On April 18-19, the first Fyah on the Water festival took place at Sacramento’s Camp Pollock. There was a long list of Rap, Reggae and Roots performers that hit the stage that weekend and some people loved all of them. On the other hand, some people weren’t so happy with the Rap due to its hardcore content that the more traditional Reggae-minded people don’t favor. Swear words, sexual content, and drug culture (other than weed) are some of the things that certain kinds of Reggae fans or family oriented guests aren’t so happy to be hearing.
Some attending festival guests stated they came out to see certain rappers including Kottonmouth Kings, Potluck and RBL Posse. Some of these guests drove multiple hours to attend the festival in order to enjoy theses bands that some others were wishing weren’t on the lineup at all. Its an interesting situation when you want to attend a festival for a certain kind of music but don’t really care a whole lot for half of the lineup. The mixed feelings aren’t about the musical quality but rather more about the content and the attitude. There were, however, a great number of festival goers who enjoyed every last drop of music because they are die-hard live music and festival fans that love the concept of enjoying an entire weekend of near non-stop music where you can chill and listen on a blanket or dance your toes, bare or booted, get some food and drink and celebrate. It’s an outdoor party for many and for some its more about the party than the music but hopefully there won’t be too many of this kind of individual in attendance because it tends to lead to problems.
The Fyah on the Water festival appeared to be hit by few interactive problems. The dust from the cars and golf carts coming and going in the entrance and parking areas was one of the more noticeable issues that can easily be addressed in coming years with more crew insisting people drive extra slow or a water truck in order to keep neighbors as well as attendees happier. While it would be another expense, it would surely increase the pleasant atmosphere. The festival also appeared to have no call for interrupting law enforcement actions. In other words, it was a peaceful festival which is something that some people have doubts about when they hear that Rap is about to go down. Perhaps the combination of both Rap and Reggae and many peaceful minded people putting together and attending the festival is what made the positive prevail. And, Rap doesn’t always draw out or revel in violence like some people believe. The Rap booked for Fyah on the Water wasn’t atrocious like some can be and it leaned more heavily toward the 420 crowd that likes to keep the peace.
How the Fyah on the Water festival was viewed varied from person to person. From appearances, most people enjoyed the weekend and were happy to be there even when they expressed disfavor for certain elements. You really can’t please everyone all the time. The question is really about who can you please most of the time and is that the direction you want to go? There is definitely a middle ground between Reggae and Rap and it is not a rigid line. It will be interesting to see how the line wavers and the festival fans respond in following years as Fyah on the Water grows. The more contemporary Reggae blends more easily with Rap and it’s the younger crowd that is drawn in greater masses. (Younger meaning the folks under 40-50.) This is not to say that the senior festival guests weren’t also enjoying the vibes, the grooves and the tunes. Plenty of the grey hairs were evidenced bobbin’ in the crowd.
It was overall a successful first year festival with only one artist not showing up. It is unclear why Rappin’ 4Tay was not present as expected. His absence was remarked upon but not an incurable sore spot for most of the fest-goers. With Marlon Asher closing Saturday and Tribal Seeds closing Sunday, Fyah on the Water let its potential guests know the hierarchy of music and message. Party and fun rap ranks high but Reggae sits at the top. The “Ganga Farmer” Marlon Asher is loved by many kinds of people and while he clearly has a strong Ganga agenda (in his booth products at least), his songs focus greatly on spiritualty, “Jah” and living a positive life. Tribal Seeds is one of the most popular contemporary Reggae bands in the U.S. and is headlining in multiple festivals in 2015. Will you be at the next Fyah on the Water and who do you want to see on the lineup?