2023 Riptide Music Festival Returns to Fort Lauderdale Beach

todayDecember 6, 2023 6

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I’ve long been curious about the impetus behind the glut of radio-sponsored music festivals that pepper calendars around the country at the end of each year. In many major markets, they’re holiday-themed—Y100’s annual “Jingle Ball” is taking place at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise in a few weeks, for example—and regardless of the genres they cater to, these events seem to be ubiquitous each December. They often package together a number of big-name artists under the umbrella of a regional radio provider, with minimal marketing and relatively affordable tickets. Is this the result of some kind of budgeting maneuver, perhaps a significant tax write-off before the end of the fiscal year?

I don’t have the answer and I wasn’t able to find one in time to write this, but I’d imagine it doesn’t really matter to anyone who bought a ticket for this year’s Riptide Music Festival. They just wanted to enjoy a day or two of “alternative” music with their feet in the sand at Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Some version of Riptide has taken place every year (save for a Covid hiatus in 2020) since 2016, with the last two iterations preceding this one assuming the moniker of Audacy, the event’s primary sponsor. Though I wasn’t able to attend the 2021 or 2022 events that took place as the “Audacy Beach Festival,” this year’s event had a noticeably smaller crowd than past years, making for a pleasant day with easy sightlines and minimal headaches. Upon arrival, I was surprised to see that the configuration of the main stage had shifted dramatically since the last time I attended, now facing north as opposed to east towards the water. It also seemed noticeably smaller, signaling that the reduction in attendance was expected.

Of the acts I caught throughout a full day on Saturday, Silversun Pickups were admirably fuzzy in spite of their early-afternoon slot, Young the Giant was reliably adept at bringing its amiable brand of alt-rock to life, Bleachers provided perhaps the most grating and unforgivably bothersome set of music I’ve ever been subjected to, and The Black Keys were satisfying in a “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” kind of way that mirrored the duo’s outmoded blues-rock style. The sound quality and mixing at the main stage was shaky at points, but the event ran right on schedule and none of the acts I saw seemed to be phoning it in. What more can an attendee really ask for at an event like this one? I’ve never attended Riptide expecting a transcendent live music experience, and I’ve never left disappointed. The song remained the same this year; same as it ever was.

South Florida deserves a friendly, accessible, easygoing music festival, and Riptide fits the bill quite nicely. With no end in sight for the slow decline of West Palm Beach’s annual SunFest, it’s fair to say that this event has become the standard-bearer for a pleasant day of outdoor music on local fans’ calendars, many of whom seem to have made attendance an annual tradition regardless of the lineup. Even though the actual music often comes second to the luxury of a sunny day underneath the winter sun (barring inclement weather), Riptide’s greatest strength is that it acts as a potent reminder of the benefits of South Florida living, regardless of who’s on stage.

For more of Boca magazine’s arts and entertainment coverage, click here.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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