Reggae Rise Up Florida 2024: Day Two

After a rather cold and rainy start to Spring in St. Petersburg, a picturesque day manifested as Reggae Rise Up Florida launched into Day Two. Blue waters reflected the clear sky; the sun’s rays bounced playfully off the gentle ripples of the calm bat. Boats, kayaks, and paddleboards dotting the view from the seawall, provided an idyllic backdrop for Reggae Rise Up. While people piled into the festival grounds by land, dozens of watercrafts also assumed their position to enjoy the festival in their own unique way.

The excitement was palpable from the onset.

Amongst the vendors, art, and music, there was an overall feeling not dissimilar to a family reunion. But, of course, the music was at the forefront of most everyone’s itineraries for the day. And Friday brought a diversity of artists to their stages. While there are too many great artists and moments to emphasize every notable moment, here is a non-exhaustive list of some the day’s highlights:

Early in the day, Florida locals Drifting Roots kicked it off, followed up by Dale and the ZDubs making their Reggae Rise Up Florida debut. DZD for short, this high-energy set featured a distinct reggae influence intertwined with a very rock-centric style. 

The Kaleidoscope Kid is best known for his single “Hold Up” and the sea of fans singing along to every word during a 1:15pm set felt really special, especially for an artist’s inaugural appearance at this festival. With a style that blends a myriad of genres with precise lyricism, The Kaleidoscope Kid’s live performance was enough to make a new fan out of anyone within earshot of the Rise Up Stage.

Jamaican singer and songwriter Lila Iké gave a truly electric performance. With her powerful voice and sensible lyrics, Lila brings a fresh, modern take to traditional reggae. She released music through In.Digg.Nation Collective, a record label founded by Protoje, and the synergies between these two were evident when she popped up during his set later the evening. Both of these artists can be described as “contemporary reggae”, with a presentation of reggae and dancehall that appeals to a broader cohort of today’s listeners. Closing out the Vibe Stage for the day, Protoje’s performances consistently show why he’s the forefront figure in the “Reggae Revival” movement. Expect to see more of Lila Iké, as well, as she deserves a spot in the forefront of the reggae scene within the US. 

Despite so much to see and do across the grounds, most festival-goers were found entrenched at the Rise Up Stage for much of the day.

One cannot blame them, however, as the closing acts were some of the most renowned within the reggae rock scene. SOJA and Rebelution — perhaps the dream summer tour billing for many –went back-to-back to end the night on a high note. Both delivered a blend of early favorites and latest hits that kept the crowd dancing and singing along from start to finish. 

The momentum of the day carried into downtown St. Pete as the crowds spilled into bars, restaurants, and the official after party in the Floridian Social Club. Eli-Mac’s second performance of the day kept people dancing into the night. Upon the after party’s conclusion, the Reggae Rise Up crowd had just enough time for a reset before repeating it all over again for another momentous day on Saturday.

Photography by Dale Gebelein; recap by Jessica Shvarts

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