South Florida's Riptide Music Festival is quickly becoming one of the area's most looked forward to events, which is extra impressive seeing how it is only on its 2nd year. A joint effort by a few of the varied radio stations of the region (104.3 The Shark, 101.5 Lite FM, 102.7 The Beach, and 790 The Ticket) the festival is spread across two days on the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale with styles ranging all over the musical spectrum. Two stages with offset set times guaranteed that there would always be a band to watch from the moment gates opened until the evening.
Music wasn't the only thing to check out here though. Ford Motor Company, Kind Bars, and Krave Jerky were just a number of the sponsors handing out freebees all weekend long. From snacks to beach towels to USB drives, there were tons of hidden goodies to snag.
Riptide boasted even more food options than last year, catering to both the generic festival garb with pizza, chicken tenders, and hot dogs, to a more eclectic palate of handheld avocado bowls, jerk chicken, and gyros. Boozy infused popsicles creations and orange creamsicle floats were used to cool down on the warm December weekend.
Day 1 would be catered more for the younger crowd. Featuring such bands as Pvris, Saint Motel, Joywave, New Politics (who started the main stage performances by jumping into the crowd much to the delight of concert goers), and many others. We've caught a number of these day one bands earlier in the year, but an intimate performance with 20,000 of your closest friends on Fort Lauderdale Beach is definitely the way to close out the year. Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness returned to Riptide this year with a totally different performance. As the Riptide veterans recall, last year his equipment never made it to Florida and instead he treated us to a special acoustic performance. While that performance was awesome, seeing McMahon in his natural element was a completely different experience. Halfway through his set, McMahon jumped into a giant inflatable duck and surfed across the crowd. To his back, however, the crowd was amazing by the "Riptide Tree Guy" who had somehow (barefoot) scaled a palm tree to record the floating duck. Weezer was my personal highlight of the event, having played a set full of all their hits, and even a cover of the Pixies “Where is My Mind” to help announce an upcoming tour. Cage The Elephant was a massive success that electrified the event, closing out the night. Singer, Matt Shultz has a vibrant and enigmatic stage presence reminiscent of the 80's greats like Bowie and Bon Jovi. Shultz stripped down to a nude bodysuit to finish out the performance, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Day 2 was composed of more oldie groups that covered all ranges of genre. You cannot go wrong with a day that starts off with Morris Day and the Time, who started funky and never slowed down, keeping everyone in attendance wanting more. Morris Day even had the radio station family join him on stage for some synchronized dancing. Switching gears, Loverboy reminded everyone that just because they started decades ago, they can still rock...and rock they did. Everyone in attendance was still on a rock induced adrenaline high when Salt n Pepa came on to switch it up. Even with a different style than the previous acts, they managed to keep the energy up and reminded everyone as to why they are rap icons. Lou Gramm followed and sounded better than he has in years. Digging into the vast library of Foreigners greatest hits, he hit every note with vocal precision that left me impressed. The sun set just in time for Boys II Men which laid a perfect atmosphere for their velvet voices which sound as good today as they did twenty years ago. The night (and festival) was drawing to a close but the place remained packed for South Florida natives KC and the Sunshine band. Fog and Lasers filled the atmosphere, dancers moving in perfect synchronicity, and everyone listening was transported back to the 70s, where hit after hit after hit was played as good as ever, leaving smiling faces and dancing bodies all over the sand. Both years of Riptide Fest have closed out with fun and flashy old time tunes that have kept all generations in attendance singing and laughing till the end.
If this festivals two year history is a gauge of the standards on how each future event will be, you can sign me up to be there without a second thought. Thank you Riptide for bringing a top quality festival to South Florida, we really appreciate it.
photos by Megan Garzone, review by Dan Karanikis