Broccoli City Festival returned in 2023 with plays to take over a summer weekend, a change from its usual spring presence. The showcase, which was known to open its doors in May, opted to push things back to July this time around. Rumor has it that this change was done with the hopes of avoiding any rain delays that the spring season might have to offer. Unfortunately, Mother Nature proved to be the superior force as the weather played a role on both days of the festival this year.
This year’s showcase was headlined by Lil Uzi Vert, Jazmine Sullivan, and Brent Faiyaz, artists, who in recent years, have reached new heights in their careers. Behind them were slated performances from Asake, Rema, Chlöe, Coco Jones, Kodak Black, Mariah The Scientist, Ice Spice, City Girls, Keke Palmer, Saucy Santana, GloRilla, Lola Brooke, and more – and that was just the main stage. A smaller stage housed performances from Foggieraw, Ryan Trey, OG Bobby Billions, LaRussell, and others. Add in activations for some fun throughout the festival and food options throughout the outskirts of Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium, and you have all the ingredients to put on a successful showcase.
So now that the weekend is over, let’s take a look back at the highs and lows of the 2023 Broccoli City Festival.
On the performance side of things, afrobeats was the winner at this year’s Broccoli City Festival. The genre was only presented by two artists for the weekend, Rema and Asake, but they put on a show to remember through their sets. On day one was Rema who arrived to perform highlights from his discography like “Holiday,” “Charm,” “Soundgasm,” “Dumebi,” “Bounce,” and of course, the record-breaking “Calm Down.” Rema was nothing short of charismatic and energetic on the Broccoli Stage as he consistently flashed a smile to the crowd while showing off his slick dance as his live band ripped through the instrumentals of his song. If you need to be convinced to go to a Rema show, his Broccoli City Festival set made a very convincing argument.
On day two, the afrobeats energy was brought forth by Asake who made interactions with the crowd a priority during his. He spent nearly half of his set by the front row barricade and in the open space that divided the VIP and general admission sections. There was even a point where he entered the general admission crowd from the back and worked his way to the front through them, which provided an up close and personal experience for his biggest fans. Asake pierced through beloved records like “Terminator,” “Sungba,” and “Joha,” before debuting records from his new album Work Of Art.
Rema and Asake went above and beyond to put on a show in their respective sets, and it’s for that reason that afrobeats gets the crown as the winner of this year’s Broccoli City Festival.
This year’s Broccoli City Festival had some logistical flaws throughout the weekend that affected the overall experience of the weekend. First, fans who had to pick up their wristbands through will call at the festival were subjected to a wait that lasted over an hour in many cases. Broccoli City officials did apologize for the wait and promised changes for day two. Things at the entry point did seem to run smoother on day two, but then again, most attendees already had their wristbands by that point.
Some other issues included an insufficient amount of water cooling and fan stations throughout the festivals. Both days experienced temperatures into the 90s, but the cooling and fan stations were few in number. Though, the main stage security team made sure to supply water to the crowd which hopefully helped a bit.
HIGH: Day Two
Day two of Broccoli City Festival was by far the best day of this year’s showcase. The performers were on point from start to finish. There was the previously-mentioned stellar performance from Asake and there was Coco Jones who earned herself a viral moment by performing “Rain On Me” as raindrops poured from the sky. Kodak Black and GloRilla satisfied hip-hop lovers with their performances and OG Bobby Billions and Ryan Trey impressed with their sets at the smaller City Stage. Things moved smoother on a logistical end as fans were able to get into the festival without issue, and unlike day two, the weather cooperated to allow for the festival to go through from start to finish without interruption. As the saying goes, it’s not how you start but how you finish.
LOW: Heat & Humidity
This isn’t much to blame on Broccoli City Festival itself, but my goodness the heat and humidity was serious on both days of the festival. A towel at least was needed, but attendees who brought personal fans (especially the ones with water mist), were in the best position to defend themselves. The sun relentlessly beaming above us and the humidity standing beside made it a bit difficult to enjoy what the festival had to offer. Frequent water breaks were needed as were any and all things to stay cool and hydrated. The plus side here was with the festival getting underway at 2 p.m. each day, a bit later than other festivals, there were fewer hours of peak sunlight to endure before the sun, along with the heat and humidity, made its way out of our presence for the day.
HIGH: Brent Faiyaz, The Hometown Hero
I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with Brent Faiyaz’s set to close the festival weekend. The singer, who along with Broccoli City calls the DMV home, stepped out to use the weekend showcase as the kickoff moment for his F*ck The World, It’s A Wasteland Tour. For the most part, Brent stuck to records from F*ck The World and Wasteland, though he did reach back into his discography for older and more one-off releases. From start to finish, Brent’s vocals were fully present for his performance and they were rarely drowned out by a backing track. He also opted for a live band that only amplified the experience that had its tone and mood set by onstage visuals that fit perfectly with the theme of Wasteland. Brent didn’t keep this moment to himself either, he made sure to share the stage with fellow DMV artists Joony and Tre’Armani as they joined him for performances of “FYTB” and “Addictions.” If Broccoli City was a dress rehearsal for Brent’s F*ck The World, It’s A Wasteland Tour, then I suggest you do what you can to get tickets.
LOW: Small Stage
The main action at Broccoli City Festival year took place at the Broccoli Stage. All the big names brought their best through performances there, but there were still a number of acts worth paying attention to at the City Stage, the festival’s smaller stage. Foggieraw was there to perform his beloved track “Pslam 62” while Ryan Trey performed fan favorites and even brought out Mariah The Scientist! Other names like OG Bobby Billions delivered solid sets as TiaCorine and Lola Brooke also highlighted performances at this stage. With all that being said, the City Stage could have had a better set up for these performances. It wasn’t the most inviting display, which would’ve been a nice quality to reel in fans to discover a new artist. The canopy that sat over the stage and audience space was certainly clutch for the rain, but more could’ve been added to the experience to make it more presentable.
Broccoli City Festival was a hectic weekend, but in the end, it was a satisfying showcase. Strong performances from Asake, Rema, Ice Spice, Brent Faiyaz, Chloe Bailey, Coco Jones, and others made it all worthwhile — especially when the dastardly sun set for the day or was at least covered by clouds. Some improvements are definitely in store for the next edition of the festival, but the highs and lows of Broccoli City shouldn’t deter you from checking out their next showcase, especially if the necessary changes are made.