Crowd of fans press toward the barrier at the front of a concert while cheering for a performer.
Photo courtesy of Sol Blume, by Regina Pyne. Fans cheer for a performer during last year’s Sol Blume festival on April 28, 2018. Sol Blume is considered a “boutique” festival, taking pride in being smaller-scale, intimate festival with lesser-known artists.

Folks unfamiliar with music festivals might not be aware of one of the worst travesties they often commit. Two words: repeat headliners.

Big-name festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Outside Lands frequently stick to the same artists year after year, because they don’t like the gamble of choosing lesser-known musicians and declining attendance. While this is great for mainstream music fans and repeating headliners, it also means less-popular and underground artists are often left in the dust.

At the same time, part of what appeals to so many music fans is the very fact that their favorites are not as popular in mainstream media. If this was 2014, we might refer to these fans as “hipsters”. Today, however, most of us can admit to taking pleasure in having an artist we can call our own — one that not many others are aware of. Yet part of loving these underground artists is the heartbreaking reality of knowing you might never see them perform live.

This is where boutique festivals, like Sol Blume, come in.

Boutique festivals are typically held at smaller venues and feature local, less-popular or “niche” artists, keeping attendance low and preventing the need to compete with other large-scale festivals. Sol Blume is one of the many boutique festivals that have popped up within the past few years, originating in 2017 in Sacramento.

The festival typically appeals to R&B, hip-hop and soul music fans, with last year’s lineup featuring artists like Jhené Aiko, The Internet, Goldlink, Nao, Smino, Xavier Omär and more. Being that most of these artists would not be considered “headline-worthy” at larger festivals, many fans were able to enjoy these musicians within a small crowd of like-minded music lovers. Sol Blume is also a much more affordable alternative to other festivals, with tickets between $70 and $200.

This year’s lineup includes artists Miguel, J.I.D., Masego, Tierra Whack, Raveena, Tobi Lou, Snoh Alegra, Jessie Reyez, Ari Lennox, Kiana Ledé, Jess Connolly, Umi, Dave B, Ivy Sol, Queen Naija, Parisalexa and Andre Power. The festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento. In order to help attendees prepare, Sol Blume has even created a playlist of music from each artist, available on their website.

While these artists aren’t the most popular in their genres, many bring exciting new elements to the music industry that has yet to be seen. Tierra Whack, for example, came out with an audiovisual album in 2018 called “Whack World”, which featured minute-long music videos that proved how impressively creative she is. Each video took place in an elaborately-decorated set, and portrayed separate yet interrelated concepts, from love to the death of a beloved pet.

Another artists, Tobi Lou, has recently gained social media acclaim for his use of animation in music videos. One song that has grown especially popular is “buff baby” — a play on the song from Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time”.

Sol Blume 2019 tickets are still on sale on their website, For more information on other boutique festivals, check out FlightNetwork’s article on “23 Best Intimate Music Festivals in North America”.  

Carla Suggs can be reached at, or on Twitter @carla_suggs.