The 2019 Grizzly Fest held at Woodward Park over the weekend proves that the Central Valley, and mainly Fresno, has an event on its hands that can continue to grow into a mainstay on the festival circuit.
Each year, the promoters of Grizzly Fest continue to up the ante when it comes to attracting performers who are both relevant and are worthy of the title of headliner.
That sentiment has not been more prevalent than with what the fans were given with this year’s lineup, which the festival successfully provided in the form of Portugal. The Man, ScHoolboy Q and G-Eazy.
Both Portugal. The Man and G-Eazy were given headlining duties, for Day 1 and Day 2, respectively, but many would argue the point that ScHoolboy Q was the true headliner of the weekend as his performance garnered the most anticipation prior to the festival and fanfare on Saturday.
A week after the release of his fifth studio album, “Crash Talk,” which followed a 2 ½-year hiatus filled with growth and pain for ScHoolboy Q throughout. His set at Grizzly Fest was a case of striking the iron while it was smoldering. And for the most part, the performance reflected that heat.
For much of the set, the fans tried to match the level of intensity that is per usual from ScHoolboy Q, as he would appease the energetic crowd with renditions of “Man of the Year,” “That Part” with fans providing the vocals of Kanye West, “Collard Greens” and even a performance of labelmate Kendrick Lamar’s hit, “M.A.A.D City.”
But interactions with the crowd and some interruptions caused him to scrap some of the supposed 20 songs in his setlist, as the fans were overly eager to hear his latest single “Numb Numb Juice,” which he closed the set out with, much to his chagrin.
The following set by Portugal. The Man was a much-needed comedown following ScHoolboy Q, as the Grammy Award-winning band performed a stunning visual performance filled with energy comparable to the previous artists but was dispersed in different ways.
Portugal. The Man hit a multitude of emotions throughout its set as the band’s on-stage presence was on the exact opposite end of the spectrum from how its Alaskan laid-back personas are perceived within its music videos and albums.
They started their set with thunderous performances of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” then transitioned to mellow psychedelic pop hits “Feel It Still” and “Atomic Man” as they played music from the albums “Evil Friends” and “Woodstock.”
Day 2 picked up where Day 1 left off as a lot of the fans who attended the second day of Grizzly Fest were there to see Bay Area rapper G-Eazy’s festival finale.
While G-Eazy was the main attraction for most, there were spectacular performances by singer Jessie Reyez and pop rock duo Matt and Kim, who took their interactions with fans to another level, passing around blow up dolls of themselves to concertgoers.
The promoters did a phenomenal job choosing local talent that did not seem out of place alongside the bigger acts in the lineup, providing a wide range of genres and familiar faces for the crowd instead of bringing in lower-level talent from outside of the Central Valley.
Acts like Cloudship, Patrick Contreras and Fatty Cakes and the Puff Pastries gave early concertgoers a reward for punctuality. While Fashawn, continuing his Grizzly Fest appearance streak, performed the entirety of his debut album “Boy Meets World” for its 10th anniversary release.
Beyond The Stage
For the music lover purists, a small trailer was converted into a small-scale record store, housing numerous vinyl records, while the staff spun its favorite records throughout the day near the Grizzly Eats pavilion.
Much of the cuisine was provided by local eateries that may have matched the popularity of some of the performers on the festival lineup, including Chicken Shack, Quesadilla Gorilla and the ever-popular Dog House Grill, among others.
Although the prices may have been elevated due to the festival gaining notoriety within the community, that is expected when in a festival setting, and many would say that the tradeoff is worth it.
For those who may be interested in attending Grizzly Fest next year and are having trouble deciding whether or not to pay for general admission or fork up the extra money for the VIP admission, the VIP section still has more to be desired as far as “bang for your buck,” given the added pricing.
But the 2019 festival finally had an atmosphere that you would get at many of the other festivals that share the same size and magnitude. The promoters have proven that they are able to bring acts that will provide energy and buzz to the Central Valley.
Grizzly Fest has the ability to be a mainstay as the premier festival in all of Central California. And after this past weekend, anticipation should be building for the release of next year’s lineup.