R&B Is Very Grand Alive As H.E.R.’s Lights On Fest Returns To The Bay

It used to be a perfectly sunny, honest a little frigid September day in northern California as Lights On Fest 2021 kicked off its two-day match. Upon arrival, I felt unexplainable vitality floating within the air as hordes of contributors will most definitely be seen ready to get into the Harmony Pavilion. Lines of anxious tune enthusiasts trailed eternally thru the busy automobile parking notify from each the VIP and Frequent Admission entrances. With their blankets and umbrellas in tow, it appeared many arrived very early to snag a abundant parking notify and have noteworthy time to witness all Lights On Fest needed to supply. As a native Unique Yorker grew to turn out to be Los Angeles transplant, I’d heard abundant issues about The Bay, however nothing could perhaps perhaps compare to the all-encompassing, magnetic charisma felt as I walked thru the festival grounds.


As I navigated previous the meals autos and other folk of all demographics, to my left used to be the Illumination Stage where more moderen acts showcase and customarily debut their talent to fans and onlookers. Factual two years within the past—for instance—on the inaugural festival, R&B beginners Lucky Daye and Kiana Ledé each performed on said stage. This time spherical, they had been made co-headliners on the Fluorescent necessary stage.

Rising singer, Lorea, used to be one act who used to be happy to manifest that development for herself. Her notify got off to a rocky commence up—in which her mic didn’t switch on and fans yelled on the stagehands to rectify the notify of affairs immediately. For Lorea, though, she chanced on this ordeal to be hilariously befitting; VIBE spoke alongside with her after the efficiency.

“For optimistic, it would happen to me,” she chuckled. “Nonetheless when I got here support, all that vitality [fueled] me. It felt correct.”

The Indiana songbird sang two covers— Lauryn Hill’s “Killing Me Softly” and Frank Ocean’s “Thinking Of You”— alongside with two long-established songs, “More Of You,” which she teased as “coming soon” and “Secrets and ways,” a soulful ballad “from the center” within the period in-between on hand on all streaming platforms.

Lorea at Lights On Fest 2021

Lorea performs on the 2021 Lights On Song Festival at Harmony Pavilion on September 18, 2021 in Harmony, California.
Steve Jennings/WireImage

Nigerian sister-duo, VanJess, additionally graced the Illumination Stage. Contemporary off the deluxe free up of their EP, Homegrown, they performed songs from the venture including “Dysfunctional” and “Sluggish Down”— for the principle time.

“Of us if truth be told like R&B here,” they explained unhurried the curtain concerning their Lights On Fest expertise. With the viewers being superbly various, the women folk equipped up their very have concise intro to VanJess, which contains the aforementioned “Sluggish Down”— (the remix aspects fellow Lights On performer, Lucky Daye)— their Kaytranada-assisted video display, “Kind,” and “Honeywheat.”

Jessica and Ivana Nwokike of VanJess at Lights On Fest 2021

(L-R) Jessica Nwokike and Ivana Nwokike of VanJess develop on Day 2 of the 2021 Lights Up Song Festival at Harmony Pavilion on September 19, 2021 in Harmony, California.
Steve Jennings/WireImage

The highlight for several of the acts used to be merely being ready to develop are living after a 300 and sixty five days of digital performances and if truth be told feeding off of the vitality from the bought-out crowd (roughly 12.5K attendees to be actual). With this being her first festival efficiency, Joyce Wrice—a half-Eastern Angeleno paunchy of ‘90s R&B affect— couldn’t cease beaming about how “honored” she used to be to be on the lineup.

“I if truth be told feel honored to by some means be at this diploma in my profession and I witness ahead to persevering with to blossom,” she gushed.

When introducing herself to new fans, she printed that to if truth be told perceive her, she’s a combination of Aaliyah’s “Loose Rap,” Brandy’s “By no map Allege By no map,” and Mariah Carey’s “Breakdown” that includes Krayzie Bone and Desire Bone from Bone Thugz-N-Team spirit. Wrice used to be most mad to develop “On One.” She explained, “My band has added some sounds to it that ultimate if truth be told introduced it to existence […] they made it sound so infectious.”

Joyce Wrice at Lights On Fest 2021

Joyce Wrice performs all over the 2021 Lights On tune festival at Harmony Pavilion on September 19, 2021 in Harmony, California.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Pictures

As I made my map to the Fluorescent Stage, traditional R&B hits like Usher’s “You Accept Me Wanna” and Tevin Campbell’s “Can We Explain blared from the audio system. Then, a hasty gallop of the turntables transported fans to the correct ol’ days of E-40 and Mac Dre, which had the crowd “going dull, silly, and hyphy,” as H.E.R. later explained.

The Bay Plan native made sure to balance out the weekend by incorporating aspects from the final observe blueprint of who she is—her Vallejo/Bay Plan tradition and R&B/soul roots.

