Under a sunny, clear-blue sky on April 27, folks bounced along to good music, posed for Instagram pictures, sprawled out on the grass, smoked openly and laughed with their faces pointed toward the sunlight. Sol Blume 2019 was a day-long musical experience that was equal parts high-energy and relaxed demeanors.
The R&B, hip-hop and soul festival took place in the Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento, California, with artists Miguel, Jessie Reyes, Masego, J.I.D., Tierra Whack, Queen Naija, Ari Lennox, Kiana Ledé, Snoh Alegra, Raveena, Tobi Lou, Jess Connelly, Umi, Dave B., Ivy Sole, Parisalexa and Andre Power performing on two stages called the “Blessed Stage” and “Blume Stage”. Entrances to the festival opened at 11 a.m., and attendees poured in eagerly. What first appeared to be a small, low-key festival soon turned into a packed spectacle, with the crowd ranging from five-years-olds to retired folks. It was almost impossible to not make new friends, as everyone seemed good-natured and open to talk about music, fashion, the Sacramento heat and thoughts on the festival.
Ronelyn Villarosa and Justine Watson, two friends in attendance, commented on the intimate atmosphere of the festival as Dave B. performed behind them.
“I just love the fact that the music is amazing,” Villarosa said. “I get to vibe out and we’re around people that love the same thing.”
Watson nodded in agreement. “It feels really open, fun and easy-going,” she said.
As morning turned into afternoon, a mild heat blanketed the plaza and artists cycled through their performances onstage. After the fans expressed a generous amount of love for Dave B., Ivy Sole, Parisalexa and Andre Power, Umi took to the Blume Stage, kicking off her set with a guided meditation through breathing. A soft, congenial energy seemed to take over the crowd, as she bounced back and forth between soft and upbeat songs.
After Umi, folks travelled a few steps to the Bless Stage to witness Jess Connelly in action. She began singing from backstage at first, and cheers erupted as soon as she stepped out in a summery, plant-themed outfit. Throughout her set, she talked about growing up the Phillipines and said, “Pretty much everything I write about is love.”
Tobi Lou was next to perform on the Blume Stage. The crowd grew larger and larger as his set approached, until finally he ran on stage and was rapping the second his foot hit the platform. People were jumping along, bobbing their heads and waving their hands in the air as he performed songs like “Sadderday” and “Buff Baby”. At certain points, Lou threw teddy bears that looked like him out into the crowd, saving one in particular for a girl he’d met at the airport earlier that day. He was sure to give many shoutouts to the “beautiful black women” in the audience, who answered his pronouncements of love with their own affectionate cheers.
Briana Swain and Caidon Iwuagwu were two other women in attendance, and said they were making up for the lost opportunity to attend Sol Blume last year, when artists like Jhene Aiko and The Internet were performing.
“[Sol Blume] is very intimate, which I like,” Swain said. “I’m from Sacramento so it’s nice, you know. I’ve seen the evolution over the past […] 28 years, and it’s just nice to see things happening here and feel the vibe that’s always been here.”
Raveena and Kiana Ledé were next to perform, each bringing a calm demeanor in comparison to Lou’s high-energy set. Raveen opened her set with a warm introduction, and looked especially ethereal while doing smooth hand choreography that accompanied her singing. Halfway through her set, she brought up depression and explained how one song, “If Only”, was written during a particularly sad point in her life. After her, Ledé came out onto the Blume Stage in a glamorous purple, Selena-inspired jumpsuit with flared bottoms. During her performance, folks in the audience gently swayed or lounged about on the grass.
After Ledé, Snoh Alegra graced the Bless Stage with a fairy-like disposition, smiling throughout her entire show. The crowd had grown substantially by the time she was on. After a few songs, she had the crowd screaming the lyrics to the jazz classic, “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell. Ari Lennox climbed up on the Blume Stage after her in a leopard print pink outfit, and had everyone giggling when she unabashedly announced the festival “gave me mad weed!”
The audience seemed to race back to the Bless Stage immediately after Lennox, preparing for one of the more popular performers, Tierra Whack, to come on. As crowd members pressed toward the front of the stage, festival DJs played upbeat anthems that had everyone bumping along. Finally, Whack ran on stage in a two-piece print outfit. A playful graphic pulled up behind her displayed a message she wrote out for the crowd, saying she wrote it in the airport before arriving.
Masego and J.I.D. performed next, each as energetic as Whack. Whereas Masego gave an incredibly seductive performance, J.I.D. had a personality that was very similar to Lil Uzi — playful, humorous and whimsical. The two performers poured their hearts into their sets to a crowd that was larger than ever before, and continuously growing in size.
Final performers were Queen Naija, Jessie Reyez and, of course, Miguel. As the sunset dimmed into a dark purple sky, attendees drifted toward food trucks and grassy areas to enjoy the final moments of the festival. By the time Miguel went on, the crowd had began flooding into what was referred to as the “chill zone” across the plaza. People spent what little energy they had left dancing along to Miguel’s set and, once he was done, poured out of the entrances. Many of them left with bright smiles, exhausted but fulfilled with the day’s events.
Carla Suggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @carla_suggs.