LIVE: The Summer Spirit Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Summer Spirit

All photos by Boney Starks | @boneystarks. PLEASE support.

I’m convinced that the Summer Spirit Festival is the grown and sexy Woodstock.

Over 20,000 people made the pilgrimage to the Merriweather Post Pavilion to see Eyrkah Badu headline an amazing lineup of modern soul and hip-hop talent, including Common, Janelle Monae, The Roots, B.O.B. and the one and only Chuck Brown. All jokes about Woodstock and pilgrimages aside, sitting at the pavilion you can tell that this was something special, and not just another concert night.

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Unfortunately thanks to traffic I missed the set by Janelle Monae as she started on time to a gathering crowd. I did get a chance to witness B.O.B. make one of the most classic rock and roll mistakes that any rookie could make.

“Hello Boston!”

As the boos gathered he realized the mistake he made, and apologized, again thanking the fans in….Baltimore.



Goofs aside, B.O.B. put on another solid set, and his relentless touring has allowed his act to mature and get even stronger. Of course crowd-pleasers “Nothing on You,” and “Airplanes” got the pavilion moving and any ill will had in the beginning was long forgotten. You can tell that Bobby Ray has a promising career ahead of him.

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However, he still needs to take notes from Common.

The internet might rag on Common (and my family has beef with him), but you can’t deny the dude’s stage presence and the palpable love he received from the crowd. Who said so-called “conscious” rappers can’t move the crowd? Hitting on tracks like “The Light,” “Go!,” and “The Corner,” in addition to a medley of hip-hop hits the audience was out of their chairs, throughout his whole performance.

Of course having one of the best DJs on the East Coast (DJ Dummy, trust me) and serenading girls on stage helps.

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But if Common could get the crowd moving, what did you think Chuck Brown did?

Even though the audio mix during his set was kind of weak, there is no denying that Chuck Brown owns the DC area. The go-go revival was most certainly the highlight of the festival not only showcasing Chuck’s hits like “Bustin’ Loose,” and the newest “Chuck Baby,” but covering other go-go favorites like Rare Essence’s “Overnight Scenario” and the hit cover “Pieces of Me.”

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The Roots unfortunately had a tough act to follow and they did their best to entertain the crowd. As a die hard fan, I have to remember that even though Questlove and crew are the hardest working crew in show-business, they still have a ways to go to make inroads into the mainstream community. After the raucous acts before them, the crowd was a tad subdued for the boys from Philly. It was only until their hit “You Got Me” (and Capt’n Kirk’s subsequent guitar antics) that the crowd came alive.

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After 4 hours of performances it was time for the woman of the hour. Ms Badu, entering the stage with a blonde mohawk and a flowing African gown easily won the prize for best costume (let me stop). Unlike some of her previous shows, her act was more subdued, which might not have been the best look for some tired and weary fans. Having that said, her set was always entertaining and she pulls no punches to deliver a great performance.

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