Rolling Loud SoCal Brings Familiar Hip-Hop Festival Flavor

ScHoolboy Q Rolling Loud SoCal
Victoria Hernandez

Rolling Loud has already established itself as an elite festival, with three years of success in Miami. This is the first year that the independent company is expanding, with multiple events across the United States and plans to go overseas in 2018. Over the weekend, Rolling Loud came to Southern California — San Bernardino to be exact — and continued its legacy.

At first impression, the dry, rolling hills of SoCal don’t compare to the exotic paradise of South Beach, which instantly gave this branch of the festival a different vibe. But parking and entry was easy enough, making for a pleasant experience.

There were three stages at Rolling Loud SoCal, as compared to two at this year’s Miami festival. The Loud and Dab stage had canopy roofs and held the larger acts. The Sauce Stage was kind of awkwardly to the side and featured solid artists (Harlem rapper and Nas’ protege Dave East closed out the first day), but didn’t seem to attract many fans.

Rolling Loud has built its name off its lineups, and Rolling Loud SoCal did not disappoint. LA’s own ScHoolboy Q headlined Saturday, which was neat because he actually headlined the inaugural Rolling Loud in 2015. In its first year, the event was plagued with technical difficulties and stormy weather, but this performance seemed like a celebration as Groovy Q was in his hometown with a smooth set and a comfy robe. He performed several hits, opening with the Kanye West-assisted “THat Part” before proceeding through some older material, “Hands on the Wheel,” and then “Dope Dealer” off his most recent effort, “Blank Face LP.”

Besides having some hometown artists, Rolling Loud added a nice SoCal touch by having Diamond Supply Co. sponsor a mini skate park. The food was also on point, with a variety of options for concertgoers. The legendary Fat Sal’s had a booth where they sold their signature sandwiches. The shop made its name even bigger this Halloween when they transformed into McDowell’s from Coming to America. The National Orange Show Event Center was a decent enough venue, plenty of room and amenities. The grounds were decorated with purple, blue and green lights draped around the trees, which created a mellow vibe against the backdrop of blaring bass.

One of the neat things about Rolling Loud’s brand is that it is very aware of all aspects of hip-hop, the good and the bad, and is not afraid to embrace it. Lil Peep was a part of the line-up before his passing last month. Instead of replacing him, the organizers held a tribute to the genre-bending artist where different friends, including Fat Nick, shared some words to Lil Peep, who they lovingly remember as Gus. wifisfuneral shared the stage as there was a moment of silence after airplanes wrote the words “Every star has a reason #LilPeep4ever” in the sky. They then played some of Lil Peep’s songs and handed out flowers and balloons to the crowd. Several others paid tribute to Lil Peep throughout the festival, including Zoey Dollaz, who had everyone hold up two fingers for the fallen star.

Another figure that was noticeably absent from Rolling Loud SoCal was the controversial XXXTENTACION, who hails from the same city as Rolling Loud and has had continuous support from event organizers. He was sent to jail just a week prior to the festivities when seven new charges were announced in his ongoing domestic violence case. The 19-year-old artist’s “Look At Me!” was played several times throughout the festival. Dash was the “Special Guest” that replaced X’s set.

The rest of Saturday featured the more universal artists of the two days. Zoey Dollaz brought the Miami flavor with an exciting set, performing his “Post and Delete.” IDK gave a really fun show for the handful of people that took the time to see him at the Sauce Stage. RJ held it down for the City of Angels later on the stage, rocking a fur coat, but had his set shut down early, which resulted in a little scuffle. Jaden Smith wowed with his smooth moonwalk.

Lil Yachty and Gucci Mane had similar sets at Rolling Loud SoCal to their Miami appearances earlier this year. Migos came on later and brought out Guwop for “Slippery.” Kodak Black showed up wearing his Rolling Loud Bay Area chain (yes, all the performers got chains here, too) after being absent from the Miami show because he was in jail.

Besides the Lil Peep tribute, Sunday was fairly void of highlights. Young Dolph showed up in an ambulance and there was a fight in the artist compound in the early evening. Lil Pump mindlessly led his Gucci Gang through renditions of his viral hits. Post Malone crooned to those adoring him. Future was the headliner, just like the Miami show. And fans came. Rolling Loud announced the festival sold out that night.

Yet there wasn’t as much excitement here (the Miami event ended with fireworks over Biscayne Bay) as it felt just like another festival. Day N Night has been making a name for itself just a few hours south. HARD Summer has been weaving hip-hop and EDM together for a decade and even though Destructo’s time with that has run its course, the presence of the festival is still felt. Even Coachella’s location in Indio isn’t that far away.

If you want to attend another music festival, Rolling Loud SoCal is a cool event. But if you want an experience, save up your money and go to Miami Rolling Loud where the ocean breeze and city lights are the perfect backdrop for all the hip-hop you could want.

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