Concert Review: Atlanta’s One MusicFest with Goapele, De La Soul & Common

Last Saturday (July 31), Atlanta’s King Plow Center played host to the 1st ever One MusicFest, a festival aimed at bringing cultural unity through music.

The 10 hour festival was sparked by veteran promoter J. Carter after seeing De La Soul perform last August in Atlanta before a highly diverse crowd. De La was brought back for this event, along with Goapele, Common, Joi and over 20 other acts.

The ambitious all day concert got off to a very slow start. This wasn’t because of the performers, but due to Atlanta’s unbearable heat. The temperature reached well over 100 degrees with humidity, causing many present to forego onsite games like miniature golf in favor of shelter under the few tents that were present.

That didn’t discourage acts like rock band Love Underground or Hip-Hop artist Nate Walka, who still gave energetic performances to those present.

Normally a lightning storm would be horrible for an out-door festival. But on this day it was a small miracle. The short but intense rain storm did an excellent job of cooling off the atmosphere. While tech crews worked on making sure all the needed equipment was dried off, more fans filled the venue just in time to see the first big performance of the day.

The sultry Goapele told me a little white lie before her set. She claimed she wouldn’t be doing any covers. Maybe I should have mentioned interpolations, because the Bay Area siren got the crowd engaged by mixing her catalogue with classics like Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “T.R.O.Y,” Patrice Rushen’s “You Remind Me” and Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” Her voice was clear and vibrant throughout, eliciting the first resounding ovation of the day.

In between sets, Mick Boogie and Atlanta’s own Dres tha Beatnik kept the crowd entertained with everything from Cameo to Rob Base.

As night settled around King Plow Center venue, De La Soul’s energy made sure no one got comfortable. As old school artists, the trio stresses crowd involvement in their set through many call and response chants with their choruses and lyrics. Fans got to hear their favorites like “Potholes in My Lawn” over Bob James’ “Nautilus” and EPMD’s “It’s My Thing.” For their slightly younger fans that came on the scene in the mid 90s, the Native Tongues members showcased work of their Stakes Is High LP.

Common’s set had something for everyone. The ladies were enamored with the Chicago vet as he performed joints like “Go” and “Sex 4 Suga.” And he brought one on stage to personally serenade for “Come Close.” Not forgetting the older heads, the former Common Sense went back to Resurrection to combine his timeless single “I Used to Love H.E.R.” with his Badu collaboration “Love of My Life.”

Common’s performance highlight was undoubtedly his 5 minute freestyle, which was prompted after receiving the word “destiny” from an audience member.

After a shaky start, the One MusicFest delivered on its promise of a great day of music. Within Atlanta’s city limits, this was the first outdoor music festival of this magnitude since the demise of Music Midtown several years ago. Hopefully, the financial return was strong enough to ensure the city sees this event again next year.

Ismael AbduSalaam is a freelance journalist and senior staff writer at His work can also been seen daily at Beats, Boxing and Mayhem.