Rap music fans from all over streamed into Miami’s Bayfront Park Friday for the start of the the third annual Rolling Loud hip-hop music festival, a sold-out, three-day show featuring Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$ and Future on two stages.
Lestat Velasquez, a 21-year-old graphic designer, came from Sacramento just to attend the festival.
“My friend asked me last minute if I wanted to come and I decided to step outside my boundaries and go,” Velasquez said.
He said that more than attending the festival, he was excited to visit Miami.
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Miami didn’t disappoint with thousands descending on the park to party, dance and listen to their favorite hip-hop star. Not even the hot, humid weather could deter fans, although it did get steamy Friday afternoon.
At one point in the show, the rapper Eearz ran around shirtless and ordered event organizers to “Bring more waters to my stage right now.”
He then threw water bottles in the audience and sprayed water on the crowd. Before the show opened, police had advised concert-goers to stay in the shade, hydrate and not to take drugs or drink excessively.
The unmistakable aroma of marijuana wafted through the crowd, made up almost entirely of early-to-mid 20-somethings.
Several festival goers openly smoked the green stuff, despite the presence of Miami-Dade police officers all over the park.
Miami-Dade Police Officer John Gomez was unfazed about the pot.
“What can we do?” he said. “Everyone’s smoking. As long as they do it discreetly it’s fine.”
Away from the densely packed group, concertgoers sat under trees to avoid the sun, stood at cellphone charging stations, perused merchandise and patronized tents selling food, frozen drinks, cocktails and hemp water.
“I’ve been waiting for this since October,” said Jovane Murdock, 20, who said he would be driving from Miramar to Bayfront Park all three days and was most looking forward to seeing Lamar, the Compton rap star, and Travis Scott perform. Murdock’s concert-mate Renea Robinson, 19, said was “very excited” to be seeing Lil Wayne for the first time. He was supposed to perform at 10:30 p.m. Friday.
Joemmi Beanett came from Orlando to attend the festival, which moved this year to Bayfront Park after being staged in Wynwood.
Beanett and her friend, Dianna Dejada of Naples, said they were most excited to see Scott, who doesn’t take the stage until Sunday night.
They said they paid about $280 each for tickets to the three-day festival.
Rolling Loud runs from 4 p.m. Friday to 11 p.m. Sunday and has sold out all 40,000 tickets. It was previously held in Wynwood and has mushroomed since it attracted 6,500 fans in 2015.
Many of the acts were running behind schedule, prompting griping on live stream commentary by those watching on the internet.
New York rapper A$ap Rocky was typical of the wobbly schedule, taking to the stage at 10:20 p.m., or 20 minutes late after walking backstage flanked by security and about a dozen females. He came on stage with a literal bang — firecrackers exploding into the air around him. He also opened his set with advice to the crowd: “F*** social media and f*** cameras. Live in the moment here tonight.”
Friday’s turnout appeared to rattle the nerves of organizers of weekend activities at the nearby new Phillip and Patricia Frost Science Museum.
While a museum spokeswoman said a swank sold-out fundraiser for about 600 people was still on track for Saturday night, the museum’s membership division sent an email cautioning people planning to attend a members-only day at the museum on Sunday to rethink their plans.
Miami Herald Staff Writer Carol Rosenberg assembled this story from Scheckner and Randle’s field reports.