To say that first-timers Aura Experience had a tall order to fill, would be a gross understatement. In fact, it was massively humungous. Crop Overites were hungry and frothing at the mouths. They envisioned that only Aura could satiate their appetites and in most cases, this was the only Kadooment band that they deemed worthy of such. All eyes, ears and hearts were on Aura and many considered the preceding band launches to be mere appetizers. Simply put, the anticipation of Aura’s launch of Immortals was beyond description and made even more so on the evening of April 24th, in the heat of Band Launch Season, when Barbadian chanteuse and mega superstar Rihanna solemnly pledged her allegiance to the band. Rihanna’s proclamation was but the icing on a cake that was already layered with section owners OneIsland Entertainment, a budding Barbadian event group well known for the Crop Over events Canboulay and of recent, Jabnival. Add to that cANYAval, headed by notable Trinidadian designer and Project Runway winner Anya Ayoung-Chee, who is fresh off the 2016 Carnival scene with her contribution to the wildly popular Lost Tribe, which wowed with unique costumes that embodied traditional mas while at the same time catered to the modern masquerader. Add another tier with the section owner Caesar’s Army, host of the wildly popular event A.M. BUSH, which year after year has Crop Overites ready to promise their first born in exchange for a secure spot to be able to party in the bush. Aura’s combination was delicious.
On the other hand, we knew of Aura’s origins and many made assumptions about the circumstances of such. The timing of the launch meant that critics were ready and raring to dish out a serving of comparisons to its mother band, which launched a few weeks prior. Although the first time for the band, the Aura team is well known in the Crop Over world having produced many stately costumes, well-attended events and sublime Kadooment on-the-road experiences in the past. Critics too were geared with these elements as reference points for comparison.
All things considered, it is no surprise that on the night of May 13th, Copacabana was packed to capacity; a venue that although is home to many successful Crop Over events was not ideal for a launch of such magnitude. The setup afforded only those directly adjacent to the stage an optimal view of the costumes and even for many who were fortunate enough to fall into this category, the height of the stage proved this to be a great challenge. The stage lightning also precluded such. The main area of the stage was inadequately lit and during the presentation the models gravitated more towards this area both before and after their brief strut on the catwalk.
Nevertheless, the costume showcase on the whole was well organized and complemented by a spectacular concluding fireworks display. For the most part, while the models wore the costumes well the presentation leaned more towards a fashion show rather than a Kadooment showcase. Models mostly strutted. They did not parade. Onlookers were not teleported to Kadooment Day; they were unassisted in their efforts to envision themselves clad in the costumes as they jumped from the National Stadium to Spring Garden.
The Immortals-themed costumes although beautiful, unfortunately did not wow us but we must say in most cases they were different. In present times when the school of thought that more feathers equate more fancy seems to predominate, Aura opted to lean more towards simplicity and the inclusion of draping fabric in its costume designs. Perhaps a paradigm shift that we will see explored more in Kadooments to come. The male costumes did have some well-designed headpieces that were in keeping with the Immortals theme.
Nonetheless we must see Aura in its entirety. After all, the name of this new Kadooment contender is two-part; Aura Experience. And if it is a sublime on-the-road experience that you desire, there is no doubt in our minds that Aura will deliver. Experience has taught us that. Furthermore, if the party atmosphere on the night of the launch was any indication of what is to be expected, then you can be rest assured that you will get your money’s worth. The spectacular fireworks display that complemented Erphaan Alves’ energizing performance during the finale was an experience. The inclusion of the rhythm band during the after party added a nice touch and was a spectacular experience. The music and overall party atmosphere was an experience.
We have experienced Aura’s prelaunch teases, we have experienced Aura’s debut launch and we are certain that there will be many more experiences (and surprises) in store from Aura Experience as the Crop Over season unfolds.
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