Blaze ‘n’ Glory is a Crash Course in SoCal Culture
written by Mia Nissen
As a Southern California native who hasn’t gotten to know the Southern California music scene very well, I took Blaze ‘n’ Glory as my first opportunity to get acquainted. The lineup for this one-day festival is what caught my interest (how many times can you witness an Atmosphere/Nas/GRiZ combo without ever having to move to a different stage?) but it quickly became apparent that its celebration of all things 4/20 was a major draw for most attendees.
Blaze ‘n’ Glory is a one-day festival located in San Bernardino, California at the San Manuel Fairgrounds, and is presented as a music and lifestyle fest due to the focus both on musical curation and…well…getting stoned. The lineup was ingeniously curated to feature top artists of each genre that not only rock crowds, but specifically rock crowds of people who like to indulge in a smoke every now and then.
With artists like Radical Something and The Growlers, and a stage devoted to celebrating the 25th anniversary of California-born clothing line SRH, the laid-back California vibe was very present. If you want to get a taste of Southern California culture, Blaze ‘n’ Glory is a great festival to put on your list.
Blaze ‘n’ Glory Festival Quick Facts:
Crowd type: Marijuana enthusiasts
Music genre: Hip-hop, reggae, beach goth, electronic
How To Get There: Drive. The San Manuel Amphitheater is conveniently located just off of the 210 freeway.
Where To Stay
Camping is how many people choose to enjoy this festival. However, most SoCal residents have a pretty easy commute to and from the venue. For those who live in Los Angeles, the Fairgrounds are just over an hour away.
Tent camping ($150) and RV camping ($175-$200) are both available at Glen Helen Regional Park located across the street from the venue. Attendees who purchased camping had the opportunity to arrive the afternoon before and camp until the morning after the festival.
Pizza, hot dogs and other general “fair food” are available. Free water refill stations are located in the venue, however camelbacks are prohibited from being brought into the grounds. Only sealed water bottles are permitted. Beer vendors were scattered around the fairgrounds, and at first glance the prices seemed pretty steep: craft beer was $16, and all others were $14. I soon discovered that, at 24oz., serving size made the cost more worth it than say, a standard 12oz. size.
Production at Blaze ‘n’ Glory was very simple. Two stages were on the grounds—Main Stage and a smaller SRH 25th Anniversary stage—neither offering much outside of basic production. However, this festival was the first I have seen that had a rotating main stage; right as one artist finished up their last song, the platform in the middle of the stage that the band was on, turned, and the next act immediately began. Very innovative and efficient way to cut down set change times to basically 0 seconds.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
While I had never heard of The Growlers prior to Blaze ‘n’ Glory, I figured the band must be something special to have secured a headlining spot between reggae prodigy Stephen Marley and indie hip-hop stars Atmosphere. I am so glad I got to check them out! The Growlers are very indicative of Southern California beach culture: laid-back, rebellious, and here to have a good time. The surf-rock tunes provided the perfect vibe to energize the crowd after the soothing island vibes of Stephen Marley.
Things To Do
Although it was a smaller offering compared to what was expected, the carnival rides and games of chance inside of the festival grounds still provided something other than music to pay attention to. Beer sponsor Lagunitas provided cornhole at their booth- the perfect game to play with an IPA in hand and the sunshine above. The merch & sponsor area had about 50 different booths for attendees to browse throughout the day. Being as this is a lifestyle festival centered on marijuana, most of the vendors were merchants that offered items that accompanied the cannabis culture.
Why Go VIP
- VIP ticket holders got a fast pass through the line, a really nice perk when the alternative is waiting an hour in the Inland Empire heat.
- VIP had a special viewing area for every performance…definitely the best seat in the house.
- Access into the VIP Lounge, which offered complimentary beer, Rockstar, and snacks.
- Private bathrooms- no port-a-potties!
What Makes The Festival Different?
- The festival centered on the blooming cannabis culture. If seeing the progression of marijuana in our society is something that excites you, Blaze ‘n’ Glory will ignite your flame.
- Perhaps due to the prevalence of festivalgoers blazin’, the crowd was mellow and more about chillin’ out than gettin’ down. This is a perfect environment to bring a blanket, chill out, and drink a beer if you’re not much of a dancer.
- The lineup was beautifully curated! The headlining acts ranged from hip hop to rock, reggae to electronic, so there was something for everyone. If you are someone with a diverse taste in music, you really got the bang for your buck. It was a very affordable opportunity to get to see some of the greats of every genre.
- You can bring outside food into the venue! Crucial to know, particularly because a slice of pizza is $6 and it only goes up from there. Bring a sack lunch and spend your money on merchandise and souvenirs.
- San Bernardino is HOT, so sunscreen, a hat, and/or an umbrella will be necessary for both health and comfort reasons. Even at 11pm, it was still warm enough to go without a jacket.
- General Admission parking is free, and the VIP ticket does not include VIP parking. For an extra $20 you can park in the VIP lot that is located closer to the venue, but I’d suggest preparing for the walk by wearing comfortable shoes and saving yourself $20.
- Parking lot pre-gaming is not accepted at the grounds. Police cars were always patrolling the parking lots, so do yourself a favor and save the beer drinking for inside the venue or at your campsite.
Only in its 2nd year, Blaze ‘n’ Glory has a ways to go in making the festival more dynamic. The website got me really excited about vendor, carnival, and food truck areas, and my expectations weren’t exactly met in those areas. However, this was a great way to spend a Saturday and see some legendary artists for a great price. As someone who chose to attend because of the lineup, not because of the celebration of cannabis (or other advertised elements of the fest), I was initially worried that I wouldn’t really jive with the vibe of Blaze ‘n’ Glory. But the only time I felt out of place was while busting a move during GRiZ’s set as over half of the crowd filed out to leave. As a GRiZ lover and supporter I was initially confused, but I suppose it makes sense: having only one electronic artist in a sea of rock, hip-hop and reggae makes for a widely unrepresented audience of dance music fans. If marijuana is something you are not keen on, I suggest sitting this one out, because that is the backbone of Blaze ‘n’ Glory. However, if you are anywhere from impartial to strongly pro-use, you’ll enjoy what the festival has to offer. The food and beer vendors were pretty pricey, so be prepared to dish out some dollars if that is something you tend to indulge in while at festivals. Overall, Blaze ‘n’ Glory is an accessible and affordable day-trip with artists that make time at this festival time well spent.