Bright and sunny, Day Two Arizona Roots Fest 2020 started off with a bang as eccentric reggae rockers of 4th & Orange warmed up the main stage for another whole day of music. Artikal Sound System members, playing later in the evening, greeted festival returnees at front gates, twirling meet-and-greet signs wildly while ZeeCeeKeely kicked off the smaller Rawhide Stage. Who’s that onstage with them? Why, it’s movie star Peter Dante.. jumping around, shouting into a mic and keeping the beat with hand maracas. This was the first of many Dante appearances throughout Day Two.
The mellow sounds of The Expanders came next, as members of Iya Terra and HIRIE watched from the audience. It’s always nice to see players supporting other players! A horn section even jumped onstage for a few songs — a real treat for Expanders fans. Locals Clint Stevens took control by this time, hyping up the crowd (who knew their songs well) and welcoming Peter Dante onstage for an encore performance. With zero overlap between set times (and no rain deferment, thank god…), attendees took their time to mosey over to the main stage as Iya Terra geared up their extremely high-energy and enlivening set. Keeping the energy high was Fayuca next, with danceable Latin beats taking the forefront.
Who’s that onstage with them? Why, it’s movie star Peter Dante…
At the favorable time of 4:20pm, right before the sun began to make its descent, HIRIE greeted the amassed crowd, all smiles. Finishing off their February tour with a finalé performance, HIRIE was captivating from beginning to end, even allowing a surprise duet from Miss Nattali Rize (a performer not on the original ballot)! Hugs happened backstage while an Expanders pop-up took place and the funky, scantily-clad, yet well-respected members of Artikal Sound System closed down the side stage for the night. You could barely get a glimpse of the band, it was so packed tight with people.
As dark settled in, The Expendables rocked everyone’s brainholes, performing a few recently released and yet-to-be-released singles along the way. Tribal Seeds took over the entertainment as direct support to headliner Rebelution — always an AZ Roots/Cali Roots staple! It’s surprising how well Reb rocked, considering (little known fact!!) frontman Eric Rachmany was fresh off an all-night flight from Guam, cruising into the venue hot from the airport an hour or so before he stepped onstage! That’s impressive.
Until next year, another successful AZ Roots Fest is in the books. Now, if only Cali Roots will get here sooner… *sigh*.
Photography by Sean McCracken & Kristy Rose