Hip-hop and electronic dance music boomed through the streets of downtown Anchorage over the weekend. The three-day, three-stage Sundown Solstice Festival featured dozens of national artists and performers.
Crowds packed in front of the main stage at F Street and Seventh Avenue to hear DJs including Flosstradamus, Mija, Whipped Cream and Hippie Sabotage on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, rappers were the featured artists, including Conway the Machine, BBNO$ and Brother Ali. ASAP Ferg’s high-energy set closed the show.
Showdown Productions hosted the event with help from Williwaw Social. Daily attendance totaled about 9,000 over the three days, said Hellen Fleming, who co-owns Sundown with Raymond Flores. About 500 tickets were sold to people outside Alaska.
“We’re going to make this an annual thing,” Fleming said. “We can’t wait.”
Fleming said producing a festival in her hometown was a goal decades in the making.
“It was my dream to bring these types of shows to Anchorage,” she said. “I’ve been working on it since I was 18 years old, and almost 20 years later, here we are.”
Fleming said she and Flores were inspired by annual trips they made to Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. Three-day festivals are held on city streets in places like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. To consider Anchorage “too far away” to have one also would be an excuse, she said.
“We have the people. We have the audience. We have the love from our local Alaskans, and they deserve national shows,” Fleming said.
It also helps that the visiting artists love coming to Alaska, she said. She said some stay longer for glacier visits, four-wheeler tours and flightseeing adventures. Those experiences often get shared with their followers on social media. Flosstradamus included clips of his helicopter visit to a glacier in an Instagram story for his 425,000 followers. Whipped Cream shared her view from the stage on her 46,900-follower Twitter feed.
“A lot of these artists in typical festivals will fly in and fly out,” she said. “And the artists in this festival stay for three days because they just want to experience solstice. They want to experience Alaska.”
In addition to arranging for more than 20 national acts and dozens of local ones to appear, Fleming said, light and sound technicians and production professionals were also brought to Anchorage from elsewhere to join forces with local experts.
Ticket sales were strong, she said, though because it was the first year, they are still working to spread the word and get people familiar with the festival concept. Though it’s a high-risk, expensive business, details are coming soon on the 2023 festival, she said.
“Seeing Alaskans get down, honestly, that’s the payoff,” Fleming said.