Virginia Beach Seeks Return Of Pharrell’s Festival, While Musician Is Reluctant Because Of ‘Toxic Energy’

Pharrell Williams
AP Photo / Chris Pizzello
– Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams takes charge during the halftime performance for the NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center in Los Angeles Feb. 18.

Virginia Beach leaders want Pharrell Williams to bring his popular Something in the Water festival back next year, but the musician is reluctant, saying a “toxic energy” has run the city for too long and he wishes the city took a more proactive stance after a police officer fatally shot his cousin.

City leaders appealed to the Grammy-winning producer to restore the festival in 2022. In 2019, the festival brought $24 million to the local Hampton Roads economy. But Williams, who lived there as a child, wrote that he held the festival to ease racial tension, and he feels that the city isn’t valuing his ideas for promoting “human rights for all.”
“I wish the same energy I’ve felt from Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would have been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative’s life,” Williams wrote in response. “I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by- and with toxic energy.”
Williams’ 25-year-old cousin, Donovon Lynch, was killed in March during a chaotic night in which 10 people were shot during separate incidents. Lynch’s father filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit in June. In its response, the city said Lynch, who was Black, pointed a gun at the officer who shot him. The officer, identified as Solomon D. Simmons III, who also is Black, “feared for his life and the lives of other officers and citizens in the vicinity,” the city said.
“We’re hoping we can have a face-to-face meeting with Pharrell and go over his concerns and see what we can do to get things back on track,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said. “By meeting in person and communicating, I am confident we can move in a better direction. That would be best to build those positive bridges.”
The inaugural Something In The Water took place in 2019, with a lineup that included Travis Scott, Migos, Missy Elliott, Pusha-T, SZA, Dave Matthews Band, Anderson .Paak, J Balvin, Diplo, Janelle Monae, Mac  DeMarco, Maggie Rogers and more.  The following year, a second Something In The Water was planned April 24-26, starring Post Malone, Foo Fighters, Clipse, Tyler, The Creator, Migos, Beck, Usher, A$AP Rocky, Chance The Rapper, Brittany Howard, Major Lazer, Nelly, Wale and more, but was waylaid by COVID.