Southern California is no stranger to live music; hosting hundreds of festivals throughout the year is a steeple of the palm tree riddled lifestyle. Despite these high numbers, there are some festivals locals, transplants and vacationers alike won’t want to miss.
Bayfest is one of those festivals.
Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego annually welcomes local food, craft and artist vendors paired to a heavy reggae rock musical lineup. This year kicked off with the musical stylings of Vana Liya — a NYC born and raised artist, now residing in Santa Cruz, California. Vana Liya invited San Diego’s own violinist, Man of the Forests, to join her set. Festival-goers trickled in during an array of original songs, as well as popular cover songs, such as Sublime’s “Johnny Butt”, which Vana Liya previously lent her vocals to on The Nowell Foundation’s The House That Bradley Built charity album.
In between sets, DJ Green T, Fresh One, Chris Cutz, Grey Boy and The Sleeping Giant’s music crew kept the people dancing. Many people found this to also be a prime time to sniff out the saliva-producing food and tropical cocktails from local eatery, Miss B’s Coconut Club. Lines moved quickly and without fear of missing the upcoming set.
Beebs MC’d the event, with her attention grabbing voice that indicated that it was time to mosey up to the rail.
She never missed a chance to remind the crowd how incredible it is to have so many wonderful female musicians included in this year’s lineup. Following Vana Liya, Beebs brought out Boostive, an Ocean Beach-born six-to-10-piece roots reggae band who has been making headlining news in the recent years, thanks to the recognition of their raw talent and invitations to share the stage with some world-renowned reggae musicians, such as Slightly Stoopid, The Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief. They’ll grace the stage at Music Box in San Diego this October, so if you haven’t had a chance to see their energy-filled performance, grab your tickets! You won’t want to miss it.
Eli-Mac, backed by southern California local band Eureka Sound, followed Boostive. Eli-Mac is an artist for all; the unique combination of roots reggae, R&B and hip hop can be heard within her award-winning songs. A favorite featured musician, Eli-Mac has used her urban island style to support a variety of musicians, including Iration, who she joined onstage for a song later in the night!
Collie Buddz, a dancehall reggae favorite, kept the island vibes thriving while the crowd size doubled. Lighthearted jokes had the crowd laughing and well-known tracks had the crowd singing, all of this occurring in unison, proving once again, the power of music uniting people. The mass of people emerged as one as the songs played on.
It was truly a beautiful moment for all involved.
Atmosphere took the stage next. The Minnesota underground hip hop duo provided a change of pace to the roots/island reggae sound of the preceding artists. While all of the artists showcased their individuality, it was Atmosphere who stood out the most among the artists. Pacing the stage, frontman and lyricist Slug captivated the audience with his smooth sound and poetic word play. Producer, ANT and touring DJ Mr. Dibbs accompanied Slug onstage, with artistic visuals swirling behind and on the DJ booth. A few feet over, local artist, Krystal Dyer feverishly created a portrait of Slug. The sheer speed, passion and energy displayed by Dyer was matched only by the speed, passion and energy radiating from Atmosphere’s set.
San Diego grown band, Tribal Seeds, took the stage as the sun was beginning to set. Always a crowd favorite, Tribal Seeds maintained that same crowd-pleasing enthusiasm (despite Hector Lewis subbing in for frontman Steven Jacobo, who announced early into the tour that he would be stepping away for an unknown length of time due to health reasons). While fans of Tribal Seeds hope for Jocobo’s quick recovery, it is clear the band is in good hands with Hector Lewis in his place.
As the moon took over for the sun, Iration took over for Tribal Seeds, decked out in “Katastro Forever” memorabilia. Guitarist Micah Brown plastered his guitar with “AJC”, reminding the crowd how precious life can be due to the sudden and tragic loss of Katastro’s frontman, Andy Chaves, earlier this year. It was a reminder that emphasized the theme of Iration’s most recently released album, Coastin’ — be thankful for the moments we have. There is no doubt that festival-goers were thankful for the moments experienced at Bayfest (and will continue to be each and every year)!
Photography by Olivia Valdes & Jenna Shaw; Recap by Jenna Shaw