The H2O Music Festival returned to Southern California for a second time and judging from the crowds, it was a hit.
Those behind the large outdoor event at L.A. Historic Park were celebrating by night’s end as some of the biggest names in music had won the hearts of fans who embraced the rising summer temperatures to see artists such as rapper Pitbull, hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest and regional Mexican star Roberto Tapia.
The H2O Music Festival also achieved what it didn’t last year: more fans (10,000-plus) who made the trek to the open field on the edge of downtown Los Angeles with killer views of the city. Backstage executives revealed that as part of a new-and-improved Univision Radio, the day-long event is now going to be called the Uforia Music Festival when it returns next year.
For Jose Valle, president of Univision Radio, the day was validation that the festival has grown significantly from last year as his division grows, expands and transforms into the new Uforia, also the name of the relatively new app that gives fans access to 20 million songs.
“I feel like I need a shower and a nap,” Valle joked as the evening was winding down backstage and after working virtually non-stop for the last few days. “When we get to build an event like this that is so cross-cultural, multi-platform and it comes off so well and our community comes out and enjoys this so much, it makes me proud. Our goal is to educate, empower and entertain. I think we’ve fulfilled that tonight.”
The Saturday (Aug. 17) event also showcased bachata crooner Prince Royce, rapper Big Boi, L.A. band La Santa Cecilia, DJ Chuckie, singer Frankie J, “American Idol” alumna Jessica Sanchez, Colombian band Don Tetto, rapper Becky G, Puerto Rican duo Domino Saints and the trio behind Forever Farewell.
From the time the festival was born last year, the idea was to create a lineup that catered to the Univision Radio audience, which has shown repeatedly that they also want diversity in their music beyond the Spanish-language format. Last year’s event, which was held in both Dallas and Los Angeles, featured Snoop Dogg, Weezer, Tiesto, Maná and Paulina Rubio, among others.
“It’s a festival that has a lot of Latino artists, but also American music artists like A Tribe Called Quest,” said La Marisoul, La Santa Cecilia’s vocalist. “You’ve also got Pitbull singing in English and Spanish and you have La Santa Cecilia doing it bilingual, bicultural. I’m so proud there’s a festival like this for people like us who like a little of everything. I love that it’s in L.A. You don’t have to go to Coachella.”
The weekend crowd of mostly Latinos proved that they want urban music as much as Mexican offerings. La Santa Cecilia performed some of their most beloved songs including their critically-acclaimed “Ice el Hielo,” their now-iconic anthem that makes a statement on immigration. Then, as part of their set, they eased into a soulful version of the ’80s song “Tainted Love.”
Big Boi, too, was a crowd pleaser as he performed songs such as “Bombs Over Baghdad” from a golden throne due to a leg injury which did not dampen any spirits whatsoever during his strong and impressive set.
The day’s lineup grew brighter with every act, exploding with DJ Chuckie’s energetic showcase, getting every concertgoer in the mood for Pitbull, who closed the cool summer night.
For the Puerto Rican duo Giselle Ojeda and David Leal, who make up the Latin urban pop group Domino Saints, it was a day to celebrate music, but also toast to Univision Radio’s new profile.
“I love that this is such a bilingual event,” Ojeda said backstage. “There are so many immigrants in this country and as Latinos many of us live in two languages and two cultures. It’s beautiful to see that here.”