Reggae star I-Octane energised the hardcore grassroots dancehall audiences in the United States with a trio of high-energy performances in frigid, wintry conditions in the Tri-State Area earlier this month.
After a media tour at the end of January, I-Octane returned to New York for incendiary performances at SOBs in New York City, Temptations Nightclub in Brooklyn and The Hut in New Jersey.
The singjay was the headliner at the first instalment of the popular Rock With Squeeze shows this year. Hosted by David 'Squeeze' Annakie, CEO of LinkUp Media and publisher of JAMROCK Magazine, I-Octane pulled out a huge crowd, as fans braved freezing temperatures and rain to see the singjay in action.
And he did not disappoint.
Kicking off his set with the number-one single No Love Inna Dem, it wasn't long before I-Octane had the audience dancing and singing along to other hits such as My Life, Lose A Friend, Puff It, and Mine Who Yuh A Dis. At the end of his set, Squeeze conducted an onstage interview. At that time, a request from a fan to be serenaded by the singjay was granted and he crooned Every Time You Touch Me, a favourite among his female fans, who screamed in appreciation.
Two days later, Octane was in awesome form as he thrilled a packed Brooklyn's Temptations Nightclub during the weekly Wah A Gwaan Wednesdays event. Industry insiders Jabba, and Mr Cee of Hot 97, as well as broadcaster Nikki Z, were among the fans on hand to witness the singjay's performance.
"I-Octane's performance was special. The fans and media were on hand to witness the I-Octane movement and they were in a frenzy. I've kept many shows in Brooklyn at Temptations and have never seen the hardcore Brooklyn garrison audience accept and receive an artiste like they did I-Octane. Hapilos, Steelie Bashment and I are proud of this very successful promotion. I-Octane has arrived and he isn't going anywhere anytime soon," promoter Johnny Wonder said.
Mr Cee, the host of Hot 97's popular 'Throwback at Noon', was so enthralled by the singjay's performance, that he announced that he had decided to add a few of the singjay's songs to his set.
"To hear I-Octane's music is one thing but to see him perform live is a must. I-Octane is that next dude," Mr Cee remarked.
If the nightclub gig in Brooklyn went well, then Newark, New Jersey, was incredible, as I-Octane rounded out a memorable swing through the Tri-State Area with a performance at The Hut.
'Puff it' anthem
The anthem of the hardcore dancehall audience in Newark appears to be Puff It. That single earned the biggest forwards on a night where I-Octane could do no wrong.
Huge cheers greeted each selection, each roar from the crowd eclipsed the excitement and force of the previous forward. I-Octane brought the audience to a thrilling climax that is sure to have the hardcore fans buzzing for a long time.
It is clear that I-Octane has not only tapped into a new fan base but most importantly, earned the respect of those diehard fans who had been deprived of high-quality reggae acts in recent months because of the visa problems currently being experienced by most of the top reggae-dancehall acts.
The US tour continues with performances in Houston, Texas, Arcata, Oakland, and Fairfax, California, Miami, Florida, long beach California, Chicago, Minneapolis, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Springfield, Massachusetts, and other dates in May.