Cloudy with a chance of chill, that was the forecast for this past weekend’s Broccoli City Festival, which took place on the historical grounds of the St. Elizabeths Hospital formerly known as the Government Hospital for the Insane built in 1852. The ghostly abandoned buildings and their broken windows painted the perfect backdrop for the eclectic group of attendees who flooded the scene. This marks the fourth successful year for the four HBCU graduates who started Broccoli City Festival and it is well on its way to becoming one of the must-attend summer music festivals that brings together a special group of urban music lovers. “BCF is committed to using its platform to engage and activate over 20,000 urban millennials from around the world on healthy eating and environmental sustainability,” says co-founder Brandon McEachern.
Upon entry, the expected fashionistas and hair game killer guests were welcomed by art installations and interactive stations and tents set up by Pepsi, Lyft, Toyota, and WPGC. Keegan-Michael Key and Howard alum Lance Gross took a moment to take photos with fans for the Toyota Green Initiative tent.
The early birds were able to enjoy the food trucks before lines grew too long and food began to run out. Hip-hop favorite, Sway of “Sway in the Morning” slipped in and was spotted standing in line for food trucks just like everyone else but later spoke to the crowd and graciously thanked the crowd for the years of support. The founder of Rap Radar, Elliot Wilson also floated through the crowd unnoticed by the many hip-hop attendees, shaking hands and snapping photos with a few well-informed hip-hop lovers. The artists and vendors located under the pavilion between both stages provided a platform for El Capitan,a Virginia-based clothing line to network and sell merchandise to customers of all shapes and sizes. The ability to buy Black lured many attendees to the vendors as well as one-of-a-kind art illustrations, and jewelry vendors. Local government organizations like DC’s Department of Energy & Environment were present to teach festival attendees ways to conserve energy within their households.
DC go-go band royalty, Rare Essence, rocked the crowd during the day while on the main stage the other festival attendees were soothed by the sounds of BJ the Chicago Kid and Anderson.Paak, who performed crowd favorites and set the crowd up for acts that followed like Sango, the Internet, and even a special appearance by DMV native Goldlink.
Though packed with little space to no space to move, the crowd was peaceful and full of energy as the DJ played tunes to keep the crowd on point for the evening lineup.The beautiful Jhené Aiko graced the stage to a SOUL’d out crowd and Future, the closer, didn’t seem to disappoint either. “He has a lot of stage presence and really feeds well off the crowd. Banger after banger after banger. The crowd didn’t have any downtime with all the bangers,” laughed Avril Holland, a Broccoli City Festival veteran who makes the trek from NY every year.
The festival was more like a huge family reunion where the only item you needed to bring were the good vibes, well that and a portable battery pack — due to a combination of the large crowd and lack of cellphone service — meeting up with friends was damn near impossible. “Even though I had service, very few people did, so it took some of the fun away from things when you can’t find your friends and you’re just lost,” said Joi Louviere. Other frustrations came from VIP attendees in a bind when they realized they had to swim through a sea of melanin to get to their designated area. Overall, the event seemed to be a success.
For those planning to attend next year’s festival, arrive early, pack a portable battery, and keep your squad close.
Attendees visit vendor tables (Photo credit: Charmyonne Bailey for Steed Media Service)
Photo gallery: Charmyonne Bailey for Steed Media Service