Yes, expectations were high for the return of Smokin’ Grooves after a 16-year hiatus and Saturday’s show lived up to the hype. What began in the late ‘90s as a hip-hop, R&B, and soul festival which countered the Lollapalooza-dominated concert world, sparked a mainstream trend after its initial few tours had completed their run.
Flash-forward to 2018 and Cara Lewis, who co-organized the original Smokin’ Grooves, has teamed up with Goldenvoice, in order to bring the once beloved festival back into the spotlight. While much has changed in the last 16 years, the spirit of this particular show certainly has not. The lineup for the June 16 event at the Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach, California, included a few of the artists who were on the inaugural bill as well as some new additions; successfully bridging the gap between the generations.
One “JUMP JUMP” from Busta Rhymes was really all anyone needed to know they were in the right place. Of course, by the time the rapper joined The Roots on stage telling fans to put their hands where his eyes could see, the sun was beginning to set and the concertgoers were well in the middle of the mix. Earlier in the day, Nonchalant Savant took one of the stages, marking the first festival to be played with brother, Miguel. Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) stood out with a powerful performance. Anderson .Paak turned things up. Jhené Aiko, Xavier Omär, Thundercat, Alina Baraz, Miguel and Erykah Badu all had incredible sets; each lifting the spirit of the crowd, navigating them through a sea of ever-changing positive vibes. Proving to be a festival for artists, by artists, you could even catch musicians such as Khalid, making their way through the masses to catch performances by the acts they were most excited to see.
The June 16 show at the Queen Mary has given a lot of fans hope that this means Smokin’ Grooves has officially set sail into the future of festivals to come.
You can check out some exclusive photos from the event up above.