When it comes to music festivals in the Bay Area, fans are eager to snag tickets to events such as Outside Lands in San Francisco or BottleRock in Napa Valley. However, these festivals typically cater to rock and pop fans, with a splash of other genres mixed in. While Oakland’s annual Hiero Day Festival gives a platform to underground and indie artists, there aren’t too many daylong events geared towards R&B and hip-hop fans. Thankfully, Blurry Vision Festival filled that void for music lovers this past weekend.
Fans descended upon the two-day event at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland, and its views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco’s skyline were perfectly picturesque. Donning Golden State Warriors jerseys and Tupac memorabilia, Bay Area residents proudly repped their hometown culture and came out in droves. In fact, the festival seemed to draw a diverse crowd, with people of all ages coming out to enjoy the festivities, including a few celebrating with their parents during the Mother’s Day weekend.
Although the festival didn’t have many local artists on the bill, the lineup was nevertheless stacked, with over twenty acts across two days. And with a single stage, it was easy for attendees to check out all the artists without worrying about switching views and missing certain sets.
On Saturday, artists like Healy, Joji, Roy Woods, and Majid Jordan won the hearts of many fans with their smooth sounds, while Top Dawg Entertainment rapper Isaiah Rashad got intimate with the audience as he hopped in the crowd to sign autographs. Although these artists traffic in more mellow tones, headliners BROCKHAMPTON and SZA completely stole the show with their energy. It was a non-stop party as the boys of BROCKHAMPTON brought a group of violinists to perform songs from their three Saturation projects released in 2017. Where their crew is outsized and bombastic, SZA was intimate and relatable, with fans singing along to deeply personal songs like “Normal Girl” and “Broken Clocks.”
The party didn’t stop on Sunday as fans got familiar with rising Irish rapper Rejjie Snow, became enamored of the beauty of Alina Baraz, fell in love with Xaviar Omär’s voice and celebrated with Anderson .Paak during his house party set. But it was Oakland’s own Kamaiyah who represented her hometown to the fullest (local legends like Too Short and E-40 would have been proud). Kamaiyah performed hits from projects such as A Good Night in the Ghetto, while also premiering new songs from her upcoming album including a collaboration with Schoolboy Q. Closing out the festival, Migos took over the crowd, with hits such as “Hannah Montana,” “Walk It Like I Talk It,” and “Bad and Boujee” proving why they're by far the most popular rap group on the planet in 2018.
With hip-hop/R&B finally overtaking rock as America’s most popular style of music, the Blurry Vision Festival was two days of evidence in how far the genre has come and what fans can look forward to in the future. Holding a festival in Oakland is exactly what the Bay Area needed, and the only thing fans can hope for is that the next Blurry Vision Festival will show a little more love to their hometown artists.
Check out some of our photos from the two-day festival above and follow this for more coverage of the summer's biggest music festivals on AXS.com.