Saturday was a spiritual reset for the 80’s and 90’s babies. For eleven hours, fans from around the globe came together on the vast greenery at the Los Angeles State Historic Park to relish in all the groovealicous offerings at Smokin Grooves music festival. Nothing else mattered but enjoying 38 of the world’s most talented musicians. Goodbye lockdown, welcome back festival life.
From 12 p.m to 11 p.m. the vibe was relaxed and tranquil at Smokin Grooves — the first major festival of 2022 in Los Angeles. Everyone dusted off their festival gear, grabbed their see-through backpacks and fest besties for one of the best line ups of the year. If you weren’t there, I know you have major FOMO.
For the first five hours, people sat in clusters and grooved in front of the main stage watching OG neo- soul acts like Macy Gray, Angie Stone, India.Arie, Leela James and Musiq Soulchild serenade them. The grooves were high and it was refreshing to see the musicians we grew up with bringing out that real Y2K vibe.
But the real groove were over at the Jupiter Stage. Filled with hip hop and instrumental artists, no matter what time you were there, the crowd was jamming. From new-comer Unusual Demont to jazz aficionado, Kamasi Washington, the stage was packed. The fans new all the songs and all the artists. Being in the crowd when Soulection’s very own, Joe Kay dropped a beat during his DJ set is and always will be a euphoric experience. It’s nothing like seeing the faces of people making friends with strangers and just grooving.
For most artists, this was their first live performance since lockdown. According to the positivity Queen, India.Arie it had been 855 days since her last performance. Slauson moonchild, Jhene Aiko said it’s been 3 years but that didn’t matter. As soon as they began singing, you forgot that we all were in our houses quarantining once upon a time ago.
You would think dividing 38 artist between two stages, a “hard out at 11 p.m.” deadline and tens of thousand’s of fans out of “concert practice” there would be more mishaps than scheduling issues or sound projecting to the back. This was far some the case. Saturday was everything we all needed after a rough two+ years.
I have to applaud all of Smokin Grooves. Artists made sure to stop and direct emergency service members to clusters of fans needing assistance in the crowd. Concert-goers seemed to be hydrating as much as possible. Smokin Grooves took the initiative and did something I haven’t seen many shows do; adding a projector screen for the MainStage in area that had enough room for everyone to sit down if they didn’t want to be in the crowd.
Like San Pedro-bred artist, Miguel said, “We are united through music.” Saturday was timeless. It felt like a beautiful family picnic with everyone sitting on the grass or just dancing together. I’m happy we were all able to have a great time.
Photography & Words by Asha Moné