza slices were not our lunch. As far as I know, my lunch is still downtown on the Lakeshore because I still have my meal ticket. The saving grace was my crew and our vibes. Stormers will always be a problem but our costumes were beautiful!
Band: Atlantic Mas
Sis. Atlantic mas was a complete and utter shit show. First – didn’t get my complete costume until 11 am on parade day. They sent us a menu of food that we could choose from – NONE and I mean NONE of the food they promised we were getting. We were promised roti, smoothies , all “gourmet” sounding food. Sis it was HOT DOGS.
No cold drinks or anything was provided besides hot water and the only prop I will give them is that they upgraded me to frontline because I made such a stink. We went to mas camp and waited for FOUR HOURS.
Stormers ruined it for me also. I’m a very calm person but had to cuss out two people. Men specifically. Stepping on my feathers. No regard. It was not worth the money! My friends and I collectively are done with Toronto as far as Caribana
They were so dishonest too. They were sending out food menus literally the day before ! So how did it turn into hot dogs and hamburgers. They never had the intention of giving us curry and jerk chicken. It was ALWAYS going to be hot dogs
Band: Carnival Nationz
Costume pickup took 3hrs for my section, i only allowed it because I went on the first day of pickup, My costume fit perfectly and My section leader was great when I asked for some alterations. Now the road was a hot mess. I’ve never seen a while camp so disorganized in my life. The whole way down the road they kept yelling to people to get into their section yet none of the marshalls knew the order or where the sections were, no signs or anything. Then they started to hand out pizza and before we even reached judging their telling people they ran out of water. and when you went up to any other the trucks that you see cases of water on they tell you you have to get water from your section… are we not all playing for the same band?? Anyways it took 5 hrs to get to judging and by then people started dropping like flies including one of my friends.
I had to cuss off 2 Marshalls and 1 police officer just to get out of the parade behind the barriers and when I told them CNz didnt have any water they turned around and ignored me. I was so mad I didn’t even get my lunch. I know sooo many people to left without eating. because they couldn’t even find the tent. I played with Toronto Revellers one year and they have the best road service. If i ever play in Toronto again it will be with them as long as their costumes are good.
its was 30+ (celsius) degrees, how could you run out of water?! and every time you asked for a drink they looked at you like they were doing a favor for you.
Band: Saldenah Carnival
Hello I hope you are doing well and I love your blog! I recently went to Toronto for Caribana and i played with Saldenah! The process of getting my costume was quick and smooth and the vibes on the road was amazing but they like other bands ran out of food 😩 I saw masqueraders from other bands line up and get our food. The whole time you dancing and jumping and expecting food, but to get to your truck and they telling you that the food was completely finished and it wasn’t even 2pm yet.
Band: Carnival Nationz
This was my first time playing mas ever and it was with Carnival Nationz. It started off great. From what I saw they had at least roti, pizza, soda, water and fans. Except it took an extremely long time to cross the stage. I thought it was just me but my friends who plays with them every year said it has never been so bad. Then they ran out of water, people fainted, so many stormers were allowed in that it felt like I was suffocating and we were pushed dangerously close to the truck.
We were so exhausted and dehydrated that we eventually left even though they swore we were about to cross the stage. Found out later that it took them another 2 hours to cross after we left. Not sure why judging doesn’t come first.
Band: Carnival Nationz
It was absolutely amazing only because I love my culture and I wasn’t going to let nothing ruin the joy soca brings me BUT i heard the same 5 songs all damn day. I get we want roach march track but there are so many beautiful songs from so many islands. Too many artists released wicked songs this year to be recycling the same ones. Nevertheless wasnt going to stop me from behaving stink
Band: Tribal Carnival
I’d like to start off by saying I’ve played with Tribal 3 times b4 & have never had any problems whatsoever…I went thru a 3rd party connected to the band to receive a package discount as I was ordering for 12 people.
I was told we would be receiving our costumes 2 weeks before, then 1 week before, then Tuesday before, then Wednesday. On Wednesday the band posted their daughter was missing and after she was located Camp was shut down for the day. Thursday is king and queen show so that means Friday.
On Friday, instead of having them delivered I decided to go myself since I had work that evening and didn’t want to chance it. Got to Camp at 3:46 pm. Waited with no updates. Finally spoke to band leader at 6:30 pm and he said there was a mixup so to come back later. Had to call into work.
Came back at 9 pm to find lots of disgruntled people that had been waiting hours. Then I started hearing they ran out of pieces. At midnight, he tells us there is no costumes left in our section. 5 of us had frontline costumes. Had to rummage through and pick pieces from other sections so we didn’t all play together.
