The COVID-19 pandemic placed the annual Broccoli City Festival on hold for the past few years, but 2022 marked its return with festivalgoers for two days. Despite a day full of rain and cold for day one of the two-day event, Broccoli City Festival was able to continue its journey as a leading Black-owned music and culture festival in Washington, D.C.
Day one had fans surrounded around the stage and businesses in raincoats, umbrellas and hoodies. Even with the consistent downpour, the fans were out and many were still in their best fashion. Day one had musical guests Ari Lennox, 21 Savage, Rico Nasty, Jeezy, Larry June, Joyce Wrice, Lil Durk, Wale and friends.
Seeing the number of people, especially Black people supporting a Black-owned festival in less-than-stellar weather was an incredible thing to see. While exploring the festival grounds in Washington, D.C., I was able to see Joyce Wrice and Larry June bring the people in as they started off the festival. Rico Nasty was the first hometown hero of that day and brought an incredible amount of energy, charisma and drive, especially on her birthday.
Rico Nasty had people running to the stage, screaming her name. In a light green/teal outfit with hair to match, Rico Nasty took the stage as only she could. She had the audience raging, chanting lyrics word by word, and even had the crowd wish her a happy birthday with a cake.
Another hometown hero, Wale, commanded the stage during his set. Bringing out friends throughout his set, he took us through his entire career from his mixtape days to now. He gave fans some classic songs, from “Clappers,” “Matrimony,” and “On Chill.”
Day one ended with Ari Lennox. She entered the stage with purple backdrop lighting, a live band, a tan coat and a costume bodysuit with a mic in hand, singing with pure vocals.
Day 2 was filled with nothing but sunshine and a continuation of good vibes. Artists Summer Walker, Gunna, Don Toliver, Tems, Masego, Babyface Ray, Alex Vaughn, Joony, Wizkid and Babyface Ray.
Reigning from PG County, singer and songwriter Alex Vaughn opened day two of the Broccoli City Festival.
Vaughn has released a slew of singles over the years, including multiple EPs as her audience grows. The audience grew tremendously from the time she took to the stage to when her time was over. Viewers could see her gain fans in real-time, engrossed with her voice and the messages of her songs.
Masego and his saxophone could be heard from the moment you reached the check-in site for the festival. Performing some songs like “Yamz,” “Queen Tings,” and “Tadow;” It takes breath control to be able to sing, let alone live, and for him to go between live singing and playing the saxophone shows a distinct level of artistry and composition that Masego has. He even came back after his set to perform “Mystery Lady” with Don Toliver during his set.
From Tems’ sun-setting backdrop to the vocals when she first arrived on stage, there was a feeling of pandemonium and peace. Peace from the content of her music and how it related to various stages in people’s lives, and pandemonium for the fact that even in the photography pit, you could hear the audience and fellow photographers singing and screaming her songs along with her.
Tems is becoming a household name, and recently made history as the first Nigerian artist to debut as number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart being credited on Future’s “Wait For You” with Drake.
Outside of the festival, Broccoli City Festival provides many opportunities for the community, local and across the country with their BroccoliCon conference.
The conference brings forward thinkers from around the world who are passionate about building thriving Black communities by utilizing their skills, professional resources, and tools to move from advocacy to action. Broccoli City itself is described as “a Black-owned social enterprise rooted in impact and entertainment that focuses on people and progress.”
For the few times I’ve been there, that description has proven to be accurate in various ways, during the festival and the conference. They foster creativity and community growth by building innovative experiences that intersect technology, music, art, and social impact over the 10 years since its inception.
Working with local businesses, bringing people together and providing knowledge at BroccoliCon to people that may not have met or received the information provided is a beautiful thing. With BroccoliCon adding the virtual element given COVID-19, there was a different level of reach. There were participants from as far as California and Hawaii.
Overall, Broccoli City Festival came back strong given the fact the festival was put on pause since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, 2022 has been trial and error with many concerts and festivals. Despite the setbacks, Broccoli City brought back its community and it’s sure to expand given how they have been able to maneuver safely in the state of the new world.