LA LA LAND Pt. 2 : Rock the Bells

[Jim Jam, Me and Beetle Jenn]

Waking up at our cute little Best Western in the heart of Chinatown was like a brand new start. All our irritances from the day before had disappated and the thought of continental breakfast with pre-conceived wishes into the universe for Belgian waffles made our morning. We got ready and walked to Union Station to grab the Metrolink train into San Bernadino where Rock the Bells was being held that day.

The train ride was surprisingly long… so what do you do? Mix some gin, juice, make friends with locals on the train and get a good buzz on. We met two cuties — Julio, a real west coast swagged out homie who’s been in the top ten fastest street bikers in Los Angeles. This kid and his ride belongs in T.O. AJ was another bredren we met, my filipino brotha from anotha motha, was also on his way to San Bernadino for Rock the Bells. These two cats were mad cool and we exchanged good convos over a jug of pre-mixed beverages.

[George’s liquor store in Chinatown = $7.25 for a 6 pack of Budlight Limes! Thats $14 bones in T.O.]

[Julio!! Reppin’ lovehard and secret Monstie all dayyyy]

[Already suped up his ride]

[AJ, another ROTB goer]

[Reppin’ the claw and lovehard!!]

[Tanqueray, anyone?]

After an hour and a half, we got into the middle of nowhere, aka San Bernadino — apparently known for its ghetto hoods, legalized raves, and blistering heat. We checked into the Hilton, dropped off our bags and chatted with a few of Lauryn Hill’s band members while we waited for a cab to take us to the NOS Center where Rock The Bells was being held.

Now, some of you may have seen my facebook status, claiming the Rock the Bells was some major bullsh*t... now lemme tell you why:

It wasn’t until our arrival to the NOS Center that we realized we were going to die of heat exhaustion and be robbed of every single dollar we owned in our pockets.

1. The NOS Center is really just boiling black tarmac under 100+ degrees farenheit.
2. In order to purchase ANYTHING at the festival, we had to buy these “event cards” that were loaded up by the twenties. Fair, with a whole crowd of “hip hop people”, nobody wants loads of loose cash floating around at all these food and merchandise stands… but these cards were finnecky. Mine wasn’t even fully loaded with $20 bones on it.
3. Line ups for EVERYTHING was horrendous, as somewhat expected of any overcrowded event… BUT for me to line up and complain about my scammed “event card” was not a priority in comparision to lining up for water at the Drinks booth.
4. Upon arriving at the front of the Water booth, I learned I had luckily just copped the last two bottles of water… HOW do you run out of water at an event like this?! In the middle of the desert?!?
5. People were droppin’ like flies from heat exhaustion. A near close call with Beetle Brit, herself.
6. BECAUSE line ups would take about 20-30 minutes, and BECAUSE the heat was so intense, people were more fixated on nourishing themselves (surviving, really) that nobody could really stand in the crowd and enjoy the much anticipated and beloved artists they came to see. When LAURYN HILL came on, where was I? Stuck in line for a drink. When A TRIBE CALLED QUEST came on, where was I? Trying not to overheat under one of the event tents.
7. WHAT WAS UP with the sound system?!? Is it how the sound carried over the dry hot air? Was it really Lauryn not sounding like Lauryn? I personally highly doubt that, I believe in Lauryn all day errday, but I really wish her and her band played her songs from Miseducation in the original versions. That’s what I was really looking forward to and was somewhat disappointed… but then again, when you’re waiting in line to suffice your thirst, nothing else really matters.
9. Garbage. Filth. EVERYWHERE. People were so fatigued that they just sat in the middle of all of it.
10. Puking in the man made lake. Which also had a water fountain. And there was also a breeze.
11. Side Stage featuring acts like Immortal Technique, Murs, Jedi Mind Tricks were all inside this building that was apparently horribly ventilated and so steamy hot that people were vomiting and fainting.
12. BEERS = 12.50 per 20oz CUP.
14. And this one pisses me off the MOST: at the end of the night, everyone had the opportunity to claim any unused dollars on their event cards at these refund booths… Do you know how many there were? FOUR. FOUR REFUND BOOTHS x thousands of tired and drunk people x maaybe 3-4 dollars left on an event card = ROCK THE BELLS SCOOPIN UP A WHOLE CRAPLOAD OF YOUR MONIES.

[The Granby Girls waiting in line to enter the NOS Center]

[the crowd and line up craziness]

[KRS-One on stage]

Sigh. It’s a straight cash cow for these guys… like, do you understand everything that these fans go through in order to see and hear their favorite artists of all time? Not only did I travel alllll the way from the east coast, but I spent a hundred bones on my ticket and the only group I could actually SEE and HEAR from the whole entire day was Tribe.

We all left exhausted and annoyed that we were played like chumps. I for sure do not want to attend another Rock the Bells unless I am back stage or have VIP passes because seriously, it’s not worth it to me to endure all of that ever again. I mean, who knows, east coast version and the other cities could be different, but all I know is that my personal experience was real crappy.

So for all you RTB east coast edition Goers — bring some hand sani, pre-drink as much as you can, and fight for the front if you’re willing to endure the craziness.

The rest of the evening was good, minus the part when we attempted to walk back to the hotel and remembered that we were in some real ghetto unknown hoods. After a few sketchy encounters, we hailed the first cab we saw and paid the extra coin just to get back to the Hilty safe and secure. A late night dinner at IHOP (I forget this is an east coast rarity!), and then a night swim at the pool… ahhhhh Sooooo gooood. Even better? The goose down duvet and pillows that massaged me to sleep…

[For full Flickr album, click HERE.]


  1. Angie said,

    08/25/2010 @ 7:56 am

    I hit RTB in Toronto in ’08 and it was a MUCH better experience then that!! I saw and heard everyone I wanted to, it was inside, and you could pay cash for anything you wanted. Drink lines were short and even though the crowd was massive we could shuffle our way right up to the stage. We couldn’t bring cameras in but snuck them in regardless. That sounds like bullshit! I wish it was in T.O again this year.

  2. federal grants said,

    08/25/2010 @ 7:53 pm

    What a great resource!

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