Weeks after the incredible, long-awaited performance by Kendrick Lamar, I’m left yearning for festival season to continue. Among Day N Vegas’s star-studded lineup of hip-hop and R&B contenders, Lamar’s return to the stage was easily the best performance of the weekend. While chronologically performing his four studio albums, Lamar introduced the crowd to Kung Fu Kenny in the best imaginable way possible — Section .80. Some could say that this performance was historic, since his setlist included timeless tracks that haven’t been performed in over five years, including “A.D.H.D” and “Ronald Reagan Era.” Before Lamar concluded with the elaborate “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” Baby Keem joined his big cousin on stage to perform their first joint rendition of “family ties” and “range brothers” live. Throughout the rest of his performance, the crowd stood in awe of Lamar’s thoughtful inclusion of Black ballerinas and children during interludes. As promised in his sub-headline “from Section .80 to DAMN,” fans were given a show that I wouldn’t be surprised to see in a future documentary for the Compton rapper.
Besides Lamar, the three-day lineup consisted of heavy-named headliners like Post Malone (who was Travis Scott’s last-minute replacement) and Tyler, The Creator, with over 70 supporting acts such as Rico Nasty, Teyana Taylor, Doja Cat, and SZA. For artists like Raveena and SiR, this was their first return to the stage following the beginning of the pandemic. Artists and attendees were able to connect in a more intimate setting during smaller sets that were held in the Dean Tent, compared to the larger Sammy Stage and main Frank Stage. For example, Thundercat, Raveena, Jenevieve, Duckwrth, and Mereba performed in the Dean Tent, which undeniably held some of the most underrated performances of the weekend. Although, if attendees were forced to choose between some of the more popular conflicts like Flatbush Zombies vs. Rico Nasty or Lucky Daye vs. Thundercat, they might not have seen more than a simple glance of the Dean Tent. Regardless of the performing conflicts at the festivals, I’m thankful for Goldenvoice providing such a stacked lineup that convinced me to become an annual attendee.
After the pandemic temporarily halted live shows and festivals, it’s a no-brainer that music-lovers near and far would do anything to hear their favorite artists while scoring the chance to visit Sin City. But the tragic events at Astroworld took place a week prior to Day N Vegas, so all eyes were on the AEG- and Goldenvoice-organized event and the all-too popular EDC Orlando held the following weekend. On the festival grounds map, multiple emergency exits were displayed along with three water refill stations. As the day progressed, the seemingly empty festival grounds quickly became jammed for space as time inched closer toward the headliners’ performances. The main concern for safety occurred during sets with a raving fanbase, such as Lil Uzi Vert or Denzel Curry. Nearly a week after Astroworld, the sight of mosh pits wasn’t exactly a heartwarming feeling, but I didn’t expect security to prevent every single pit that opened. To distract myself from the fleeting feeling of anxiety and loss of crowd control, I couldn’t help but pay attention to the fashion-forward attendees between the cow-themed costumes for Doja Cat’s Saturday night performance and newly purchased hoodies by Tyler’s stylish brand GOLF. Festival fashion is undeniably one of my favorite things about attending music festivals, so I was living for the coordinating sets donned by multiple friend groups.
This festival will hold a special place in my heart for many reasons, including the intimate settings that were often surrounded by other Black attendees. Thundercat’s hypnotic live rendition of “I Love Louis Cole” or his heartfelt tribute to Mac Miller remain attached to my mind as I’ve been repetitively listening to “It Is What It Is” since the festival ended. I felt seen while viewing other Black women feel spiritually moved during performances by Ari Lennox, Mereba, and Jazmine Sullivan. Following Doja Cat’s top-notch show on the Frank Stage Saturday evening, a sultry yet electrifying set by Victoria Monet actually left me in a state of shock. The surprising amount of special guests like Doechii, Smino, and Zack Fox brought on stage by their friends is part of the excitement that follows once two of my favorite artists release a collaboration. The consistent scent of sativa that lingered in the air throughout the entire weekend and the karaoke-style of singing from the crowds reminded me of my adoration for festivals — a weekend-long, slightly sober celebration with your besties was necessary.
Although, my love for this weekend in Vegas also came paired with a few moments of the festival that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Alleged abusers like Sheck Wes and Don Toliver were awarded spots in the festival even though DaBaby’s actions from earlier this year were quickly handled by festivals like Day N Vegas, Bonnaroo, and Governors Ball. In spite of Day N Vegas having an incredible amount of women on their lineup, Scott’s removal should’ve resulted in Doja Cat being moved to a headliner slot. I understand that it isn’t always that easy due to scheduling conflicts, but female headliners are often rare entities at music festivals and are the reason that Instagram pages like BookMoreWomen exist. Among the rest of my minor complaints, I’m grateful that I chose to attend SiR’s performance over Lil Uzi Vert’s delayed yet brief show. Prior to his mic being cut, his impulsive comments that mentioned the urge to lose his mind and continue raging were questionable and distasteful in memory of the victims of Astroworld. Every festival has its kinks, but I expect AEG-Goldenvoice to improve further for next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vegas festival extended its length to two weekends in the future.
Over the span of the three-day weekend, I had an opportunity to chat with a few of the artists performing at Day N Vegas about their performances, upcoming music and more. You can check out all our exclusive interviews below: