Photos by Christian Preciado.
Created on the premise of unity, music and good vibes One Love Reggae Fest delivered an outstanding reggae weekend in Long Beach for the second year in a row.
Located at the Queen Mary concert venue, it could not have been a more scenic location for the energy-filled lineup with the famed ship as a backdrop.
Despite gloomy and chilly weather, Day One mainstage artists played to the crowd’s energy. Lined with the powerhouse of artists performing on the appropriately titled Cali Reggae Fest Stage, each band brought their own flavor to the hyped-up crowd.
Day One bands brought their own flavor to an upbeat audience, including Matisyahu and Pepper who put on two separate sets that had the crowd singing and dancing along early in the day.
J Boog took the stage with a commanding presence after Pepper. Allowing each individual member of the band’s talent to be showcased, J Boog performed one of my favorite sets of the day. With a mixture of powerful vocals from his backup singers and J Boog’s band, their sunset performance was one to remember.
Iration took the stage to start off the night with a bang. As a painter set up a canvas between the front of the stage and the crowd to create an Iration-inspired painting, the band played some of their biggest hits, that had the crowd belting out lyrics to their music. Atmosphere followed with a performance that included a number of freestyles, animated lyrics and crowd interaction.
Rebelution closed out the night with a perfect set to a fully packed crowd. The crowd’s vibe was a perfect setting for closing out the night. A mixture of clean musicianship and stage presence captivated fans throughout the performance. As the set came to an end, concert goers headed back to the shuttles to officially close out night one of the festival.
Sunday started out with much better weather, vibes from the night before, and an officially sold-out One Love festival. Back on the main stage, Tribal Seeds performed an energetic set that established the mood for the rest of the night. Bassist Victor Navarro jumped off bass to rap and sing on a track that had upbeat and dance worthy ska/reggae melodies.
Common Kings followed with a dance-worthy performance that engaged the crowd and encouraged them to get down. Stick Figures followed up with a set accompanied by COCO the tour dog, who walked around the stage while the NorCal band rocked out and managed to continue to excite the crowd.
Following Stick Figures was perhaps one of the most soulful sets of the entire weekend. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals performed a lightly political and powerful set while setting the scene for the festival’s final performer, Nas.
Nas closed out the night on the mainstage performing hits from his early albums. As the crowd sang and moved along to the old school hip-hop vibes, it was clear that guests were content with closing out the final night of One Love with a Hip-Hop icon.
One Love hosted a variety of food options ranging from full vegan to traditional burgers catering to all food restrictions. Merchandise from local vendors and artists scattered throughout the venue ranged from CBD hand cream, to band hoodies and t-shirts.
The festival also capitalized on California’s laws on medicinal and recreational marijuana by partnering with Stick.e.vapes as a sponsor and setting up a pop-up dispensary that had edibles and other goods on display.
The venue however, still remained difficult to get to as concert goers had to take shuttles from predefined locations throughout Downtown Long Beach. This created long lines at the beginning of the day and even longer lines at the end the night as attendees headed home.
Despite difficulties with access and the long lines for food and bathrooms, the Queen Mary seemed to be the perfect setting for a reggae festival.
Overall, One Love successfully created an atmosphere of unity and good vibrations while pulling it all together with a strong lineup of artists. Walking around the venue and seeing friendly people of all ages come together to listen, dance, and sing all weekend was the cherry on top.