Up-and-coming Virgin Islands artist Grimm Reefer showcases her talent during the “non-stop concert“ on Friday night. (Photo: SARIAH LAKE)

The evening started slowly on Friday, but by midnight the Festival Village Grounds were packed with fans dancing and singing along to the free “nonstop concert” that government hosted to celebrate the recent launch of direct flights between here and Miami.

Even bursts of rain did not deter the crowd that organisers estimated at around 1,500 people, and the energy remained high into the early hours of Saturday morning as artists from here and abroad took the stage.

Felix Wollard, 25, was impressed.

“It being free, I didn’t know exactly how it would turn out, but it exceeded even the best expectations I had for it,” he said.

Mr. Wollard added that he loved seeing Virgin Islands artists get a chance to perform on the “big stage.”

Among them were saxophonists Kamau Georges and Jeremy Vanterpool, who started their set alongside DJ Bertrum with an intro they produced themselves, putting their own spin on VIBE and Jougo’s song “Good Vibe.”

Mr. Georges said afterward that he was glad for the opportunity.

“I like to be able to represent and for them to be like, ‘Wow, that is what our BVI talent is capable of,’” Mr. Georges told the Beacon.

Other VI artists who took the stage included VIBE, Ritical, Monea and up-and-comer Grimm Reefer.

Performers from abroad included Jamaican dancehall singer Konshens and the St. Thomas duo R. City.

For R. City member Theron Thomas, the night was a success.

“I had so much fun,” he told the Beacon after the show. “Tola shows so much love. I really enjoyed myself tonight. I honestly needed this.”

The lineup also included DJ Turbo, DJ TAZ, Euphonic Band, and Too Smooth.

‘Event went smoothly’

Keith Dawson — the public relations manager at the BVI Tourist Board — was pleased with the concert, which the BVITB helped to host.

“Overall, the event went smoothly and was on time except for interruptions due to intermittent inclement weather,” Mr. Dawson told the Beacon.

He added that the crowd of about 1,500 people was about what organisers expected.

Nonstop flights

Between performances on Friday night, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley gave a brief speech, celebrating the new direct flights and stressing the economic importance of events like the concert.

“We are going to take the economy of the Virgin Islands to the next level,” he said. “We are going to bring not only access to Miami, but we are working to bring access to places like New York and Atlanta and other places so that we can bring more visitors to the Virgin Islands.”

The show, however, was not universally welcomed.

When Dr. Wheatley announced last month that the government would be providing a $250,000 budget, many residents argued that such a big spend was a poor choice at a time when many public projects are stalled for want of funding.

Leah Bhagwandas, 18, attended the concert but nevertheless said the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

Another attendee, 16-year-old Jonathan Hutchinson, said he was happy about the decision because he had a good night.

Actual spend

Mr. Dawson said Tuesday that the total spend had not yet been calculated.

“This will take a while longer to confirm as we are awaiting final figures, including revenue earned,” he wrote to the Beacon.

Junior Minister of Culture and Tourism Luce Hodge-Smith said that such events support the enhancement of entertainment tourism and boost the economy during the slow season.

“It’s definitely an attraction to your destination; it’s something to diversify your product,” she told the Beacon.

Mr. Georges, the saxophonist, added that such shows help fill a need for “opportunities for entertainers to develop our craft and represent.”