Cali Roots 2023 | Day Three | Recap

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

Day three of Cali Roots featured the support of artists at many stages of their careers, but almost all of whom had a strong root in the festival, dubbed that day by Alborosie as “Montereggae.” As many of the artists performing were those who were just this year given their first opportunity to take the stage, it also highlighted a theme of the weekend as many acts who had started playing smaller stages earlier in their careers were given the opportunity to truly shine in the limelight. It embodied the feeling that Cali Roots has cultivated for so long where we feel a part of the artists’ journey because we see ourselves grow with them through the years. In an industry that relies so heavily on clout in curating festival lineups, Cali Roots has proven time and time again that it manufactures its own hype. 

Cydeways | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

The day started off by ushering in a new generation with a sound unique all uniquely their own. Santa Barbara project Cydeways opened up on the Cali Roots stage to all who showed up as the gates opened. The band elated the audience with their unique brand of Surf Reggae with a punk-pop twist and an upbeat personality to match. Frontman Dustin Parks joked about the early set after he took a sip from his cup and stated “I’m drinking vodka at 11:00 am, this is pathetic. But it’s a festival, right?” In recognition of artists that influenced them outside of those who might be in line with the festival’s typical lineup, the group took a few minutes to cover “Mutt,” an early blink-182 cover. They ended their set on an upbeat note, playing their 2022 pop-punk hit “Down.”

Collie Buddz | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

The fog appropriately rolled in on the Bowl stage mid-afternoon as festival promotor Dan Sheehan took the stage to personally announce the next artist, Collie Buddz. A favorite throughout the years, Sheehan let the fans in on a conversation he had with the artist years earlier, that the mainstay of the festival would continue to perform annually at Cali Roots indefinitely. The artist then took the stage to open his set with jubilance, starting by playing his early hit “Good Life.” The bowl was as full as it would be for any headliner as the artist orchestrated a show that embodied the very soul of the festival. In a tradition dating back to his last several Cali Roots sets, staff came out with hundreds of pizzas supplied by the artist, which were passed around through the crowd while he played “Come Around.” The show featured a collaborative spirit, as many artists joined onstage for various songs including Alborosie, Stick Figure, Chali 2na, and Jesse Royal. The collaborations were not limited to established artists, as he invited a member of the audience onstage with him to sing along to “Blind to You” with the fan reciting every lyric to the complicated piece perfectly. As the mastermind behind the series of albums “Cali Roots Riddim” which featured mainstays from the festival’s history, late in the set, Collie Buddz played his own solo contribution to the original 2020 album “Hold Firm.”

Shaggy | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

A light rain began to fall later in the day in time to set the mood for Mr. Bombastic himself, Shaggy. A pioneer in popularizing dancehall Reggae yet somehow performing his Cali Roots debut, he quickly whipped the crowd up into a frenzy as he played a full set of his hits throughout the decades. After a revelrous opening few numbers, he addressed the crowd asking “Are you turnt up yet?” Before playing a classic piece, covering Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” His accompanying vocalist then took control of the narrative, announcing to the crowd “If you got a cell phone, if you got a spliff, if you got a lighter, I want you to put it in the air.” before playing the recent hit “Buk-In-Hamm Palace” which got the crowd off their feet with great urgency. The artist switched between the new and old worlds frequently, notably when he put on a vintage fedora to slow down the tempo to cover Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.” He then brought the energy back stating “Security, I will not be responsible for what’s about to happen… parents, lock up your children.” Before playing “Go Down Deh.” Reminding the audience of his heritage, he held up a Jamaican flag reminding the audience “This is cultural.” He then told the Jamaicans in attendance to put their hands up while walking around the stage stiffly in an impression of a Caucasian person dancing at this show, juxtaposed with an exuberant dance as an impression of how he would observe a Jamaican dancing to the same rhythm. He then invited the Trinidad-born vocalist of the group Kes to join him onstage for “Mood.” He ended his set with his universally-known hit “It Wasn’t Me” pleading to the audience before his departure “If you get caught red-handed, you should not do like Tiger Woods. You must do like the greatest of all players, Bill Clinton.”

Stick Figure | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

The day ended with a band whose legacy has grown with the festival, Stick Figure. From playing early morning sets at the festival just a few years ago to their current success of worldwide recognition, packed sets at this year’s Coachella, and now their second Cali Roots headlining slot, the band showed their growth from their humble days as frontman Scott Woodruff’s solo project. The lights dimmed as the band took the stage to begin their set with their 2015 classic “Choice is Yours.” The real star of Stick Figure, Cocoa the Tour Dog, came out to begin the show with the band members, but mostly took a backseat role, sitting in the back of the stage by Johnny Cosmic for the majority of the night. The set took a focused tone throughout the night, performed in largely dark lighting and colors, setting the mood for their transformation as a project. The band paid homage to earlier performer Collie Buddz by inviting him back onstage for “Smokin’ Love” but the collaborations did not end there. A longtime friend of the band TJ O’Neill joined the group onstage for his part of the group’s classic “Weight of Sound” and stayed on for his other Stick Figure collaboration “Angels Above Me” which played immediately after. Woodruff, who had been largely silent apart from his sung vocals, addressed the audience late in the set, where he thanked the audience for supporting his dream for the past decade since he played his first Cali Roots back in 2013, before playing “Once in a Lifetime.” The group ended the night on a wholistic note with their resonant hit “World on Fire.”

Cocoa Sits This One Out | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

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