Over the past few years — leading up to the pandemic, at least — more and more concert promoters seemed to be taking advantage of the underused Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. This Friday and Saturday, Aug. 27 and 28, hip-hop- and dance-centric festival Deep Tropics will return to the cool downtown-adjacent green space, where its 2019 iteration took place.
The festival’s sets will rotate between two stages: Congo Soundsystem and Meru Amphitheater, the latter of which will be set up in the park’s own amphitheater. One major component of the bill is Nashville hip-hop: The BlackSon, Reaux Marquez and Namir Blade all play Friday, while A.B. Eastwood, $avvy, Brian Brown and Tim Gent all perform on Saturday.
Another major part of the lineup is an array of dance-music producers and DJs from around the country and the world. Friday, look out for Chicago’s Whethan, Seattle’s Sango and French producer CloZee; Saturday, see Los Angeles’ Claude VonStroke and Yung Bae, Australia’s Cassian, New York’s Moon Boots and Memphis’ own Qemist.
Two-day passes are still available, and at press time, they start at $179 — see the ticketing page for all the details. There’s also a wide variety of separately ticketed additional events, beginning with two pre-parties on Thursday: Qrion and Paraleven play the Atlanta club Akarsh, if you’re coming in from that direction, while David Penn, LP Giobbi and Lux Velour head to The Back Corner here in Nashville.
You have your choice of late-night parties during the festival, too. Friday, check out Mr. Carmack and local legend KDSML on the third floor at Acme Feed and Seed or Luttrell, Qrion and Haums down at The Back Corner. Saturday, Chicago’s Green Velvet — singer and purveyor of “techyes” jams — plays Brooklyn Bowl with support from Cassian, while Soulection, Joe Kay, Jared Jackson and top-notch Music City producer Jon Santana take over The Back Corner, and Lab Group and Chmura head to the third floor at Acme Feed and Seed.
And if you’ve still got the energy, the fest wraps with a party on Sunday on the rooftop at Nashville Underground, featuring four hours of Boston duo Soul Clap, along with Cruel Mistress, Devon James and Nashvillians Jhenetics, Knyghts and Maggie Vanderbilt.
Deep Tropics’ founders have launched a nonprofit organization called Deep Culture with an intensive environmental focus. The ultimate goal is for the festival to generate more energy than it uses, even with its sophisticated and vast lighting and sound setups, to move beyond carbon neutral to “net positive.”
Initiatives include working with festival sustainability group Green Disco to engage with festival-goers on-site, clean up the grounds afterward and coordinate an independent audit of the environmental impact by the international nonprofit A Greener Festival. The fest’s reusable cup program is expanding to offer reusable plates and utensils, too, and art installations use sustainable materials like hempcrete.
You can also buy a $20 Eco-Band. The purchase supports the international nonprofit Trees for the Future, which focuses on eliminating poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, and the local nonprofit Urban Green Lab, which develops and implements sustainability programs that can be taken up by businesses and classrooms as well as households.
The festival has had a COVID safety protocol in place since tickets went on sale. It is worth pointing out that the guidelines aren’t as stringent as those you’ll find in many venues around town and other upcoming festivals, where you’ll be asked for proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test. Capacity is going to be limited to 75 percent of what the four-plus-acre site can hold, encouraging social distancing; a cashless system will be in place for bars, merch booths and vendor booths; the flow of foot traffic has been designed to reduce bottlenecks. The fest also asks that you stay home if you have, in the 14 days leading up to the festival, tested positive for COVID-19; experienced any symptoms; been in contact with someone who has tested positive or is under quarantine; or travelled to any place where the transmission risk is considered high.
Keep an eye on Deep Tropics’ website and social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) for the full schedule and additional updates. The fest has also launched an app you can use to customize your schedule, handle digital ticketing and more.