Dream Venue | Rexx Life Raj

 Evan Dale // Jan 27, 2019 

‘Are there any left?’ my friend asks knowing damn well that we’ve eaten the last of our mushrooms.


‘No need to jump the gun, anyway,’ I say to him, reassuring both of us that with time and with music, everything will come to be exactly where it needs to. ‘Plus, we can always just buy more. We are at a festival after all.’


Equal parts clever drug reference, state pride, and titular acknowledgment, Rexx Life Raj’s California Poppy is in its debut year and couldn’t have been off to a better start. My friend and I made our way North of Los Angeles and then North Santa Monica in a rental car from the airport, only stopping along the way for seaside tacos and magic mushrooms from a referred food truck in the area. Now, just a few hours later, we sit hillside overlooking the ocean miles away and enjoying the peace of a flowery knoll on a sunny day. The sky is pristinely clear and the colors of everything are too colorful to describe. 


‘It’s starting.’ I say in reference to both the psilocybin and the music which we can halfway hear in the valley below.


We take our time hiking down towards the stage, stopping along the way to take in the environment and converse about things in detail that never get the opportunity to be conversed about in detail. Conversation slowly fades into a mutual silence where we sit still halfway up the hill taking in the music through one ear and allowing our mind to flow subconsciously out the other. 


An unbeknownst portion of the clock passes and neither of us seem to care where we are in time. But in the opposite direction, neither of us have ever been more conscious of where we are in place. A sudden realization and understanding of everything around us couples gently with the acknowledgement that it all is much more important now than it ever was or will be. 


A hallucinogenic thought? Sure, but sometimes those are the clearest.


An urge to do something awakens us both from our sleepy mental state and pushes us off the hillside back down towards a crowd defined by a steadily increasing roar and, from above, a surprisingly cohesive bounce and flow. Another unbeknownst amount of time ticks by and we find ourselves now part of the crowd. DRAM, everybody’s favorite off-tune lovechild is performing, and the crowd is consequently loving every second of their existence beneath his bellows, cries, and hilarious punch-lines. 


As dusk nears and golden hour light floods the valley, word that the headliner, Rexx Life Raj is making his way to the stage is quick to spread through the masses. The festival’s patrons are fitting of his demeanor. A lot go harmless drug use, a lot of summery clothes, and a lot of smiling faces makeup our collective definition. In the light, the drugs work their best and the audience looks their best, smiling all the same. Everyone is struggling only with the duality of which sense to provide their attention. All around us is beautiful scenery and beautiful people under beautiful light, while light-hearted, fun-loving, mood-enhancing music fitting of the vibe and the beauty floods our eardrums. We’re all overcome with the emotive responses of it all and want nothing but to be enveloped in this state for more time. 


Just the man with the chops necessary to keep and further elevate the collective vibe appears on stage. A hoodie, a headband, some chucks, and a pair of wide wire frames make him nearly indistinguishable from the majority. But the microphone in his hand and the energy in his voice decisively cut him from the rest. With a confident smile and a whole lot of soul, Rexx Life Raj opens the show with one of his most energetic, funky deliveries from the project for which this entire event is named. Sprinkle Me begins booming its way through the mega-subwoofers. A refreshing breeze blows its way through the valley. The golden light dims in brightness but enhances in color. The direction of my mind is firmly focused on all three at once, triangulating me and my thought process in a position that could be nothing but present. And there is nowhere that I’d rather be present. 


Halfway through the song, and with a crowd very much in the know of Rexx’s catalogue, energy builds towards its unforgettable E-40 verse. Bubblings of speculation as to whether or not he’ll make an appearance naturally dot the soundscape around me. And sure enough, the hip-hop legend makes his way on stage, sporting a similar, funk-driven energy as the rest of us. By the time the track has ended, E-40 seems to have no desire to leave and remains on stage as an irreplaceable hype-man for the rest of Rexx Life Raj’s set. The set, which continues long into the beginning of the night and is highlighted by nearly his entire 4-year canon, ends at a responsibly early time that allows the crowd to disperse and reconnect with the beauty all around us. 


At night, the flowery knoll takes on a very different albeit equally beautiful identity. My friend and I hike back to the top of the hill where we can once again overlook the ocean. The energy has been subdued, as has he high, but positivity and excitement for tomorrow’s performances quell any distress. 


My friend taps me on the shoulder smiling, playing California Poppy from his iPhone, and holds up a fresh bag of mushrooms. 


‘We are at a festival after all,’ he says.