“Security, I’m sorry,” a sheepish looking YG said into the microphone.
Minutes earlier, during the Bompton-born King’s set at Rolling Loud Los Angeles, YG complained about the barriers sectioning off the crowd. Now, at his request, hundreds of teenagers were bulldozing the barricades, while a handful of fully grown men darted about in a frantic attempt to rope in the young rebels.
The security guards did manage to take down a few stragglers, to their credit. Still, the overwhelming majority stormed through to the section directly in front of the stage, whooping with joy and instantly urging the rest of the battalion to cross the proverbial Red Sea.
The scene resembled an armageddon-esque game of Sharks & Minnows; if the prize was viral immortality, and the penalty was a first-class walk of shame away from the hallowed gates.
Of course, YG wasn’t sorry for causing the rush. And in his defense, security shouldn’t have expected anything less — nothing about Rolling Loud suggests peace and tranquility.
Instead, Rolling Loud Los Angeles, the festival’s fifth stop of the year, continued to storm its way across the country. Mosh pits were a prerequisite for the vast majority of performers. As “Bleed It” rang through the speakers, homegrown rapper Blueface dove into the crowd, surfed his way back to the stage, and immediately leaped back into the churning sea of limbs. The venue erupted when a team of Jabbawockees proceeded down the main stage walkway before the ringleader ripped off his mask and costume to reveal the one and only Dababy.
That’s not to say there weren’t calmer moments of unity, however. True to the Rolling Loud name, security passed out free joints—yes, free joints—and water bottles during the grueling wait for A$AP Rocky’s closing set. Instantly, friendships sparked as lighters flicked, the audience members bonding over shared experiences until it was time for one final riot.
Despite all the fireworks, the most memorable performance of the weekend was the one dedicated to the artist absent from the proceedings. Calls of “RIP Juice WRLD” were unavoidable throughout the two-day festival, but once the beloved artist’s face filled up the jumbotron, the energy shift was palpable.
“I like to create connections with music,” Juice said in a snippet from his 2018 interview with Lyrical Lemonade, which played on the large, side-stage screens. “I like to bring people together.”
Even in death, Juice WRLD proved more than capable. Where Mac Miller’s Celebration of Life felt like a tender, heartfelt reunion between long lost friends, Juice’s tribute was a stadium-sized headlining show from one of his generation’s brightest voices. When a collage of hip-hop’s fallen icons flashed at the rear of the stage, a lone, ear-shattering shriek rang out from the audience. Every time DJ Mike P, Juice WRLD’s official DJ, commanded each able body to put their twos up, arms shot into the sky without hesitation.
Once Mike P dropped “Armed and Dangerous,” it was physically impossible to stand still. If you weren’t already jumping around, bouncing throngs of devoted fans compelled you to jump. That vitality remained constant as various friends emerged to play their collaborations, and by the time his chart-topping, six-times Platinum hit “Lucid Dreams” finally arrived, roars and tears were the same. Cell phone lights illuminated the sky while Juice’s girlfriend walked down the stage, stunned by the magnitude as she wept before tens of thousands.
The beauty of the community was on full display throughout the festival. Wander through the grounds at Exposition Park, and an isolated circle of friends and strangers were dancing about to whatever song was blaring in the distance. Focus on the crowd during Chance the Rapper’s energetic performance, and two companions were rapping along to “Cocoa Butter Kisses” as if they had written the song themselves.
For those who arrived to see what the city itself had to offer, LA’s talented crop of rising artists did not disappoint. Long Beach’s Saviii 3rd lit up with joy when he spotted his mother waving to him in the crowd. RJ brought out local innovator FrostydaSnowmann— who danced about on stage to his 2017 hit “OMG”—for one of his first performances since being released from prison. Even though Ohgeesy performed without the rest of Shoreline Mafia, he called just about everyone from the New Wave to join him for “Bands,” showering the crowd with water bottles and having their own party on stage for all to see.
That’s probably the best way to sum up Rolling Loud in Los Angeles: A massive, ear-splitting party. Some showed up from just around the corner, while others made the long trek from places such as Oklahoma.
Yes, there were frustrating moments—artists relying on backing tracks, rinse-and-repeat countdowns before beat drops—but for the most part, audience members didn’t care.
At Rolling Loud, the party was everywhere, and attendees were happy enough to be present.