Reggae music and high vibrations took over St. Petersburg, Florida for the 2023 Reggae Rise Up Festival at Vinoy Park.
Reggae Rise Up Florida Recap
“Sun is shining ,weather is sweet, make you wanna move your dancing feet”.
There is something magical about Reggae music being played with a view of the ocean as the backdrop. Reggae Rise Up Florida returned to Vinoy park in St. Pete March 16-19. Once again delivering an unforgettable weekend of music, art, food and memories that will surely keep all that attended on a high until 2024.
As we entered the festival grounds, we were surrounded by incredible art installations being created by some of the most amazing visual artists. You can’t help but to feel inspired watching art being created in real time.
RRU does a fantastic job of curating the perfect artists for their events. There was some super fun interactive art and games, and a handful of Rise Up photo backdrops.
There was also a overwhelming feeling of community as soon as you entered the festival. Strangers took turns shooting photos for each other. No one was getting impatient or rushing each other. Just good vibes to be had.
Where do we start with the line up?!
The reality is that every single artist on the bill delivered a top of the line performance. Starting with Knex on Thursday and ending with a legendary performance by Wiz Khalifa on Sunday night. That said, we do have some stand out moments that we would love to share.
Fresh off their 311 Cruise, 311 showed why they are cornerstones in this community, closing out the opening night Thursday with the audience dancing and singing along to every note played. A huge take away on the first night was also how organized and easy the Reggae Rise Up staff made things. Everyone from the first responders and security to those checking bracelets at the gate were extremely kind and helpful. Reggae music raises vibration and creates this positive energy that is infections and undeniable. As the crowd left you could feel the anticipation in the air for what was to come.
Friday brought us perfect weather for the first full day of the festival. The Vibe stage started things off each day with first two performances and the stage was just that, a Vibe! Right off of the water, people were stacking hammocks up as The Sub Herbs set things off with a super fun set. Throwing merch out to the early crowd and making sure to leave their mark. Fridays line up was stacked, Dry Reef, The Elovators, Iya Terra, The Irie all put on high energy, astounding sets. A few stand out moments of the day? We can start with Little Strangers set. They had the Vibes stage completely packed and without a doubt showed the building momentum and love they are getting is deserved. Both Tunnel Vision and Hirie put on show stopper performances on the Rise Up stage and were also clear crowd favorites.
Matisyahu had an undeniable set on the Vibe Stage, but his performance on the Sugar Shack Stage brought a massive crowd and vibe that will have those that witnessed it talking for a long time to come. The Sugar Shack Stage is a perfect example of the growth of the festival and community. This year they had a bigger stage and set up with a stacked line up everyday.
Sublime with Rome had one of the most stand out performances of the weekend.
The love and gratitude Rome has for the audience is something beautiful, several times throughout the set he made a point to thank the crowd for making his dreams come true and giving him the opportunity to do what he loves..
And what he does, he does incredibly well.. Seeing Eric Wilson on stage is something non of us should take for granted. He is a living legend and should be protected at any cost! Again showing the family affair that is Sublime with Rome, they brought out their manager Cheese to play guitar on “What I Got” for his birthday. And Rome brought out his son to say hi to the crowd. Rebelution took stage and completely shut it down, these guys sound unbelievable live, it’s like you don’t think they can get any better, and then thats exactly what they do. Matisyahu also joined Rebelution on stage as part of their extraordinary set.
Saturday they were calling for a 90% chance of rain, at one point saying to expect downpour from 2pm to 9pm..
The weatherman didn’t account for the power of love and Reggae! In fact, the only time to sky opened up and poured was for about 5 minutes while Denm’s intro (Jurrasic Park theme) was playing..
It was as if the Most High was giving the crowd some special effects, and then just as quick as it came it was gone.
Saturday was another stacked line up. Floridas own Drifting Roots set things off with a great set, premiering some new tunes and defininty showing they belong on this festival line ups. Sierra Lane, Cas Haley, Tropidelic and The Movement all put on on memorable sets. The standout performance of the day at The Vibe Stage was So Cals own Denm. This guy brought the house down from beginning to end! We are watching a career blossom in front of our eye’s and is awesome to watch and hear. It’s only a matter of time before we see Denm headlining festivals like RRU. His energy is infections and talent unquestionable.
The Sugar Shack Stage also took a highlight of the weekend again with Little Stranger set, they are just a good time. The Rise Up stage Saturday was something to see. Roots of Creation and Collie Buddz both had astounding sets and sonically sounding super on point. Every-time Collie Buddz performers “Come Around” you can feel (and smell) the love in the air. But at Rise Up it goes all the way up!
Arise Roots had another stand out performance of the weekend. This is a group that you can see and feel the love of the culture radiate off of. Anyone that wasn’t already I guarantee left a massive fan.
Koffee had without a doubt one of the most standout performances of the weekend. Her energy, her band, the dancers, everything about her set was perfection. She commanded the stage and performed as beautifully live as she does on record.
Saturday night ended with an Iconic performance by the one and only Damian “Jr Gong” Marley. As he did as he always does, completely owned the stage and brought an incredibly powerful performance (and message) to the audience. From his intro and visuals to ending with an epic performance of Jamrock. “Jr Gong” gave everyone in attendance a performance they will never forget.
Beyond just entertainment, he is thought provoking and helps open much needed conversations about social justice, cannabis activism and spirituality.
A highlight was when he brought out his son Elijah Marley to perform and again show the talent that runs through the Marley bloodline.
Walking into the festival on Sunday their was a buzz in air, you could feel people were still floating from the days prior. This feeling was also echoed by the final days line up.
I think the highlight of the day, for the Vibes stage was performance by Raging Fyah.
Pepper shut down things down with the final performance on The Vibes Stage. Their energy is infectious. A party from the first guitar lick to the final note, Pepper knows this community as good if not better then anyone. Their appreciation and love for their audience is evident.