On a beautiful but chilly day, the Charged Up Music Festival took place in Storey Park in the NoMA neighborhood of Washington D.C. The festival had a strong emphasis on the local community and culture featuring a line-up consisting of mostly local talent and vendors. The festival had two stages; the main stage at the front of the park, and another indoor stage that was called “Party Wars”. The tent had a nightclub theme, with lights and a bar inside with DJs spinning throughout the day. On the main stage, most of the performers were rappers, however they were able to sprinkle in a mix of rock bands as well.
One of the more interesting and promoted vendors of the festival was a mobile studio sponsored by Jack Daniels that has been travelling around the area for the past few months discovering talent. The Jackin’ for Beats competition pits rappers’ verses against one another after being recorded in that studio and the national winner received $5,000. This competition/truck were definitely the emphasis of the festival’s afternoon and it appeared the event was geared around the competition’s promotion.
In the promotion of this competition, the festival seemed to have lost or forgotten some things that had been advertised. Namely, the presence of “food trucks”. There was one food cart serving fried fish, half-smokes and turkey sandwiches but was far from the variety of dining options I had expected to see.
Another thing that they lacked was attendance. While it was sparse at the beginning of the festival, the crowd never seemed to thicken. This may have been due to a couple of reasons, including promotion issues and the size of the venue. I would think an event like this would garner a lot more local support than was shown, and there was a heavy media presence there but the number of ticket-buying fans was another issue entirely.
However, when it came down to it, the musicians that were present were extremely entertaining. Most every artist who performed throughout the day was fun to watch and put on a good show. Pinky Killacorn, a female rapper from Washington D.C., was very fun to watch, and the group she was affiliated with called Hippie Life Krew had an interesting joint performance soon after her solo set. Another notable performer was a snare drummer whose stick movements were absolutely mesmerizing. The only name I knew him by was “Malik” but if I could track him down and follow him I 100% would. The way he flipped his drumsticks in the air matched with high-tempo songs and the way he moved his wrists/hands with ease was mind-blowing. He was eventually able to make an on-stage appearance with Mike Will, who was very impressed based on the cell phone videos he was taking. Although I had not heard of many of the artists at the festival, they did not disappoint.
As the night waned, the first of the headliner acts appeared. A band deemed the only “hood rock” band in the world, Black Alley, hit the stage. Their combination of rock and urban music influences were obvious based on the songs they performed. The performance was very lively, and the performed mostly covers of songs but their stage presence was very good. They did a great job of hyping up the crowd for the remaining performers and were fun to watch. I definitely think they are a band with potential.
Finally, after a lull in the performance, Mike Will and his Ear Drummers’ supported artists hit the stage. Although B.O.B. was the advertised headliner, he never showed up to the festival for reasons that were unknown. However, Mike Will and his artists Jace of Two-9, Eearz, Yung Joey and Impxct made the crowd completely forget the absence of the original headliner. Mike was wearing a hat that said “Free Gucci” on it, a teal wind-breaker from North Face, a Coogi sweater underneath, jeans and very flashy sunglasses that never left his face. They stormed the stage throwing out physical copies of mixtapes, jumping up and down and rapping along to major Mike Will singles from the likes of Future, Gucci Mane, Big Sean and many other notable rappers. After about 30 minutes, each of the rappers who accompanied him did their own songs, hyping up the small crowd in their own ways. After launching back into some of Mike Will’s most known songs again, they promoted their label again and left the stage. There was no official announcement of the festival’s end, but it was clear after Mike Will and the Ear Drummers’ set that it was over. No one would have been able to follow them anyway!
Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Charged Up Music Festival. The emphasis on local talent, artists and vendors was nice to see and I was able to find and discover lots of interesting trinkets and music. However, the lack of attendance at time sometimes made things awkward and feel slightly off. The festival itself was very organized and although many of the artists that performed are still bubbling the level of talent present surprised me. I hope that they are able to draw more people moving forward and will definitely keep an eye out to attend the festival next year.