Rock The Bells held a press conference in New York City last night where they announced the addition of 17 more acts to an already-impressive 10th anniversary lineup. The traveling festival—which will take place over four weekends in San Bernardino, CA, Mountain View, CA, Washington, D.C., and Rutherford, New Jersey’s Meadowlands in September and October—blended old and new artists alongside a few performers that don’t necessarily fit the traditional mold of the RTB stage.
Hosted by Hot 97′s Peter Rosenberg, the festival paraded up a number of artists who had previously been announced during the first round of artist additions, which took place in Los Angeles a few weeks ago: Flatbush Zombies, Bodega Bamz, Mimosa and Immortal Technique surrounded RTB’s Chang Weisberg, while new addition Pretty Lights also sat at the front table and Wu-Tang’s DJ Mathematics showed up as well. Kicking it off with Supernatural’s traditional and highly impressive artist announcement freestyle, Rosenberg then took over and discussed the northeast iteration of the festival’s move from NYC—where it had been held at both Governors Island and Randall’s Island in recent years—to the racetrack at the Meadowlands, which Weisberg chalked up to ease of transportation and trying to give the festival its own flair. The press conference table even had its own real grass on it (which, as Juice from Flatbush Zombies pointed out, had “flies and shit” buzzing around in it) which was meant to signify the grassy, general admission atmosphere of the venue’s racetrack, as opposed to the seated Summer Jam or Electric Daisy Carnival, which was held on the asphalt parking lot.
Weisberg also stressed the direction that RTB was heading in for their tenth soiree. “We focused on artists that are supporting new music,” he said, pointing out that headliners like J. Cole, Wu-Tang Clan, Kid Cudi and Wale all had new music to promote. It’s a departure from earlier years, where RTB was able to put together “an embarrassment of riches,” as Weisberg put it, that included Nas, GZA, Masta Killa, and more performing their classic albums front to back. Weisberg also cleared up the rumors and stories going around that Ol Dirty Bastard’s widow had objected to the virtual performance ODB during Wu-Tang’s headlining set, saying that it had all been cleared up. Eazy-E is also expected to make a virtual appearance with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Of the new additions, electronic DJ Pretty Lights was perhaps the most surprising, despite coming off a highlight-heavy four-plus-hour set at Bonnaroo earlier this month. At a festival known for its hip-hop, an electronic artist with no previous hip-hop collaborations seemed slightly out of place, but Pretty Lights was able to explain some of his own excitement behind the arrangement.
“I’m trying to bridge the gap between electronic music and hip-hop,” he told the assembled press and guests. “The fact that I was invited to be on Rock The Bells…I’m finally able to expose my music to the crowd I wanted to.”
Check out the list of this round of artist additions below, and check here for the first round of artists announced in Los Angeles.