NORFOLK, Va. — Something in the Water is moving to Washington, D.C. from Virginia Beach for its second year, Pharrell Williams and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday.
The music festival, which debuted in 2019, will take place June 17 to 19 on Independence Avenue to commemorate Juneteenth weekend. The line-up includes Pharrell & Phriends; Pusha T; Calvin Harris; Tyler, The Creator; Usher; and more.
The announcement comes months after Pharrell cast doubt on hosting the festival in Virginia Beach again, accusing the city of being run with "toxic energy."
In a letter to city leaders in October 2021, the Grammy-winning artist expressed disappointment with the city's response to the death of his cousin Donovon Lynch, who was shot and killed by a police officer during a chaotic night at the Oceanfront in March 2021.
When Pharrell spoke Tuesday, he noted the importance of hosting the festival in the nation's capital during Juneteenth weekend, which he connected with the festival's mission of bringing people together.
"We decided to take that solution to the highest platform we can find. And that is on this nation's capital, the National Mall, right there on Independence Avenue," Pharrell said.
"While I'm truly excited and supportive about the festival moving to Washington, D.C., I cannot help but to reflect on what a loss for our city and region this is," said Virginia Beach City Councilmember Aaron Rouse during a city council workshop Tuesday.
Rouse mentioned the inaugural Something in the Water generated an economic impact of more than $24 million for Hampton Roads. He believes council should have done more in its power to build a partnership.
“Somehow, Mr. Williams was shown the door," Rouse added.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer offered a brief response to Rouse's remarks during the meeting, reiterating on the dais that city leadership did and does want to keep up conversations with Pharrell and his team, "once again, we're going to hold that olive branch to get them."
"Something in the Water, it did justice for my business. It actually did a tremendous ordeal for my business," said Richard Downer, owner of Island Jerk Hut located in neighboring Chesapeake. He sold Caribbean fare at the 2019 festival.
Downer said he's somewhat disappointed about the move, but voiced support for Pharrell and Pusha-T all the way. He hopes to be part of the event in D.C. this summer.
"It is not that far, but it's not the beach," he added.
Down the line, Downer hopes the festival can eventually make a return to Hampton Roads.
Three-day passes will go on sale to the general public starting Saturday, April 30 at 10 a.m. on the festival's website.
Fans who purchased passes for previous years will have an exclusive presale for this year's festival, from Wednesday at 10 a.m. until Thursday at 10 p.m.
Additionally, Virginia residents will have access to a special sale on Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. People can purchase festival passes in person at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach.
Looking back on Something in the Water
Pharrell created the event after Virginia Beach leaders asked for his help with College Beach Weekend, the last weekend in April when thousands of people come to the city, and with that, a lot of crime.
With several big-name musical acts on the lineup and an estimated turnout of 35,000 people, the inaugural festival was hailed as a massive success for the city.
The festival was set to return to Virginia Beach in 2020 with an even more epic line-up of musical acts. Tickets were on sale and city officials started preparing for the festival's second year.
But then COVID-19 happened. Because of the pandemic, the festival had to hold off for two years in a row.
Leading up to the move, Pharrell hadn't publically shared plans for Something in the Water 2022, but there were rumors of the festival moving elsewhere in wake of his letter.
In an interview on Showtime's "Desus & Mero" earlier in April, Pusha T mentioned that the festival would relocate to Washington, D.C. At the time, that wasn't officially announced by festival organizers.
Monday, a day before announcing the move, Pharrell posted a 15-second video teasing the return of Something in the Water in 2022.