Riptide 2018 Review
Riptide 2018, what a whirlwind! The third year of this festival on Ft. Lauderdale Beach might have just been the best one yet.
Ideally, I could’ve seen every artist on Saturday’s lineup but sets unfortunately overlap, so these are groups I made priority:
Saturday began with a stellar performance by Zachary Dess, or better known as Two Feet. I initially became a fan of his after hearing “I Feel Like I’m Drowning,” a few months back.
Although the crowd was small, the energy was fantastic and I wouldn’t be surprised if Two Feet gets big in the near future. “Go Fuck Yourself” and “Quick Musical Doodles” were my personal favorites performed.
Dess has this undeniably effortlessly cool energy about him that directly translates from his music to his stage presence. His low-slung guitar and sleep mask acting as a headband solidified this image.
As thankful as I’m sure he is for his fans, he’s not playing music for them, he’s playing for himself, because he has to, and that is incredible to experience.
The Driver Era
I hadn’t heard of The Driver Era until looking at the Riptide lineup but quickly grew fond of their catchy singles “Afterglow” and “Preacher Man.”
It wasn’t until a few days before the festival I discovered half of the duo, consisting of Ross and Rocky Lynch, was a former Disney Channel star on Austin & Ally. Did this put a damper on their performance and reputation for me? Yes.
Even though they were playing the same songs I had been jamming out to weeks prior I couldn’t look past the blatant boy-band-Disney appeal and subsequent fanbase that I was surrounded with. It was less about the music and more about Ross’s button down Hawaiian shirt and stick-on face jewels.
Everyone else in the crowd seemed super into the performance, however, so the energy surrounding me was awesome. Although I personally couldn’t look past the product of the Disney Channel machine that was standing before me.
Hitting it big with their single “Broken,” the LA-based trio lived up to all of my expectations.
Lead singer, Mitchy Collins commanded the stage with his wide-brimmed sun hat that he had purchased that day in Ft. Lauderdale and his witty banter between songs.
The band performed all the fan-favorites such as “These Are My Friends” and “Make You Feel Pretty,” but the highlight of the show was Collins’s heartfelt message before the performance of “Broken.”
Collins delved into the heavy subject matter of mental health and emphasized the importance and strength of asking for help if you need it. He unified the crowd in that moment and brought everyone together through his words and music. This was truly one of my favorite moments of the day.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
“When It Lands” was my song of the summer. I was hesitant to get into this band at first because, well I mean look at their name. But you can’t judge a book by its cover or a band by their name because RKS rules.
Their simultaneously folksy and alternative rock sound made for an incredible concert, especially combined with lead singer, Sam Melo’s insane energy.
The entire band fed off of each other the whole set which included their hits like “When It Lands,” “Cocaine Jesus,” and “Fever Pitch.”
One thing that stood out to me about this group as well was their independent images. Unlike some other bands from that day, each member of RKS had their own look and aesthetic. They were all super cool in their own right and not trying to maintain a cohesive look which I thought was really interesting and admirable.
I truly got lost in this set and will see them on their own tour in a heartbeat next time they come to south Florida.
Donning purple hair, frontman Nick Wold set the pace for other DREAMERS members Marc Nelson and Jacob Wick.
The band performed the majority of their singles released this year like “Screws,” “Black & White,” and “DEMONS.”
Maybe it was because I knew all the words to their songs, but it seemed like this crowd knew DREAMERS’ lyrics more than other acts that day.
The band saved their most popular song for last, per usual, “Sweet Disaster,” and closed of their set with a bang.
Don’t You Worry Honey was one of the albums that got me through my senior year of high school so I was beyond excited to see Sir Sly.
I feel like I could say this about just about every act at this festival, but Sir Sly really was one of the best. Landon Jacobs, the lead singer, is a maniac on stage. It seemed with each song he got more and more hype and the crowd followed suit.
