I had been anticipating So Aquarius since the day it was announced back in December. There was no doubt I was going it was the ultimate R&B lovers lineup infused with Hip-Hop. This line up literally gave you every type of R&B dipping sauce you could possibly need from Neo-Soul (Erykah Badu), New Age (The Internet & Jhene Aiko), 90’s (R.Kelly, Mya, Monica, and Brandy), as well as Pretty Ricky and just nods to artist that influenced an era in music (90’s/00’s).
This weekend definitely brought it’s on set of challenges as it got closer but I was determined that nothing was going to stop my ultimate Valentine’s gift to myself. I forgot to mention the worst storm Southern California has experienced in the past 15-20 years also decided to make an appearance the exact same weekend. Yeah literally part of this trip tried to rain on my parade but NOPE! I was not having it. While driving down to the festival, I got a few texts warning me about the line I would be met with when I arrived after trying to figure out parking. This entire festival was disorganinzed from beginning to end. When I finally made it to the line I was able to go right in, the ONE thing that was actually honored in my package was VIP Check-in.
Once in I headed straight to the main stage so I wouldn’t miss Monica. I was met with opposition instantly, they told me I would need a 21+ wristband to enter that area and the only way to get that was to wait in this long line. Luckily, in this case, they had an additional tent wrist banding people, although there was no additional staff to redirect people and help with the flow of traffic. We pretty much all realized the way we were going to get through this R&B jam was to help each other figure it out and laugh it off along the way. After getting my wristband, I headed to catch the end of Monica’s set. Where she brought out her husband Shannon Brown. While they made the stage change I decided to check out the merch booth since Monica mentioned we could find her stuff out at the tent, I figured I’d check out what other artists were featuring as well as pick up my pre-paid merchandise package. Wrong move. It took nearly 45 mins just to make it through the crowd to the correct tent and once there an additional 30 to actually get my merch. It was insane to me watching 5 people in a tent scrambling to put together individual merch bags. When the reality was this festival had sold out almost a month before the actual festival took place so why hadn’t they already organized and put together the merchandise or possibly labeled them. While I realize labeling them was a stretch they didn’t even have a master list of who purchased what. So while standing there people who had bought general admission tickets and added on merchandise no longer had a receipt of their purchase because all our tickets had been taken when we walked in due to the festival losing their ticket scanners. So people who had no proof had to stand their even longer than I did to have each of their individual situations worked out. After making it out of that mess. I figured it would be best to stick to one stage because moving through the Observatory grounds was far harder than I wanted to deal with. So I stuck with the main stage where The Internet, Ja Rule & Ashanti, Jhene Aiko, Erykah Badu, Brandy, and R.Kelly were all scheduled to hit one after the next. During The Internet’s set, I stuck to the VIP charging booth as it began to sprinkle a bit. Once they got off stage people began to shift so I made move to get a spot for Ja Rule and Ashanti.
I started noticing that we were way off from the schedule and with the welcome email they stated music would be over at 11p. So they began cutting set times nearly in half to keep the show going. Which ideally wouldn’t be so bad for openers but how could you cut Jhene Aiko’s (one of the headliner’s) set short. After Jhene, I received a call which I’m still trying to figure out how because I had no cell service almost my entire time there but the call told me that Brandy’s stage had been moved and to hurry and get there because their was no one there so I could easily be in the front. Once I got over there, I noticed Ray J, Princess, and June’s Diary on the Side stage. So indeed, I was at the correct stage but I began to wonder how did some people know and others didn’t. I hadn’t received any notifications for updates on the app the entire time I had been there but nevertheless, I was just grateful to have people I know at the festival. After waiting Brandy was definitely way beyond her original set time of 9:25. I was starting to hear that Erykah Badu hadn’t even hit the stage yet. People started shifting to the stage we were at when we got word that Brandy’s stage was moved again to inside the observatory. One of the hardest stages to get to the entire day. Luckily, we maneuvered through the back entrance where we found Mya still performing. After Mya, Baby Bash performed a quick four songs then finally June’s Diary took the stage to open for Brandy.
With all that said, I ended up with a great spot to see the main person I came for. I’m not quite sure if I would do it all again but it did leave me with amazing memories to hold onto when I’m old and gray. Grateful for this once in a lifetime night in music but more importantly every person who was a part of this trip.