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Monday, September 26, 2022

Sol Blume returns after three years

The R&B festival, now held at Discovery Park in Sacramento, featured all female headliners and brought in 40,000 guests

By ALLIE BAILEY & ANJINI VENUGOPAL — arts@theaggie.org

Sacramento R&B festival Sol Blume touched down at Discovery Park on April 29 and 30, bringing concert-goers from around the world to California’s capital to enjoy a weekend of long-awaited live performances. 

After a promising first two years, Sol Blume had planned on returning in 2020, but like most events in the past two years, the festival had been on hiatus due to the pandemic. But the break didn’t get in the way of a third successful weekend this year: Sol Blume welcomed 40,000 attendees from 46 states and at least five countries.

With countless live performances canceled over the course of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that guests were eager to make up for lost time, though this year’s turnout was quite the jump from 6,500 guests in 2019.

The performances were staggered throughout the two-day festival, so attendees didn’t have to miss a single artist: Thousands traveled back and forth between the “Blume” and “Bless” stages to catch as much of the next set as they could before venturing back over to the other stage.

This year, the festival presented an all-female headlining lineup — Jhené Aiko, Jazmine Sullivan, Summer Walker and Jorja Smith each brought their unique styles to the Blume and Bless stages. Sol Blume’s founders’ emphasis on culture and diversity was evidenced not only by the choice of headliners but also through a lineup consisting mostly people of color as well as an apparently culturally and ethnically diverse crowd. Other notable performers include Thundercat, Syd, Tinashe, SiR, Alina Baraz, Smino and many other rap and R&B musicians that fans filed in to see. 

We were especially impressed by standout performances from Lucky Daye, who kept the crowd amped-up with an engaging set during which he ripped off his shirt, Victoria Monet, whose powerful vocals and dance moves blew us all away (bonus points for performing on her birthday) and Foushee, whose alt-rock vibe was a fun switch from the mainly R&B sound of most other artists.

While some fans were visibly ecstatic to be seeing their favorite musicians live, the overall energy of the crowds was low — some attendees swayed to the music, but dancing crowd members were few and far between, with many simply standing and sometimes putting their hands in the air. Halfway through their set, singer Majid, of Majid Jordan, even told the audience he wouldn’t continue singing until he saw dancing in the crowd, eventually bringing up an energetic dancer from the front who appeared to be a backup dancer from a previous performer. 

The less-than-animated audiences might have underwhelmed some, but this may also be a nod to the more lowkey nature of the festival. As compared to bigger music festivals like Outside Lands or Coachella, attendees may seek out this boutique festival at a smaller venue with the hopes of a chill live music experience.

In addition to a stacked lineup and a constant stream of performers, the festival’s borders were lined with food trucks, bars and a few activities to try out if anyone wanted a break from the music. Thanks to the Sacramento heat, the shaved ice line was always long, but it didn’t stop guests from taking a spin on the rollerblade rink. Other popular spots included the Nash & Proper food truck, but for the long-line-averse, there were plenty of other options for food to keep guests fueled up for the long day of music.

In 2019, Sol Blume was just a one day event held at Cesar Chavez Park, and, likely due to this tremendous increase in festival size and location, there did seem to be a few missed considerations. One was the festival’s exit plan for Sunday night — there probably shouldn’t have been a mass of pedestrians blocking the entire Green Bridge out of Discovery Park if that was the way for vehicles to exit as well. Aside from obvious safety concerns with that, some attendees definitely seemed a bit disgruntled, with comments on the official Sol Blume Instagram including complaints about the late shuttles.

Other than that, the Blume stage seemed to have some audio issues and it was difficult to hear some of the performers — things seemed to (mostly) clear up by the time headliners performed each night, but people in the crowd, including us, were visibly disappointed at not being able to hear Syd or Alina Baraz well over the bass. 

Despite a few blips, Sol Blume’s third year was an overall success, bringing together a group of artists who were just as excited to perform as the crowd was to watch them. Only a quick train ride away, this Sacramento festival may be worth looking into next spring for students seeking the chance to see a slough of impressive performances and come together for a weekend full of celebrating R&B and the joys of live music.

Written by: Allie Bailey & Anjini Venugopal — arts@theaggie.org

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