A Jam Packed Line Up
On April 27th, droves of festival goers leisurely walked into Cesar Chavez plaza with the sun at its peak, the hum of local food truck engines, and the buzz of excitement in the air. What took place during the day-long multi-stage festival was good for the soul. From the opening act to the headliner, artists curated setlists that reflected growth, hope, and exuberance that resonated with the crowd.
Some fans certainly got their steps in as set times were packed back to back between two stages. Just as Dave B hustled to his set after performing with Ivy Sole, attendees hustled between two stages to find a prime spot for each performance. The festival served as a good introduction to many up and coming artists such as Jess Connelly. Her cool demeanor seemed to cause a decrease in the temperature. Her hand seemingly catching a breeze as she used her fingers to mimic her vocal runs. The plaza served as the perfect setting for the carefree or laid-back air of artists like UMI, Snoh Aaelegra and Raveena as well. Attendees swayed and sang along to Snoh’s performance of “Fool for You” and per Raveena’s suggestion, burned palo santo as she performed “Milk and Honey.”
The festival also served as a reminder as to why many of the artists billed for Sol Blume are getting a lot of buzz. The vocal control of many of the artists was astonishing. Dreamville’s own Ari Lennox and J.I.D showcased their respective vocal and lyrical abilities. She displayed a wide smile and slowly walked to and fro, exuding confidence and comfort as she effortlessly brought up powerful notes. There was no doubt that Dave B enjoyed his time. His infectious energy spanned the entirety of the stage as he danced from one end of the stage to the other, sharing some of his time with Romero Franceswa who is featured on one of his tracks. Tobi Lou came out shining – wearing lime green sequined shorts and well known blond afro puffs. He possessed the same magnetism when he led fans in a sing along of “Buff Baby.”
A personal highlight included Tierra Whack’s live performance. What can be said about the rapping phenom that has not already been said? Ms. Whack commanded the crowd both literally and figuratively when she asked them to repeat high pitched squeals and whispers between performances of “Hungry Hippo” and “Fruit Salad.”
Whack smiled and waved at onlookers and connected with fans shouting her lyrics in unison (cause honestly if you don’t come to a hip-hop show to shout the lyrics at your fave, you are doing hip-hop shows incorrectly) and ended with “Unemployment,” a no holds barred, ferocious, lyrically dizzying track. Other stand out performances took place during sets completed by Andre Power, Parisalexa, Kiana Lede, Masego, and Queen Naija.
The headlining acts were simply the cherry on top of an already packed and loaded lineup. Jessie Reyez went from subdued and hoodied up, to slowly pealing back the layers of her fit as she beared more of her emotional vulnerability and showcased the wide array of emotions that her music conveys.
From the joy of getting low to “One Kiss,” Jessie’s first number one hit as a songwriter. Channeling the rage that rises from encounters with past lovers on “F*** Being Friends” and music industry predators on “Gatekeepers.” Or the heartbreaking sorrow of “Figures.” Jessie jokingly mentioned that she did not want to leave the crowd on a woeful note and performed a bit of the upbeat “Blue Ribbon,” before graciously leaving the stage.
Miguel, joined by a guitarist and drummer, wittily transitioned between a melody of songs that included “Sure Thing” and “Adorn,” among other hits. Some new takes on some established singles, like a slowed down rendition of “Come Through and Chill,” (who knew a song could get any sexier) and an infusion of “Pass the Dutchie” between verses of “Do You…” were welcomed by fans. As one would guess, sexiness emanated from Miguel’s being. He simply stuck his tongue out and fans swooned. His performance of “Vixen” was met with one beaming red light that enveloped the entire stage in the sexy hue. Miguel showed off his moves, spinning, sliding and rocking out throughout the set. He kept the atmosphere lighthearted with a quick bust down of “Thotiana” as well. Interspersed with a few motivation words for fans, he ended the night on a high note with an extended take of “Skywalker.”
Good Vibes Only
A highlight of Sol Blume includes the positivity exuded and shared by all in attendance. Before Ivy Sole performed “Life,” she brought out Dave B to provide his hard hitting verse live and direct. In parting ways with the Philly emcee, Dave B gave Ivy Sole a wholehearted hug. The embrace between both rising stars perfectly reflected some of the evident tenets of the festival – positivity and a sense of community.
