On March 14th I gleefully packed my new Volkswagen Golf (wolfsburg edition for those of you VW nerds) and headed south. My 1200 mile journey took me just over 23 hours through a very, very cold eastern seaboard. I do not think I saw 60+ degrees until I reached Gainesville, where I of course had to play a few tracks from Less than Jake to play homage to their home town. I stayed in Parrish, about 30 minutes from Vinoy Park with the lovely King family, and Kitten. Night one started with a pre-party at Jannus Live, a venue I have seen so many of my favorite bands play at, but never had the chance to visit. The pre-party was headlined by Unified Highway, led by Rebelutions' very own Eric Rachmany. I was thrilled to finally see them live, and for their first show outside of California.
Not much sleep was had, and day one was upon us. I made my way to will call to pick up my press credentials, seriously wondering if I had paid a homeless man to park my car. (It happens in Philly all the time) Arriving in time to see one of my favorite native Florida bands, Resinated take the Rise Up Stage I busted out my camera and started taking photos. For me day one consisted of Resinated, Nattali Rize, Tribal Seeds, and of course my favorite Rebelution. It was a first for me seeing Nattali Rize and Tribal Seeds and I can say I am now an even bigger fan. I loved that shewas wearing red chucks with her summery Florida dress and giant sunglasses. That night Iya Terra lead the after party at the State Theater. The crowd consisted of no less than several notable performers from that days festivities. I finally got a chance to offically meet Marley from Rebelution and had a chance to reminisce with Kenny from Resinated about the first time I saw them at Frozen Harbor in Baltimore many many moons ago.
A repeat of very little sleep and day two started with having to be dropped off in time to make it to see Iya Terra for a second time on the rise up stage. St. Patricks day at a reggae festival made way for no shortage of enthusiasm for all things green. Tropidelic rocked the vibe stage shortly after. The night followed with J Boog, Matisyahu and Damian "Jr Gong" Marley celebrating being Irish with the rest of us.
The final day was as strong as the remaining days regarding enthusiasm and amazing musical talent. I made sure to arrive early to see Kash'd Out on the vibe stage. The remainder of my day I spent hustling between the stages to see The Expendables, Raging Fyay, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Collie Buddz and the closer of the festival Soja.
Being my first multi- day festival I have a few takeaways from the event. The love of music is strong in both old and young, it is amazing to have so many people who are simply there for the music. VIP vs. regular tickets don't matter much past the level of cleanliness of the bathrooms and lines for drinks. I saw so many "VIP" ticket holders are the front of the barricade along with the regular ticket holders. They were some serious troopers in the midday Florida sun, many props to them. Finally, never ever underestimate the value of comfortable footwear. I learned the hard way, with an average of 10+ miles per day running around with my trusty Nikon. Thank you band-aids you saved my weekend, and remaining trek home which included stops in Disney World, Savannah and Washington D.C.