By Sam McDonald

YES Fest, a two-day celebration of creative live music and positivity, returns to Old Dominion University January 13-14, 2024.

The event gives audiences a chance to bounce, sway and groove to an array of musical styles from 20 regionally respected, up-and-coming and critically acclaimed acts.

The lineup is topped by jazz and hip-hop fusionists Butcher Brown, melodic rockers Horse Jumper of Love and master rapper Nickelus F.

All performances will take place at the Goode Theatre and Gordon Art Galleries on Monarch Way.

Rounding out the lineup are Esmé Patterson, Demons, Sunny & Gabe, Allen Hudson and The Halfmoons, Cor De Lux, Destructo Disk, Eras, Jacob Vanko, Koren Grace, North Bloom, Ruth Good, Shagwüf, Shormey, Soft Plan, Tyler Donavan, Warrington and The Warm Hug.

YES Fest, which debuted in March 2023, is presented through a collaboration between Arts@ODU and Norfolk-based concert and event promoter LAVA Presents.

“This year’s YES Fest brings loads of national talent and creativity to our doorstep,” said ODU’s Executive Director for the Arts Cullen Strawn. “I’m excited that we’ve expanded the festival’s sonic palette and reflected genre preferences from our student body. With this set of artists, you can hear the range of innovation happening in popular music.”

Josh Coplon of LAVA Presents booked acts that are making waves regionally and nationally. Butcher Brown, for example, has performed at the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Napa, California; reworked a Little Richard tune for ESPN to use as a Monday Night Football pre-kickoff hype song in 2020; and contributed an NPR Music Tiny Desk (Home) Concert.

Champion freestyle rapper Nickelus F collaborated with Drake and was inducted into BET’s “106 & Park” Hall of Fame after many dazzling performances on that show’s “Freestyle Friday” segments.

Country-tinged songwriter Esmé Patterson has released records that were reviewed in Rolling Stone and The New York Times. She recently opened for the influential Tropicalia band Os Mutantes on a U.S. tour.

“This year’s lineup has a little bit of everything,” Coplon said. “We wanted to make sure we had something that would appeal to just about anyone regardless of their taste.”

Coplon added that YES Fest gives ODU students a look at the quality and variety found in the Hampton Roads music scene.

The 2024 edition of the festival is spiked with popular Hampton Roads acts including rootsy rockers Allen Hudson and the Halfmoons, left-of-center R&B duo Sunny & Gabe and the hard-hitting Demons.

In addition to live music, the Norfolk Zine Fest and ODU student artists will display their wares during YES Fest.

Tickets are on sale now through with both one-day and two-day discounted passes available for ODU students, faculty and staff. Tickets for the general public are available through