Day Three of Reggae Rise Up Florida 2021 was met with the same eagerness that was present the previous two days, yet something was different because the air was tinged with some stoopid-ity and a feeling of ‘elovated’ joy as the festival buzzed with energy at every turn. Tucked away in the middle of all the susurration, Sugarshack housed an intimate pop-up stage where festival-goers could sit and watch an interview with their favorite act or nod their heads to a personal acoustic performance that only a Sugarshack Session could provide.
Saturday changed up the tempo by showcasing a wide array of music that could easily fall into genres other than reggae, without ever straying too far from the path.
One notable band that stood out with their groovy riffs and upbeat funky zing was Tropico Blvd; the festival newcomers were ecstatic to be on the bill and to have the opportunity to play in front of their hometown crowd. The Elovaters came through in the midst of a tour and played a set not only on the Vibe Stage, but also on Sugarshack’s cozy pop-up stage!
One set that seemed to stand out from the rest was that of Jesse Royal. His set was met with a series of mishaps that made for one of the most beautiful and raw sets in possibly all of Reggae Rise Up Florida history. Jesse Royal was forced to go on without a band due to a missed flight; as if the missing band seemed to hinder the reggae phenom, the Florida heat and humidity seemed to overheat a computer that stored Royal’s backtracks, so with microphone in hand and a struggling computer, Royal belted out his songs a cappella, making for something that was genuine and struck the heart with such a great impact that it can still be felt all these weeks later. Royal’s endurance to move on with the set was nothing short of inspirational and it also seemed to encapsulate the strides that it took to get him on that stage… not just him getting onstage, but to getting all the people through the gates of Vinoy Park. Persistence, patience and positivity is what got each and every person on those festival grounds and the 32-year-old from Maroon Town, Jamaica was not going to let a few mishaps stand in his way of putting on a set to remember.
Jesse Royal might’ve left a lasting impact on all those attended his set, but Saturday’s headliner, Slightly Stoopid, had festival attendees singing and dancing to a whole new groove, with their reggae vibe paired with a punk zest. Looking out during their set at the ocean of people was awesome in the most literal sense of the word: to see people lose themselves to the music and watch problems get thrown into the air and never to be felt again was incredible, and with the soundscape that Slightly Stoopid supplied, it made for an extravagant Saturday and powerful Day Three.
Photography by Brian “Porkchop” Nicholson & Jay Cohen; recap by Brendan McGinley