For the first time in nine incarnations, hip-hop’s Mecca festival, Rock the Bells, expanded to two days, the first of its three regional events taking place Aug. 18-19 in Satan’s Sauna, San Bernardino’s frustratingly hot NOS Events Center. (The fest hits Mountain View this weekend and Holmdel, N.J. just before Labor Day.)
Click here for more photos from Rock the Bells.
Another big change: Alongside RTB veterans such as Nas, Common and various Wu-Tang Clan members, this year’s roster embraced a significant number of more radio-ready acts – most notably J. Cole, Kid Cudi, Tyga, 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa. All of them are more likely to turn up at a Powerhouse at Honda Center than this traditionally underground-focused bash.
Organizers claimed they wanted to construct a lineup that fulfilled an old-school-meets-new-school theme. But given that Day 1 comprised mostly mainstream players and Day 2 predominantly underground and classic artists, it’s debatable whether that goal was actually met.
Regardless, what was achieved amid that milieu was what Rock the Bells does best: draw in rare performances and reunions that continue to solidify it as the world’s highest-tier hip-hop and rap gathering.
On Saturday, the strongest of all performers – absolutely uncontested – was Eve’s return to the stage alongside fellow Ruff Ryder star DMX. Not that it wasn’t a blast witnessing the latter rapper hype fans with the ever-aggressive hit “Party Up (Up In Here),” but it was infinitely more thrilling when Eve, exuding more beauty and confidence than ever, strutted down the main stage’s center catwalk, downright killing it on her verse of “Ruff Ryders Anthem.”
Read more on Rock the Bells on the Soundcheck Blog.
Photos and article by David Hall, for the Orange County Register
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