Riptide is a sleep-and-you’re-likely-to-miss-it type of event. For its second edition, the festival needed more than just affordable tickets ($29!) to convince thousands of jaded South Floridians to bite. And this year’s very diverse lineup, featuring classic pop artists and indie-rock bands, was the perfect bait.
I picked up my tickets the day they went on sale and, for the most part, forgot about them until the day of the event. By then all of the acts had been announced. Weezer, Salt-n-Peppa, Cage the Elephant, Boys II Men, and other chart-toppers had been confirmed to be making their way to Fort Lauderdale Beach the first weekend of December.
The main stage was packed with artists that had recently made the top of the charts and some still holding prominent spots such as Portugal. The Man. There was a mass of people swarmed around the front of the stage, and it never let up. Even as advertisements were playing in between sets or when stagehands worked at getting the next act ready, the crowd was still there, eager for more. Whenever the audience wasn’t at the stage, they were detaching in small clusters to peruse the limited food and drink selections to refuel and return to the stage.
As each act went on, things only became more chaotic (within reasonable control, of course)—whether it was Portugal. The Man’s heavy, thrasher-infused jam session at the end of “Noise Pollution,” or Andrew McMahon singing while riding on an inflatable duck for a solid five minutes before returning to home base (his piano). What really took the entire show, however, was Cage the Elephant’s seemingly endless performance, which left you wanting more by the end of it. Cage was the closing act of the night. Vocalist Matt Schultz strut on stage with an Elvis-like swagger—southern drawl and all—even taking up a dazzling red coat with white tassels dangling from the shoulders. It was safe to say that he was clean on set. He danced around the stage for about 15 minutes, while singing popular radio hits like “Cold Cold Cold” and “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” before noticing that his ‘Elvis’ costume was too restrictive and finally deciding to tear his clothes off and continue the concert in his underwear.
As much as I love crazy showmanship and killer theatrics on the stage, there was something extremely authentic about the one-man-act of talented guitarist and soloist Mike Mineo, or the punk rock Bonne Maiy, both of which were featured in the small but spacious Ford Blue Lounge while the main stage raged on (I’ll admit that I missed the entirety of Saint Motel to watch Mineo’s set, and it was worth it.) You never know what you’ll find at these festivals, and while you might go in with clear favorites, it’s possible that an up-and-coming artist will steal your ears away before the night is over.
After the concert on Saturday, there was an electric, feel-good atmosphere hanging in the air, reminding us that we all came together through our shared love of music. Everyone was ecstatic and eagerly looking forward to the second day of the festival.
Sunday housed an entirely different mood altogether. The moshpit of eager alternative fans had been replaced by a milder, drastically older crowd. It was easy to find a seat at the front of the stage to watch Morris Day saunter about the stage with his band, or see The Time, while checking himself out in the mirror every so often. It was safe to say that he still had pull, but not enough to keep me grounded for very long. I wandered off at some point to take a picture with Salt N’ Pepa, who were lined up to perform on the Ford Blue Lounge stage while Lou Gramm, the original lead singer of The Foreigners, took the Mainstage. Sunday was certainly the day to appreciate the oldies, but goodies and the style, swagger, and stage presence of the past. If that isn’t quite your tempo, however, the Underground Stage, a new feature for this year’s Riptide event, featured similar small-time artists from Saturday looking for their big break.
Ultimately, Riptide is a relatively new festival that’s still evolving. However, this year’s edition was a clear sign of good things to come. With its eclectic approach to their lineup and beach party vibe, there’s no doubt that Riptide will soon cement itself as one of South Florida’s signature festivals.
By Hunter Strokin