For the first time since 2019, Dreamville Festival returned to Raleigh inside Dorothea Dix Park. The first day of the festival opened its doors at noon on Saturday, April 2, featuring acts like Lil Baby and Kehlani.
With long lines and abundant photo opportunities, Dreamville drew in estimated thousands of attendees from all over. Performances ranged from old-school nostalgia to smooth hip-hop and R&B, held at three different stages throughout the sprawling park. Bars and food stands dotted the festival, with a ginormous lit-up ferris wheel centered in the middle of Dix Park.
The warm weather was the perfect backdrop for festival goers to relax and have a beer or two while listening to quality performances by their favorite artists.
Dreamville began with quick, 20-minute sets from Mikhala Jene, Mereba, Lute and Fivio Foreign, the latter of whom performed his hit feature from Drake’s “Dark Lane Demo Tapes,” “Demons.”
Attendee Anderson Do said while he was initially drawn to the festival by his friends, he was also impressed by the artists performing.
“The fact that we get to see people, not only like popular people but [see] people [on the] rise, you know, that too,” Do said.
Morray was next on the lineup, performing his hit track “Quicksand” and bringing a different flair to the event.
Blxst and Earthgang followed Morray, the first of many Earthgang appearances throughout the night. Fresh off the group’s new album “Ghetto Gods,” the two performed the self-titled track from that album, as well as hits like “Bank.”
One of the more unique inclusions on the first day’s lineup was the duo of Ashanti and Ja Rule, bringing early 2000s R&B to life at the event. Of course, the duo began with their hit song “Mesmerize” and went on to perform “What’s Luv?” both of which sounded fantastic live.
J.I.D. was one of the highlights of the first day, performing hits like “Never” and “Workin Out,” beginning his 40-minute set by playing the samples that composed his work and then performing his tracks.
Outside of the sample work, J.I.D. featured other surprises, such as bringing out Earthgang to perform some Spillage Village tracks and Mereba to perform “Sandstorm.”
For one of his last tracks of the set, J.I.D. brought out fellow Dreamville signee Bas to perform the hit single “Down Bad” and Earthgang’s Johnny Venus supplanted the J. Cole feature on the track with his own exclusive feature.
Nearly every artist performed unreleased or new music, which gave the event an exclusive feel.
Performing early on in the evening after J.I.D., Kehlani played some of her greatest hits during her 45-minute set, including “Honey” and “Distraction,” ending her set with an eclectic performance of “CRZY.”
Attendee Caitlin Bell said she enjoyed Kehlani’s performance the most, especially with her live performances known for being few and far between.
“Oh, her energy was amazing,” Bell said. “She really got the crowd pumped up. She did a good job of getting audience members from the crowd up on stage and caring about her audience and fan base. She was very cool.”
Do said his favorite performance of the day was Kehlani.
“Kehlani’s like a very powerful woman,” Do said. “So like everything she does is completely strong, you know.”
Moneybagg Yo made a brief but energetic appearance, performing his hit single “Time Today” and getting the crowd amped up for the closing acts of the night.
Wizkid performed at the Shine stage just after Moneybagg Yo, playing one of his biggest hits, “Essence.”
Headliner Lil Baby ended day one with the final and most anticipated performance of the night. The rapper featured several classics from his extensive discography, including “Baby,” “On Me” and “Yes Indeed.”
Dreamville’s triumphant return on Saturday promised even better performances on Sunday, continuing a legacy of live music and entertainment in Raleigh.