Day three of Cali Roots drew possibly the biggest crowd in the festival’s history. The masses served as a reminder to all of the community that had been missed so dearly over the last several years. In so many ways, it felt almost like a family reunion with friends in the reggae community we haven’t seen in far too long. With half the festival having passed, the best was still yet to come as Day three held some of the best surprises of the weekend.
Mid-Atlantic Dub superstars Bumpin Uglies played an early set on the Bowl stage, drawing a bigger crowd than most would expect at the hour. Lead singer Brandon Hardesty’s presence was confident as he led the set with his clean baritone vocals. Bassist Dave Wolf’s occasional earthy vocals complemented Hardesty’s throughout the set. At times screaming into the microphone like a metal singer, it punctuated songs such as “Radio” with his enthusiasm and passion. The set played like a big brother reading bedtime stories to a younger sibling. So rarely do audiences hang on every word the way they do with Bumpin Uglies’ music. Songs like “Locust Avenue,” and “All in Stride” left fans hanging on their every word as they spun almost Dylan-esque stories and brought everyone on a journey with their words.
Hailing all the way from Saint Étienne, France, Dub Inc made Cali Roots history by playing their first show in California in their 25 year tenure. Tandem vocalists Bouchkour Meridja and Komlan Zohou took to the stage with as much excitement as the crowd dancing around the stage the whole show. I would venture a guess that the audience in Monterey that day was comprised overwhelmingly of non-French speakers, however, none of that seemed to stop anyone from enjoying the show as much as any other set of the weekend. Thousands of fans’ hands stayed in the air for the whole show as they enjoyed an immersive experience as the band treated them to a full setlist of their repertoire including their anthem “Tout ce qu’ils veulent.”
Back for his second performance of the weekend, Collie Buddz took to the Bowl stage for a highly anticipated show to the biggest stage in reggae. Opening with his hit “Good Life” he quickly got the crowd on their feet for a full set that also included “Lovely Day,” “Come Around,” and “Legal Now.” Almost all artists who play a stage at Cali Roots talk about their appreciation for the audience during their sets, but Collie showed it in a big way. Toward the end of his show, he revealed that he kept with a tradition he started the previous Cali Roots and bought 1,000 pizzas to feed the masses in Monterey. Performers including Stick Figure’s KBong and Rebelution’s Marley D. Williams walked down the aisles with stacks of Domino’s boxes, distributing them to the crowd. In keeping with his generous spirit, Collie even fired a T-shirt cannon into the crowd a couple of times before continuing to sing. “I’m going to have to talk to Dan Sheehan about changing the name of this festival to “Collie Roots”” He joked while ending his set with “Blind to You.”
Stick Figure drew possibly the biggest audience of the entire festival as the audience at the Bowl stage reached back to the entrance to the campgrounds at the back of the fairgrounds. As always, Cocoa the Tour Dog was the first to take the stage as Scott Woodruff and the rest of the musicians followed her lead to start the show with their song “Paradise.” The group hit choppy waters early in the set as Woodruff’s in-ear stopped working during “Fire on the Horizon” and had to pause the show to let his crew fix the issue. The crowd took advantage of the opportunity and chanted “Cocoa” until the technical issues were fixed and the rest of the show was able to resume without a hitch. The setlist largely consisted of music from Stick Figures newer albums, but made sure to invite a few friends for a little help performing some of the earlier songs that helped define them early on. Longtime staple TJ O’Neill as always joined in onstage to perform his solo during “Weight of Sound.” Collie Buddz also returned to the stage making sure everyone in attendance had the chance to see him perform to join in for his contribution to “Smokin’ Love.”
Headlining Saturday night, San Diego reggae legends Slightly Stoopid closed out the Bowl stage for the evening. As a sign of respect, Stick Figure’s Cocoa the Tour Dog was sent onstage to join the band just before the show began, but was quickly scared offstage by the sudden burst from the fog cannons that accompanied the first note of the set. Starting the show with “Bandelero” the rhythmic bass and mood-elevating vibe set the tone for the rest of the evening. The talented multi-instrumentalists they are, frontmen Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald switched their guitar and bass between each other several times throughout the set. Doughty, ever appreciative of the welcoming nature of the audience, took a moment to address the insanity of the crowd’s energy midway through the show claiming “It’s like bringing out the fucking whole rodeo here every time.” A band that has been known for decades as one of the most collaborative acts in the genre, several members of different bands joined in onstage to perform including Stick Figure’s Scott Woodruff for “Too Late” and Marlon Asher to help the band cover his own song “Ganja Farmer.” Stoopid closed out their set by inviting Cali Roots alumnus Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 to the stage to end the night with a cover of 50 Cent’s P.I.M.P. The audience left with full hearts that evening, anticipating one last day of the festival come the morning.
Check out more photos from Day 3 at Cali Roots 2022.