Sunny Southern California Festival Weather at the Beach in February!
Cali Vibes Festival landed in Long Beach on February 4th and lasted three days with a line-up like no other this year so far. Cali Vibes delivered happiness and the good good bands! When tickets went on sale months ago in late 2021, we were already impressed with the extensive line-up that included nearly every Reggae artist and band from around the globe. Only a powerhouse organization like Golden Voice could put together such an incredible line-up and bring it to Long Beach’s Marina Green Park in such a well-organized way. The only worry we thought was, would the weather cooperate with the dates? And just like a movie, the Southern California weather was spectacular all weekend long. Beautiful sunsets along the shore created the perfect backdrop on the crowd for the bands performing.
Above: Hirie performs at Sunset. Photo credit Sanjay Suchak courtesy of Golden Voice.
Over 75,000 fans from around the country and globe experienced the first Cali Vibes. After this successful run, there should be many more Cali Vibes to come in the future. There were so many different artists and bands to see and hear that it was impossible for one to see them all, but we did try to get to as many as humanly possible. Ok, so I know what you’re already wanting to ask, what was the Cannabis policy? Well from what we could tell, there wasn’t any over abundance of restrictions, in fact you will see the picture below from the photo pit, one fan had a bong with her front and center!
This is our kind of festival!
Cali Vibes is Cannapolitan, so much that the two large stages were sponsored by a Cannabis company called Koi CBD, which is a Southern California based manufacturer of CBD products. We had a chance to meet their staff and pick up a few samples of their products while we were there. After miles of walking the first day, it was a perfect opportunity to test out their CBD roll-on topical. We’re already becoming fans of what this stuff can do! Product review in order for sure for their products, so stay tuned for that in the future.
Cannabis off the Restricted Items! Thank You!
This is certainly a Cannabis friendly festival, there wasn’t any adult use sales unfortunately, but there was a dedicated area for Cannabis brands to promote their products. There were easily over a dozen booths in the Weedmaps sponsored area called Weedmaps Village. Brands could share information about their products, give away swag and collect interest lists. There was a delivery service promoting their services call The Medicine Woman that had a beautiful trailer like set up showing off many of the brands they offer. We were told there was a place just outside the venue where you could order delivery Cannabis to be delivered via Weedmaps app, but we didn’t investigate further… after all we were already carrying plenty of joints that we prepared for the full weekend experience. It always pays to be prepared!
Beth Saravo credit, courtesy of Golden Voice.
Friday feels were mellow
The crowd was one third of what would be Saturday and Sunday’s turn out. The schedule each day was roughly 12pm-10pm. One of the hardest working solo acts, Kyle Smith opened up the festival with his own unique sound and vibe with strong enthusiasm. Other notable acts Friday afternoon included the The Ries Brothers, Arise Roots, and Anuhea. The evening stoked up even more fire performances from The Green, Koffee, and Sean Paul.
There were about another twenty other artists performing that day at either the greens stage or the boomyard stage that had an old school Reggae sound system throwback vibe. The line up was packed and designed to serve up chill vibes no matter what stage you choose, all weekend long.
Koffee is the future of Reggae! photo courtesy of Golden Voice.
Iration & Rebelution Set it Off
As the sun began to set Iration took stage to perform a bunch of their classic hits along with our favorite songs from their latest album Coastin’. Check out our feature on their latest chill album.
Iration brings the fire! Photo courtesy of Golden Voice, Elli Lauren Credit
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any more irie, Rebelution finished the evening with a smoking good set that got us excited for the next two days.
Rebelution finishes Friday’s line up. Courtesy of Golden Voice, Sanjay Suchak credit.
Saturday’s Cali Vibes Line Up was Fired up!
Cali Vibes was definitely not short of female artists, in fact this festival seems to have the most in the line-up this year so far. Artists like Hirie, Eli Mac, Lila Ike, DJ Kali Madden, and more.
Artikal Sound System
Saturday’s festival fired up with a female lead vocalist Logan Rex and her band Artikal Sound System. The group has been a progressive build for years with different vocalists in the past. It took some time to find the perfect sound collectively and they seem to have found it as a band. ASS (as they are affectionately known by their fans) just released their first full album together after a successful 4 track EP called Stayed that was released in 2021.
Florida based Artikal Sound System set off the day at the greens stage. We had the opportunity to interview lead singer Logan Rex a few days after the show. Check out their latest album Welcome to Florida. Artikal Sound System consists of five members; Logan Rex (vocals), Chris Montague (guitar), Fabian Acuña (bass), Christopher Cope (keyboards), Adam Kampf (drums). Their unique vibe and sound is definitely Reggae influenced with a splash of ska and pop mixed in for a fun ride to listen to.
