I already wrote about the amazing fetes we attended during Trinidad Carnival, so it is only right that I review the most important TWO days of Carnival itself - Monday Mas and Tuesday “Pretty” Mas! This is a review of the band I played with: YUMA Vibe.
Band Launch: It was the final band launch I had been waiting for, and they slayed it. I was excited about their theme this year, “Fatal Attraction” and ready to see how they interpreted that in the costumes. Boy, were their costumes lethal! I loved them and I had my eyes on three by the end of the online stream. The models definitely did their thing and showcased the costumes very well with high energy and sex appeal.
Registration: Although it took a while for registration to begin after the launch - roughly 2 weeks - it was very easy. There was no need for a concierge service or a “contact” as registration could be completed via their website. I filled out the online form for my costume of choice, paid the deposit and received a receipt. I was all set in less than 15 minutes.
Communication: YUMA Vibe was very responsive to all of my queries via email and Instagram direct message. They allowed me to add an item after I had registered - bless their hearts. There was no shortage of posts from YUMA Vibe on social media, particularly on Instagram, and they provided plenty of key information about promotions, payment updates or just made you generally excited about jumping with them on the road.
Costume Pickup: This is when the first snafu with YUMA Vibe occurred. I know pickups are always crazy so I anticipated that. HOWEVER. First, my section was unfortunately not ready for pickup on the designated day. This was very annoying because the day had been specifically reserved for that (aka, no fetes scheduled!). Okay, no problem. The following day was the rescheduled time and I went there an hour early, was pretty much at the top of the line and it still took 2+ hours to get my things. I would recommend the directors to have more staff to facilitate the pickups - 3 people for hundreds of people is just not efficient.
YUMA Vibe has to make a huge improvement on the goodie bag they give to masqueraders. To say I was disappointed by what I received is a gross understatement. The backpack itself was cool, but the contents were severely lacking and it seemed like it was put together in a rushed manner. Definitely an afterthought.
Costume: My costume was GORGEOUS! I can say the wahala was (kinda) worth it because my eyes grew wide with glee when I saw all of the pieces that made up my costume - so intricate, so exquisite, great quality. They could have improved on the packaging though. The pictures on the website did not quite do enough justice. I was impressed.
The Road Experience
Let me get straight to the point: my road experience on both Carnival Monday and Tuesday was a solid 7.5 out of 10 collectively.
Full of vibe! On Monday, I was tired AF when I finally made it to the road around noon, but that Johnnie Walker and energy of the crowd sure did wake me up. Soon enough I was jumping with the best of them and popping champagne with my new friends. If it wasn’t for all the adrenalin that comes from schupidness, drunkenness and that soca high, I would have been more upset about our very late lunch served at around 5pm. I did not catch another wind after our little rest time, and headed home, sadly missing crossing the stage. WELP. There were lulls, as expected, but overall the excitement and badishhness on Monday was pretty consistent.
Tuesday, aka, pretty mas, was calmer in terms of energy. Maybe it’s because it was early, or perhaps everyone was just trying to preen. Guilty of the latter! I was feeling myself! I could not get over my costume all day — I seriously feel like 👏🏾every👏🏾woman👏🏾 in my section looked scrumptious. Blaze tek win! And I honestly think we had the most energy when crossing the Socadrome stage! That was euphoric...I can’t explain it. I tried to capture it in a video but I gave up and enjoyed the moment. Imagine 200 people (just in your section) at level 100, all eyes of the spectators on you, your favorite soca song playing, feeling the vibrations pulsating through your bones as you dance or run across a stage. That’s as close to how I can capture the feeling that takes over. You just feel so...happy. Simple.
It was pretty easy to get drinks - I think there was a liquor truck behind every 2 music trucks. The lunch stop happened much earlier than the previous day, we thank God, because I was SPENT. The food was tasty (and Mr. Man managed to snag a second meal for us to share) and naturally the itis hit so I promptly took a short nap.
Back on the road for Part Deux, and that’s where the trouble set in. A thunder cloud rolled in and brought the storm. No, not rain but people who did not pay for the YUMA Vibe experience. I’m talking about stormers. It felt like the band increased tenfold in size and all of a sudden, I was having trouble just walking forward. I could not dance to any music because there was just no space. The extraction team was so lackadaisical that some of these individuals had the gall to grab drinks from the trucks. Stormers are a part of the road experience - always be vigilant - but I was turned off by just how many there were roaming free within the security ropes of YUMA Vibe.
Another thing that annoyed me was the road disorganization towards the end of the day. We seemed to be running into every other band, which halted movement for much longer periods than expected. The evening ended abruptly around 7:30pm - there was no “las lap” or after party so we headed home.
Days after I returned from Trinidad and Tobago, I was still a bit fixated on the negative points of my experience with YUMA Vibe. However, I have had several weeks to think through the process, and I have to say YUMA Vibe is still solid in my book. There are several things that need vast improvement - the pickup process; better security management on the road; keeping to a schedule as best as possible. But I had the time of my life and enjoyed playing mas for the very first time ever. My costume held up quite well for the amount of gems and chains it had and considering my movements. In the end, I lost only 4 gems, hallelu! Overall, I am glad I chose YUMA Vibe.
Would I play mas with this band again? I think so. However, if I return to Trinidad & Tobago for carnival, I may try a different band just to have another experience.
I hope my review is helpful for you as you plan your trip to Trinidad Carnival and consider what band to play mas with. Would love to hear from you below!