Pt. 2 Sensory Overload: A Recap of the 2019 OnBlackHeath Music Festival!

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“Born out of a desire to stage an event that would celebrate this stunning part of London, ONBlackHeath was created as the perfect festival for unwinding and putting a smile on your face, showcasing the best in local and international artists, serving up amazing food, and offering a world of fun for our younger visitors”. (From the OnBlackheath Website) The 2019 OnBlackHeath Music Festival was sensory overload.  This year’s festival did not disappoint.  From the layout of the space, the food vendors, the activities for children, the incredible production and outstanding musical lineup, this festival quickly became one of the best experiences I’ve had this year! 

THE PRODUCTION

The #OnBlackHeath Music Festival was well organized.  There was a single entry into the festival grounds that ran quickly and smoothly.  Bags A4 size and smaller were allowed.  I had a clear Adidas Festival waist Bag that held all of my essentials; my phone, Cellphone gimbal, money and lip gloss. It was the perfect accessory because I was hands free and my stuff was close to me and protected.  The staff was friendly and quickly searched my bag, scanned my ticket and I was in!  The festival grounds were well organized. The bars and food trucks surrounded the perimeter of the festival. The children’s area and carnival rides were near the front of the festival and the main stage and 2nd music tent were close to one another but not so close that the music overwhelmed you.   The rest of the area was open and attendees found spaces to lay blankets and inflatables to relax for the day.   The first day the bar lines became really long in the afternoon but the festival quickly addressed and corrected that by day 2.  My wait was much shorter the 2nd day. They also added more food trucks the 2nd day as well. I was amazed at how quickly the staff addressed concerns by the 2nd day!

What I loved most about this festival was the attention to detail.  The planners of this event thought of every aspect of what makes a festival great.  As an attendee, you are there the entire day. There were plenty of restroom facilities on both sides of the festival grounds, plenty of places to refill you water bottles, a special area for parents to get ID bands for their children in the event they got lost and even a booth for parents to purchase sound reducing headphones for smaller children and babies.  The sound throughout the festival was clear and crisp. Even though the distance from the main stage to the second stage was close, I never heard the music overlap.  I appreciated that as I went back and forth throughout the festival to see my favorite acts.

Even though it was a large crowd, I never felt cramped.  The grounds were large enough to accommodate everyone comfortably.  Kudos to the planning team for executing a well thought game plan!

THE FOOD!

The OnBlackHeath Music festival was filled with food to satisfy any palate.  The choices were endless.  I was able to choose from a variety of foods and treats.   Traditional fish and chips, Spanish Paella, Jerk Chicken, Vegan Options, Tibetan and more; there were a wealth of options. I particularly loved the Paella, the Churros and the Organic, Nondairy Ice Cream!  I ate well at the festival.  The portions were well sized and filling and ranged from 5-8 British pounds each.

SOMETHING FOR THE CHILDREN

The festival is marketed as a family friendly event and they spared no expense when catering to families with children. There were carnival rides for teens and young kids and a special kid’s area complete with a play area, a tent with musical performances, magic shows and an adorable area where kids played their favorite video games in an interactive way.   It was the perfect place for kids to blow off some energy and run and play freely without fear of injury or getting lost.

THE MUSIC!

When I first saw the lineup for this festival, I was blown away! The amount of talent in two days was outstanding!  For both days I experienced sensory overload.  The music was incredible!!!  Day One of the festival had me dizzy with excitement. Day 1 included Jamiroquai, The Roots, James Morrison, Jacob Collier, SG Lewis, Incognito, Soul II Soul, Swing Out Sister and MF Robots.   Day 2 included performances from Yakul, Laville, Aswad, The Brand New Heavies, Newton Faulkner, Morcheeba, UB40, Rag N Bone Man and Grace Jones.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of each performance.  Everyone sounded so good.  My absolute favorites from the festival were Incognito, Swing Out Sister, The Roots, Brand New Heavies and Jamirioquoi.  I’ve been fans of them for so long, to see them live at the same event was a treat. Incognito and Swing Out Sister were absolutely outstanding. They were so soulful and melodic. I was blown away at the magnitude of their vocals and musical artistry! The Roots proved why they are the best band in the business.  Every single member of the band was exceptional! They are so much more than hip hop! They are soul, funk, R&B and more! It was the perfect blend of genres! It was a special treat to meet the guitarist and Trombone player later that evening in the bar of my hotel. They were humble and gracious and spent time talking and hanging out with fans. Jamiroquai was another highlight as it’s been ten years since I last saw him perform.  The hometown fave returned to an enthusiastic crowd.  He performed crowd favorites and had us dancing until the end of the festival. My entire body hurt but it didn’t matter, the music felt so good!  The magnitude of talent, musicianship, artistry and creativity overwhelmed me.  The musical lineup exceeded my expectations on both days.  I left the festival exhausted but on an emotional high.  

The festival was beautifully diverse with every age represented, different races, genders, sexual identities and ethnicities; it perfectly reflected how music is such a unifier.  Thousands of people singing and dancing together to their favorite groups under a beautiful London sky was magical.

A QUICK PAUSE…THEN OFF AGAIN…TO DANCE!

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I was exhausted after the festival but headed back into the city to check out some of Chicago’s own house music DJs.  I headed to Oval Space & The Pickle Factory for a Day & Night Double Venue party with Chicago DJs, Sadar Bahar and Lee Collins.  I had never been to a party like this before. Held in two different spaces across the street from one another, it was a combination of a warehouse and an industrial rooftop. It was packed and filled with dancing bodies.  Sadar and Lee rocked the crowd with that Chicago House Style that is recognized all over the world.  Watching London club goers groove to house music spun by Chicago DJs was a priceless moment. It was just a reminder of how many talented DJs we are fortunate to have in our own city!

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It was my first time visiting London and attending the OnBlackHeath music festival but it will not be my last.  This festival was top notch from beginning to end. The city of London was good to me and I cannot wait to cross the pond and return again.  If you are looking for a dope vacation with great music in July, I’d highly recommend putting the OnBlackHeath Music Festival on your calendars for next year!

I hope you enjoyed my 2 part wrap-up of the OnBlackHeath Music Festival and my live coverage on my social media pages throughout the festival!

Until next time, see ya on a dance floor!

-Black Widow

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Black Widow

D.Sanders, a Chicago native, is a devoted mother, blogger and writer who is passionate about her family, friends, women's rights, living authentically and telling her story.   She is also a spoken word recording artist under the name, Black Widow. She has been writing and blogging for over 15 years providing commentary and expressing thought on life, love and relationships. Her artistry can be heard on two house music singles, “Rough”, and “Gruv Me” released by Grammy Nominated Producer and CEO of T’s Box Records & T’s Crates, Terry Hunter under the production of Mike Dunn and Dee Jay Alicia. . Both singles reached #1 on Traxsource’s Afrohouse and charted top ten overall as well reaching the top ten in their year of release.  She splits her time blogging about the Chicago Dance Music Scene on www.blkwidowmusic.com and on her book’s website, www.thesumofmanythings.com.  She is excited about her debut book, The Sum of Many Things, scheduled for release in June 2017.   She wears many hats but refuses to be placed in a box.  She believes that women are "The Sum of Many Things".  Embracing all of her roles as a woman, she firmly believes in breaking free of preconceived notions of womanhood.   She believes it is her mission to define her own life experience, femininity and sexuality and not have it defined by society.  She openly shares her story with hopes that women understand their worth, power and place in this world.