‘Pop-up church’ and Snoop Dogg: Details of Pharrell-backed festival begin to emerge

Something in the Water festival from Pharrell Williams (Sputhside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
Something in the Water festival from Pharrell Williams (Sputhside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Details of Something in the Water — the Pharrell Williams-backed festival coming here in April — began to emerge Thursday during a meeting of the Virginia Beach Resort Advisory Commission.

As the meeting began, a quote from Williams was projected onto a screen, and provided some insight to his motivations for putting on the festival in his hometown.

“I made a promise to God that if I was able to see the world, I would bring the best of what I saw back to Virginia Beach,” the slide said.

Representatives from Williams’s festival production staff spoke to his passion for Virginia Beach during the meeting and revealed some of the key details about the festival’s programming, tickets, brand sponsors, and their plans for traffic control and parking.

Related story: City of Virginia Beach to pay $250K sponsorship to Pharrell-backed festival

Bobby Wells, who works with Williams’s branding company I Am Other, touched on some of the brand sponsors who will be at the Oceanfront as part of the festival.

Major multi-national companies like Sony will have “large activations” along Atlantic Avenue, while Adidas will have a presence set up in the Convention Center, Wells said. Other companies, like Uber Eats and Billionaire Boys Club — which is a Williams-owned clothing line — will be part of the festival as well.

More sponsorship announcements are forthcoming, Wells said.

“We have to pace the announcements of these brands’ involvement in the festival because they want control of that narrative and want to be able to tell that story that fits their brand,” Wells said.

Related story: Pharrell-backed festival moving forward, coming to Oceanfront in April

Friday, the festival website announced new additions to the music lineup, which included Diddy, Usher, Gwen Stefani, and Snoop Dogg.

Programming will include more than just the music lineup; private movie screenings, job recruitment, food exhibits, fitness activities, sports competitions, outreach to local schools and theaters, as well as educational lectures.

A series of “pop-up churches” — temporary spaces on the beach that will be available for worshipers on Sunday morning — is one of the festival’s more eclectic features. Wells said Williams has an uncle who is pastor of a Norfolk church, who is garnering support from local churches to turn out for the pop-up event

Brian Solis, City Manager Dave Hansen’s point person for the festival, said the city was looking at “credentialed parking programs” for surrounding neighborhoods at the Oceanfront to keep festival parking contained.

Solis said the city would be implementing park and ride programs, and the Hampton Roads Transit Shuttles at the Oceanfront will start a week early for the festival.

Wells added I Am Other is also organizing a system of shuttle buses to pick up festival-goers from across the mid-Atlantic region, which would potentially bring people to the Oceanfront without contributing to traffic or parking woes.

Because of the influx of people coming for the festival, coupled with those already visiting the Oceanfront for College Beach Weekend, Solis said some traffic will likely need to be redirected.

“It’s highly likely that Atlantic Avenue will be closed,” Solis said.

Diana Burke, executive director of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, asked the festival organizers about how inclement weather would effect the festival.

“We’ve organized concerts in the rain before,” Wells said. “The only thing that would stop this festival is an electrical storm.”

Tickets for the festival are now available online.

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