Review: Day 1 Of Grizzly Fest Rocks Fresno

credit Francisco Rendon
– Portugal The Man
Portugal The Man performs at Grizzly Fest in Fresno, Calif., May 4.
Grizzly Fest is trying to become one of the tentpole festivals in Fresno, Calif., (where Pollstar has had offices since the company’s inception), along with The Big Fresno Fair. 
While the latter takes place over two weeks in November at dedicated fairgrounds with rides, livestock and a slew of other attractions, Grizzly Fest stages over two days at Woodward Park in North Fresno. It has never reported its attendance figures to Pollstar, but our Routebook lists the capacity at 8,000 which was the eyeball figure of what one might expect when on the festival grounds. I suspect they would be happy to have two days of 8,000 attendees. 
Put on by I.A.N. Group, Grizzly Fest’s 2nd edition has music two stages and two DJ areas (one being a silent disco, the other being a DJ truck in a food court area). Day 1 featured performances by Saba, Ziggy Marley, Tribal Seeds, Schoolboy Q and Portugal The Man.
The grounds are comfortable, as there are plenty of places to either engage in photo opportunities, shop for food or merch, or simply to sit and rest. 
A real strength of the event was the vendors. Not only was there a full court of appetizing food trucks and multiple watering spots, but local eateries were very well represented, including local favorite Dog House Bar & Grill and La Jacka Mobile. There was also marketplace with various shops hawking clothing, oils, trinkets and more. Event Water Solutions was also on site with a clean water station for those that brought refillable water bottles, thanks to sponsors Granville Homes and California Health Sciences University.
In terms of music, all the acts I saw performed well. 
credit Francisco Rendon
– Tribal Seeds
Tribal Seeds performs with a guest at Grizzly Fest in Fresno, Calif., May 4.

Ziggy Marley and his 10-person onstage act brought tons of positive vibes with a healthy blend of his original music and covers of his father’s stuff, including “Get Up, Stand Up,” “One Love,” and “Coming In From The Cold.”
Tribal Seeds played the secondary Sequoia Stage as Ziggy finished his main stage set and Fresno’s reggae-lovers rejoiced. The crowd grooved along with the band, which played very tight and didn’t miss a beat during a slew of onstage collaborations, including a cover of Mark Morrison’s “Return Of The Mack” with Gonzo.
An undeniable highlight of Day 1 was Schoolboy Q’s first performance in Fresno, which drew the largest crowd of the evening. His banter with the audience was sincere and good-natured and as he rattled through his songs, many fans knew a good amount of the words.
He played the hits like “X” off the “Black Panther” soundtrack, he played the deep cuts “Water” off his new album based on an audience request, and kept teasing the crowd with “Numb Numb Juice,” before closing with two performances of the track. 
The closing headliner Portugal The Man definitely delivered the goods, with a great live show, complete with complex visuals, solid lighting and, aside from a brief early hiccup on some vocals, great sound.
credit Francisco Rendon
– Schoolboy Q
Schoolboy Q performs at Grizzly Fest in Fresno, Calif., May 4.
Also, the band is full of excellent musicians who play very good music, for what that matters. The setlist was thoroughly enjoyable, with a great selection of covers that included “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2” by Pink Floyd; “Children Of The Revolution” by T-Rex; “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones; “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath; and “Hey Jude” mixed into the closing song of “Sleep Forever.” 
I only wish more people had stayed to see the entirety of PTM’s set. Most of the crowd meandered off after the band played its radio hit “Feel It Still” and although the headline set started around 8:30, one could walk right up to barricade in front of the stage by 9:15. 
It certainly wasn’t because Portugal The Man isn’t a great band that the crowd thinned. And it wasn’t because people weren’t having a great time, the fans in attendance were obviously having a blast. 
But the attendees seemed to fall into four categories: the hip-hop fan; the reggae lover; the rock patron; and the Coachella-vibe attendee, who seemed to gravitate towards the electronic but I suspect would have been happy with anything. The lineup seems to reflect this, with most artists fitting into one of the broad four categories, a clear attempt at the “something for everyone” approach to a lineup.
Certainly I’ve never booked a festival and it’s easy to say what someone else should do with their money, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if one combined the hip-hop and electronic artists on one day of Grizzly Fest and the rock and reggae acts on the other. The billing would then have Schoolboy Q, Saba, G-Eazy,
But creating more focused daily lineups might give a better experience for all the fans. I really think leading into PTM with more rock and live-instrumentation bands might have turned on more fans to brilliance of their show. Perhaps Young The Giant or Matisyahu fans would discover them if they were playing on the same day. Also, leading from that Schoolboy Q set into G-Eazy’s headline spot would have been incredible energy for the hip-hop heads in attendance, and would have made it a “can’t miss” experience. 
In any case, Day One of Grizzly Fest was a thoroughly enjoyable affair and plenty of walk-up tickets seemed to be available. I’d say get by the stage early before G-Eazy’s performance on Day 2 though, as there will likely not be room to walk up to the stage.