Blxst [pronounced blast], a brand new hip-hop/R&B hybrid phenom out of L.A., performed singles like “Be On my own,” “Overrated”—which samples Donell Jones’ “This Luv”—and “Gang Scoot,” the theme tune from the Issa Rae-produced reality show masks, Candy Life: Los Angeles. A relaxed Masego slid thru alongside with his tender jazz melodies as he performed are living renditions from his 2018 debut album,Girl Girl.

Donning a graceful red ponytail and all-pink ensemble, Keyshia Cole took the stage for the principle time since her mother, Frankie Lons, passed.

In a particular tribute, the Oakland memoir took a moment to thank her fans. “Y’all know she passed away only within the near previous and I wanna utter thanks guys for looking out on the reveals, shopping the albums, supporting me,” she expressed. “Me and my mother have each carried out so mighty and I’m gratified that she had me and I’m gratified that she used to be a phase of my existence and I was ready to expertise her. I’m gratified that you just guys had been ready to expertise her ‘cause she used to be so funny, so hilarious. So, I wanna get into these next two songs; like I said, preserve her in thoughts.”

Cole, then, blew everybody away as she dedicated her tune, “Heaven Sent” and Givēon’s “Heartbreak Anniversary” to her unhurried mother. Her notify concluded with the eternal crowd-pleaser and one in every of the final observe R&B songs from the early 2000s, “Love.” With everybody’s cell phone illuminating the crowd, Keyshia Cole barely wanted to train as we knew each observe.

Ty Dolla $ign ran thru his laundry list of aspects and flexed his manufacturing abilities. The melodic crooner used to be joined by the aforementioned Blxst for their hit collab, “Chosen,” and later, Dolla introduced out fellow Bay Plan native, P-Lo and fans fully went berserk.

If you happen to’ve by no map seen Erykah Badu are living, it’s an expertise all on its have. Complete with laser beams, background singers, and a band rocking paunchy white hazmat suits, in any admire times predict the unexpected when stepping into “BADUBOTRON.”

Badu aka Mary Magnum aka Trudge Na Manufacturing facility aka Badulla Oblongata (and that used to be easiest a handful of monikers the singer listed all over the outlet of her notify), rounded out Day One with an acoustic steal of “Whats up.” She added classics including “On & On,” “Love of My Life,” “Subsequent Lifetime,” “Window Seat,” and “Acquire Girl” alongside with an intergalactic interpolation of Prophe-C’s “Bought Me In The Zone.”

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Badu are living plenty of times and whenever used to be varied than the final. If you happen to had been looking out ahead to to merely hear album cuts of her chart-topping hits and even her B-sides, immediately rid yourself of that concept. She gives you very varied manufacturing and instrumentation like factual artists assemble. The ultimate map to characterize it’s dynamic and abstract.


>After a miniature extend on the entrance, it used to be if truth be told H.E.R. who bowled over the crowd to kick off the festivities.

“I’m so gratified. I will’t agree with y’all are here correct now. I will’t agree with here’s happening; I if truth be told feel so blessed. In truth, all these artists are unheard of,” she exclaimed gleefully while wearing a trim low ponytail alongside with her signature shades, an oversized royal blue jacket, distressed shorts, and shadowy bustier. “I am personally a fan of each one in every of the artists on this invoice and rather a few them haven’t any longer been known as to play other fairs, however Lights On Fest is the stage where we present that for these artists.”

Within the course of focusing on the experiential aspects like the bumper autos and mini roller coaster, I did retract glimpses of Maxx Moor—a newcomer from the Bronx, NY—who in point of fact reminded me of an edgy D’Angelo. I’d heard nothing however abundant issues concerning the BX crooner from several festival attendees and fellow artists. I could perhaps perhaps additionally merely had been sleeping on his tune earlier than, however between him reviving neo-soul with the Maxwell Urban Hang Suite afro, his general mystique, entrancing tone, and are living band, I positively grew to turn out to be a fan and would additionally like to hear him on a video display with Masego.

Songwriter Priscilla Renea, who’s since rebranded into singer Muni Prolonged, swayed the crowd with a quilt of SWV’s “Aged” and long-established singles, “Sneaky Hyperlink” and “Midnight Snack.”

Deepest celebrated, Tone Stith, debuted his single, “One thing In The Water,” from his drawing shut EP, Serene FWM?—slated for an October free up. The tune samples Carl Thomas’ “I Desire” and aspects his labelmate, singer Maeta.

As I made my map to the major stage, I was stopped in my tracks all over a tearful rendition of Snoh Aalegra’s “I Desire You Around.” Over on the Protégé booth, fans had been welcomed to audition for MBK Leisure—the crew unhurried H.E.R.—to turn out to be the singer’s protégé.

The performer, Cierra, had a tone that felt it had gospel roots. The judges joked that the Sacramento resident seemed like Jazmine Sullivan. Jeff Robinson— founder and CEO of MBK—additionally talked about her quilt used to be his celebrated efficiency. She additionally explained that though the audition used to be “nerve-wracking,” as soon as she used to be happy, it used to be like doing one thing that felt identical old for her.

