On Saturday, August 4, Downtown Oakland was the host of yet another annual Art & Soul Festival. And though the weather was below satisfactory, people from all across the Bay Area still showed up and enjoyed everything there was to offer.
One word I could use to describe the overall vibe of Art & Soul is shocking. It was my first time. I didn’t know what to expect on arrival, but I was surprisingly pleased. And the feeling didn’t come from the assortment of food trucks, beautiful jewelry displays, or even the different music; I was shocked by the diversity of age groups. For Art & Soul’s lineup to consist of more seasoned artists, I was surprised by the large amount of kids there around my age and under. It gave me a sense of hope; maybe the next generation will know more than auto-tune and below par bars.
On Saturday, the major headliners were Meshell Ndegeocello and Oakland’s own hip-hop legends, Souls of Mischief. Though I wasn’t feeling too good and already beating myself up for missing the amazing Ms. Ndegeocello, I told myself I had to stay and witness the home grown pioneers do what they do best. I’m glad I stayed.
Mind you, Souls of Mischief made their debut in 1991, 2 years before I was even born. But if you didn’t know that, you would’ve thought you were watching four teenagers do their thing on stage. The crew who brought you “’93 Til” brought real hip-hop to Art & Soul. Between songs, the group showed nothing but love, describing how much love they have for their hometown of Oakland and asking the audience to aid them in Oakland’s growth.
This year’s Art & Soul Festival strayed away from the norms set by previous years. Instead of ending at 6:00 pm, the party wasn’t over until 12:00 am. To keep the crowd going, 2 DJs were perched on top of City Hall playing the dubstepped out versions of some the radio’s hottest hits, from Daft Punk to Rihanna.
Overall, it was a pretty good time. The different stages, clashing show times, and huge selection of artists to watch made the night somewhat chaotic. But I can’t wait until next year to do it all again.