Stepping onto the grounds of Sacramento’s inaugural Sol Blume Festival, one thing was obvious. In an environment where festivals have come to dominate the national live music scene, and names such as Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo and Electric Daisy Carnival compete for more and bigger names on their lineups, Sol Blume instead turned to a local focus and hit it out of the park with this event.
With about a dozen artists over a single day, the festival put together a lineup that flowed like a well-curated mix tape, with each artists’ styles – from Nao’s soulful hip-hop, Goldlink’s fiery party rap, Sabrina Claudio’s sultry R&B, DJ Noodle’s club playlist, The Internet’s funk-infused dub dance to Jhene Aiko’s headlining psychedelia grooves. The music, combined with the stylish local flair of the fest vibe itself, contributed to a gathering where each artist built and complemented the atmosphere laid out over the afternoon.
Held Saturday in downtown Sac’s Cesar Chavez Park – a plaza enclosed by neighboring towers – two stages lying at adjacent sides made it so there was often little downtime between performers, and with a 30-second walk or a change of direction to those who staked out the prime lawn spots, you could face the other stage. Food trucks and social media-ready art installations graced the grounds for those looking to take a break from the music.
Sol Blume’s exclusive featuring of hip-hop and R&B – as opposed to other fests that include it amongst various other styles – seemed to be what took it to the next level. The style ensured that the whole crowd was in tune, with the entire plaza vibing with the artists at times.
While the fest featured primarily what could be called the top of the class of up-and-coming artists, Jhene Aiko capped off the night with a set mixing an incredible stage presence over a sparse musical backdrop of only a harp and keyboards. The minimalism on the instrumentation was no obstacle to her running across the stage, ending with a crowd onstage dancing to her final song, “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
All in all, Sol Blume seems to hit the formula for a great afternoon, and the potential for an amazing music festival given the relatively smaller nature of Sacramento compared with larger urban areas. While this was Sol Blume’s first festival, it may be a great new addition to the area’s music and fashion scene.
– Shaun Astor