As the festival space gets more and more crowded — there are at least a half dozen major festivals remaining in 2019 just within a 5-hour drive of Los Angeles — music fans are faced with more and more vital decisions about which ones to spend their hard-earned money on.
And while the Coachellas and Lollapaloozas and Made In Americas are still the go-to festivals for name recognition, I’d like to gently recommend forgoing the big-money events for local ones thrown by artists and radio stations directly, like Real Street Fest, the brand-new festival started by LA station Real 92.3.
The inaugural Real Street Fest took place this past weekend at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Because of the relatively small venue, the festival had few of the logistical hiccups you see sometimes at the bigger-name fests. Yet, because of recognition of the radio brand — and its towering property, Big Boy’s Neighborhood — the fest was able to secure huge names in hip-hop, from Big Sean to Cardi B to Future, as well as showcase many of the talented up-and-coming artists of the incoming freshman class, providing a prime example of why, sometimes, less is more when it comes to festivals.
For one thing, having only two stages side-by-side and only 32 billed artist slots allowed for all the performers to receive ample stage time. Alternating set times prevented overlap, which meant guests could see all of the music without having to make time-crunching decisions and possibly miss favorite songs. The proximity of the stages made getting from one to the other easy, while VIP access guests barely had to move around at all.
However, one thing that absolutely set apart Real Street Fest from its competitors was the real-life Big Boy’s Neighborhood inside the arena itself, which added both another dimension to the festivities and a refuge from the summer sun inside the air-conditioned arena floor. Indoor plumbing is a luxury few festivals are able to manage, but having it makes the experience so much more pleasant — as a weird, added bonus, even the port-a-potties were cleaner because they were being used more sparingly.
The screen inside the arena broadcast the performances as well, and since no performances overlapped, a guest who was sensitive to heat or crowds could conceivably catch the whole show in relative comfort. I’d love to see more festival venues offer this, especially since so many take place in proximity to arenas as it is. The Neighborhood also provided some neat distractions between sets, with a virtual graffiti wall, a barbershop, a tattoo shop, and a nail salon. Alas, I couldn’t convince my coworkers to go in on an Uproxx tattoo with me, but maybe next year, we’ll set something up.