Summertime in the LBC… Well, maybe not summer just yet, but it was Cali Vibes weekend in Long Beach and 75,000 reggae fans from all corners of the globe flocked together to jam all day and dance all night.
The sun was shining and the weather was sweet for the three-day festival that took place right on Shoreline Dr. The festival provided fans with three options of stages when it came to planning their day; the Koi Stage, The Greens Stage, and the Boomyard Stage.
As the afternoon started to approach, the grounds began to fill with fans eager to attend a festival once again. Even in the midst of a pandemic, showgoers were ready to enjoy the music and the lines moved along smoothly as gates opened up each day. Excited to listen to live tunes, pick up merchandise from their favorite bands, and eat some of the tasty treats the vendors had to offer, the crowd made their way in.
Reggae/punk musician Kyle Smith and his six-piece festival band started the whole thing off on the Koi Stage with quick nod to Dr. Dre before giving the crowd a taste of his new album, along with a few older songs. Despite the fact that his set time got moved around, his fans came in full force to show their support.
Right after Smith, on The Greens Stage, Vana Liya started bringing the crowd to their feet with her smooth, island reggae tunes, perfect for an afternoon on the Long Beach shores.
Throughout the day, bands brought crowds in and out, coming and going like the tides, as they made their way to see their favorites. Over at the Boomyard Stage that evening, Jesse Royal wooed the crowd with his sweet voice and dance moves, setting the tone for the Roots Village of the festival.
As the moon hung in the sky, Iration and Rebelution, along with up-and-comers Tunnel Vision, and reggae legend Don Carlos closed out the first day and got fans ready for the days still to come.
Day two was an extension of day one; bodies as far as the eye could see. More than 75,000 showed up for the sights and sounds (and scents!) of rastaworld.
Stick Figure and their dog killed it, while Shaggy went back to his roots with songs like “Oh Carolina” and “Angel.”
“You’ve always got to try and reinvent yourself.”
Slightly Stoopid took the stage and the crowd lost their proverbial minds for “2AM,” “Don’t Stop,” ”The Prophet,” and “Hold It Down.”
In the end, the showstoppers were the Marley Brothers. Ziggy, Damian, and Stephen were front and center while Ky-Mani and Julian held it down. In tribute to their father, the Marley family played classics like “Jamming,” “Is This Love,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” and “Buffalo Solider.” The Marleys killed it, and their fans couldn’t have asked for a better day of fun in the sun with 75,000 of their closest friends.
Day three reminded everyone that it had been a little while since we’ve all done this, but nonetheless, we were ready! Jakob Nowell and his band LAW got the crowds moving to the beat on The Greens Stage, while Katastro and Iya Terra brought some heavy riffs to the Koi Stage. One of the personal highlights for me was getting to see Long Beach Dub All Stars in their hometown with Ras-1 singing alongside them.
As the sun set on the final day, Hirie took the main stage and really gathered a crowd. Her band’s song selection and skill make for a night that is guaranteed to end with dancing.
Fans were hanging from the trees to see Wu-Tang.
Reuniting, minus a few members, Wu-Tang reminded fans they’re not to be messed with, as they are the lyrical masters.
Sublime with Rome played classics in memory of the late great Bradley Nowell, and even got down with some skanky riffs getting everyone ready for the headliners. SwR brought Hirie’s lead singer, Patricia Jetton, back up on stage to belt out a rendition of Sublime’s “Saw Red” that was originally performed with OC’s very own Gwen Stefani.
As the crowd waited one last time, making sure they had purchased the final bit of merch and met their favorite musicians, the lights dimmed and the intro of “Franco Eyed” made the crowd go wild. The Dirty Heads “Rage” on stage, and in turn make the fans do the same. Hit after hit, their set finished the festival out with a bang.
“Mom, if you can hear me, I think I made it Twenty thousand fans front the stage, I’m standing on I want you to know I appreciate it, one day I’ll come home we can celebrate.”
Despite not playing shows for many months – or years – due to the circumstances of the world, all of these bands really brought the Cali Vibe to all who attended the festival.