The crew at Guerilla Union can go to the Sunday offering of Rock The Bells with a sense of huge accomplishment. The San Bernardino show on Saturday raised the bar by making history, and thrilling hip-hop heads with a day of music. While there are plenty hip-hop tours on the road, with many of the acts that are on this line up, none of them turn up the heat quite like Rock The Bells.
The opening acts hit the stage as early as noon, but I personally didn’t make it to the National Orange Show Events Center until four. While I parked and prepared for the walk to the gate, I could hear the unmistakable voice of Immortal Technique booming though the speakers. While it was hard to hear the lyrics from the side parking lot, the vibe was tight and the crowd was just as lively.
I made my way through the lines and security check points where my guest had her brown scarf taken from her because of fear it would excite some gang tensions. This was just one of the many experiences we had to face during the day, as at times it felt like it was open season on anyone as far as security was concerned. Several people were kicked out for various reasons, and the security presence seemed stronger than normal. By the time I made it to the press area, Aesop Rock was on the stage and half way through his set.
The fire hoses were in full blast, giving the b-boys and girls some relief from the heat. While it wasn’t as bad as last year, the crowd needed the water jets, as the acts made the day even hotter. I walked the grounds a bit more, and found Supernatural in the VIP Room about to break the Guinness World Record for free styling. He would go on to break it later that night.
Next it was back to the stage to catch Living Legends doing their thing. Dilated People hit the stage after that and ran through their hits. Defari and Evidence tossed baseball knot sized tee shirts as “Worst Comes To Worse” banged though the speakers. This was one of the better sets of the night as well.
Living Legends on stage
Somewhere between the time Dilated got off the stage and I said peace to Percee P, I realized how big Rock The Bells is. The line up alone speaks for the type of music festival this is. This is a summer music tradition with real hip-hop music on a very big scale. This one is cool enough for the new jacks and real enough for the purist. It’s almost like a west coast underground hip-hop family re-union, filled with familiar faces and good vibes.
A quick trip to the front stage to get photos of De La Soul was in order, so I made my way to the security yet again.De La Soul rocked it, bringing out Dres from Black Sheep, to the crowds delight. The three song and out rule for photographers was in full effect, so I was backstage by the time he got on. As I made my way back to the press area, I had a chance to kick it for a minute with DJ Babu, Myka Nyne, Jacken from Psycho Realm, and a few other heads. Hip-hop was defiantly in the house, as everybody came out to show support.
Davey D talks with Dilated People backstage
With so many things going on at once, I missed Redman, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli. You could see and hear everything even if you weren’t paying attention, thanks to the jumbo tron and the booming system. But this is the type of show where you needed to keep your eye on the stage. If you were there and weren’t paying attention, you may have missed DJ Kool rocking it with Redman, doing his classic “Let Me Clear My Throat” and who knows what else.
The headliners for the night were the crowd's all time favorite, The Wu-Tang Clan. They rocked the NOS Center with tons of classic darts before going into what will be known as one of the most bizarre moments in hip-hop.
During the dedication to O.D.B. they proceed to bring out the painting that was being worked on for him. The Clan were joined on stage by Jackass/Wildboyz star Steve-O. He stated he wanted to do something for O.D.B. in his memory, and began to take it to the next level.
“Steve O got on stage and told everyone he and ODB are in a way cell mates because they were in the same jail, although not during the same time….he then said he wanted to do something for Old Dirty Bastard’s memory, and pulled his pants down, was butt ass naked onstage, put his dick between his legs, like a girl…and did a backflip!” –Mojo, shocked eye witness at Rock The Bells.
While tempers flared on stage by members of the Clan the stage was cleared, and the show soon came to and end. Some thought the bare bones showing of love by Steve-O was rude and over the top, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. If it was anything, it was a yet another entry into the history books for Rock The Bells. You will never see a hip-hop show like this again! We’ll maybe in San Francisco ..or next year.
Check out my photostream of Rock The Bells, with tons of pics from the performing acts!!
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