Arizona Roots out-did itself with supreme energy that shown so bright, it’s hard to believe this was a first year festival! From the organizers of Cali Roots (the premiere reggae-rock and hip hop fest, now in its 10th year), it’s actually no surprise that positivity and love surged through the desert the weekend of February 8th and 9th, full of collaboration and unifying hope for the reggae roots movement. With these words I’ll try to paint a picture in your mind… as pristine as the AZ Roots backdrop of sprawling mountains and ginormous cacti. This is your chance to relive the magic.
I’ll try to paint a picture in your mind… as pristine as the AZ Roots backdrop of sprawling mountains and ginormous cacti
You’re running through this wild western theme park, the Rawhide Western Town and Event Center, the sun is beating down and the volume is pumped up for Katchafire’s thumping sound check off in the distance. Suddenly, this intense and beautiful rush of positive vibrations hit your body and the soft rumble of the 'One Love' message flows through you – BOOM! Just like that, Arizona Roots has kicked off festival season 2019 and you’re now a part of it!
The lineup seemed to flow seamlessly, with a groovy atmosphere pulsating through the site and local AZ bands like Rilen Out and The Yoties hippie-charming the masses into groovetown territory over on the Rawhide Stage while popular acts like Trevor Hall and Clint Stevens kept it mellow and sultry on the Main Stage. Blissful energy rode through the tumbleweeds. An overlap-free weekend, with a lovely decorated arena giving the AZ Roots audience the pleasure of indulging happily through every set with time to twirl and frolic in your own uninhibited way. Walking around, everyone was blissful, judgment-free and immersed in love for the music and peace to the people.
My latest imagined happy place will reign for a while in my head as the picturesque sun set over AZ Roots that Saturday night. J Boog brought his famous island heat with style and swag as the desert temperature dropped. Mike Love harmonized to the romantic hues of purple igniting the night sky that melted lovers and friends from all backgrounds. Rebelution headlined their hearts out, rounding up Night One with an electrifying and nostalgic set that brought together all festivalgoers to swaying and smiling ear-to-ear from the photo pit to the parking lot. One of the most notable aspects of AZ Roots was its deeply connected and immersed crowd due to the intimate setting that was created. Time seemed to stand still when everyone joined hands to Atmosphere dishing out a bass-heavy and thought-expanding experimental hip hop set, delivered so whimsically and smooth, it left you thinking till late that night after the beat stopped.
Sunday packed the same kind of punch for fun and games, with wholly diverse sets by locals Kill Babylon Coalition, Black Bottom Lighters and SYNRGY on the Rawhide Stage… along with another eye-opening, nature-embracing and ambitious set from indigenous activist and upcoming superstar Xiuhtezcatl. Iya Terra's explosive presence lit up the Main Stage from the start, followed by The Movement soaking up and dishing out the dopest family vibes, sharing the stage with Johnny Cosmic and KBong of Stick Figure to play some feature collaborations before those two had an equally body moving set of their own later on. Collie Buddz sent the love and appreciation for his fans soaring, reminding us all to keep the spirits high as life really can be as simple as smoking, drinking and loving your girl to some old-school reggae.
Dispatch brought that same glorious love up to the mountaintops and spilling over with another collaborative performance featuring upcoming artist Raye Zaragoza in a beautifully jammy, soulful way that left many (like myself, who had been waiting years to hear them rip live) feeling like it doesn’t get more raw and fabulous than this! The AZ Roots family seemed to hold an unspoken, shared wavelength amongst everyone that radiated with love and respect for one another, as well as the Native American grounds we danced upon. The love in the air replaced all the hate in the world, even if just for a moment as we all stood unified, reflective and thankful to be a part of something so cohesive.
…its safe to say the seed has been planted down in 'IRIE-ZONA'…
The mood was as high as the stars and we floated onto the moon when Stick Figure took the final slot of the weekend and shook every inch of the ground in a 'holy effing bass' performance that poured freely with gratitude and tingling synergy. Overall, Arizona Roots provided unmatched positive vibes and a powerful reminder to break the status quo to live our own way. With an official Top Shelf round of applause and seal of approval, its safe to say the seed has been planted down in 'IRIE-ZONA' and we cannot wait to watch it bloom!
Photography by Kristy Rose