World Bash: A Triumphant Send-Off for Mighty Crown

(Pictured:  Ninja and Sami T from Mighty Crown Sound | Photo Credit:  JUNYA S STEADY)

Bone-chilling temperatures did little to scare off the thousands who converged on Amazura in Queens, NY this Thanksgiving weekend; by midnight on Friday, the venue was near-capacity. The shifting thump of dancehall basslines was enough reassurance that the wait was worth it. Inside, World Bash, the biggest sound system event of the year, had kicked off.

The event was billed as a musical send-off for Mighty Crown, comprised of Masta Simon, Sami T, Cojie, and Ninja, a veteran group of Japanese selectors who have flown the flag for reggae/dancehall and Jamaican culture for over three decades, and are now retiring. Organized and promoted by Irish & Chin, World Bash brought together Mighty Crown, Bass Odyssey, David Rodigan, Soul Supreme, Killamanjaro, Dynamq, Pink Panther, LP International, Bodyguard, Tony Matterhorn, along with surprise special guests, Wyclef Jean and Metromedia with Skyjuice and Oliver, for a night focused more on celebration than competition.

“When I was putting the World Bash line-up together, I wanted it to reflect all the sounds (sound systems) that played a role in Mighty Crown’s journey. They’ve clashed with some of these sounds over the years and have even become rivals with them. Others are sound systems that inspired them to be soundmen, to get into the business.. sounds like Bodyguard and a Sky Juice, and so on,” said Garfield ‘Chin’ Bourne, who also manages Mighty Crown.

Juggling replaced clashing, and for hours each act took turns cycling through their respective anthems, letting loose familiar dubplates that rang out at ground-shaking volumes. At one point, a tribute was extended to the Five Star General Panther, 9x world champion selector, in front of the international crowd. “He’s contributed so much to the growth of the arena,” said Chin, “and we needed to celebrate him.”

More than a triumph for Mighty Crown, the night was an unquestionable victory for sound system culture, which has entrenched itself so deeply in the global consciousness that it was able to turn an occasion like this into a blockbuster affair. The night’s success made it clear: The art and appeal of events like this are here to stay.

Reflecting on World Bash, Chin said, “The event was to commemorate their journey. At the same time, I wanted to put something together that would be such a strong force that it would shake the industry, and make people realize that the power of sound system is still there. For a long time, the sound system thing has been very quiet, so World Bash made the story. It’s a new day. I’m hoping it will spark interest in sound system culture.”

“What I’m ultimately trying to do is create a modern industry that celebrates each other for their contribution, despite whether they get along or not. The arena has been so entertaining because of multiple people, not just one person, right? So, I’m trying to lead by example and get people to celebrate each other. Once we celebrate each other, people will then celebrate us as well.”