The second afternoon of the inaugural High and Mighty Festival felt particularly auspicious as ticket-holders arrived early to sample the beer and stayed late to dance under the stars. The joint venture between Sublime with Rome and night two headliners the Dirty Heads translated into a weekend-long party that married craft beer with a diverse roster of main-stage talent. A tandem stage set-up ensured the pace of the production never stalled. In between samplings from some of the Southland’s more noteworthy breweries, fans were immersed in an eclectic blend of reggae, rock and hip-hop that established Village Green Park as yet another promising outdoor venue in Orange County.
Paring perfectly with the early afternoon sun, reggae-rock troubadours Pacific Dub and Ballyhoo! checked in with back-to-back sets that functioned well in easing the crowd to lose their inhibition. For Pacific Dub, selections such as “California Girl” and “Stolen Love” showcased a stylized, Southern California version of island music. For Ballyhoo!, the single “Walk Away” quickly rallied the crowd and proved to be the first fan favorite of the day. The audio equivalent of toes in the sand, both bands proved effective in maintaining a Sunday afternoon vibe that washed down well with more beer samples.
For the hip-hop portion of the festival, High and Mighty enlisted some prominent genre contributors. First up, Mid-City native Murs flexed his verbal dexterity with an impromptu freestyle that called upon the crowd to keep the cadence. Among his best selections of the afternoon included cuts from his cherished collaboration with 9th Wonder. “Silly Girl” and “L.A.” are widely regarded as essentials and to watch Murs perform them live clearly shows why.
The only hiccup of the day happened during Chief Keef’s stage time. The Chi-town rapper’s brand of trap anthems just didn’t gel with the environment. He appeared to be just going through the motions and the crowd responded in kind. The only portion of his set that caused any stir was the hit “I Don’t Like” and even then, the cheers were polite at best.
In stark contrast, Tech N9ne checked in with a polished 40-minute set that instantly reinvigorated the crowd. With selections like “Riot Makers” Tech challenged the conventional idea of a hip-hop show and incited a mosh pit. Tech N9ne ran through cuts like “Caribou Lou” and the Kendrick Lamar collaboration “Fragile” with infectious vigor. This was the beginning of the party.
San Diego’s wall of sound in Tribal Seeds sent a rattle through the grounds. The massive brass and dynamic groove of the band’s reggae rock proved powerful. Songs like “In Your Eyes” and “Love Psalm” sent the fans into a collective sway, singing every word right back to the stage. The latter included a drum solo, a calypso jam, and a tease of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing the Name Of” before swiftly returning back to the song’s original groove. Tribal Seeds proved one of the afternoons obvious highlights.
The evening’s direct support in Jurassic 5 spent a full hour wowing the festival with nothing less than verbal acrobatics. Backed by innovators in turntablism, Numark and Cut Chemist transformed mixers, records, and MPCs into an arsenal of beats. MCs Chali 2na, Akil, Soup, and Marc 7 took on tracks like “Jayou,” “I Am Somebody” and the subtle nod to the LA Dream Team with “In The House” with the kind of rhythmic agility that left the entire crowd in awe. Jurassic 5, both as a collective and as individuals, emphasized their rank as ambassadors of hip-hop. Songs like “Quality Control” and “What’s Golden” should be considered benchmarks for the genre.
The ringleaders of the evening, the Dirty Heads, closed out the festival with a complete 90 minutes of audio bliss. Tunes such as “Vacation” and “My Sweet Summer” managed to capture the magic of the season in song. The band’s time was a controlled ebb and flow of energy as songs such as “Burn Slow” and “Stand Tall” compelled the crowd to get moving.
Frontman Jared Watson thanked the crowd and tested the waters by asking, “Would you do this again next year?” The roar from the crowd offered the perfect segue into the band’s final selection of the night, and maybe a bit of affirmation, with the feel good hit in, “That’s All I Need.”
High and Mighty, Day 2
With: The Dirty Heads, Jurassic 5, Tribal Seeds, Tech N9ne, Chief Keef, Murs, Ballyhoo!, Pacific Dub, Know-Madik
When: Sunday, Aug. 6
Where: Village Green Park, Garden Grove