Coachella Not Your Thing? Try These Festivals Instead

Now that spring, and Coachella, are finally here it’s safe to say that festival season is underway. My Instagram feed has already been serving a higher amount of bare midriffs from friends who celebrated during the first weekend. If you weren’t among the masses of people who dropped a couple thousand dollars to see not Beyoncé Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, and Gucci Mane in the Indio desert, you might be experiencing a bit of FOMO.

Or maybe you aren’t. There are a lot of reasons to not want to attend Coachella. The general consensus seems to be that the space is reserved for the rich and the white. And I have my own specific list of reasons why I probably would hate every minute of the event that has become America’s premiere music festival.

But just because Coachella can draw out the big crowds and celebrity appearances, doesn’t mean it’s the only show in town. Lucky for all of us who are curving — or have been curved by — the “HFIC,” there are other options. If you’re interested in a music festival that is more diverse in style, musical genre, crowd, and cost options, you might want to check out some of these events. I’ve been to a couple, and they’re pretty lit.

One Music Fest (Atlanta, GA)

The largest urban music festival in the Southeast, One MusicFest is headed into its seventh year. They play a blend of eclectic R & B and nostalgic hip-hop. When I attended in 2015, I saw The Internet and an 8Ball & MJG reunion.
Soulquarius (Santa Ana, CA)

I was lucky enough to experience the first ever Soulquarius — an “R & B jam” — during a weekend in L.A. a couple of months ago. Despite some severe logistical issues that honestly put a damper on the entire day, the lineup included a mash-up of contemporary neosoul and OG R & B acts that not even the best Pandora algorithm could dream up. Amerie, Pretty Ricky, Mya, Monica, and Kelis, fully clad in a glistening lavender catsuit, were all on the bill.
ESSENCE Festival (New Orleans, LA)

An annual festival hosted by the eponymous Black women’s lifestyle magazine, ESSENCE Festival can rival Coachella in terms of cost. However, it doubles as an empowerment seminar with speakers that include Ava Duvernay and Iyanla Vanzant. And let’s be honest, where else will you get to see a great like Diana Ross grace the same stage as Chance The Rapper? Not to mention that there is a lot more than drugs to do in New Orleans.
AfroPunk Fest (Atlanta | Brooklyn | Paris | London | Johannesburg)

To simply call AfroPunk a festival would be a bit of an understatement. It’s a movement driven by some of the most creative spirits from across the diaspora. It’s one of the most politically charged events, with posted signs explicitly forbidding behaviors that include racism, sexism, and fatphobia. AfroPunk Fest is gradually becoming the official creative arm of the African diaspora. AfroPunk literally does it for the culture.
Broccoli City Festival (Washington, D.C.)

If you didn’t think that the hip-hop community can also care about the planet, you’re wrong. Broccoli City festival was founded in 2013 to bring attention to Earth Day. The event happens in Southeast Washington, D.C., and this year’s lineup includes Solange and Rae Sremmurd.