As the sun rose over Monterey, the final day of the festival we had all waited the last three years for felt bittersweet. The anticipation was more than lived up to as the artists we have all come to know and love played with the crowd of 10,000 singing every lyric to every song behind them. Day four was packed with reggae legends and royalty both new and old as the last day of the longest Cali Roots to date sent Monterey home in style.
Durand Jones & The Indications brought the soul to the last day of the festival. Opening with a funky vibe, the band began their show with “Love Will Work It Out.” Jones brought his Louisiana hospitality to the festival and early on in the set made it clear that everyone was a welcome guest in his presence. One of the most human moments came during the set when a member of the audience collapsed during the show. Jones immediately stopped the show pleading “Can we get some medical attention?” A concerned look occupied his face while he waited for the festival’s medical staff to address the situation and resumed once he was assured everyone was safe. Ending his set on a positive note, he closed the show with a new hit from 2021, “Witchoo.”
One of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Hawaii-born, California-bred Common Kings brought the island vibe to the Bowl stage in the mid-afternoon. Bouncing out to start their set with “Do My Thing” Frontman Junior King sprung onto the stage waving his hands and the audience mimicked his motions without a second thought. The set featured one notable debut, the first live performance of their contribution to the album “Cali Roots Riddim,” “There I Go.” Which joined a multitude of tracks from the album to have the opportunity to finally be played on the Bowl or Cali Roots stages. Junior King took a moment to shout out the recent passing of Katastro’s Andy Chaves who as he put it was “watching over us” before playing “24/7” as many artists this weekend felt so compelled to do. The band ended with an electric rendition of one of the singles that defined them early in their project “No Other Love” as an ecstatic light show played behind them. Junior King announced the band before the band played a lively instrumental euphony to the audience, taking their extended bows on their way out.
The theme of blending the new and the old was a common point of discussion throughout the whole weekend both between the attendees and the artists who spoke to the crowd, but Sublime with Rome’s long awaited first presence at the festival was a literal embodiment of this message to its core. In a set that paid respect to Sublime’s legacy, singer Rome Ramerez masterfully took the reins and opened the set with “April 29, 1992 (Miami)” and led straight into “Smoke Two Joints.” The band played a select few of their original music, opting to play a few of their songs written since Ramerez joined the band including “Panic,” “Blackout,” and “Light On.” Many of the original Sublime songs were still represented in the setlist including “What I Got,” “Badfish,” and “Same in the End.” The band ended on a calmer note, finishing their Cali Roots debut with “Santeria.”
The last hip hop artist of the weekend and one of the most prolific legends in rap history, Ice Cube, took the stage as the sun began to set over the Bay. Hardly an act throughout the whole weekend didn’t bring another artist onstage with them and this was no exception. Accompanying Ice Cube onstage was fellow LA rapper WC who backed up the lyrics throughout the whole set. It seemed appropriate that the first word of his first song was “California'' as he opened with “That New Funkadelic'' as smoke wafted from the audience. As if he weren’t fully aware he was back home in California, he waved the West Side “W” with his hands periodically throughout the set. He took a moment to address how out of place he felt on the Cali Roots lineup and fans’ surprise at his comeback to the stage stating “Ice Cube? Can he still rap?...But let me tell you something. I started this gangsta shit.” Before performing “Check Yo Self” to call out the fairweather fans who still might doubt he still has his music in him. While most of the work was from his solo repertoire, he worked some NWA into the mix performing “Gangsta Gangsta” and “Straight Outta Compton.” Ice cube cemented an unforgettable set with an acknowledgement of his show and the day in general, ending his show with a song with a message everyone could get behind, “It Was a Good Day.”
The last show of the festival bridged the gap between where reggae started and where it is now. His eminence himself Damian Marley brought down the house with an hour and a half of his own original music and a select few covers from his father, Bob. Marley started the set with his piece “Nail Pon Cross” dancing with such enthusiasm that he erroneously smacked himself in the face with one of his dreadlocks early in his set. His show relied entirely on his own original songs through the first half and beyond, defining his own identity through the music he has created, however, in a moment of family unity, he covered his brother, Stephen Marley’s song “The Mission” halfway through the show. His show had only a short few songs originally performed by his father, including “War,” “Is This Love,” and “Could You Be Loved” which the audience all sang along to with passion. To end the set and the festival, Marley played arguably the most popular song ever written by a Marley not named Bob, “Welcome to Jamrock.” With that, Cali Roots came to a close. Festival organizer took to the stage after the last song to address the audience, remarking on the extended four day festival joking “Next year, we’re going to do eight days!” We can only hope there was some kernel of truth to that, but in the meantime hang onto the silver lining that we only have to wait a third of the time for the next Cali Roots that we had to wait for this one.