Okay, I know this is old news, at least by Internet standards. In case you didn’t know, however, Rock the Bells and Paid Dues Festival are returning for another year. Rock the Bells, the first touring hip-hop festival since Smokin’ Grooves ended in 2002, is famous for hosting the last concert appearance of the complete Wu-Tang Clan lineup at its inaugural event in 2003. Murs began organizing Paid Dues as an L.A. indie festival in 2006; after partnering with Rock the Bells’ promoter Guerilla Union, it became a multi-city endeavor and a little brother of sorts to the bigger Rock the Bells.
The bad news is that both festivals have much shorter itineraries this year. Rock the Bells only encompasses ten shows, while Paid Dues features a piddling four concerts. (Last year’s editions lasted 19 and 13 shows, respectively.) It seems that while Rock the Bells sold out in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, it struggled to fill arenas and amphitheaters in secondary markets such as Atlanta and Salt Lake City. Hence, a scaled-back schedule this time around. Rock the Bells doesn’t jump off until July, though, so there’s a chance that more cities may be added.
The good news is that Rock the Bells is offering a more diverse lineup than last year’s old-school icons and backpack kings. Participating artists include A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Mos Def, De La Soul, Method Man & Redman, Rakim, Raekwon & Ghostface, B-Real, Immortal Technique, dead prez, Murs, Spank Rock, Kid Sister, Santogold, the Cool Kids, Jay Electronica, Wale, B.O.B., Kidz in the Hall, Amanda Blank, DJ Green Lantern, Just Blaze and Black Violin.
Best of all, Rock the Bells has scored another coup by reuniting the original Pharcyde: Fatlip, Slim Kid Tre, Imani and Romye a.k.a. Bootie Brown. This will mark the quartet’s first run of shows together since Fatlip got kicked out of the group back in 1996.
On the Paid Dues end, you’ve got Rakim, De La Soul, GZA, Blackalicious, Sage Francis, Little Brother, Hieroglyphics crew, Murs & 9th Wonder, Buckshot, Supernatural & Scratch, Kidz in the Hall, Yak Ballz, Sollilaquists of Sound, Braille and Bernard Dolan.
Here’s the Paid Dues Festival dates:
- 6/04: Nokia Theatre, New York, NY
- 6/07: Club Cinema, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- 6/13: Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, CO
- 6/14: Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA
And now for Rock the Bells:
- 7/19: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, IL
- 7/20: Arrow Hall, Toronto, ON
- 7/26: Tweeter Center, Boston, MA
- 7/27: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
- 8/02: Bicentennial Park, Miami, FL
- 8/03: Jones Beach Theater, New York, NY
- 8/09: Glen Helen Pavilion, Devore, CA
- 8/16: Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA
- 8/23: Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, Englewood, CO
- 9/06: The Gorge Amphitheater, Quincy, WA