WOW, is what I have to say about #essencefest2018! This is the word I would use to describe my first attendance of the annual Essence Festival. I use this adjective to describe my experience in both a positive and negative way. Although most of my review will be positive, there are a few kinks that I feel need to be worked out to make the event more enjoyable.
Let me first say that each night of the concerts were AMAZING! I felt like I took a time warp back to 1993 and blasted music from my teenage bedroom. Hopefully adults younger than me, appreciated the appearance of artists from this very special musical era, as much as myself and fellow comrades. Like Doug E Fresh stated as the host, the late 80’s-90’s era was such a special time for music and the sounds of early Hip Hop, New Jack Swing, and timeless R&B were on full display. There were so many great artist performing, that I had to write them down, to tell family and friends exactly who performed. Even after listing the artists, I forgot several surprise guest appearances. And if that wasn’t enough, they still squeezed in artists that are currently creating fabulous music, like Mali Music, Ella Mae, & Daniel Caesar. I sang, danced, and screamed so much, that I barely took time to take photos of the event. The concerts were definitely worth the trip and $$. In fact, Essence has me rethinking the type of concerts to attend. This was my first time attending a music festival, and I’m feeling like, this is the way to see your favorite artists. I have attended outdoor concerts, that usually feature 2-4 acts, but this event has truly opened my mind about music festivals.
Now, here’s the negatives:
- THE CONVENTION CENTER EVENTS WERE TOTALLY UNORGANIZED. I found myself becoming so frustrated at this venue, that I only attended it the first day and decided to skip it for the remaining 2 days. The event staff were friendly enough, they just seemed to be winging it for most of the day. There were long lines and even though I was in line early, we were turned away after celebrities showed up 30 minutes late and waiting an additional hour after the arrival. There has to be a more efficient way to handle this process. For example, if there’s going to be a limit, use a counter and don’t waste the guests’ time by making them wait for nothing.
- New Orleans is a great city to visit, however, I do not think this city is set up both in venue locations, size, and parking, to accommodate an event of this size. It may have worked years ago, however, as the event has grown, consideration of adjusting the location of the event should come to play to ensure that guests are not inconvenienced. There were a lot of inconveniences in dealing with traffic as we moved from event to event. Of course, there was the option of walking, however, the walks were so long that it was hard to transition from venue to venue in enough time to enjoy multiple events. If you walked to the conference and enjoyed the events there, by the time you were finished, you would be hot and sweaty and have to hot tail it to the Superdome to catch the concerts. The only other option to enjoy both the concerts and conference events, were to choose one over the other, or show up a couple of hours late to the concerts.
Don’t get me wrong, NOLA is one of the most beautiful cities to visit, eat, and play in. I totally get the appeal and love to visit this historic city myself, I just think this event has outgrown this city and would be better suited in a city that has multiple, neighboring,venues and updated transportation options.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend, but I do not think it would have been as fun, had my husband and I not made adjustments to overcome some of the challenges in attending multiple events. We ate, laughed, and enjoyed every ounce of entertainment. I will definitely attend the Essence Music Festival again, with minor adjustments if improvements are not made. If you have a chance to go, you should attend and consider some of the challenges that we experienced.