If there’s any music festival in Washington, DC that had the potential to become the premiere one to go to, it’s Broccoli City Fest. With a diverse lineup of acts and a conscious message behind it, the four year-old festival has evolved into one of the places to be in the District. This year’s Broccoli City Fest boasted a list full of stars including Future, Anderson .Paak,BJ the Chicago Kid, Sango, and Jhene Aiko, while also showcasing local talent like Brian Rapp and Nature Boi, Ayes Cold, not to mention the legendary go-go ensemble, Rare Essence.
The afternoon started with soul singer BJ the Chicago Kid taking the stage. Along with singing several hits from “Church” and “His Pain,” BJ put on a show performing the classic “Do Me, Baby” as well as a very dope drum solo. Speaking of drums, Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals came out and killed his performance following BJTCK, and like the Chicago singer, .Paak broke out the drums to perform his set as well. As he sang several tracks off of his critically acclaimed Malibu, as well as his NxWorries hit “Suede,” the newly-signed Aftermath singer provided almost an hour of pure energy and great talent. Up next was one of Soulection’s biggest acts, Sango. With his signature style of blending hip hop, r&b, and baile funk together, the Seattle-based producer had the crowd rocking to his music. Little did we know, GoldLink and SPZRKT were present, making a surprise showing during Sango’s set. Then came The Internet, who opened up with their Feel Good single “Dontcha,” to a live performance of their Grammy-nominated project Ego Death. However, the former OF-affiliated band took some time to premiere new music, leading with the echoed chants of “you fucked up” yelled by the crowd. Before’s Future’s set as the headliner of Broccoli City Fest, the soothing vocals of Jhené Aiko took the main stage. Aiko captured the crowd by performing a long list of songs going all the way back to her 2011 Sailing Souls LP and although she didn’t have Big Sean on stage help support the songs she sang from their recent collaborative effort, Twenty88, Aiko managed to keep the crowd enjoying a couple of songs from the project.
Moments before Future closed out the night, Broccoli City Fest took some time to honor late music icon, Prince. With two fingers in the air, the audience loudly sang The Purple One’s legendary single “Purple Rain,” with glimpses of Prince flashing in between images of purple broccoli. Although the moment was fairly brief, it proved that the singer’s legacy is strong with the millennial generation and will live on through his music.
Though there were several remarkable moments on the festival’s main stage, it didn’t take away the core values that made the festival what it is today. The point of Broccoli City Fest was to inform millennials about the importance of community growth through a healthy lifestyle, from eating healthy foods to community service. The idea was something that many of the artists were able to relate to. One of those artists was Anderson .Paak, who spoke to Okayplayer about his past being of eating terribly. However, .Paak commended the founders of putting Broccoli City Fest together to help change the African American community like .Paak changed his life both in and out of the studio.
“It’s really amazing that festivals like this are spreading awareness like that because it’s important. People don’t have the resources, but if they’re aware, they’ll have a chance.”
Although Broccoli Festival is becoming one of the flagship festivals in Washington, DC, it’s been confirmed that the festival will be expanded to Los Angeles, California (full confirmation on when and other details is still forthcoming). Brandon McEachern, the founder of the festival, tells us that he feels that DC is the place for Broccoli City.
“There’s something special about Broccoli City in DC. Because it could be anywhere else. It could be in LA, but for some reason it doesn’t have that the same ring to it. It’s just something about DC.”
With that being said, Broccoli City Fest looks like it’s not going anywhere for the time being; with expansive community outreach, growing potential, and more unique artists landing on the headline, the only place Broccoli City is going is “up like elevators.”