Callie Lawson-Freeman | OBSERVER Correspondent
Lost in Riddim, an inaugural afrobeats festival founded by two local Sacramentans, played out in the Railyards District in downtown Sacramento Oct. 2-3.
The festival immediately made waves on its tumultuous first day, but appeared to turn things around by day two after receiving stern feedback on social media from attendees.
Lost in Riddim set the stage for many Sacramento “firsts.” A spokesperson for the event said an estimated 20,000 people from throughout the globe showed up for the brand new music festival.
Day-one performers Tems and Wizkid linked up to perform their certified platinum hit, “Essence,” live for the first time. Attendees roared with excitement when the Nigerian stars were locked in an embrace.
Attendees sang loudly along with another Nigerian artist, Joeboy, as he gave his first performance on American soil during day two. His feature on Ckay’s song, “Love Nwantinti” has taken the dance app Tik Tok by storm, with more than 3 million videos featuring his voice.
Singer/songwriter Tiwa Savage’s performance of “Somebody’s Son” featuring Brandy moved the audience both literally and figuratively. Concert goers sang and danced, while one in particular cried along to the song, a moment which was captured on video and has garnered well over half a million views as of Wednesday.
Popular Starz show “Power” alum and R&B artist Rotimi, almost had to miss the festival altogether.
“The morning of the festival, I actually spent in the emergency room with a collapsed throat from an allergic reaction,” he told The OBSERVER.
Still, the artist — who had just welcomed a son days before the festival — pushed to perform until the end of his set when his voice had completely disappeared.
“I got on stage and the audience was absolutely incredible. Their energy was electric and it felt so good to see people outside and enjoying life after such a devastating pandemic,” Rotimi said.
The festival was slammed on social media after the first day, with attendees taking to social media to speak out about a lack of security, safety, food, water, and even sound issues.
In 90 degree weather, ticket-holders said the festival ran out of water and food.
“We missed half the festival, waiting in line to get food,” Rahn Shepard, 31, told The OBSERVER. “For the whole day I literally split a bottle of water with my brother.”
Sound issues were also rampant on day one. Rapper GoldLink walked off the stage, abruptly ending his set, saying he couldn’t hear himself. Grammy award-winner Wizkid’s highly anticipated performance was plagued by similar issues, as fans initially could not hear the self-proclaimed “King of Africa” altogether, and subsequently suffered through fluctuating mic volume levels for the remainder of his performance.
Some artists pulled out shortly before the festival, while Jamaican reggae singer and rapper, Koffee, was still slated to perform and did not show up.
More concerning, were concerns about an audience “stampede.”
Shepard recalls the incident: “We just noticed a bunch of people running the opposite direction from the stage. We started running with the crowd and then some of the crowd just stopped,” he said.
Discussing the social media outrage following the incident, Shepard says he thought it was exaggerated to some extent because his group (admittedly) wasn’t in the thick of it
Twenty-three-year-old Ugonne Okugo, however, was.
“I did get pushed, and I fell and scraped my elbow,” Okugo said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to a festival where there wasn’t a mosh pit, or stampede, so I knew it was coming. But, it did catch me by surprise.”
Some local news reports include allegations about an altercation where an individual flashed a firearm. Sacramento police officers, however, maintain that they did not locate anyone with a firearm, and no arrests have been made.
The safety issues associated with the running could have been prevented with an increased security presence, which concert goers noted was visibly sparse on the first day. Many attendees hopped the barricade separating general admission from VIP, disregarding and sometimes even shoving past the few security guards that attempted to stop them.
Festival organizers brought out more food trucks, palettes of water, and seemed to remedy most sound issues on day two, allowing their initial mission to shine through.
“The vibes were really good the second day,” Okugo told The OBSERVER. “With every new festival there’s always going to be challenges. I’m happy that they fixed them. I had a great time.”
Grammy award-winning artist Burna Boy, delivered a closing performance that electrified the audience.
“He carried the whole festival on his back,” Okugo continued.
Festival founders, Jehu Manny Hunter and Fornati Kumeh, placed high priority on celebrating African culture. Kicking off right after Nigerian Independence Day, each artist took time to shout out different facets of African culture and highlight different aspects of the diaspora.
“So many people don’t know about it, so I take pride in being able to spread our African culture globally and let the world know the talents that are inside of us,” Rotimi said.