Finally, the day had arrived for Dirty Heads‘ Orlando Vacation to come back to Florida for the second time. Attendees have been waiting for two years for the fest’s triumphant return and you could tell right away everyone was glad to be back at this large reggae music festival with so many great bands on the lineup. People were traveling from all over Florida (and further) to come enjoy this event. Some super fans even showed up at the gates by sunrise, waving flags, playing Dirty Heads and waiting for them to open. Once through the gates, you found this awesome Orlando Vacation art on the wall beside the merch tent, where the line stayed flowing all into the night. DJ C-Lioness kicked off the music, while everyone made it inside, grabbing food, drinks and merch as they went.
You could just feel the excitement from everyone ready for Orlando Vacation 2 to begin.
Vana Liya was the first up on the Lake View Stage, drawing everyone in for a closer look with her sweet voice and reggae vibes. She signed with LAW Records as the first female artist and just released a song called “Round ‘n Round” with Pepper — worth checking out, if you haven’t already! Next up on that stage was Little Stranger, who pumped up the crowd with their energy. Smooth and fast wild lyrics with a hip hop 90s feel, these two brothers ran the large stage with ease, getting the crowd on their feet jumping and moving together. This is a band you really need to be on the lookout for when they come to your area. After Little Stranger, it was time to head over to the Monster Energy Stage with Of Good Nature. These guys came out jamming with some smooth reggae rock and playing some of their just-released songs, like one of my favorites called “Valerie”, featuring another awesome band, The Elovaters.
At the end of yet another great set, everyone ventured back over to the Lake View Stage for a local band who stole the show. From the beginning of the day, they were passing out shirts to everyone, covering the crowds in Seranation shirts and making sure everyone knew of their set. Well, it showed as tons of reggae fans showed up in Seranation shirts, ready to see what this band had to bring. Seranation did not disappoint; they showed up like it was a beach party with a truckload of beach balls and a surfboard. They exerted so much energy that it seemed to overflow into the crowd from the first song to the last. Lead singer J Carter even rode a surfboard on the last song into the crowd, doing some real crowdsurfing, which was followed by a backflip! They are a band you will need to see live and check out their latest release “It’s Alright”.
By time that epic set was over, it was time to venture back over to the main stage for another Florida band, Artikal Sound System, who just recently with Silverback Music. Lead singer Logan Rex came out in another amazingly beautiful outfit, always blowing everyone away with her looks and voice. The band also just released a song with The Elovaters called “Spiritual Broadcaster”. The Florida heat was not slowing down these Florida bands, nor anyone in the crowd as the fans danced and sang along. It was then time to head back to the Lake View Stage for Tropidelic, the last band on that stage for the day. If you have never seen them live, you are missing out. Tropidelic is a band from Cleveland, Ohio with a sound and style like no other… these guys are all talented musicians with all kinds of tricks. One of my favorite parts, as many would say, is their drum lines — it always blows everyone away! Trop finished off their last song with water guns, squirting the crowd to cool people down from the intense heat.
Back at the Monster Energy Stage, it was time for the final three bands.
As HIRIE started to sing, her voice made everyone stand still, mouth open, amazed… and then, the bass hit, vibrating all through your chest. Everyone began dancing and singing along with the wonderful music and vocals. HIRIE even took a moment to shoutout all the other strong beautiful women part of the event today — Vana Liya, Bianca (bassist of Seranation) and Logan from Artikal Sound System. HIRIE’s touring band is full of talented musicians, constantly producing new music, growing every time I see them. Check out HIRIE’s latest release “Corona and Lime” with Shwayze and Cisco Adler if you need a summer jam! Next up was Sublime with Rome, bringing classic Sublime songs with new hits. Rome started things off by saying, “Florida, let’s get weird” as the band kicked off with trippy backdrops. Smoke filled the air, as SWR started to play one of the common Sublime hits “Smoke Two Joints”. Reggae fans expanding all the way across the field sang along.
After Sublime, it was finally time for Dirty Heads! The entire place was really packed in at this point. It was then that I noticed some of the super fans who showed up at sunrise were also the ones up on the front rail, waving Dirty Head flags. These fans never left all day, standing there, waiting for this moment. A Dirty Head live show will never disappoint; they come out putting on a show and leave it all on the stage. They played their new song “Rage” and everyone already knew the words. Singing, raging together… you could feel the connection as the whole crowd moved and sung as one. One of my favorites would be the song “Vacation”: not only did it fit the Orlando Vacation moment, but it is also why I do what I do — “I love my occupation!” “I built this engine from the ground up // Now my hands aren’t so greasy, feel me? … If you don’t like your life, then you should go and change it.” Those lyrics are just some from the song that has changed my life and got me here. This was a dream… to be here, part of this event and it was mind-blowing from start to finish that so many great bands and talented musicians came together again with spectacular photographers and videographers to capture this moment beside all the reggaes fans/family. Everyone came together to make this a wonderful day. I can’t wait to see round three next year!
Photography Brian “Porkchop” Nicholson