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I remember the first ONE MusicFest in 2010. For a first time festival, it was well put together, and had a great lineup that featured Atlanta’s Underground Queen Joi Gilliam, Goapele, De La Soul, and Common. The festival was well spaced, and accounted for the rain that fell mid-festival. In subsequent years ONE MusicFest has called Park Tavern, the Masquerade Music Park, and Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood home.

I actively attend music festivals, with the Coachella Music Festival easily ranking number one by far, and Outside Lands Music and Art Festival in San Francisco as a two. I have attended ONE MusicFest four times (more than any of the others). In year 5 ONE amateurish presentation struggles to keep my patronage, where conversely in year five of Outside Lands, the growth (attendee numbers in the same confines) and type of patronage (Bro’s) make it a challenge.

To compare it to other festivals, ONE MusicFest lacks consistency, or a sense of organization. When I attend Coachella (Indio Polo Fields), Outside Lands (Golden Gate Park) or Atlanta’s Music Midtown (Piedmont Park), I know what to expect and I know that they are synonymous with their venue. I know what to look for in knowing the brand. Any change is obvious. The best setup for ONE MusicFest was the Masquerade Music Park however, Lakewood Amphitheater is a horrible location for a music festival in general, with reserved seating, terrible sight lines of the artists and a non homogenous music experience. Festival attendance is about working yourself into position to see your artists, including VIP areas. At times you sacrifice seeing other artists, eating, sitting…however it is a part of what festival goers do. The third year of ONE MusicFest was a prime example of of this, watching Marsha Ambrocious and getting on stage with Santigold during her amazing set (who actually rocked Coachella that year, and was terrible at Outside Lands).

In year five, ONE MusicFest still looks like a poorly assembled project, whereas the fifth year Outside Lands becomes more polished, poised for its future, and makes better use of Atlanta artists, Joi Gilliam, Big Boi, street artist Greg Mike, than Atlanta based ONE. I once heard someone describe ONE as organic, however the corporate Coachella and the new to Atlanta Afro Punk actually pull of organic, and a truly organic experience.

With that said, my aims were to see the anniversary performances of Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah, who were relegated to the Hercules Stage and limited to a short set for artists of their calibre. I could not attend Coachella this year, but watching their streaming performance far outweighed what I saw at ONE. The best part of the 20-30 minute set was the crowd participation. I also had the opportunity to see SZA who I missed on the last day of Outside Lands in San Francisco. The performances on the Hercules Stage were poorly scheduled, and as a fan trying to navigate the stages, it was never clear what was going on, and who was performing, especially during the 8-Ball & MJG, Big K.R.I.T., Bun B, and Scarface set(s). Big K.R.I.T. had better positioning and time at the third OMF.

I personally question Lauryn Hill as a headliner on a bill that included The Roots. It reminded me of the second ONE MusicFest that features the Pharcyde in the best performance of the event, but Chrisette Michelle was the headliner. Her set was definitely for her ambassadors, and those who had actually “listened” to the Miseducation. With her beginning her set 30+ minutes late, and starting with 5 songs that I had never heard (Read: Non Fugeez or Miseducation) I watched the first wave of exodus of fans. Though she went into wider known songs, with “Ex Factor,” she gave new renditions that is simply my being particular, but I knew the songs. I was underwhelmed.

I hope for the best for the festival, and that ONE MusicFest can overcome its challenges, however when I can look at two fifth year festivals, and clearly see regression in ONE, I have no interest in returning, paid nor comp.

To ask the question I wanted to ask at the panel discussion. How does ONE MusicFest become a professionally run festival, and an Atlanta mainstay? How does Atlanta help that? Currently I don’t have a want to support.

The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.