Something in the Water delivered a series of jaw-dropping performances that rocked the district and brought together generations of hip-hop, rap, alternative and R&B legends in a celebration of DMV culture and community on the weekend. -end last.
Tens of thousands lined Independence Avenue as the event debuted in DC with more than 60 musicians headlined by stars like Post Malone, Lil Baby, 21 Savage and Pharrell Williams – who founded the festival in Virginia Beach in 2019. The three-day music fest brought a hard-hitting musical display that locals hadn’t seen since the pre-pandemic era, and with a focus on diversity in the nation’s capital, the festival paid tribute perfect in the spirit of DC culture and identity during the heat of the Tenth of June weekend.
Just blocks from the United States Capitol, festival founder and award-winning producer Pharrell was determined with the location of the weekend and the diversity of programming, ensuring that music remains at the heart of the commemoration of the Juneteenth and highlighting the cultural significance of music and art among communities of color.
I was able to make it to each day of the event, so I picked my favorite performances that defined the full weekend that felt like a musical celebration of unity and love. Here are my strengths:
Festival-goers arrived early Friday to clinch a front-row seat to Lucky Daye and Emotional Oranges, encompassing two of the best soul and R&B performances of the weekend.
Emotional Oranges – a previously anonymous duo from Los Angeles – entered wearing matching floral dresses, setting the stage for a vibrant yet witty ensemble.
Together, they formed a unique sonic alchemy, using their washed-out basic intro, while the airy vocals of V, one of the two artists, complimented the thicker base of his counterpart A’s sound. Performing songs like ” Personal”, “All That”, and “West Coast Love”, they brought a new performance to an otherwise hot and sticky crowd.
Next, Grammy-winning Lucky Daye took to the stage serenading the crowd with “Candy Drip,” igniting his signature soulful voice that bounced from falsetto to deeper, sweeter baritone. Lucky seemed to instantly charm listeners who quickly aligned with the groove of his sound.
A live band, consisting of a guitarist, drummer, and pianist, accompanied Lucky and backed up the singer’s authentic sound that seemed to flow effortlessly. As he moved between more upbeat tracks such as “NWA” and slower endings with “Love You Too Much,” his deep, aggressive vocals configured his sexual yet tasteful moves on stage, bringing the audience back to old school funk sounds layered with a modern pop twist.
Lil Uzi electrified the energy of the Saturday crowd with his chaotic but determined set. Placed against a bright pink heat shield, Uzi needed only a DJ stand and a microphone to sprint across the stage and stop to wave to the crowd with a wink before launching into his first set.
Delivering one of the most energetic performances of the weekend, Uzi seemed to never stop running, bouncing and rushing up and down center stage. He performed tracks from albums like “Luv is Rage 2” and “Eternal Atake” and showed his ability to switch between punk rock, rap and hip hop while keeping audiences captivated by his tracks.
Later, one of the most significant moments of the weekend came when Pharrell rose from the center of the festival pitch through an ascending stage to kick off his set. The producer appeared with a black and white TV filter projected onto the screen behind him as he opened his 2015 single, “Freedom.” As he paced, he paused between the lyrics of the chorus to comment on the ‘magic’, ‘comradeship’ and ‘love’ he hoped people would welcome from the weekend. .
Pharrell shared the emotion of the moment with the crowd saying, “It’s a different feeling to sing this song in front of the Capitol” and “They didn’t think we could do it, but all I see is is love.”
His openness was powerful yet humble, resembling his deep influence within the music industry. Anyone who knows Pharrell recognizes his humility and desire to give back to his own community, and this venue and performance sums that up.
As the person who revolutionized the sound behind hip hop in the late 90s through production, songwriting and vocals, Pharrell has paid homage to his origins, bringing back the sound of The Neptunes – the duo of production that gave Williams his debut – on stage. He reunited with revered artists from the early 2000s and surprised the crowd with the long-awaited performance of Clipse and NORE before bringing out newly debuted lyricist and rapper Domani Harris.
As the main headliner, Pharrell opted for a minimalist backdrop of lights, nodding with the beat and making her presence alone enough to command the scale of the scene. As one of the industry’s most successful producers, Pharrell’s performance seamlessly brought together older generations of tracks with today’s modern music icons, demonstrating his effortless ubiquity.
While rap and hip-hop artists commandeered much of the event throughout the weekend, R&B singer Teyana Taylor graced the stage on Sunday night, adding the festival to one of her final touring spots before officially retiring from the industry after 15 years of hard work.
Teyana followed her dancers in a fiery red costume and figure with no difficulty in capturing the attention of everyone in her vicinity as she performed a Beyoncé-style walk into the stage. Although she maintained a position in the center of the entire stage, she often aligned herself with her dancers performing choreography with a complex script and robotic hip-hop movements. She danced to revenge songs like ‘Bare Wit Me’ while indulging in slower, more physical acts for ‘Gonna Love Me’, but the physicality didn’t once distract her. depth and emotional range of his sound.
The three day festival had something for everyone. Although the event’s summer schedule made it difficult for students to attend, the festival catered more to middle-aged crowds. The gender spectrum brought in a demographic where everyone could find two things in common – a love for music and an appreciation for the DMV.
As crowds celebrated the chance to experience the eclectic range of music, the event marked the return of a sense of normalcy after a nearly two-year hiatus from festivals and large music-based gatherings just in time for celebrate holiday weekend.