3 people decided not to play at all because they were so upset. We also missed out on the fete we bought tickets for. I must say, they did take care of us on the road. Lots of water and chips, “punch” and food
Band: Carnival Nationz
I played in Toronto. Stay away from the Carnival Nationz band. They didnt feed us lunch, the food truck was in the back of the line. We crossed the stage and everyone was looking for the truck. We asked a few of the marshals, they said the whole band has to come through so we can eat. Everyone eventually left and got food elsewhere. I was hungry and upset.
We stopped on the road alot too. there wasn’t much movement so folks sat down. Stormers were there as usual. It was so annoying and kinda killed the vibe because it was hot.
I must say Carnival Nationz did give us peanuts and pizza slices on the road but that wasn’t our lunch.
Band: Saldenah Carnival
The route was shortened even more than last year. DJs were wack, they played old tunes repeatedly or “Funky Business”. I wasn’t impressed. The stage crossing was at the end of the route and then it just ends in a parking lost. I’m sorry for anyone that bought anything more than a backline costume for this mess. Oh and stormers but that’s old news.
Band: Saldenah Carnival
Hi! Played Saldenah for the first time. Good experience. Pick up was smooth. Day of we were told to be there before 830 but we didn’t start moving until 10ish. They were constantly giving water, soda, and coconut water. We had chicken and rice before going on the road. They were able to pass out a few slices of pizza also.
While on the road, there were very few stormers and once caught they were escorted. The section leader was a sweetheart. My friend’s collar broke and she stopped to help fix it. Once we crossed the stage they still gave us drinks. My costume held up very well and did not malfunction. I would play mas again with Saldenah.
Band: Carnival Nationz
This was my first time playing mas at Caribana and honestly I’ll be scarred for a while after my experience with CNZ. We were told to be ready to pick up our costumes Friday, at noon sharp. I got there around 1 pm and my section leader was still not there with our costumes (ZEN). She didn’t show up until 3 PM. It took 4 HOURS for me to pick up 4 costumes. They were missing pieces on each costume, and I had to wait around for them to sew on the missing items. Not to mention, they misplaced my costume and one girl that was “helping” was completely rude and told me she can not find my costume, “don’t know where it is”, and she’s “just helping out and should have left by now” since she already had her costume. Completely unhelpful. When they finally found my costume and completed the half done costumes they originally gave me, I was so done and tired for standing around for hours that I didn’t even make it out to the jouvert party I planned on going to.
On the road, Carnival Nationz was a complete disaster. My section leader had no idea where we were suppose to be. My section was split up so many times. A friend of mine had to ask the DJ to announce where ZEN should be and she helped gather our section together. It was a complete mess. CNZ ran out of water (probably from giving them out to stormers, who got water from the trucks) and I was so tired and over it, I didn’t even cross the stage. To top it all off, they gave us roti on the road to eat, that made us ILL. Me and all my friends were sick to our stomachs afterwards.
If you look on their last post on their Instagram page: @cnzinc, there are so many people stating they got sick from the food and CNZ have yet to acknowledge this or apologize. They’ve actually been deleting comments.
Top Songs Played on the road
- Fimba – Funky Business
- Machel Montano – Soca Kingdom
- Shal Marshall – Splinters
- Blaxx – Hulk
- Kes – Hello
Feel free to leave your own reviews in the comments below or send them to me so that we can post them anonymously
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Yours In Mas,
10 thoughts on “Caribana 2018: Band Reviews”
Dang. I almost went to Caribana too, glad I skipped this year and am doing Miami instead.
I’m glad you mentioned that the city of Toronto does not embrace Caribbean culture. A few big fetes were cancelled last minute over the weekend and they tried to ruin Private Ryans fete in June. It seems like Toronto is committed to limiting black joy and limiting where Caribbean folks can celebrate their culture. I’m curious if the locals have any thoughts on that and what they are doing about it? I see the same costume, lack of or wack food, lack of security and stormer complaints every year. But every year the masqueraders pay more than they did the previous year and start this sad pitiful cycle again. It’s like they love abuse. I can see Caribana being gone in the next 10 years.
WHEWWW CHILE!!!! THE GHETTOOOOO!!!
Saldenah, Twilight Romance:
I’ve been playing with Saldenah for the past 3-4 years. Never had a problem with them when it came to my costume & etc. They never have vegetarian/vegan options (FISH IS NOT A VEGETABLE) but I don’t know of any Toronto band that does.
This year, costume pick up was later than normal, the week of. Pick up was smooth, easy, but the costume itself was not what was advertised. They swapped out the necklace for a cheapy costume jewelry chain that gave me a rash (pretty but, not what I paid for). The belt had an Easter purple/pink-coloured ribbon for ties instead of blue or even the purple (dark violet, blue-toned) in the costume. There were strings of hot glue all over the costume & my few feathers.
