The massive R&B/soul festival known as Smokin’ Grooves will feature Erykah Badu—again—and Usher as headliners when it returns to the Queen Mary—again—for the second year on Saturday, June 15.
Honoring the famed ’90s festival, Smokin’ Grooves, which brought hip hop to the masses in a time when rock ruled the festival circuit, this new Smokin’ eschews a pure hip hop lineup and reaches back to legends that have helped define contemporary, neo-soul. Of course, Erykah Badu and Usher deserve a festival in their own right and pairing them with new school artists that have elevated the R&B scene, like Kali Uchis and Ella Mai is a brilliant move.
Back in the 1990s, Lalapalooza was the festival of all festival, but lacked any sense of diversity, catering solely to the alt-rock scene. Smokin’ Grooves, by bringing in players like Wu-Tang, Wyclef, and Outkast, was a direct response to this, offering music lovers a much-needed change-of-scene.
Smokin’ Grooves became a certified phenomena—just read Rolling Stone’s phenomenal breakdown of its 1998 tour.
Smokin’ is another example of how the Queen Mary has become the region’s leading destination for live music festivals—Tropicalia, Once Upon a Time in the LBC, this weekend’s Just Like Heaven—after inking a deal with Goldenvoice in December of 2017.
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