You ever imagine what it’s like to attend a historic event? An event that will be looked back upon as the start of something special? An event that you’ll tell your grandkids about 40 years from now? Well, if you attended the first ever Dreamville Festival this past Saturday, then you might already know.

Dreamville is rapper J. Cole’s record label. J. Cole grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina and he is the biggest artist to represent NC right now. Cole has made it his mission to bring NC more recognition and the Dreamville Festival is proof of this. He told the crowd that North Carolina had never had an event like this festival and that he hopes this will open the door for more events in the future.

With the festival selling out and bringing about 40,000 people out to the Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, NC, it seems like this won’t be the last festival in NC.

I bought my ticket about a year ago when the festival was first announced. The festival was set for September, but was ultimately cancelled and moved to April as a result of Hurricane Florence.

Despite the event’s success however, I wouldn’t say it was my favorite experience. There were many forgettable and dull moments, although maybe this is typical of music festivals or maybe it’s just me.

Starting at 12pm, the festival had 2 stages with performances alternating on each stage. Again, maybe this is just me, but the first 5 or so hours of the event were kinda tame. I didn’t know any of the performers and the only ones I actually enjoyed were EarthGang.

Almost all the food cost $12 and had ridiculous lines. The alcohol was also super expensive, although Bacardi drinks were served in a really nice red-metal cup that we got to keep. After two $14 dollar drinks, I realized it wasn’t worth it to keep buying drinks for the whole afternoon, which took some of the fun out of it.

The day of the festival was sunny and warm, but the day before was very rainy, so the grassy field was still quite wet. Some areas weren’t too bad, but others had a ton of mud; especially where the food areas were. I felt bad for the workers trodding around in the mud and the people who had their sandals stuck in the mud. There was also no way we could really sit down during our 11 hours at the festival. We had brought a blanket, but we soon realized the water was seeping through and getting our pants wet. By the end of the night, I could barely feel my legs! This obviously wasn’t the event’s fault, it was just unfortunate it had rained so much the day before.

Once J.I.D took the stage at around 5:30 was when the performances began to pick up. Bigger artists like 6lack, Nelly, Big Sean, 21 Savage and SZA took stage leading up to J. Cole’s headlining performances. The performances were incredible to experience, although 6lack had mic issues that really messed up his performance. Big Sean probably had the second best performance of the night. Sean brought the energy the festival needed just as the sun was setting. His 45min set had a mix of all of his biggest hit songs and features, including some of my favorites in Mercy and Clique.

J. Cole took the stage at around 9:45pm to thunderous roar from the crowd. Cole is an amazing performer. He interacted with the crowd a lot and made the event feel almost intimate at times. It didn’t feel like I was there with almost 40,000 other people, it felt like Cole was talking directly to me. A portion of his performance was dedicated to performing his older songs. Before every one of those songs, he said something along the lines of:

“these aren’t hits, these are classics”

The way I see it, this is the perfect way to sum up what the Dreamville Festival was to me. It wasn’t the best experience I’ve ever had and it will probably keep getting better assuming it continues growing in the coming years. But this first rendition will be looked back on as a classic. In the future, I will look back at the Dreamville Festival and feel nostalgic. All of it’s faults on Saturday will add character to the event and despite not being my favorite live music experience, it will be one that sticks out as most special because it was the first of it’s kind; because of it’s timing; and because of the people I went with.

Here’s to the classics.



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