By: Paige Hawkins
Day two of Cali Roots was filled with laughter and appreciation for the great vibes and good times. We danced the night away and lost our minds together under a haze of smoke and pulsing lights, everyone rocking out under the spell of California Roots and excited to keep the weekend vibes going. We started off the day with grey skies and a classic Monterey breeze, but every time the sun made an appearance people flocked to the grass and immediately relaxed and laid out on the lawn, soaking up every ounce of sunlight we possibly could.
Roots of Rebellion, Jo Mensa Marley, and Ocean Alley kicked off everything off and started the day with amazing energy and positivity. The overcast weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits one bit as groups of friends shared beers and blunts, Rasta flags waved in the wind and beach balls bounced atop the crowd. One fan who has been to the festival nine out of ten years compared Marley’s performance to, “being in church” and told me with tears in his eyes that it was his favorite experience in all nine years of coming to Cali Roots. That feeling of awe and excitement continued into Iya Terra’s show in the fully packed bowl. The band was pumped and that energy fed into the audience as we all got off our seats and on our feet and the arena turned into a giant dance party. Sitting in the crowd I heard constant echoes of, “I love this one!”, “This is my favorite song!” And my personal favorite, “Yes, please play it! Let us give thanks!” Everyone sang along and was grateful to be part of the moment with one another as we kept the celebration going.
The festival continued with The Movement, The Expendables and G. Love keeping up the celebratory vibe and hyping us all up throughout the day as constant cheers and laughter could be heard throughout the fairgrounds. Love for the reggae community was visible at every turn as families, couples and friends relaxed in the Smkflwr Lounge and had a front-seat view to every performance. People chilled throughout the art retreat, watching with wide eyes at the artists creating masterpieces right in front of them and even joined in themselves to paint on a collective mural destined for display at future Cali Roots festivals. It was such a blissful experience to wander through the retreat feeling the serenity of communal creativity, to see experienced artists working alongside the fans to create a piece that will last forever to commemorate the tenth annual California Roots.
Protoje was next up on the Cali Roots stage and the crowd stretched as far back as the eye could see. The set started off with an intense, magnetic pull towards the audience and we all felt the need to dance along. The infectious energy affected everyone as we all jumped, danced and sang together with vibes of togetherness and excitement keeping us connected. The next artist I was lucky enough to see was Tash Sultana and she blew all expectations out of the water. Simultaneously intimate and explosive, Tash made us feel like we were sitting in on a jam sesh in her private studio. Everything from the way the stage was set up to how open, excited and happy she was to be there made it feel like such a personal performance as her charismatic presence managed to spill beyond the stage and through the elated crowd. At one point in the performance she skipped off stage and shredded a phenomenal guitar solo just feet from the front row, giving fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience and enforcing the special feeling of being at one with all of us in the crowd. Her brilliance was easy to see as she looped, created and improvised her hits with joyful exuberance. The audience ate it up, especially when “Jungle” came on and you could see people in the crowd grabbing their neighbor and dancing like no one was watching. Almost everyone was singing along and the beautiful moment really encompassed what makes Cali Roots so unique. We are all a family here, and the love and community that makes this festival so great was palpable in the crowd during that moment. We were all feeling it together as the set came to an end and we got prepped and ready for whatever the night brought us next.
The last acts of day two were Dirty Heads and Slightly Stoopid and both light shows were transcendent, shifting between glowing pillars of greens, reds, golds, blues and purples to hypnotize the crowd. The Dirty Heads show was intense and they made sure the dance party continued, keeping up the rock and roll vibe and making sure everyone was on their feet and jamming as the bass kept dropping. Slightly Stoopid was indescribable, their sound brought the house down and their surprise features of Hirie, Stick Figure and their beloved dog Cocoa kept the family feelings going late into the night. As one fan said to me earlier in the day, “these events are the ones you go to where you run into old friends and have reunions with people you wouldn’t have imagined.” All the reunions and features throughout the day, especially during headliner Slightly Stoopid’s performance, prove that the feeling of community we’re all talking about really is the most important thing to Cali Roots. As we all danced and partied the night away together under the colored lights and the hazy smoke of the Bowl, we could feel that community coming together like only we can at California Roots.