Photos: Sweetlife Block Party

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Words by Jenna Robinson

This year’s iteration of Sweetlife brought the show back to its roots as a free, day-long block party in Dupont. While scaled back in production, it allowed Sweetgreen--the main organizers of the show–to focus on two key things: curating a solid music lineup and making the event more community focused.

With it being a free, all-ages event, the most striking difference between Sweetlife the block party versus the mega festival was the audience. The crowd was a little older than I’ve seen in years past, which partly contributed to the more relaxed, carefree vibe of show. The party itself had a well-rounded selection of vendors on site that included Maketto, Compass Coffee, Sir Kensington’s, Misfit Juicery and other buzzy food and drink establishments.

Aside from the food and other perks that were there, the real highlight of Sweetlife was the music. D.C.’s Ayes Cold was a force in the DJ booth, spinning an eclectic cocktail of hip hop, house and soul (also sprinkling into the mix some songs from hometown heroes GoldLink and Oddisee.) Following her set, Den-Mate and her backing band brought to the table a spirited, high-energy performance that added a fuller sound to her dark, electronic recorded offerings. She made a considerable effort to engage with the audience, taking her show off stage and into the crowd.

Closing out the night, Blood Orange went above and beyond with his hour-long set, delivering an expansive performance that juxtaposed cinematic visuals and deft musicianship from both Dev Hynes and his backing band. Collectively they brought to life Blood Orange’s soulful catalog and also played a couple new songs that fit cohesively into the mix.