Day two of Cali Roots seemed to shine brighter than the last, at least metaphorically. The fog rolled in early in the afternoon, feeling less gloomy than one would expect, rather more metaphorical for the day to come.
To kick things off, Monterey Bay got sent some help from across the pond. After being announced as the “Torchbearers of British Reggae,” The Skints took the stage to open the second day of the festival with some music and some chuckles. Opening with their 2015 anthem “This Town” they shook the grounds with their bass and energy. Guitarist Josh Waters Rudge spent a good deal of effort engaging the audience and inserting his dry wit whenever possible, early on in the set exclaiming “We are The Skints, S-K-I-N-T-S” when joking that their name was not prominently displayed on the screen behind them. He then went on to jest “This is where Woodstock happened… What, no?... Well, Jimmi Hendrix did something here” When referencing playing at the same venue as the Monterey Pop Festival where Hendrix famously set his guitar ablaze to punctuate his historic set. He later excused his jokes claiming “This is the earliest I’ve ever played a show.”
While the Skints’ punk vibe cleared a path for another band with a heavier sound, Ska-Punk act The Interrupters drove that energy to the Bowl stage that afternoon. Opening up with “Take Back the Power” mosh pits the likes of Cali Roots had never seen before opened up as the venue filled with pure eccentric energy. No stranger to Reggae, having featured a cover of Joe Strummer’s “Get Down Moses” on their latest album just a month prior, the band chose to further embrace the genre. Early on in their set, the band acknowledged that they were in fact playing a Reggae festival and covered the first song ever recorded by Bob Marley, “Judge Not.” The rest of their set was largely in the style that made The Interrupters so widely beloved. The volume was promptly cranked as they continued the set with “Raised By Wolves” and they chose to fully embrace the emerging circle pits in the audience by encouraging them before “Gave you Everything.” After thanking the audience for their participation, the band ended their set with an emphatic rendition of arguably their most commercially successfully hit “She’s Kerosene.”
The next band to blend ska and Reggae that day was one that has stayed not just relevant but revolutionary through generations. In what we can only hope has become a new tradition in the Cali Roots lineup, Sublime with Rome performed a sunset show for a second year in a row at the Bowl stage. Frontman Rome Ramirez took the stage with confidence, wearing a Wu-Tang Clan shirt in support of the upcoming headliners. The only remaining member of Sublime’s original lineup, Eric Wilson, santered on confidently, smoking a cigarette as he got ready to start the show. As the members settled in, they began the show with their heavy-hitting percussion and bass-driven single “Date Rape.” While Ramirez has stood at the helm of the band for more than a decade now, he still frequently showed recognition of the project’s legacy before his contributions, reminiscing about the first song that made him a Sublime fan in his adolescence, “Wrong Way,” before playing the piece. Ever eager to be a part of the fan experience, midway through the set, he noticed a beach ball that made its way from the crowd to the stage. Ramirez waved a member of security off its path to walk over himself and kick it back into the crowd. Sublime’s legacy was not alone in the shoutouts rightfully received by Ramirez that day. A native of the Bay Area’s city of Fremont, he mentioned that his parents were backstage with him for the show, dedicating his original song “Light On” to his Mother. “I used to work at Starbucks, now I do this” he exclaimed before the band covered the Grateful Dead’s immortal hit “Scarlet Begonias.”
The day ended with a performance that was possibly the most anticipated of the weekend. East Coast Hip Hop royalty, The Wu-Tang Clan took the stage to close out the day with a clinic of the genre. The set played almost like a symphony, with each member knowing just when to take their place and take their place in the limelight. The band filed in one by one, with the first being RZA, who in effect emceed the group’s showcase. After the whole group had taken their spots, RZA exclaimed “You got that 90’s Hip Hop energy?” before the group played a hit even those outside the genre’s fanbase should be familiar with “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” RZA then commented on the familiar smell of Cali Roots, claiming California had the best weed East to West before the group performed “4:20,” as the audience screamed along to the lyrics “roll that shit, smoke that shit.” This style of call and repeat happened again later in the show as RZA prompted the audience to shout “Wu-Tang” every time he said “One Love” in a harmonic gesture between Reggae and Hip Hop. Bubbles drenched the audience throughout the set as many members of Wu-Tang sprayed champagne on the audience in celebration of their many decades of performing together. This attention to history was later celebrated by RZA when calling attention to their humble beginnings, remembering the group piling into a studio the size of a living room to first record “Protect Ya Neck” before performing it a capella, with other members of the group joining in, displaying vulnerability with their lyrics.