Cali Roots 2023 | Day Four | Recap

Article Contributed by Nick Gumas | Published on Thursday, June 15, 2023

Day four of Cali Roots wrapped up the weekend in a style befitting its own legacy. In a statement on the theme of the Reggae festival, it was the only day of the weekend not to feature a pure Hip Hop artist on any of its stages. The focus on the roots of the festival made for a lowkey pace at the tail end of a weekend that had been so fulfilling and so energy-consuming.

Matisyahu | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

East-Coast cultural icon Matisyahu demonstrated evolution in his music and faith while staying true to the traditions of both during a midday set on the Bowl stage. A sea of bubbles emanate from the front of the stage to elevate the mood as the artist sauntered onstage with long silver hair and a light sweater with a presence resembling Moses himself, to open the show with his classic hit “Jerusalem.” The Hasidic superstar expressed his gratitude to be performing on the biggest stage in Reggae, stating early “It’s great to be back, it’s been a few years” before free-flowing into a chorus of spoken lyrics with incredible speed and diction. While the set featured many of the hits that have become synonymous with his name, many of them took on a newer style with heavy bass and punctuation with a slower tempo such as “Youth” and “Mist Rising.” He ended his set with a well-received classic, opting for an optimistic finale of “One Day.”

Dispatch | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

Serving as a powerhouse of the day, American folk band Dispatch took the stage for a rousing performance. Beginning with their lyrically-motivated classic “Open Up” they delivered their message promptly that they were here to motivate thought and not just play a warm and fuzzy set. The multi-instrumentalists switched instruments frequently throughout their set, including frontman Chad Urmston picking up a bass for “Bang Bang” and strings-player Brad Corrigan starting the day behind the drum set. Midway through the set, Urmston recognized the sacred grounds he was performing on and thanked the local Native American Esselen tribe for blessing the sanctioned festival and caring for the land for generations before playing “Only the Wild Ones.” The band then played arguably their most commercially successful piece “The General” next, with the audience singing along to the lyrics, mindful of the story it told. The band then thanked friends they had in the area who had let them stay with them the night before, joking “They gave us fresh water and cold plunges in creeks” before plugging their local business “The Happy Girl Cafe.” The set was largely high-energy from then until the end, filled with many instrumental solos and Urmston’s leaps around the stage before ending with their soulful hit “Letter to Lady J.”

Iration | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

Representing Hawaiian Reggae for the day, Iration took the stage for a sunset performance at the Bowl. Playing their first set at the festival since their headlining performance in 2018, the group more than lived up to expectations and gave many shoutouts to the festival for transforming themselves as lead singer Micah Pueschel mentioned that he had met the band’s guitarist, Micah Brown, backstage at Cali Roots several years prior. Beginning the show with their recently released single “New Style” the crown was immediately invested in the show and their upbeat mood. Brown was one of many artists who seemed to be grateful for the festival’s last-minute decision to livestream the performances, projecting “make some noise at home if you’re watching the live stream” in the middle of the performance. While several popular singles such as “Falling” were notably absent from their setlist, the band played several covers from artists who had inspired them including Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” Before ending with a cover of Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

Dirty Heads | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

The weekend ended with an artist who had been friends of the festival since headlining its inaugural year. Southern California project Dirty Heads had the honor of packing the bowl one last time as the night rolled to a close. In the minutes before their set, sea shanties played on a loop as fans waited anxiously for the show to start, culminating in a dramatic monologue as the lights went down, reminding the audience that dead men truly tell no tales. The show started with energy, as Jared Watson lept onstage, never keeping his feet on the ground for long, as the band opened with “Medusa.” Their setlist left very little to be desired, featuring hits from all across their decades of success including “Rage,” “Burn Slow,” and “Oxygen. The show felt very suspenseful at times with long pauses and blackouts onstage in between songs, creating great anticipation for what would come next. After playing “Heavy Water” the band took a few minutes to let the excitement build as the audience anxiously awaited an encore, more sea shanties came through the speakers, the lyrics of “Hoist the Colors” echoing loudly. The encore consisted of a little old and a little new, as the band played their 2013 single “Sloth’s Revenge” before appropriately finishing with the titular song from their newest album “Island Glow.”

Emcee Rocky Bailey | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

As fans left the stage, Cali Roots founder Jeff Monser and promoter Dan Sheehan took the stage to thank the crowd for another successful year of a project that has been so close to their hearts. Closing the book on another year of Cali Roots felt satisfying. The movement has come so far in such a short amount of time that one cannot help but feel a part of something bigger than themselves simply by attending. However, after all of this success in hosting most of the biggest names in Reggae on their stage, only one question remains; how can they possibly outdo themselves next year?

Long Beach Dub Allstars | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

Check out more photos from Day Four of Cali Roots 2023.