Despite the May grey weather, Cali Roots XII festival goers exuded nothing but sunshine! With two days already behind them, day three at the Monterey Fairgrounds boasted one of the most impressive lineups to date in the realm of reggae rock.
The morning kicked off with a high-energy set from Santa Barbara based band, Cydeways, followed by the uniquely smooth stylings of The Hip Abduction. Early risers were invited to sway along to the summertime tunes while popping the endless stream of bubbles floating around The Bowl. The happiness continued as fans bounded over to the Cali Roots stage for an all smiles performance from beloved Jamaican reggae artist, Jesse Royal.
Ticket holders were invited to a Trinidadian cultural experience thanks to the inclusion of Kes in this years lineup. Kes is a music group formed in 2005, known for their blend of soulful vocals, calypso melodies, rock riffs and island beats, with hints of reggae hailing from the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Kes’ entire set opened the eyes of music lovers to a sound unlike any other.
Back on the Cali Roots stage, Badfish – a Sublime Tribute Band got things rowdy (in true Sublime fashion). Shwayze opened up the OG Stage for those looking for a more intimate experience just before legendary performers, Ozomatli partied hard in The Bowl with Chali 2na & Cut Chemist making an appearance for a second time over the weekend.
Alborosie, the “Italian Reggae Ambassador”, was welcomed back with a packed crowed that was clearly stoked to see his return to Cali Roots. After his show stopping set, music lovers were forced to decide between rising melodic hip-hop artists and best friends, John Shields and Kevin Shields, two talented best friends known as Little Stranger that share the same last name but no relation or running to The Bowl to catch legendary performers, Collie Buddz & Friends.
He has become known for personally ordering dozens upon dozens of pizza for all the festival-goers. A class act move that encompasses what it means to be apart of the community. As he belted out hit after hit, VIP concertgoers and those at the front of the general admission area noticed a growing formation of pizza box pillars in the right corner of the stage. Dozens of Domino’s pizzas were brought in to be shared with the crowd. Why this impromptu feast? As it turns out, Collie Buddz wanted to ensure that everyone, regardless of their location, could partake in the “Good Life” experience. As the music played, pizza boxes floated above the sea of people, creating a heartwarming display of collective enjoyment.
With enough pizza for everyone, greed became irrelevant in that remarkable moment.
It’s difficult to overshadow Collie Buddz’s gesture, but nostalgia took hold right afterwards as the 1990’s music scene took hold of the stages; Oakland’s underground hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics and “Wasn’t Me” star, Shaggy hit their respective stages. Just around the corner, attendees could hear the crescendoing of Sublime songs, as Southern California tribute band, Burritos, popped up to perform in front of The Nowell Family Foundation vendor booth where they were raising money to open Bradley’s House, a six-bed recovery facility that will provide treatment for people in the music industry with opioid addiction, regardless of their financial situation. The goal is to offer a top level of clinical care, including medical detox and the ability to treat the most acute cases, through nationwide partnerships. If you missed this surprise set and would still like to donate, you can do so here.
The sun began setting which meant there were only two more performances before the gates closed on day 3. Reggae empress, HIRIE dominated the Cali Roots stage in what had to be at least 8 inch heels! A feat that continues to impress the masses performance after performance. Backed by some of the most impressive musicians in the industry, HIRIE welcomed Matisyahu on stage for their collaborative single, “Blacklist” just before Stick Figure closed out the show by figuratively setting the world on fire but literally setting the The Bowl on fire.
The fire may have been extinguished at the end of the set but the energy was not! And its a good thing too because there was still one more jam packed day to experience!
Photography by Sean McCracken and John Bender