Festival Review: Riptide Music Festival Sun, Fun and a Whole Lotta Music
This past weekend, Riptide Music Festival hosted an incredible gathering of music lovers along the shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach. True to form, they brought incredible music, beautiful art, great food, and a fun-filled festival experience with some definite highlights to write home about. It was a great weekend.
One of the big challenges for festival executive producer Von Freeman and his team at Entercom Miami is to constantly deliver a lineup that is equal to or better than previous years, a feat that is certainly not an easy endeavor considering that last year’s headliners included Panic at the Disco, The Jacksons, 311, and Live. While this year’s lineup may not have had the depth of those from previous years, it offered some huge names in rock that included festival headliners The Killers, The 1975 and Jimmy Eat World serving as the biggest names on the bill, and those bands certainly didn’t disappoint. Riptide has become the winter destination for those who want to escape the cold and enjoy watching live band performances in a summer-like beach setting.
Riptide Music Festival has become Broward County’s signature event that serves as a gathering place for international music lovers who traveled from far-away places such as Japan, Australia, and Russia, coming to South Florida to attend the two-day music extravaganza. While the majority of those in attendance were from Florida, others came from areas across the U.S. to get that last taste of summer, where they could sport their beachwear one last time before returning home to hunker down in heavy coats and gloves and deal with colder temperatures.
If you loathe the idea of walking long distances and you desire to park near the venue, parking has always been an issue for those attending Riptide. But simply getting to the festival presented its own challenges, as there are just a few public lots in close proximity to the beachside festival entrance that filled up early. If you arrived early in the morning, you may have gotten lucky and found a parking spot a few blocks from the entrance; the all-day parking fee was around $20. However, as it got closer to 11, when the festival gates opened, prices began to rise like the temperatures on the beach, with some later arrivals paying as much as $100 to park. Rideshare operators Uber and Lyft both charged higher fees known as “surge pricing” for a ride, and those who didn’t want to deal with searching for a coveted parking spot prompted many to walk or even bike a few miles instead of paying high parking and or transportation prices.
While attendance figures haven’t been released yet, attendance overall appeared to be about the same as previous years; the one thing that is certain about Riptide is consistency; they are now an established, well-regarded festival that continues to draw big numbers to the annual beachfront gathering. If you have attended Riptide in the past, you know that it’s a weekend-long party filled with an incredible roster of headline acts and several up-and-coming musical acts. There are a few bands that have made returned trips to Riptide Music Festival, including Silversun Pickups, New Politics (did not perform) and Soul Asylum.
As with many festivals, security has been a point of contention in the past few years. Before you can come into the festival, bags are checked, and everyone is required to walk through a metal detector; this, of course, gives you a sense of safety as those tasked to check bags entering the grounds are doing their job thoroughly with a no-nonsense demeanor while being friendly and professional. Upon entering the grounds, the first thing you encountered was an ID check; this is where those over 21 were given bracelets that allowed the purchase of adult beverages and eliminated the need to constantly show ID whenever they wanted more drinks. For those who wanted to indulge, there were plenty of beer stands and a dedicated bar area that served a complete line of top-shelf mixed drinks. After your ID check (for those who wanted to drink alcohol only), festivalgoers received plenty of swag that included beach towels, sunblock packs, carry bags, fanny packs, sunglasses and other goodies. As you walked toward the stages, on the right was food row, where there was plenty of good eats from all kinds of vendors that included everything from meats to pizzas to Asian noodles that could satisfy the most discerning pallet.
The Underground area featured not only a performing stage but also the Ford Blue Lounge, a great place to take a break from the sun and catch a live intimate music performance from local bands on a small stage inside the air-cooled lounge. As for the stages at Riptide, they have remained consistent since the first festival: two stages, the main “Sharkwrecked Stage” where the headline acts The Killers, The 1975 and Jimmy Eat World and others performed, and the much smaller “Underground Stage,” where there fans could get an up-close-and-personal music experience with their favorite bands. Both stages provide excellent lighting and sound; however, there were a few technical snafus with the Underground stage that delayed Fuel‘s and Judah & The Lions‘ performances by as much as 30 minutes.
Something new this year was the runway fashion show that featured a diverse group of models who wore both traditional summer wear and a glimpse into what future generations’ casual wear might be like with a futuristic flare set for space travel. The show was fun, and it appeared to have a positive reception based on the crowds and reactions from those who attended.
Saturday, Day one, Mother Nature graced the beach and presented those attending with near picture-perfect weather that had temperatures hovering in the mid to low 80s. It was an incredible day of fun filled with great music, culinary demonstrations and live art creations that kept everyone’s attention in between music sets. Festival headliner The Killers were in full form and played an incredible set of the band’s biggest hits and a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” The Killers closed out the night with two fan favorites: “Human” and “Mr. Brightside,” all performed without founding member and lead guitarist Dave Keuning, who is taking some time away from the band, as he has expressed interest in exploring other music outside of the regular Killers catalog. The highlight of the day was a performance by Washington D.C.-based indie pop band Shaed. The trio led by lead vocalist Chelsea Lee delivered an acoustically rich set that got those in the crowd singing along to every word of fan-favorite song “Trampoline.” Performers on Saturday included The Band Camino, Smith & Thell, Morgxn, White Reaper, Matt Maeson, Shaed, K.Flay, Silversun Pickups, Judah & The Lion, The Revivalists, The 1975, and The Killers.
Sunday, the second and final day of Riptide 2019, started out with Mother Nature deciding early on that one day of good weather was enough for festivalgoers. With dark menacing rain clouds overhead, many spent time looking at their phone radar apps, trying to predict when the actual rain would arrive. True to her form, dear Mother delivered several bursts of rain throughout the day that had fans searching for places to duck and find cover; sadly, there wasn’t much, and many simply embraced the rain. Regardless, day two, which is customarily rock day at Riptide, is usually has harder, edgier; established rock acts from years past usually drew much more mature crowds. The crowd was significantly smaller than on Saturday, consistent with past years as Saturday draws a younger demographic based on the bands that performed. There was no shortage of solid rock performances on Sunday, but San Diego based Switchfoot delivered an epic set of solid rock music that included lead vocalist Jon Foreman going into the crowd, giving the band’s fans a true meet-and-greet experience, one that many won’t forget for some time. Alternative rocker Meg Myers delivered a masterful performance and gained many new fans. There were also several standout performances including those from Fuel, Soul Asylum and Sunday headliner Jimmy Eat World.
It will be interesting to see what surprises Entercom Miami has in store for Riptide Music Festival 2020, as next year it will celebrate its fifth year. Although this year’s festival just ended, there are thousands of people who are already making plans to return to Fort Lauderdale Beach to gather with friends, catch some sun, and listen to some incredible bands. One thing is for certain; Riptide has it figured out; they consistently deliver a weekend filled with music, food, drinks and art that leaves those who attended satisfied and looking forward to being there again the next year.