Having concluded Sol Blume 2023, I think it is a great time to reflect upon my experience. The first thing I’d like to note about my experience is that it was quite cool being able to see the way this festival has grown from a more niche regional festival to one that is becoming known throughout the country. This year at Sol Blume, the record was broken yet again for attendance. When comparing this year’s festival to 2022, Sol Blume 2023 had 6,000 more attendees, a 13% increase in attendance, fans from 48 different states, and 15 different countries, for a grand total of 46,000 fans in attendance.
One Sol Blumer described this festival as:
…an event where you fuse a Larger than Life Venue with a Grassroots Atmosphere. I highly recommend folks to partake in the event with this logic in mind: see the artist(s) who [ you ] wanna vibe with, discover folks [ you ] may never have heard of, enjoy a great atmosphere, meet new people, eat some goodies and/or treats.
It’s safe to say that Sol Blume ( @solblume ) 2023 was a massive success and that the hype for 2024 will be crazy. Before I proceed, let me explain why this year was a massive success, and give my own thoughts on what I experienced two weeks ago, and break down my favorite performances of Sol Blume from artists such as Phony ppl, La Russell, Brent Faiyaz, Durand Bernarr, and Teyana Taylor.
This had only been my second time in Sacramento, and through this, I was able to see, and experience a side of Sac that I’ve never witnessed. The vast landscape of greenery in Discovery Park was a pleasant surprise and a much-welcomed sight for me. Being in a space this green and open brought a sense of comfort and nostalgia that I rarely feel when I’m on the west coast, and far from my family on another coast. It took some time for me to calm my nerves on day one since this had been an entirely new experience for me, and I had a huge day ahead of me. The setting in which Sol Blume had taken place made it easier for me to ease into the events that the day had in store for me. I loved the outdoorsy aspect of Sol Blume, and I don’t think that they could have had a much better venue to host this than Discovery Park, given the festival’s location, and the growing popularity of it.
Going into this weekend, there had been a very set-and-stone list of performers that I truly looked forward to seeing. Two especially being Joey Bada$$ and Isaiah Rashad. I did not necessarily come into this weekend with the most open mind regarding many performances, but man… I left wanting to know so much more about a large number of the artists that I had seen perform. Let’s start with Phony ppl ( @phonyppl ).
Over the years, I’d heard this band’s name uttered from time to time in different circles, and I really do wish I’d taken the chance at one of those previous times to give their music a listen, and really immerse myself into their discography. Their performance on day one was a very memorable one. I’d been somewhere completely new, surrounded by people that I didn’t know, hearing artists that I wasn’t too familiar with, and it was comforting to have a familiar name perform in a place that was unfamiliar to me. Their performance was one of the earliest on the first day, and in a way, it set the tone for me that weekend. Oh and let’s just say that Phony ppl’s music is meant to be performed live. I’ve enjoyed some of their music that I’ve previously listened to, but their music truly comes to life and takes on a life of its own when it is performed live. Interestingly, when Phony ppl performed, their music was much more infused with a different variety of sounds than what you might get with the music they’ve typically released. The most prominent of these sounds being Reggae, Afrobeats, and Psychedelic Rock. This was my favorite aspect of their performance, and I heard these different sounds heavily in their most popular song, and the final song of their set, “Why iii love the moon.” I will definitely make it a point to give their music a more in-depth listen and come out to a show of theirs in the future.
Now, let’s move on to my favorite Hip-Hop performance of the weekend, La Russell.
La Russell ( @larussell ) was different… It felt like I could hear his performance from a mile away. As I and many other spectators heard his voice in other parts of Discovery Park, we came flocking to the stage. His set was unlike any other hip-hop performance I’ve personally witnessed. La Russell brought a level of energy only matched by one other live performer I’ve seen live, Denzel Curry. I was not able to catch La Russell’s full performance, but for the bulk of it that I was able to see, there were no pre-recorded beats, and it was entirely live instrumentation. There’s a catch to this too, they had no one playing drums. They had a saxophonist, a violinist, and a pianist. I actually loved this. The lack of drums had given La Russell more room to rap and brought out elements of jazz, and even a tad bit of blues that I usually don’t hear in modern Hip-Hop. I can’t talk about La Russell’s performance if I don’t mention the fact that he brought out Sacramento’s very own, Shootergang Kony. I thought this was a dope nod to Sac, and that Kony greatly benefited from the live instruments being played. I would love to see these sorts of performances done more frequently within Hip-Hop. I love what La Russell has been delivering to his fans, and I hope to see his style of performance catch on with other artists.
I came into this festival looking forward to Brent’s ( @brentfaiyaz ) set quite a bit. He was one of the main headliners and an artist whose music I’ve listened to for the last four or five years. There’d been a ton of hype surrounding his performance, and rightfully so. His performance was by far the most psychedelic at Sol Blume. Everything had become very still, and it felt as if everything around me came to a stop once he started his set. His performance was a moment where I’d lost touch with my environment and was consumed by what was transpiring on stage. Everything during this Brent’s performance felt heightened, more grand if you will. The two most distinct features of this performance were the visuals, and the orchestral instruments being played. The visuals were mostly in black and white and were of music video quality. They had given his performance a bit of a cinematic effect. The orchestral instruments were very prominent on “DEAD MAN WALKING” and “Gravity.” These two songs were without a doubt my favorite songs he had performed Saturday night. The vibe was impeccable during the Brent set, and it’d been the most laid-back part of Sol Blume this year.
Now without further ado, I’m gonna get into my favorite performances of day two, Durand Bernarr and Teyana Taylor. Similarly to La Russell, I felt like I could hear Durand Benarr ( @durandbernarr )performing from a mile away. Upon hearing a glimpse of his performance, I knew immediately that he had the most retro-sounding set. There were elements of both the Soulquarians’ sound and some of what you might find in classic 70’s funk in his music. Durand Bernarr’s name was slightly familiar to me as I’d watched some of his tiny desk concert, and I’d heard he was opening for Erykah Badu on her Unfollow Me Tour. However, I had not looked too deeply into his discography. This was a common theme for me during Sol Blume. Many of my favorite performances were ones I did not expect to love as much as I did. With several artists, I’d left Sol Blume with a strong urge to listen to their music and learn more about their creative journey, and Durand Bernarr without a doubt falls into this category.
Lastly, I cannot talk about day two without speaking on Teyana Taylor’s ( @teyanataylor ) performance. Her performance was by far the most theatrical. The stakes for her performance felt very high, and I constantly thought about the fact that this was one of her last performances ever. With that in mind, I tried to cherish every moment. I had never witnessed a live musical performance with such a heavy emphasis on theatrics. I was amazed by the attention to detail, and all the time and effort that must have been put into this performance. The fact that there’d been a storyline progressing through her performance blew me away at certain moments.
Another Sol Blumer describes their experience:
From jump, the music hit you in all the right head spaces. No matter who was on stage every single artist came to present their art in its purest and open form. We laughed, we cheered, took photos, felt the vibes, and just experienced life. I can even proudly say I meet folks from across the Continental USA, Texas and Ohio if I get specific.
With all of this being said, Sol Blume, 2023 was a very unique experience, and I can only imagine what Sol Blume 2024 will have in store. Although the lineup is not up yet, Sol Blume details are coming out soon, details for more information on the SolBlume website. One thing we know for sure is that festivities are May 3rd to May 5th. I’d also like to thank KSJS for giving me the opportunity to do these amazing things, and none of this would have been possible without their generosity, and belief in me. Shoutout to everyone who stayed with me till the end! .