Their latest album shows their diverse song writing skills. Songs like “When I wanna” is a one of our favorite Cannapolitan themed songs. The love themed song “One with You” will take you back to a former or current love life experience. Meanwhile there’s some fantastic break up songs as well that we’re in love with! Songs such as “Dissolve”, “You’re Not There” and “You’re an Asshole” are perfect therapy for the heartbroken. These songs will have you wanting to turn up loud and blast your ex-lovers to dust!
Recording an Album During a Pandemic
Logan has a sweet and soulful voice that can’t be denied. They had precious time to build this album during the past year during lock down at their home town studios. Logan worked most of her vocal parts with co-producer and legendary producer Danny Kalb, who is known for working with bands like: The Movement, Beck, The Green, Foster the People, Hirie and dozens of others.
Logan shared “Working with Danny is what made my vocals come out the way they did. He was just so wonderful to work with. He’s quirky and so creative, brilliant dude. He made me feel so comfortable because tracking songs can be very intimate, weird and sort of embarrassing to do sometimes, but Danny made me feel so at home. The way he guided me through the whole process, and how he understood the project really made it so much better. The guys in the band had recorded the instruments together and along with my vocals, Danny really helped take it to the finish line for us. I feel really lucky to have worked with him. Living and working with him for four days in the studio, he’s a friend now.” Be sure to check out this dynamic sounding band and pick up their latest album Welcome to Florida, it fails to disappoint. They also will be opening & supporting Collie Buddz tour which is now rolling somewhere in the country. You can visit their website here.
Fortunate Youth, Photo courtesy of Goldenvoice, Sanjay Suchak credit.
Cali Vibes Featured So Many Cali-Reggae Bands!
Saturday’s line-up was thick with them: Fortunate Youth, Slightly Stoopid, Stick Figure, Tribal Seeds, Common Kings, Shwayze & Cisco Adler, and probably a few others we didn’t mention are all from California. It says alot about today’s Reggae scene and how it has evolved and progressed over the years. You might say that California and Reggae’s home country of Jamaica have more in common than just Cannabis. The vibe and the relationship between the cultures have intertwined and become something of its own.
Boomyard Stage Photo credit Elli Lauren, courtesy of Goldenvoice.
We stayed mainly to the main stage on Saturday as many of the bands we wanted to see and check out were at the KOI CBD Stage. Starting the day with Artical Sound System followed by Bumpin Uglies… yes, that is their name and they’re amazeballs… pun intended. Seriously though, they are a loud mix of Reggae and Funk, a true fusion band.
Lila Ike, Photo courtesy of Goldenvoice, Kirby Gladstein photo credit.
We took a walk over to the second largest stage to see Lila Ike perform her set. Lila brings a unique sound of soulful Jamaican reggae with a R&B velvet backdrop. Her style and sound are all her own.
The afternoon continued with Fortunate Youth and just in time, Common Kings was ready for 4:20. Next was our favorite “It wasn’t me” artist, Shaggy! Shaggy got down with the crowd and performed a number of his hits and re-mixes of fan favorites like Boombastic and Angel and of course the crowd sang along with him for It wasn’t me.
Shaggy, photo courtesy of Goldenvoice, Sanjay Suchak credit.
Stick Figure Wins the huge Merch line & more!
Anyone who has seen the artwork that accompanies Stick Figure’s albums or t-shirts, you know it’s mesmerizing. Stick Figure’s desirable artwork is created by artist, Juan Manuel. Scenes with vibrant colors and intricate details of scenes that are part fantasy part reality and everything in between. Seems like this collaboration is a real winner when it comes to merch especially. Many festivals only sell their own merch and rarely ever allow the artists any space for their own merchandise, not Cali Vibes! There must have been at least 15 band booths with merch and the most popular with a line that seemed to never end was Stick Figure.
Saturday night’s sets were truly historical
Saturday night was straight fire starting when Stick Figure hit the stage. Stick Figure’s singer and creative genius Scott Woodruff took stage with his band and took the entire audience on a journey into rhythmic worlds. Every song led the audience to another dimension. Stick Figure is one of those bands that you are required to light up a joint and appreciate their awesomeness to. Songs like Smokin Love and Sound of the Sea were so great to hear live!
