Live Review: California Roots Festival @ Monterey Park, May 24th
The skies were grey and the weather crisp but that was no hindrance for the 30,000 people that attended the second day of the sold out Cali Roots Fest on Saturday May 24, 2014. The streets surrounding the fairgrounds were packed full of people desperate to find parking so they could rush into the show for the amazing line up that lay ahead. We were able to catch Alborosie who played on the Cali Roots stage and delivered a show worthy of jumping to your feet and letting loose. That is just what the crowd did and was the perfect gateway to the mysticism this entire day was full of.
The layout of the venue was intimate enough to feel as though there was plenty of time in-between each band to browse the entire walkway from one stage to the other that was full of amazing vendors carrying a multitude of ethnic dishes (literally something for everyone), artwork and of course the many tents full of Rastafari gear at it’s finest. Also along the way were several areas to properly compost, recycle and discard of trash, a main focus of this environmentally green-friendly festival.
After checking out the food and vendors, I found myself walking into an ocean of people excitedly awaiting Iration at the main arena AKA The Bowl, a new addition to this years layout. The Bowl was home to legendary performers such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis joplin, The Who, and Mumford & Sons. “It’s been a dream of ours to expand to the main arena stage, where Jimi Hendrix lit his guitar on fire while performing. We want to give the main stage artists and headliners a piece of history,” says festival co-founder Dan Sheehan. Iration had the entire audience singing along to nearly every song, talk about community and coming together! The vibrations during this show were literally pulsating out of the arena!
Along the way back to the Cali Roots stage on the other end of the layout I passed by one of the most angelic voices at the original stage and was lured in. I was blown away at this tiny little beauty just crushing it! I had to look up to see who this lil powerhouse was…Saritah. One word WOW! Her reggae, soul, dance hall vibe was something to sway to while listening to a conscious message in her lyrics.
Finally back to the Cali Roots stage I walked up as Nahko & The Medicine For The People were playing what I believe to be their best song, “Aloha”. This was my first time seeing them live and I have to admit they really put it on and were just as charismatic as they appeared to be in their videos. This was a nice change of pace for these guys knew how to slow things down a bit.
Speaking of change of pace, back over to the original stage Los Rakas was spit tin game with their bilingual hip hop beats. I would be curious to see how these guys get a crowd going on a bigger stage. The energy here was a little less than what I had experienced thus far.
Finally the moment I had been waiting for… Rebelution! I have yet to see these guys perform and leave disappointed! Per usual they absolutely rocked the house. The moment they stepped on the stage the entire energy of the crowd began to roar.
It has already been a week and I am still smiling and listening to every band I saw play with a nostalgia that brings such a good good vibe! I already cannot wait until next years lineup! If you missed this show, be sure to attend next year, you will not be disappointed. Another side note, the staff was so friendly and chill. I am used to being at shows where security flexes their muscles and tend to be a little rude. EVERYONE here had a good attitude and seemed happy to be a part of this massive event. Huge thank you to everyone who played a roll into making this experience unforgettable!