Article and Photos by Rick Munroe
In what could only be described as a near-picture-perfect weekend, the Riptide Music Festival rolled onto the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale December 2nd and 3rd, where South Florida’s music fans, 30,000 strong, were on hand for the final curtain call of this year’s music festivals.
The low 80s temps coupled with clear days and bright nights set the mood, heralding in an epic weekend to catch some great music where new meets old.
This year’s festival included two stages that were placed close enough to hop from one stage to the next within minutes. The stage setup worked perfectly, as the overlap in music from each stage kept a steady stream of music for those who wanted it. The acoustics were superb and could be heard clearly to the beach, where several boats had anchored and enjoyed the show — gratis, of course. The lighting was adequate for those close to the stage; however, they appeared dark for those who were sitting in the chair areas towards the back of the venue.
Let’s talk swag. There were plenty of freebies to be had, including beach chairs, t-shirts, towels, umbrellas, tote bags and munchies. Most of us love the swag, including the Riptide-branded beach chairs, but many loathed the idea of lugging them home after a full day at the beach.
For those who got their grub at the festival, there were plenty of eats: everything from pizza, pitas, burgers, sausage sandwiches and other typical festival foods. For those who wanted a healthier fare, a few booths offered rice dishes with varying kinds of meats. Prices were standard for festivals. The only real disappointment was in the beverage choices; if you wanted a beer, you didn’t have a choice. Just one brand of beer, but quite honestly many didn’t mind.
If you were lucky enough to be up early and avoid the long entry lines, perhaps you made it to the stage in time to catch the first act that came on at 11 am sharp. Or if you were like so many others and strolled into the grounds and found your place on the sand, marked your spot and settled in for a day of music and sunshine.
The weekend lineups were well thought out as Saturday featured Cage the Elephant and Weezer as the headliners, bringing out a younger demographic. Saturday’s attendance was far greater than Sunday’s, despite a strong lineup. Sunday’s serving included what many referred to as “old school” music that included Boys II Men, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Lou Gramm.
Saturday featured an outstanding performance by Weezer, who played an exhilarating set that had the crowd calling out for more. Saint Motel, Portugal. The Man, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness were equally impressive. However, the performance of the night was by Cage the Elephant and their lead singer, Matt Shultz, who has flashes of a young Mick Jagger. On stage, Shultz was electric with the kind of energy that everyone came to see, feel and hear. Cage the Elephant didn’t disappoint; they jammed from the first chord to the last note.
Sunday was a bit more tepid, as the attendees settled in for a day of favorites from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Clearly the performance of the day was by Morris Day and the Time. Day and the Time got everyone out of their beach chairs and kept them movin’ and groovin’ during their set. Lou Gramm, an original founding member and former lead singer of Foreigner, sang every hit and surprised the audience with his vocal quality. Impressive! Will he ever reunite with his old band? Who knows, but one things for sure, Gramm can still rock.
Salt-N-Pepa were outstanding musically, and their lyrics brought to mind why they were banned from being played on many radio stations. Salt-N-Pepa delivered what the crowd came to see, plenty of dancing and high-energy vocals from the ladies from Queens. The New York natives didn’t stop until they played every hit. KC and the Sunshine Band wrapped up the festival before a sparse crowd as the evening progressed.
Overall, Riptide’s second year didn’t disappoint, the lineup was strong, and the people came to enjoy the last music festival of 2017. If you were there, the experience was epic. As the year comes to a close, many wonder who will be headlining next year’s event. I’m sure you can’t wait.