No Stick Figure show would be complete without Cocoa the tour dog, she’s Scott’s Australian Shepard and she’s a big star on stage! She walks back and forth to each side of the stage and looks out at the crowd and brings her own vibe with the band. The photographers in the photo pit went from shooting the band and Scott to quickly shifting their lenses to Cocoa, who seemed to know she was the center of attention. At one point Scott meets her in the front of the stage and kneels down to give her some love.
The entire park that night was feeling the happiness of great music, vibes, Cannabis, and being together at a live music event again. It felt amazing to be in the crowds again and with a requirement of onsite testing for Covid, it did present a greater feeling of safety that was taken as an extra precaution.
Slightly Stoopid is a Cali Reggae Original
San Diego’s native band was introduced by another So Cal native, friend of the band and recent collaborator B-Real of Cypress Hill. I suspected that perhaps the good doctor (aka Dr. Greenthumb) might make an appearance and possible performance and I was right. Just as the graphics hit the huge LED screen with a fiery Slightly Stoopid logo out of the smoke comes B-Real.
Slightly’s sets are always incredible, with over 28 years of recording and touring nearly constantly, these guys are pros and they don’t slack. Their latest track release of Everyday People remixed featuring B-real and G.Love. Their set consisted of many of their hits from their entire career. This set led up to the pinnacle of the day, a celebration of Bob Marley’s 77th birthday with four of his sons with a huge backing band.
Celebrating Bob Marley with the Marleys!
Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, Ky-Mani and Julian Marley completed the day strong celebrating what would be their father’s 77th birthday. The celebration set started with a video of Bob Marley being introduced by Dick Gregory at the Amandla–Festival of Unity—was a world music festival held at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 21, 1979. The goals of the concert were to support and celebrate the liberation of Southern Africa as well as the on-going efforts of people in Boston to end racism in their families, schools, workplaces and communities. Bob comes on to the stage and declares “This is the Rastaman Vibration!” And with that the lights come up and the stage is revealed.
The five brothers and sons of Bob Marley all on stage with a huge backline band and a trio of strong backup singers to add to the harmonies that you expect when performing Bob Marley songs. The set started with Ziggy Marley singing just that Rastaman Vibration. The vibrations coming from the stage from the photo pit were intense! So intense I had to quickly put in some foam ear protection. Ziggy has been playing his father’s music for years and really does an outstanding job of looking and sounding like Bob. There’s no competition here between brothers. The vibes on stage felt genuinely brotherly with love in their hearts for their father’s legacy and a celebration of the music that continues to inspire and embrace Bob’s visionary life.
The songs were seamless without missing a beat when Stephen Marley stepped to the mic to perform Jammin. Damian danced his way to the mic and began singing Could this be love? Julian took the mic next with Running Away which then transitioned into Crazy Baldhead. Every song that all of the brothers covered were incredible. They all joined in together on Bob’s many hits throughout the set. It truly felt like Bob was there with us all cheering on the world for positive change. He would certainly be proud of his kids on this evening and every performance they honor him with. The Marley legacy is a force and stronger than Bob could ever probably imagined in his life. This was the perfect ending to such an amazing day of music and discovery.
Sunday with the Wutang Clan
You might think that perhaps a bit different for a huge Reggae festival to include Staten Island’s most infamous Hip-Hop group, The Wutang Clan. This I can’t argue with anyone on… but Wutang is for everyone, so why not? As always, the Wu came out on stage gradually one member at a time. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to get photos myself of the full clan due to most of them came onto the stage after the third song (which after the third song photographers are forced out of the photo pit.) Eventually the full Clan got on stage and the energy coming from the crowd was reciprocal. The entire set was on fire and you could tell that the guys on stage were in charge and happy to be there. They were playing remixes of their originals as well as a surprise Wutang covering Nirvana’s Teen Spirit and The Beatles Come Together, at one point there was a Reggae beat in there as well to one of their own songs. The Wu were certainly on another level for this performance.
Over the past two years, the Rza and the Wutang family have been hard at work producing and writing for the Wutang Clan series on Hulu called “Wu-Tang: An American Saga.” Worth checking out and learning the history behind this legendary group of MC’s.
The night and weekend were complete after experiencing the first of what we expect to be many more Cali Vibes Festivals to come. If Long Beach is smart, they’re continue to work with Goldenvoice on creating magic again at this venue. Of course, as Cannapolitans we were thrilled with Cannabis being taken off the restricted items list! Thank you to Goldenvoice and the Cali Vibes staff, everyone was really accommodating and a pleasure to work with. Next up, Cannabis sales and consumption? Come on Long Beach, we got this!