They gave us a baggy panty. I’ve never seen anything so tragic in my life. We asked to swap the ugly things out & they told us we could see about leftovers on Caribana Friday. Rude. It was a diaper bag — luckily I had a matching panty from my old costume. The only part they got right, was the belt. We also saw that they changed the backpacks for our section. All kinds of pinks & blues: the costume is supposed to be blue & purple with hints of green. Glad I saved my money.
And they didn’t give us a little token, water bottle, rag nothing. Worst section I’ve played with under Saldenah ever.
My friend & I spent a couple hours fixing the costume so it’d be decent for the road.
Her costume ended up falling apart bit by bit on the road. Mine was fine. The cuffs they gave us did cut up our wrists though. She tossed hers, I kept mine because I keep my entire costume. Never playing in that section leader’s section again.
Food: one truck seemed to have undercooked chicken. My friend opened a box to white chicken……not under seasoned and it a drumstick…. She handed that back & we found another food truck (thank you Drupati’s!) in our band with proper food. No veggie options, so I didn’t eat (no, I’m not eating a bag of rice with meat gravy). They had a few drink trucks with lots of water, coconut water (w/ & w/out preservatives) & other sweet drinks.
Overall, I’m more disappointed about the route & my section.
Oh, you got #Curtised- saw Twilight Romance’s costumes this year and thought they were pretty- found out the section leader and immediately said no. Played with him last year and it was chaos- I’ve played with Saldenah for years- by far, the worst experience I’ve ever had with the band, which is normally on point, and effortless. We didn’t get our costumes till 11pm the night before, and we were one of the lucky ones, AND our costumes all had something fall apart before we left the house. Went back to Ronny this year- no problems.
I had fun but was disappointed i played with Toronto Revellers and there were a lot of moments that needed improvement. My costume wasn’t ready at the time of pick up (they didn’t let anybody know until you arrive) we had to come back the next day and i still didnt get my tiara until we were on the road. My bff’s costume ripped fresh out the uber to get on the road. Vibes were good, we had plenty water, juice and liquor. Snacks were minimal which was sad. Lunch was bomb.
I almost played with Revellers this year. Which section were you in?
Saldenah: Venus Fly Trap/Dr. Jay Mas
Communication: Satisfactory, but not outstanding
It usually took a few days to receive a reply to my question, but I usually got one. My last couple of emails to section leadership went unanswered. Other bands I considered usually replied within 12-24 hours.
I wrote Saldenah directly a couple of times and still haven’t received any acknowledgement or reply.
Costume pick up: Outstanding. Lightening fast. I was terrified of this part. I picked up on Wednesday evening around 6 or 7. There might have been one other person picking up while I was there. But there was pretty much zero waiting, except for when they went go and get the box. I had asked for additional feathers to cover my back a little better, which
I paid for. It wasn’t done when I arrived so someone did it while I waited. It only took a few minutes. Even with the alterations, I was in an out in about 10 minutes.
Satisfactory. Pretty good. Nothing fell apart on the road. They added the extra feathers I requested, since I was worried about visible back fat. The panty was way too small. It was labeled medium, but more like a small. I was suspicious when the staffperson just quickly flashed it at me, but I had already brought my own high-waist panty so I didn’t inquire further. The staff person explained how the neck pieces were supposed to be layered but nothing about the belt. I’m not sure I received the right pieces because they looked different than what I saw other masqueraders wearing on the road. The feather backpack photographed beautifully, but looked smaller and less vibrant in person. There was also a bit of glue hanging from the gems, which I managed to clean off. The cups of my wire bra were two different sizes, which required second trip to the mas camp on Friday. I arrived slightly before they opened at 1. Again, there was no line. I was helped pretty quickly. The staff managed to find another wire bra. The two women working even took the time to show me a better way to tie it for better support.
The road: Need improvement. The day just never peaked for me. The music choices were fine. Vibes were decent, there definitely wasn’t stushness.They definitely didn’t repeat songs much, until we got close to judging. The biggest problem was the lack of food and water. I asked a Marshall where I could find water; she had no idea. I saw the Marshall ask a Dr.Jay staff person (she gave me my costume at distribution so I recognized her) who also shrugged like it was a weird question. After judging I went in search of water but had a lot of trouble finding it. Certain sections were giving stuff out to their masqueraders and wouldn’t share with the band. Eventually we found a truck giving out water and coconut water. It was nice and cold but we seemed to have gotten the last of it. I never saw a morsel of food, but my friend in another section said she got some. I think all bands need to have a rest stop after judging, instead of forcing masqueraders to wander aimlessly looking for refreshments they paid for. We found a truck playing music, but it just randomly stopped shortly after we found it.
7/10 people say certain bands feel like family. I didn’t get that here. That’s what I’m looking for next time around.