One Love Cali Reggae Fest 2018

By Nancy C Zepeda
IG: @missmmjgeek

Music has always been my partner in crime with any adventure. Without a soundtrack, memorable scenes are yesterday’s whispers drowned out by today’s chaotic schedule. A schedule constantly yelling things to check off my to-do list at 440 Hz.

Songs take my hand and journey with me back to that school dance, high school if it was Ying Yang twins— oh the crunk years. Or that one road trip driving up the scenic 1 highway tuning in and out of reception; I lose my aux cord only, always, making it, so all I had to blast was that cd that was stuck in my Sentra. Till this day, whenever any one of those 18 tracks plays, I can smell the ocean waves crashing on my left-hand side. Busta Rhymes’ Break Ya Neck was track 3. I was forever stuck on track 3.

Music helps me engrave snippets of time permanently into my personal history book. Which is why I find it an absolute necessity to go to concerts to relive and sometimes rewrite experiences attached to certain songs.

I lost that bright orange Nike box that embraced the ever-growing pile of ticket stubs I kept underneath my bed as a kid. Chronologically documenting adventures.

I lost the many more stubs that came after as my experiences began to outgrow that very box. I can’t recall my first concert, nor how many I’ve attended since then.

I do, however, remember standing next to my sister. She was my first partner in crime.

In summary, life needs a soundtrack.

At least I thought so.

My perspective changed on Sunday 2/11/17, Day 2 of the Observatory’s One Love Cali Reggae festival when, I had the conversation that I did with an individual who has been walking this universe for 26 years.

He responded with “yes, I’m serious” after I questioned his previous statement that this was his “first concert ever?!”

I realized that life is subjective, and mine is written in chapter format with a playlist attached to each chapter.

“But, how?! You’re 26!! How have you not lived your favorite songs!”

“I don’t know. I guess I lived them enough…”

I couldn’t help but interrupt!

“What? Through YouTube?!?”

“I guess.”

I can’t remember the conversation verbatim but, I do remember questioning him at least 5-6 more times. Each one interrupting whatever tangent statement he was on.

“Never?! Really?!? First time?!”

His patience was astounding.

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Saturday 2/10/17, Day 1:

The 1.8 mile stretch from my parking spot to the port was an experience within itself! Yeah, sure, I could have taken the shuttle but, maybe the embracing waves that surrounded the event made it, so I felt inclined to swim downstream alongside fellow One Love go-ers.

The sunset warmed the path leading towards the inviting little white tarps that signal food huts within the festival. But, maybe it was the smell of the sweetest attendee at the One Love Cali Reggae festival that posed a better guide. Yes, I could smell it from 1.8 miles away! The corroborating white clouds forming above the food huts informed me that I indeed was headed the correct way. GPS, off.

Once there I followed the vibrations emitted by the sea of people gathered over at the Flav stage. Like waves crashing in chaotic unison, they sang, danced, and smoked to Josh Heinrichs.

I had to keep swimming. And my butterfly stroke fluttered me across the tunnel and over towards the Cali Reggae Fest Stage. Atmosphere was on deck.

But when I got there Iration was still performing. It was then that I felt the empathetic hand of Sophia grasping my shoulder. She knew my five foot one-inch little self couldn’t see over the shoulder of that six foot three (maybe) boy in that dodger blue shirt. She put me before herself. So I could see. Her only request?

“At the count of three, you’re going to dance with me. Okay? 1…2…”

And we danced at 3.

After that set. And many more dances, we waited sweaty palmed and anxious for Slug to come out.

Atmosphere takes me back to college. The first time I saw Slug perform I bought my boyfriend at the time and his brother tickets so we could go see him at the Hollywood Palladium a decade ago. Music is timeless.

Sophia asked about my wristband. “Why aren’t you in the pit taking pictures instead of being out here with the crowd?” I smiled. Instead of explaining that I swim out of the fish bowl and take pictures in the designated area when I should, and later adding that I always swim back in when I feel I’m running out of breath and need to live the songs, I merely replied with “I love living music through the crowd.”

Sophia and I lived from Fuck You Lucy to Trying to Find a Balance together. Not the entire set since I had to swim out of the fishbowl for a few snaps. I ran out of breath real quickly though. Two songs in. I needed to dance with Sophia!

Sunday 2/11/17, Day 2:

My friend Liz was my partner this day. We took the shuttle. It was more of a hype bus to the event really. Everyone was emitting such positive vibrations that spilling out of the shuttle and splashing into the event felt like I had taken a double shot espresso during that short ride over.

That double shot lasted me the walk over to the Cali Reggae Fest Stage where I re-upped on that caffeine high while dancing with the crowd to Hirie.


Matisyahu is 2011 for me. The summer after college. The summer where video games and Matisyahu reigned. I saw him that same summer at the Nokia Theatre over at L.A Live.

And during his set, I was back in 2011 playing COD and God of War.

It was during Stick Figure’s performance that I abruptly stepped off my time traveling rocket to come back to the present time and hear that statement a bit clearer, “this is my first concert ever.”

It is most definitely about the music. But, I’ve already heard these songs on loop an embarrassing amount of times before. It’s about associating new experiences, new sights and smells— in this case, weed on weed on weed, to those songs. I love swimming those clashing waves against the stage with fellow fish.

His first concert though. I wonder if he liked it.