Something in the Water Day One Was “Hot as Hell”

In the shadow of the Capitol and under sweltering conditions, the first day of Pharrell Williams’ weekend-long Something in the Water Festival kicked off on Independence Avenue SW on June 17. Initially launched in his hometown of Virginia Beach in 2019, Williams moved the festival to D.C. after the shooting death of his cousin by Virginia Beach police (his family feels they never got sufficient answers from local authorities). But with a new location comes new headaches, and that was certainly the case with the first day of the festival.

For reasons never explained, the festival is being held on Independence Avenue instead of the Mall itself, confining the event to the space between 3rd and 8th streets SW. Yes, you get a feel of it being a huge block party—an incredibly congested one as 25,000 attendees (according to D.C. police) crammed into the festival “grounds.” Needless to say, the lines to get in were long.

Pharrell Williams at the festival; George Ortiz

With the main Sun Stage at one end of the festival and the secondary Moon Stage at the other, along with the third Earth Stage tucked away near the main stage, navigating the area was next to impossible. A long line of vendors congested foot traffic even more on the north side of the avenue.

There was no shade to speak of, and the oppressive 98 degree heat (if you arrived looking cute in your festival attire, that was gone 10 minutes later) radiated off the concrete, where some festivalgoers were forced to sit in order to eat their food.

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