LONG BEACH — Soul, R&B, hip-hop and trip-hop lovers traveled from all over Los Angeles County and beyond to attend Goldenvoice’s annual Smokin’ Grooves Fest hosted by Joe Kay at Long Beach’s Queen Mary Park June 15.
Usher, T-Pain, Erykah Badu and Common headlined the event.
The crowd was a mix of 20s and 30s somethings who grew up listening to these songs in middle and high school. Common romantically free-styled on stage to a fan from Georgia while the crowd oohed and aahed. R&B newcomers Daniel Caesar, Kali Uchis, Ari Lennox, Summer Walker and Daydream Masi’s loyal fans rushed to the Free Your Mind Stage, Smokin’ Stage and Groovin’ Stage while singing along to every word.
Badu asked, “Where are the 90s babies? I’ve been waiting for you to grow up. I have a son named Seven, who’s 22.” She and her fans were anticipating her Afro-centric performance where she waved her red bandana in the air and rhythmically two-stepped to traditional African dance in one of her infamous hats.
Music producer Ryan Mills of San Diego returned to the festival for his second year.
“I came last year to see Erykah Badu and I’m back again,” he said.
Long Beach resident Angel Zendejas stated, “This festival is wonderful, we love to dance and have a great time.”
Lasundra McGowan of Santa Cruz said, “I used to live in Long Beach and Long Beach has always been such a hub of diversity, and living in Santa Cruz I miss that diversity. I’ve never seen Berhana, and I’m excited to see him.”
Alicia Johnson from Lompoc said, “I love Erykah Badu and I’ve never seen her in concert and that is my main thing. I just love the vibe, the kind of music, it’s my favorite. This is one of the best festivals I’ve been to this year and this is my third.”
Clarissa Jenkins traveled with her family from Rockledge, Florida, saying, “I want to see Ella Mai and Jacquees. They’re my two favorites. Smokin’ Grooves has been really fun, I like the music and everyone has been nice, it’s been lit.”