Pharrell Pulled Out All the Stops for Something in the Water

Pharrell Pulled Out All the Stops for Something in the Water

Missy Elliot, SZA, Rosalía, Leikeli47, Travis Scott, and more industry legends graced the stage.

Missy Elliot, SZA, Rosalía, Leikeli47, Travis Scott, and more industry legends graced the stage.

Text: Andrew Nguyen

Pharrell Williams can do anything. Besides being a powerhouse in the music industry as a rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer, the Virginia-born artist has even delved into the worlds of television, film, and fashion. But the thing left to do seemed to be throwing a festival that showed how much he represents where he comes from.

When the festival was announced last month in March with scheduled dates of April 26-28, everyone was admittedly just thinking, “What?” A festival in Virginia Beach seemed out of place, and no one knew what to expect. Still, a new festival that didn’t seem to be corporation dominated or revolve around clout was a hopeful breath of fresh air. And Pharrell created a lineup that ensured a large crowd. Icons included Missy Elliot, Diddy, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, and Timbaland, while some relatively newer artists on the scene like SZA, Rosalía, Leikeli47, Travis Scott, Kaytranada, DRAM, and A$AP Ferg also made appearances.

But on the first day, ominous storm clouds were in sight. Through the festival’s app and Twitter, they pushed back the opening of the gates in anticipation of a severe thunderstorm until they finally cancelled the first day. As expected, reactions ranged from understanding to outraged on Twitter, but seeing people sprint from being exposed outdoors to seek shelter from the downpour was evidence that Pharrell made the right decision and cared about the safety of his guests. After a partial refund and a new day ahead, he made it up to everyone with SHOWS.

The 2nd day started with an energetic buzz as people lined up at the festival gates to reserve a spot near the stage to experience a full day of back to back performances. No one was ready the Barcelona-based Rosalía. She served powerful vocals, a fierce look, choreography, and visuals. Her set included popular songs like “Malamente” and “Con Altura.” A$AP Ferg and his friends rode on stage on bikes. Kaytranada spun a set that got people shaking their hips to his neo-soul beats. SZA gave us all the feels with hits we never get tired of hearing like “The Weekend” and “Love Galore.” And Travis Scott made everyone wait until he literally exploded onto the stage with flames and smoke. Yet the all-star lineup was just getting warmed up.

The “Pharrell & Friends” set began with Pharrell singing along to some of the hits he’s produced like Nelly’s “Hot in Here” until Snoop Dogg joined him on stage followed by Charlie Wilson and then Tyler the Creator. Through it all, everyone’s hands were in the air with and without phones recording the whole thing. But the screams roared when Jay-Z strutted on stage to perform hits like “Izzo” and “Public Service Announcement.” Even Beyonce herself was backstage to support her husband and Pharrell.

Of course, it didn’t stop there. Pharrell brought out Missy Elliot and Timbaland, who also grew up in Virginia Beach, as well as Usher, Diddy, and Busta Rhymes. Every artist cited the significance of having the festival in Virginia Beach and their love for Pharrell, and in these moments of legends nonstop joining Pharrell on stage, it felt like everyone was transported back in time. When would something like this happen again? (Next year, we hope!) At the end of the evening, the man of the weekend took time to spread love to the audience and everyone that made it possible.

On the last day of the festival, V talked to Brooklyn-based and Virginia-born Leikeli47 about her thoughts on the festival. “My heart is so full, like it's just been such a magical experience, and this means everything to the community,” Leikeli47 told V. “We have so many festivals throughout the year and all of them are amazing. But nothing compares to this. It was nothing but love on the beach.” And judging on everyone’s smiles at the end of the weekend, we will all get to experience that love again next year.

Jay-Z and Pharrell via @somethinginthewater

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