Photo by Lance Hardeman
August 29, a Friday night, Texas Avenue, a steady chattering proces-sion winds towards Lake Cheston and the adjacent stage. Salmon Chubbies & Polos, Chacos, and unseasonal Lulu Lemon. Bacchus rushes its merry supplicants past these pilgrims, raised arms and voices from both parties, “Stop! Waaaaait! Bacchus!” “Haaaaah! Sucks!” Past field, past forest, past to the glade of pines and port-a-johns, where, to-night only, Collie Buddz is set to take to the stage.
Collie Buddz, (One-time) UK chart (near) top-per? Sang (backup) on a (remixed) Beyonce track? Everyone’s heard of him.Most people surveyed on location had, in fact, not heard of Collie Bud-dz. An anonymous student (C’15) was back-stage with the band before they went on: “[They’re] mostly from Jamaica and Bermuda… the band is named after the front-man Collie, the rest of the band prefers to call them-selves Torch, as in pass-ing the ‘torch’ of creative inspiration…”Outside the venue, a police checkpoint search-es bags to keep additional torches of inspiration out. Uncle Remus opens and the usual pre-show conversation and noise swells with every arrival. The air gets cool. Secondhand smoke and bass pound in every throat, green and orange spotlights light the grass, Remus is done and Collie’s roadies lay wires and instruments on the little stage. Torch, dread-locks asway, help set up. They warm up in silence, then they wait.
The stage is set, but Buddz remains unseen. The Top 40 interlude is muted, but the immutable crowd remains loud. Someone takes the microphone and attempts to hype the audience with a “when I say ‘Collie,’ you say ‘Buddz!’ Collie…”Buddz! The man himself runs onstage to whoops and chants from the part of the crowd that was paying attention. He’s every bit Pitbull’s little brother, complete with shaved head, night-time aviators and a Marley shirt, and the audience doesn’t know quite what to make of him. The band goes in, and Collie fol-lows.Original songs play alongside classic and modern reggae, every-thing from Magic! to Marley. The phone-lit faces in the crowd sway to the beat, freshmen make all manner of mistakes, friendly flasks are passed, hands & tongues inter-lock and press as Collie serenades his longtime sweetheart Mary Jane. As the night and set list roll on, small groups detach from the crowd and wander in all directions. Flashlight apps ablaze, the calming rhythms of Collie Buddz imperceptibly fading as they meander slowly homeward, lakeward, pubward. It’s a Friday night in Sewanee, and every little thing gonna be all right.