Songs including “& Run” and “Gold” led up to the finale of “High.” Jacobs went off the rails during this song, seeming to be releasing some serious pent up rage. The song went from singing to screaming midway through and the crowd was all for it.
The band played the chorus a few times over following the point where the song would’ve originally ended and Jacobs proceeded to scream into the mike until he put the entire thing in his mouth and continued to scream. I unfortunately couldn’t capture this moment but it probably was even more intense than what you’re imagining.
The ultimate escape when you’re in the middle of exams and missing summer more than ever, Dirty Heads thrived on this beach venue.
Opening with “Medusa,” the band set the high caliber of energy that’s present at all their shows. I had the pleasure of seeing them last fall as well and this show was just as great.
Dirty Heads’ songs seem they were made purely for performance, making their shows an incredible experience.
It’s also really interesting to see how the two frontmen, Jared Watson and Dustin Bushnell balance the attention on stage as the songs transition from rapping to singing. The two accomplished this flawlessly, as usual, not compromising any of the energy as the attention shifted from one to the other.
The show was filled only with good vibes, just like Dirty Heads’ music. Songs like “Vacation” and “Lay Me Down” beamed with carefree happiness. Rome even came out on stage to perform that latter with the band.
I would’ve loved to see them perform a full set, seeing them at a festival felt like an appetizer to the main meal and I can’t wait to see them again in the near future.
Sublime with Rome
I’ve never been a die-hard Sublime with Rome fan as I prefer the original Sublime’s music, but I was excited to see them nonetheless.
Sublime with Rome consists of Sublime’s original guitarist Eric Wilson and Rome Ramirez. Their sound is much more pop than the original band’s.
Their performance was really good and Ramirez’s onstage presence was laidback and friendly, but the show lacked the energy present in many of the other acts prior. Wilson didn’t seem into the performance at all and looked as though he was over the whole thing.
“Wicked Heart” and “Santeria” got the crowd, and myself, the most excited and the show ended on a good note.
I’m not going to lie, I sacrificed seeing Young the Giant to see Sublime with Rome and do regret it as Mirror Master was one of my favorite albums from this year, but hopefully I’ll have an opportunity again to see them in the future.
Panic! at the Disco
One positive that came from not seeing Young the Giant was that I was already at the stage where Panic! at the Disco would be performing.
Outside of “Nine in the Afternoon” and Death of a Bachelor, I wouldn’t call myself a Panic fan, but this show changed everything. Brendon Urie, as I learned that night, is an absolute legend. From his backflips on stage to his insane vocal range, he is a born performer.
The band performed all the favorites including “Nine in the Afternoon,” “LA Devotee,” and, of course the emo-anthem, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” Before performing “Nine in the Afternoon,” Urie told of the song’s origin, which was unsurprisingly a night on psychedelic drugs.
While every song was incredible, the highlight by FAR of this performance was “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Yes, Urie performed Queen. Yes, he performed the entire song. Yes, it was possibly one of the greatest moments of my life.
Urie has this ability that I hadn’t seen prior, or at least not with any of the acts that day, to make the crowd feel like his friends. It’s as if he’s not performing for us but we’re all just hanging out jamming out to music. This was especially prevalent in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Beyond just the songs, Urie picked members out of the crowd several times to sign merchandise and respond to posters. It was a girl next to me’s birthday and the people surrounding her were screaming that it was her birthday so Urie brought her up and signed a piece of merchandise for her, he even continued singing while doing it so that he could perform the entire setlist.
Another part of this set that was incredible was the performance of “Boys and Girls,” which has become an anthem of sorts for the LGBTQ+ community, especially following Urie’s announcement that he is pansexual this past summer.
Urie brought several rainbow flags onto the stage, making sure to return them following the song, as the crowd united in acceptance and love.
Prior to this show, I wrote off Panic as another one of those bands with a cult-following, but Urie is undeniably talented and deserves immense respect for his abilities as a performer and outspokenness in regard to issues he believes in.