There’s no doubt about it – Earlan Bartley aka Alkaline, has a solid and rapidly growing fan base in Toronto. Love him or hate him, this 23 year old Jamaican Dancehall superstar, trademarked by his tattooed eyes, sex-symbol status and distinctive sing-jay style, is the artiste currently running Dancehall in 2016. Now, on a beautiful Saturday night inside Sound Academy (Toronto), about 1,800 of his loyal fans would pack up Sound Academy to witness a fast paced and actionable 35-minute performance from the one and only Alkaline.
Once taking the stage with his side kick and DJ, things were simple for Alkaline; all he had to do was race through his onslaught of hit songs. His excitable fans, many of whom seemed in awe during the majority of his performance, did the rest, singing hooks and participating with call-and–response from Alkaline, who would move the crowd with confidence and good stagemanship from start to finish.
As is tradition with all Alkaline shows, there were females in the audience who couldn’t help but rush the stage during his performance. One of the sexy females from the front even managed to get on stage and take advantage of an opportunity where she was able to lift Alkaline about a foot into the air after enclosing her arms beneath his bottom and gripping him tightly.
The irony of course is that physically, Alkaline is tall yet extremely skinny, so a woman lifting up a man with such ease and precision proved to be a big hit with the fans. Of course Alkaline is no stranger to the onstage antics of his female fans; women have not only rushed his stage, but they have gone as far as to get on their knees and mimic giving Alkaline oral sex right there in front of the entire concert audience.
As for the performance – we’re looking at a young and developing Alkaline. Alkaline would start the lyrics to his many hits, but often would leave it to the audience to sing out hooks and punch lines– this while always moving swiftly on stage, left right, back front. Alkaline does move well on stage, but his vocal performance still has a lot to be desired, especially for those who expect him to sound as good live like he does in studio.
I will note that the present Sound Academy audio-sound system is not the system that will be installed once renovations are complete in August-September of this year. The makeshift sound system used that night is temporary and not perfect; there were no speakers in this back area; making it difficult for the 500 or so fans stationed there to hear the concert. The venue’s 2nd floor was also closed due to incomplete renovations, but about 4,000 people will be able to fit inside Sound Academy when renovations are complete.
I’m sure we’ve not seen the last of Alkaline in Toronto – he can come here twice a year and still draw a consistent 2,000 people or so with each performance. I’m looking forward to many good things to come from this very talented artiste. Overall – not a bad night for Alkaline and the Love And Dancehall promoters. The victory for them was that Alkaline drew that crowd by himself – aside from Renaissance Sound, there were no other international acts on the bill to pay come night’s end.