Over on the major stage, Lucky Daye debuted his single, “Over” which samples Musiq Soulchild’s “Halfcrazy.” He told VIBE that his celebrated tune to develop, though, is “Love You Too Grand” which potential that of he will get to join to fans and even throws roses. But, no factual serenade is total with out one fan entirely swooning because the crooner made her if truth be told feel like essentially the most productive person within the viewers.

Ari Lennox at Lights On Fest 2021

Ari Lennox performs on Day 2 of the 2021 Lights Up Song Festival at Harmony Pavilion on September 19, 2021 in Harmony, California.
Steve Jennings/WireImage

Ari Lennox, dressed in paunchy traditional Hollywood glam, had fans going up for her Shea Butter Small one album cuts. Irrespective of the venture being two years broken-down, it used to be evident that with regards to every video display is easy a fan celebrated. Intelligent how Ari’s persona shines on Instagram Dwell, she introduced all that familiar vitality to the stage. Followers giggled when she took off her stilettos no longer long into her efficiency and all over her commentary in-between songs. They rocked alongside when she stopped midway all over her efficiency of “Unique Condominium” which potential that of she couldn’t hear herself. The venue’s digicam panned as everybody appeared of their very have world while singing alongside to “Whipped Cream,” “BMO,” a quilt of Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My)”, and “Backstage” from her debut EP, PHO. 

Like a flash ahead to the moment we all had been looking out ahead to—H.E.R.. The 24-300 and sixty five days-broken-down artist is with out considerations one in every of the final observe performers of this generation and I could witness her are living at any given likelihood. Wrapping up the festive weekend, she stepped onto the stage alongside with her long flowy curls, red bodysuit, and denim shorts. Straight away, the budding memoir performed hits— each broken-down and new—including “Hurt,” “Avenue,” “Every Form Of Potential,” crowd-celebrated “Exhausting Save,” “Scoot” [sans YG], and “Focal point.”

Halfway thru her hour-long notify, she declared the resounding message of the weekend. “R&B shouldn’t be any longer ineffective. I don’t know why other folk said R&B is ineffective when R&B lives in all the issues. I be aware support within the day when other folk historical to train songs like—lowering to a gradual maintain of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

Surprise guests integrated Yung Bleu as they performed “Paradise” from her debut album, Motivate of My Thoughts. Bay Plan memoir Goapele performed “Closer” as sampled in H.E.R.’s “Closer To Me.” Fellow Sad Filipina, Saweetie got here thru with a hasty style of “Finest Friend.”

H.E.R. spoke on a paunchy-circle moment as she recalled sitting within the some distance support of the Harmony Pavilion at a Chris Brown stay efficiency and how now she’s files superhighway internet notify hosting her have festival on the identical venue. The Virginia-bred defective boy pulled up to be part of H.E.R. in a sultry efficiency of “Reach Thru”. All people misplaced it when Chlöe of Chlöe x Halle looked as if it would develop Led Zeppelin’s “Sad Dogs”, alongside H.E.R., in a particular laborious rock section. But, Lights On Fest isn’t total with out a efficiency of her 2017 ballad, “Lights On.”

H.E.R. and Chlöe Bailey at Lights On Fest 2021

(L-R) H.E.R. and Chloe Bailey develop collectively on Day 2 of the 2021 Lights Up Song Festival at Harmony Pavilion on September 19, 2021 in Harmony, California.
Steve Jennings/WireImage

Goapele and H.E.R. at Lights On Fest 2021

(L-R) Goapele and H.E.R. develop collectively on Day 2 of the 2021 Lights Up Song Festival at Harmony Pavilion on September 19, 2021 in Harmony, California.
Steve Jennings/WireImage

With this being the second 300 and sixty five days of Lights On Fest, the Oscar-a hit singer exclaimed, “I was so mad and gratified about feeling the vitality of the other folk. They assuredly had been over the tip which potential that of they’ve been looking out ahead to reveals to blueprint support. The Bay is dwelling for me, so it used to be mighty more special.”

Compared to performing almost, H.E.R. said, “There’s nothing like the connection with an viewers. The screams, singing your total lyrics with me. your total other folk. It makes it more fun which potential that of it is advisable to perhaps perhaps need one thing to feed off of.”

Although the principle-ever Lights On Fest: Brooklyn used to be notify to happen in unhurried October, it’s since been canceled which potential that of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. In a commentary, the Lights On Fest crew wrote, “… it’s turn out to be more durable and more durable for us to save collectively the form of festival expertise that you just deserve. So we’re officially postponing this 300 and sixty five days’s festival to 2022.”

On the change hand, we easy needed to learn the manner identical and varied the reveals would’ve been. She teased, “Brooklyn’s lineup will be honest a little of assorted however equally DOPE!! The Bay used to be paunchy-on festival vibes and Brooklyn is going to be an arena show masks. For optimistic the Bay Plan viewers vibe and NY viewers is varied [but] I’m going to reveal out some varied surprises!”

The dates for Lights On Fest: Brooklyn 2022 have yet to be presented. Witness H.E.R. show masks the importance of Lights On Fest within the 2019 recap below.

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