Saturday, April 25, 2015, The 29th Annual Jazz Reggae Festival transitioned into a new beat. The student run festival every year has new hiccups before and during artist performances that the easygoing crowd takes in stride. Without A VIP wristband maneuvering around the venue to catch all the activities can be a challenge as security stands at each aisle instructing people on the long way to go around. The new location at the Tennis Center with the artificial grass provided a much cleaner experience. The food and art vendors both had their separate areas a way from the main stage, which can put attendees in a time crunch, as no announcements or video display lets the attendees at the second stage know when an act at the main stage is starting.
Perhaps due to the April weather the crowd arrived at the Tennis Center in sporadic fashion. The early birds were treated to a mist of rain that turned into a down poor during Bay Area native, Kehlani’s set. Dressed in a silver jacket, sweats, and tennis shoes, Kehlani and her DJ entertained with sexy R&B beats and ballads that amplified her vocal talents. The first person to amp the crowd to 100 was Malibu native Shwayze. Long past his young MTV reality show days, Shwayze made the festival a family affair with his son and grandparents in tow. Shwayze acknowledged the crowd far and wide during his set, while being conscious of his words to protect his son’s ears. Shwayze ended his set with all time favorites, “Buzzin,” Love is Overrated,” and “Corona & Lime.”
The following act, JMSN, was definitely more than meets the eye. With long hair, an over-sized shirt, shorts, and boots, his look was hippie, but his sound was rich with soul. Known for tracks, “My Way,” “Bout It,” and “Ocean,” JMSN’s set also brought the sun back, which was a pleasant treat to the crowd. As his set closed, JMSN would not or could not stop dancing to the drumbeats of his band mates. In the zone, JMSN took off his shirt exposing his religious themed tattoos, as the crowd waited to see if anything else was coming off.
Providing a unique flare to the festival was producer Lido, 22, from Norway. Announcing he just recently moved to Los Angeles, Lido shared a story about his background and influences. Growing up on gospel music, Lido hit the crowd with the powerful Kirk Franklin track “Rain Down On Me.” By ten years old Lido discovered hip-hop, so of course he mashed up “Rain Down On Me,” with Lil Kim’s “Crush On You.” It was refreshing to see an artist not simply take, but acknowledge those who provided inspiration to the genre. Lido, also played Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and SWV’s “Rain,” but to no avail, as the gray clouds stayed away.
By the closing act the sun was gone and the cold air kicked it. Fortunately for the crowd Wale did what he could to get everybody on their feet and warmed up. Once the DJ screamed “make some noise” and the stage lights sparkled it was clear it was show time. Wale entered the stage holding a People’s champ belt, and eventually led into “The Deep End,” ”Loyalty,” and “Lotus Flower Bomb.” However, even Wale wanted to hear some reggae, as he departed briefly from his hip-hop set. It would have been nice if the fans on the top bleachers were allowed to come closer to fill in the seats, but since that didn’t happen, Wale went to them. Jumping off the stage, Wale walked around the stadium like a prized champ giving lucky fans a close encounter. The concert concluded with more dreads shaking, smoke puffing, and hits, including “Bad.” Wale, who recently released his new “Seinfeld” themed “The Album About Nothing,” also appreciated and thanked the crowd for embracing the cold throughout the night.
Although the festival included pop, rap, EDM, and rock, all the performers did have soul, and earned a lot of new fans.
To check out the list of vendors who attended the festival click HERE.
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