Day 1 of Safe & Sound Music Festival in New Westminster, B.C. kicked off on Friday, August 24th. The first day featured a stacked lineup of hip hop talent including: Holy Sock Gang, Ninetyfour, Kenny Gourmet, Side, Sophia Danai, So Loki, Manila Grey, and LNDN DRGS— with headliners Sabrina Claudio and Vince Staples.
We arrived late in the afternoon as So Loki were performing. The crowd slowly was still trickling into the river-side festival grounds. The layout of the Festival was well planned. It featuring art installations (Naks pictured below), a basketball court (Designed by Rhek) and a lot of other activities to check out on top of the music.
Hands down, without a doubt, the most impressive performance from the local lineup came from Richmond boys, Manila Grey, who blew the audience away with their stage presence and charisma. The boys managed to wrangle the dispersed crowd up to the front of the stage. By the end of their set, fans (and newly-acquired fans) were energetically dancing and singing along to their bass-heavy, infectious tracks. “Youth Water”, “Eastbound”, and “Timezones” were the most well-received, catchy songs. Neeko and Soliven both made a point to connect with their fans individually through pointing several fans out in the crowd, giving each person they saw visual and verbal acknowledgement—a very rare sighting from local performers.
LNDN DRGS comprised of rapper Jay Worthy & Sean House brought their funked out West Coast sound. Worthy was born here and paid homage to Vancouver but made it clear he claims Compton as home now. They played Susan, Westside Party and most of their popular tracks all while firing off a T-Shirt gun and throwing merch to fans.
Sabrina Claudio, R&B songstress from Miami, Florida, followed LNDN DRGS and delivered an awe-inspiring vocal performance. The audience fell into a deep vibe, serenaded by her flawless vocal gymnastics. Sabrina started the night off with fan-fave “Confidently Lost” and moved into some emotional tracks like “Messages From Her” off her newest album project, No Rain, No Flowers. Her stage banter was kept to a minimal between songs—perhaps to avoid any slip up of language akin to her past-life of racially insensitive Twitter posts.
Vince Staples, up from Long Beach, California, stepped out in all black onto a white-smoked-out stage and took the energy up a notch. Staples kicked off his set with “Get The F*** Off My Dick”, behind him a busy backdrop of multiple televisions projecting a plethora of visuals from American news clips of police brutality, tv shows, movies, rap videos glorifying violence, and retro sex ed videos of condoms getting put on bananas. The bombardment of visual images appeared to be a statement about American media’s portrayal of manhood, particularly manhood for black men. Vince as a culture-creating and culture-commentating artist proved true in his crowd-hyping performance. Vince topped off his set with the high-energy fan-fave, “Yeah Right” and that concluded the night and day 1 of S&S festival.
Written By: Racquel Villagante
Photos: David Dalley