DC to host Pharrell’s ‘Something in the Water’ music festival on National Mall

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Pharrell's festival (Part 1)

D.C. will be the 2022 site of Pharrell Williams’ “Something in the Water” music festival.

Traditionally held along the Virginia Beach oceanfront, the festival will instead be on and around Independence Avenue to mark Juneteenth weekend (June 17-19).

The lineup includes such heavy hitters as Jon Batiste; Ashanti and Ja Rule; Dave Matthews Band; Run the Jewels; and Thundercat. And because it’s in D.C., it will showcase some go-go acts: Backyard Band, Rare Essence and Sound of the City.

Also billed is “Pharrell & Phriends & Some People We Can’t Announce.”

Three-day passes will be available on the festival’s website at 10 a.m. Saturday. If you’re a Virginia resident, you can take advantage of a presale on Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fans who bought passes to previous “Something in the Water” festivals can order their passes even earlier – starting Wednesday at 10 a.m. and running through Thursday at 10 p.m.

“D.C. has always been a deep inspiration to me as a person and a musician,” Williams said in a statement Tuesday. “It is the land where go-go music was birthed, which has provided so much for our people.”

The festival is not just about music. Williams’ nonprofit initiative, Black Ambition, will host a competition for local Black and Latinx startup founders and other entrepreneurs, as well as panel discussions and similar events. It will also feature a marketplace to showcase products from such businesses.



And on Sunday, a free pop-up church service will be held in West Potomac Park, near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

“If you’re celebrating music, if you’re celebrating Black excellence, if you’re drawing attention to the people who have dedicated their lives to knocking down barriers and uplifting our communities — then there is no better place to do that than in Washington, D.C.,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.

And it appears that D.C. will be the new home for the festival moving forward: In Tuesday’s announcement, Events DC’s Ralph Morton said Something in the Water will become “a powerful tradition in D.C.”

Last fall, Williams reportedly told leaders in Virginia Beach that he would move the festival away from the city’s oceanfront, because of how the city investigated the shooting death of his cousin Donovon Lynch by a police officer.

During a news conference Tuesday at D.C.’s Ballou High School, Williams said moving the festival to D.C. was about “elevating our mission and our intention.”

“And the greatest way to do that is to find the highest ground,” he said.

Prices for three-day passes run from about $350 to $550, and it prompted one to question whether there’s ever been an event near the National Mall that was not free.

Bowser cited Dîner en Blanc dinners, among other events. The District has not invested anything in the fest, she said, but it will help with the usual safety and public works issues.

“I promised D.C. residents that we have to get people back downtown,” she said.

“We have to get people in our restaurants. We have to get people to fill our hotel rooms, so the city is going to be supportive. We’re going to reach out. We’re going to compete.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Pharrell's festival (Part 2)
WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Pharrell's festival (Part 3)

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer. In a previous life, he helped edit The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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