blastfest afrobeats festival seattle

The crowd at Blastfest.

Photo: @Africanist

Blastfest, Seattle's First Afrobeats Festival

The Fisher Pavilion was home to the first-ever Afrobeats festival in Seattle, Washington. Here's how it all went down.

In late July, the Blastfest made a major statement under the gaze of Seattle's Space Needle, one of the most iconic places in a city where Afrobeats continues to grow.

To many people who had been living in Seattle for a significant amount of time, 2019 felt like the year the city was on the cusp of a cultural shift in the art and music space—COVID, unfortunately, put a hold on that. However, after the pandemic, the Afrobeats scene in Seattle Washington started growing, due to the influx of Africans moving to the city for tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft, including DJs putting in the work to bring the sound to venues.

Back in April, Nigerian-born Bobby Akinboro, also known as DJ Blast, announced that Seattle’s first Afrobeats festival, Blastfest, was coming. You can only imagine what that meant to the people who have had to travel out of state for a festival of this nature in the past. Not knowing what to expect and who would be on the performing roster, the suspense kept fans glued to Instagram for the line-up announcement. When I asked DJ Blast his thought process behind the selection of the headliners he said, “I want to create a solid enough show that people want to invest in.”

bnxn buju blastfestBNXN fka Buju.Photo: @Africanist.

The Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center was home to the city's first-ever Afrobeats festival. The 12,500 square foot open area unfurled like a living canvas as 4,000 attendees draped in a tapestry of colors filled the pavilion. Blastfest captured the essence of what's hot in the music space fusing Afrobeats with a touch of Amapiano, while the festival grounds bustled with local vendors who were serving rich tastes of authentic African food and selling beautiful African garbs.

Fifteen performances ignited the stage, from local DJs and artists to heavy hitters like Asake, Tiwa Savage, Focalistic, BNXN, and the multi-instrumentalist Mannywellz. We also had the opportunity to hear from up-and-coming artists like saxophonist Seyi Sax, Anthony Cole, and Hanani before the headliners took the stage.

South Africa's Focalistic aka “President Ya Straata” galvanized the audience with his dance moves and a setlist that was met with an enchanting response from the crowd.

26-year-old Nigerian-born BNXN took it to the next level with his vibrant performance of the songs “Finesse,” “Gwagalada,” and more. With the energy he brought on stage, it was evident that he was enjoying putting on a show for the Afrobbeats aficionado.

blasfest asakeAsake.Photo: @Africanist.

Fitted in blue Evisu Daicock baggy jeans, and a white tank top, with the kicks to match, the queen of Afrobeats, Tiwa Savage kept the energy going, serenading the audience with hits like “49-99,” “Somebody’s Son,” and “Girlie O,” among other songs. Tiwa crowned her performance by collaborating with Reekado Banks on the tracks “Like,” “Koroba”, and the hit song “Who’s Your Guy?”, all of which sent the audience into a frenzy.

Finally, Asake aka Mr. Money With The Vibe, took the stage with his band, and a troupe of dancers, electrifying the stage with his unique sound and causing the audience to belt out every lyric to his bangers. Asake sent shock waves throughout The Fisher Pavilion, leaving the air joyfully charged, and festival attendees brimming with satisfaction.

“I have not seen so much love and [so many] Black people in one place in this city,” said an attendee at the end of the night. Of the legacy he wants to build by naming the festival after himself DJ Blast said, “We are going to the moon.” Blastfest delivered an incredible experience to the city of Seattle, proving that Afrobeats and African music have a place in the Pacific North West.

All photos by @Africanist.


Tiwa Savage.

Tiwa Savage.