Where do I even begin? Saturday, September 7th was the 5th Annual Lil Weezyana Fest in New Orleans. Unlike previous years, this year’s fest was relocated from Champions Square to UNO Lakefront Arena. Along with a new “bigger, better venue” came more things for concert-goers to do. There were local New Orleans food trucks such as We Dat, Bonafried, Frencheeze and more. There were tents lined up with both local and national vendors and sponsors such as Metro by T-Mobile, Q93, and Belaire. And lastly, there were carnival rides and games including a 100-foot Ferris Wheel, a Jungle Maze, the Sizzler, a basketball shooting game. The fest was no doubt bigger this year but was it better?
What You Missed
At the start of the fest, all was well. Entering the festival felt more like an actual festival compared to previous years. I appreciated the ease of entry with multiple security check lanes including special lanes for VIP attendees. Once your ticket was scanned, there was an archway with the Lil Weezyana logo on it where you looked out and could see the crowds of people and the ferris wheel in the distance.
Best Sets of the Night
Though the fest started at 2 pm, I arrived around 4 so I missed the “Young Money Takeover” part of the show where the latest signees to the Young Money label took to the stage. The first act I caught was Kash Doll followed by Saweetie then Meg Thee Stallion. I enjoyed all three artists sets but Meg was definitely my favorite female rapper to hit the stage. She was about an hour late but made up for it with a high energy set that ended with bringing a few “hot girls” and one “hot boy” from the crowd onto the stage for “Big Ole Freak.”
After Meg, they debuted 5th Ward Webbie’s latest music video then Trey Songz hit the stage. He was surprisingly my favorite act of the night. I’m not sure if it’s because he sang so many of his hit songs including “Na Na,” “Neighbors Know My Name,” “Dive In,” and “Bottoms Up” and they made me nostalgic to my middle school days or what but he delivered! I spoke with one fest goer and she told me that Trey’s set was “…what I did not know I needed. Trey Songz was giving me my entire life.” And I could not agree more.
When Things Took a Turn
After Trey’s set, the sun went down and it seems like it all went downhill from here. Try to keep up with me here. With the sun gone and the bright lights shining onto the stage, mosquitos were everywhere. With that being said, props to Meek Mill because I feel like he had it the worst with the most mosquitos but kept the show rolling. After Meek finished his set, I heard a noise and looked over to see fans in the general admission rear area of the fest broke one of the 10-ft fences near our area and were storming in. Security was in a frenzy trying to identify who was meant to be in that area and who snuck in.
During this same time, right before Travis Scott is scheduled to take the stage, I received a text from a friend who was in the general admission rear area of the event who said they were reportedly gunshots (again, not confirmed if it was actually gunshots) and a stampede broke out. People were pushed, shoved, separated from friends, lost items, and festival workers reported their register money and tip buckets along with bottles of alcohol were taken during this time as well. Pure madness. But the craziest part to me is that we could not tell a thing was happening from the front area of the stage and the fact that the show kept going.
Travis Scott hit the stage and I was honestly underwhelmed. This was my fourth time seeing Travis live and I just wasn’t as impressed. At first I thought he may have been off his game due not having his full production, the Louisiana heat, or the swarm of mosquitos but I quickly realized it was simply because he was concerned about the safety of the crowd. He stopped throughout his set to help point out where paramedics needed to go when he saw fans were passing out. Also during his set, one drunken fan from the crowd jumped into the media pit before being escorted out by security. A few minutes passed and I saw from the corner of my eye the same fan climbing onto the stage in an attempt to I guess get on stage with Travis? From where I was I couldn’t see what happened to him but I know he wasn’t raging with Travis Scott on stage during Sicko Mode, that’s for sure.
After Travis finished, it was time for the big finale. Before Wayne could hit the stage, I honestly lost count of how many times the DJ had to announce there was a paramedic needed to a certain part of the crowd because someone was passed out or about to pass out or was throwing up or something or other. The heat was taking a toll on fans in the GA pit areas. It was about a handful of attendees at first but eventually the number increased due to the humidity mixed with the heat emitted from the pyrotechnics on stage during Meek, Travis, and Wayne’s sets. Then just when I thought it couldn’t get worse…they ran out of water. At first, periodically they would throw bottles of water out into the GA crowd for attendees to share to stay hydrated. Even all of us in the photo pit were taking a few sips of ours before handing it off to those in GA but by 9:30 there was no more left anywhere on site. Yes, even the concession stands were out of water. All fans could rely on were the little freebie cardboard fans Q93 was giving out.
Eventually at around 10 pm, Wayne hit the stage. I only caught the first few songs of his set but I was told he brought out a few special guests including DJ Khaled and Future! Plus he performed his own remix of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.”
For the most part, I think Lil Weezyana Fest 2019 was a success. And quite honestly it was running smoothly until the sun went down. They had a great lineup this year with tons of heavy hitters and for those attendees who were able to stay the whole time and catch all of the main acts, I feel like they got their money’s worth! I mean all those acts for only $75, you can’t beat it. Plus the concept of making it an actual festival with rides, brand activations, and food trucks was exciting but there are definitely some changes that need to be implemented for coming years in order to keep people coming back:
- Being able to bring in a factory sealed water bottle, a hydration backpack, or simply an empty, refillable water bottle.
- Having multiple water refill stations around the fest grounds.
- Placing more security and police on site inside of the festival, especially at the entrances of special areas where people paid more to be in.
- Possibly having a mist cooling tent or machines stationed around fest grounds similar to the ones Acura’s activation has at Jazz Fest so fans can cool off for a bit.
- Allowing folding chairs into the festival.
- Possibly moving the fest to another time of the year like mid-late November or in the springtime. The heat index was over 100 degrees and there wasn’t much shade out there.
If you missed Lil Weezyana Fest 2019 or just want to re-live it, you can watch clips of everyone’s performance on my Lil Weeyzana Instagram highlight and view the photo slider below.