Summer Spirit Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion returned for its 14th year recently. This year’s line-up was a blend of soul, R&B, jazz, hip hop, and GO-GO, featuring superstars Anthony Hamilton, Jhené Aiko, Raphael Saadiq, DVSN, PJ Morton, and Kyle Dion. The festival also spotlighted DC bands like Be’la Dona with Suga Bear, Backyard Band, and Sirius and Company. It was a great day for music in the DMV!
When I arrived at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Aug. 3, I was just in time for Be’la Dona and Sugar Bear to take the stage. DC’s very own all-female band took over the pavilion with high-level energy. They played some of favorite and classic go-go covers that just brought the nostalgic factor to me. Plus with special guest, Sugar Bear, they left the crowd wanting more.
The same goes for Backyard Band. The band’s show was a major trip down memory lane. Being born and raised in DC, go-go music is what I heard playing in the city throughout my entire adolescence. It’s an important element of the city and DC natives definitely appreciated the ode to our city.
Next up was PJ Morton, whose voice and skills on the piano are undeniable. PJ sounds good so effortlessly but very calculated at the same time when adding all types of genres in his set. He turned a Bee Gees song into a upbeat but still soft sound with jazz influences. He delivered a wonderful performance, showcasing his talents for the crowd. He’s coming back to the DC area at the end of the year if you missed him at this festival.
DVSN is neo-R&B act that consists of producer Nineteen85 and frontman Daniel Daley. Daniel’s subtle dance moves would get the crowd going, but his falsettos is what made every girl melt in the crowd. Part of Drake’s OVO Sound, DVSN is known to bring the heat to the stage. The duo covered Alicia Key’s “If I Aint Got You,” and they played a new single “Miss Me.”
Iconic producer and singer Raphael Saadiq opened his set with a mini bass guitar solo. From that first minute, you can tell just tell that it was going to be a good set, including the smooth transitions from song to song. He performed a medley of hits from Love Of My Life (Ode To Hip Hop) — Erykah Badu’s Anniversary — Tony Toni Tone’s Kissin’ You — Untitled (How Does It Feel?) by D’Angelo — and Cranes in the Sky by Solange.
Jhene Aiko took the stage and her fans were so excited to see her! From the moment she took one step on the stage, fans screamed, “I love you.” What took her her performance to the next level was her marimbaphone and a harp player. She had a traditional band, but those light percussion and string instruments just added to her soft voice, especially on “Sativa.”
Anthony Hamilton is someone who I consider an all-time classic R&B crooner. He filled the air with his rich voice and the crowd loved it. His talented background singers combined well-loved selections like “What I’m Feelin'” and “Best of Me,” ending the night perfectly at Summer Spirit Festival.
Thank you Summer Spirt Festival for an amazing Saturday. Thank you to the amazing artists that performed, and I can’t wait for Summer Spirit Festival in 2020! All photos herein copyright and courtesy of Brenda Reyes for Summer Spirit Festival on Aug. 3, 2019 at Merriweather Post Pavilion.