Gucci Mane and Jene Aiko Cap Off A Great Day With All My Friends Gary Richard's Music Festival Features Top-line Talent In Downtown Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES, CA- Walking into Gary Richards’ newest venture, All My Friends Festival, it is immediately apparent that his expertise were put to good use. The amount of security (everything from drug sniffing dogs to guards at every possible exit, entrance, and crevice) was prevalent and the stages were encapsulated by strips of LED screens so that even people in the back could be entertained. The two day festival taking place in DTLA’s the Row is Richards’ newest venture since leaving his Hard events franchise and pursuing other artistic avenues.
After soaking in the scenery, I headed to one of the smaller stages to catch a bit of Monte Booker’s set. The producer may only be 23 years old but he has already affiliated himself with the Soulection collective (i.e. Sango, Esta, JoeKay, Andre Power, SoSuperSam, etc) and collaborated on songs with Ravyn Lanae, Smino, and Noname,. Booker blends pop, rnb, & hip hop tunes with electronic beats, providing an easy way to get the crowd moving before the sun sets.
After Monte Booker, I walked around, discovering the lay of the land for about an hour. AMF festival offered lots of different types of cuisines to munch on, beer, and interactive booths. Everyone’s rave gear was out in full force (from metallic bralettes to thigh high strappy boots) and they were dressed to impress as you would with any other rave/EDM festival.
Next up on my list was another familiar face, Pete Tong. Most known for being a disc jockey on BBC’s Radio 1 since the early 80’s, Tong effortlessly blends together house and electronica music over the duration of his set. The hard hitting bass combined with the lit up LED screens entranced me for well over a half hour. The crowd became increasingly more dense in the narrow alleyway that contained the stage, but each patron seemed to be mindful enough to give each other room to groove to Tong’s beats.
One of the most sought after performances of the day (and potentially the entire festival) was Penny herself, Jhene Aiko. The petite soultress appeared on a stage decorated heavily with flowers, trees, and other plants that brought literal life to her set. She sang hits off her latest release, Trip and later ventured into her more commercial features like 2 Chainz’ “Vibe” and Omarion’s “Post To Be”.
She surprised the crowd with a rendition of the late Xxxtentacion’s hit “SAD!” to honor his untimely passing. Aiko closed out her set with Big Sean accompanying her to perform a song from their group effort, Twenty88’s album. Jhene Aiko’s may be calm and melodic, but she brings a radiant energy to any stage she steps on. Whether it be her simply smiling or tossing flowers to the crowd, she’s always emanating the peacefulness that her music brings to millions of people worldwide.
After Jhene’s set, not many people moved due to the fact that Atlanta’s very own Gucci Mane was due on stage in a mere 15 minutes. The same patrons that were excited for Pete Tong or Destructo were just as anxious to see Gucci Mane lay down the trap to cap off the evening.
The overlap between hip hop and EDM is surprisingly large and Gary Richards has intelligently used that to his advantage to create his unique brand of festivals. Gucci isn’t much of an energetic performer but instead lets his songs speak for themselves. The crowd danced along to hits like “Lemonade”, “Cocky”, and “Freaky Girl”.
I felt transported back to high school when his songs were on heavy rotation at the school dances. Luckily, Gucci Mane has managed to bounce back once he was released from prison 2 years ago and has become a heavy presence in the rap scene ever since.
Overall, the day of festivities was reminiscent of Hard Summer, yet wildly different at the same time. Due to the much smaller scale of a venue, AMF felt intimate and more friendly to interact with. It was apparent that every inch of the festival was well thought out and planned to the T well beforehand. There’s definitely room for expansion and growth. I’m excited to see what next year brings for Richards and his newest endeavor.