Pharrell’s ‘One thing within the Water’ Fest Has Potential … However Wants Work

Kia Turner

Kia Turner is a contract journalist and music historian from…


Picture Credit score: Greg Oribhabor

Pharrell’s One thing within the Water pageant came about in Washington DC, that includes acts comparable to Moneybagg Yo, Chloe x Halle, and Anderson .Paak with an all-star efficiency from the visionary artist himself.

Becoming a member of the ranks of Drake’s THIS Fest, J. Cole’s DreamvilleTravis Scott’s Astroworldand JAY-Z’s Made in America, Pharrell’s One thing within the Water Competition is among the many celebrity-branded music fests which have popped up during the last ten years. This yr’s pageant, which is in its second yr, began off fairly rocky.

After a strong first yr – which included acts comparable to Missy Elliott, SZA, Gunna, and a Pharrell and Buddies set that includes JAY-Z and Chris Brown – the second iteration of this pageant was met with just a few setbacks. For one, in 2o2o, COVID-19 utterly halted reside performances throughout the music house. Secondly, Pharrell’s cousin was tragically shot and killed by Virginia Seaside police in 2021. Allegedly, Pharrell was unhappy with the investigation and he determined to maneuver the pageant to DC (Reviews say his hometown misplaced out on about $ 24 million {dollars} that would have assisted the neighborhood.) Regardless of these components, Pharrell and his workforce moved the pageant, with the present set to the backdrop of the Capitol Constructing.

Pharrell managed, inside just a few acts and his personal, to perform his mission for the weekend: rejoice his personal legacy whereas highlighting the skills of the subsequent technology. Nonetheless, there have been many points: a number of emergencies of attending patrons passing out resulting from dehydration and motion within the extraordinarily cramped crowds; individuals who managed to chop strains and enter the pageant with out having tickets or passes; folks getting their telephones pick-pocketed; and an oddly organized website floor that would have simply been a serious security hazard.

On Friday, the primary day of the pageant, Anderson .Paak reunited together with his band The Free Nationals for a vigorous set on the Moon Stage. They carried out fan favorites comparable to “Suede” and “Am I Unsuitable.” Paak’s musicianship, camaraderie with the band and followers plus humor made his set the must-see of the primary night time. Anderson’s set conflicted with Usher’s, who carried out hits like “You Make Me Wanna” and “Yeah!” Whereas his present was thrilling, and left the gang feeling energized, Usher and Anderson ought to have been given the right time wanted so they might run one of the best of their discographies.

Picture Credit score: Karas Marsh

There have been three phases: Moon, Earth, and Solar. By Saturday, the Solar Stage was the place to be. With a line-up of Chloe x Halle, Snoh ​​Aalegra, and Lil Uzi Vert dominating earlier than “Pharrell and Phriends,” closed issues out. Nonetheless, there was an air of claustrophobia surrounding the realm, making it tough for media and followers alike to maneuver safely via the bunched crowds to correctly benefit from the units and even head to one of many many hydration stations accessible. The sooner units and overflowing patrons have been only a trace of how overwhelming the night time would turn into at Pharrell’s set. With practically 25,000 folks crammed onto one avenue – that held three phases, two lengthy rows of meals vehicles, and a number of hydration stations – it was turning into a logistical nightmare with many opting to take a seat in the midst of the road watching performances on two bigger screens.

Chloe x Halle’s set seemed to be lower quick, whereas Q-Tip and SZA’s appearances have been canceled. Snoh Aalegra’s ethereal persona was on full show throughout her set as she ran via hits like “Woah” and “Discover Somebody Like You.” Sadly, the sound appeared to even be a difficulty as, the additional away you have been from her stage, Mariah The Scientist could possibly be heard bleeding into Snoh’s manufacturing. Lil Uzi Vert delivered probably the greatest units from your entire three-day weekend. Crammed with ragging vitality and a cohesive set-list, Uzi dominated with “Cash Longer” and “Neon Guts” which featured an early sighting of Pharrell. He wrapped by earlier than paying homage to XXXTENTACION calling him, “The one rapper who was my competitors.”

Power and anticipation was excessive for Pharrell’s closing set. Because of poor communication, logistical planning, and disorganization, a whole lot on the door have been turned away from even witnessing Skateboard P’s set resulting from overcrowding (organizers have since introduced they are going to be refunded). Whereas I used to be capable of benefit from the set from the luxurious of being backstage, many patrons and pals who attended attested to the fixed surging of crowds in the direction of the stage including to the a number of occasions Pharrell stopped the present to name for EMT.

The highlights of Pharrell’s set included Justin Timberlake performing “My Love” with TI and the Clipse performing “What Occurred to That Boy” and “Grindin’ ”alongside Pharrell. NORE’s intro by Pharrell to “return to the start, the place it began” engaged the viewers in a roaring chant as The Neptunes’ iconic four-count ushered within the hits “Superthug” and ‘Nothin’. ” P took us via a short musical journey of hits that included Nelly’s “Sizzling in Herre,” “Drop It Like It is Sizzling,” “Indicators” and the basic “Frontin ‘” that almost left a hard-core Neptunes lover like me in tears .

Picture Credit score: Karas Marsh

Nonetheless, it wasn’t Pharrell’s efficiency that capped off the which means of the weekend in addition to the importance of his set and presence. With associate Chad and Pharrell being inducted into the Songwriter’s Corridor of Fame a day earlier than the pageant started and the NERD unique merch practically promoting out immediately on the merch stand, it was clear that whereas the line-up of fascinating artists was a plus, the gang was right here for Pharrell and what he symbolizes for them. At virtually 50 years outdated, he is beginning to reap the advantages and settle for the flowers of the youngsters who like myself admired the self-proclaimed nerd. It was Child Tate and Tyler, the Creator who was entrance row for his set, and Tyler who practically jumped on stage in amazement at Pharrell performing the In My thoughts basic “That Woman.” The sentiments of why we attended have been summed up completely by Tyler in his set on Sunday night time which closed out the pageant. Wrapping up his efficiency with Pharrell and 21 Savage on Sunday of “Money In Money Out,” Tyler passionately declared to Pharrell, “The innovation, the execution… I’m perpetually in debt to you.”

Leaving One thing within the Water, I spotted that celebrity-branded festivals are usually not essentially the best way into dominating and reinventing the tradition. As we have seen with Astroworld and different festivals of the previous, it is a idea that very like the music itself is continually evolving. For a person who has predicted the modifications in music and assisted in its evolution of it, one can solely hope that with time and thru expertise, Pharrell and the organizers can be taught, modify and implement modifications as pageant tradition evolves.

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