Pulsing lights reflecting off of downtown Sacramento’s neighboring buildings, a mix of chilled R&B sounds with club hip-hop beats and machine-gun rap. A fashionable crowd was as quick to compliment each other as they were to dance to the artists or the DJ mixing in between performances.
In only its second year, Sol Blume – the daylong springtime festival held Saturday, April 27, in Sacramento’s downtown Caesar Chavez Park – has quickly established its reputation for combining a solid performer lineup of hip-hop and R&B performers on the cusp of blowing up with the right amount of Instagram friendly atmosphere to make itself a premiere event.
At a time when other festivals are jumping onto a pledge to achieve a 50/50 gender balance for performers by the year 2022, Sol Blume has featured a female-heavy lineup, and the overall vibe of self-empowerment and love-who-you-want-to-love dominates the much of the stage banter between songs. Though none of the performers, except maybe Jessie Reyez, is known for overt politics, the anti-Trumpian values sentiment is strong, with artists shouting out those with immigrant roots, as well as those in the audience fighting and struggling in their own ways to make the world a better place.
On two stages — with only 10-minute gaps between performers and a DJ spinning music during the breaks — the packed plaza would erupt into spontaneous fits of dancing. And rarely have I heard so many compliments being thrown around about others’ outfits, hair, makeup and such.
More than a dozen performers held the stages throughout the day, from the chilled out R&B sounds of Raveena, Queen Naija, Jess Connelly, Masego and Kiana Ledé to the upbeat hip-hop of Tierra Whack, J.I.D., Tobi Lou to the energetic and dynamic performance of Jessie Reyez who played a mix of chart songs she had written for other artists as well as her music, to the headliner, Miguel, who held sway over the audience with his soulful R&B moves and voice.
One performance that stuck out was the comedic interludes of Washington, D.C. singer Ari Lennox, who took the stage and right away mentioned how her trip out West was going: “I love California, y’all. They gave me mad weed, so God is good…”
Slight hiccups may have been the small things, like there being only a single small water-refill station, thus lines for this surpassed lines for food, but this didn’t take away from the musical end.
While music festivals seem to be in a period of consolidation buyouts by large brands such as Live Nation and MTV, and the homogeneity of similar lineups can be seen across many of them, Sol Blume has solidified itself as a boutique festival that gets the details for a unique and fun experience. Despite its relatively small venue, people I spoke to had come from Lake Tahoe, Southern California and the Bay Area. Two years in, Sol Blume is an exciting and refreshing addition to the festival lineup for Northern California.
Check out SolBlume.com for news and info.
— Shaun Astor