The intimacy associated with the boutique festival allowed artists to connect with crowds and recount experiences running into fans or drinking great Starbucks beverages at the Sacramento airport. Artists would admire and express a desire to be a part of the action. To the extent that artists declared that they planned to hang out with folks after completing a set. Tierra Whack told the crowd she would see them within seconds after she wrapped up and like clockwork she was on the grounds, greeting and embracing fans.
Tobi Lou used his set as an opportunity to remark on how amazing the festival experience had been so far, mentioning that the “Vibe today is beautiful and peaceful and loving.” He extended his appreciation for the crowd by giving away two buff baby plush dolls. One to a fan he met when he arrived at the Sacramento airport earlier that morning, and another out into the crowd that had steadily grown during his afternoon performance.
The setting and setlists facilitated a positive, laid-back and friendly atmosphere. Embraces between partners and impromptu dance circles among strangers happily coexisted with those who rooted down with blankets spread out across grassy areas – lounging, commiserating, and sharing casual laughs in the plaza. Folks lined up to buy artist merchandise and Sol Blume swag that included pink t-shirts declaring “Love Yourself.” Nothing but love and good vibes were seen as far as the eye could see. Ari Lennox’s attempts to channel Patti LaBelle during a swift kick off of her shoes was met with smiles from fans, showing that artists and fans alike were not taking themselves too seriously and simply having a good time.
At various times throughout the day, artists recognized the diversity of attendees that made Sol Blume special. Tobi Lou’s compliments to the crowd included a shoutout to the black women in the audience – admiring one young woman’s multi-colored braids and sliding “Sacramento” into his rhymes as a nod to the city some attendees call home. During, Jessie Reyez’s set, she donned her “IMPORTED” t-shirt and took time to recognize the immigrants interspersed through the crowd. At another moment in time, she affectionally spoke in Spanish to a child sitting on the shoulders of an older fan.
Black girl magic and black boy joy were evident and called out throughout the day. Ari Lennox also showed appreciation for fans giving a shout out to the all the women in attendance and a special shout out to the “chocolate girls” in the crowd. J.I.D acted in kind when he briefly complimented a young girl’s afro puffs between songs.
Throughout the day and into the evening, artists communicated messages of perseverance. When J.I.D set out to perform, he provided messages of motivation and encouragement as he darted across the stage. Declarations like, “This year is about activation” and “Handle your business in 2019” were emphasized between moving performances of “Hereditary” and “Off the Zoinky’s” – a meditation on sobriety and self-discipline.
Artist performed songs that articulated inner struggles, but they were matched with messages to overcome. Messages were relayed through subsequent song choices or explicit messages to face adversity, level up, and practice self-love. Raveena’s most moving moment occurred when she asked festival goers to just “be” with her as she explained that her next song reflected struggles with depression. Many looked on in awe and admiration as Raveena closed her eyes and poured out her feelings through song.
Jessie Reyez recalled that five years prior to her performance, she begged people to listen to her mixtape. She went on to say, “When God delivers something, but it doesn’t look exactly like you wanted, make it a f***ing W.” After performances of poignant songs like “Figures,” she pleaded with fans stating, “If you are going through something, cry. Be sad and have your own back…if you don’t love you, nobody is gonna love you.”
Artist performing songs of about vulnerability and growth and steadily escalated to rejoicing and irreverence to peak levels of hype during Miguel’s performance. Even though Miguel kept his messages short, he made a grand statement with his attire. He wore a black shirt that read “How Nipsey Before Zimmerman” in white lettering. Thus, bringing attention to the violence that takes the lives of young black men in America. Even with such tragic realities, Miguel made time and space for an encouraging words.
Miguel went on to describe the racial tensions he navigated as a half-Mexican, half African-American child growing up in Inglewood, California. Mentioning that throughout his experience he realized (and wanted to impart to fans) that “You gotta be fearless about who you are and what you believe,” and asked fans to ride out the difficulties and strife that may arise in life.
In recalling his experience, Miguel asked to fans to channel their best selves and groove with him to “Ride that Wave.” The crooner ended on a positive note stating that there is nothing but “Pineapple skies in our future.” He immediately hopped into the upbeat hit of the same name and closed the night out with “Skywalker.”
Whether the messages came from festival merchandise, powerful performances, or artists candid conversations with the crowd, the festival certainly left a lasting and powerful impression on concertgoers. The gates surrounding Cesar Chavez plaza encapsulated great talent, diversity, and joy. In its second go round, Sol Blume has established itself as a festival that those seeking good vibes and great performances should not miss.
Be sure to keep on eye out for what is in store next spring. For all things Sol Blume check out, SolBlume.com.