Some walked, some ran, others skipped, but no one missed Day Two of the first-ever Reggae Rise Up Festival in Baltimore, Maryland. For the second day in a row, festival-goers were lucky to experience 11 straight hours of feet-moving music.
Gates swung open at noon with music starting an hour later, leaving ample time to settle in for the day.
The Harbor Boys and Joint Operation were up first, respectively; both bands reflected the true embodiment of Maryland pride. Andrew Hall, the bassist for The Harbor Boys, rocked their set in a full-body latex suit depicting the Maryland flag. If you didn’t think reggae had made it to the east coast, these boys would have proved you wrong. Joint Operation hit us with a set encompassing reggae, ska, punk and metal, proving that once again, music genres are a thing of the past. If you are a genre-less music lover like I am, make sure to check them out!
With 10 minutes between sets, I sauntered over to the Vibe Stage — still head-banging — to catch the southern California favorite Sensi Trails. This was a special performance for me: Sensi Trails was one of the first bands that I photographed (that didn’t include one of my best friends). I’ve had the privilege of watching them come up from dive bars to opening for bands like Fortunate Youth. To be able to photograph them with thousands of people singing along with lead singer Kyle Rising to “She Love” is a moment I will never forget. Filling in on bass was Matt Link of The Elovaters and Michael Root (with Signal Fire) on keys.
Nattali Rize — the Australian-born, Jamican-based, musician, producer and social activist — blew us away with her all-female crew. She brought us back to the roots with her music and with reminders that the unity of the people is the love and power we need to overcome. Iya Terra followed suit, with heavier music, yet an equally empowering message. After that, the audience got another change of pace when Atmosphere took over the Rise Stage.
Energy levels rose with each beat that deejay Anthony “Ant” Davis dropped.
HIRIE, Iration and Matisyahu were next before SOJA. The beauty of the setting sun paired with the soothing sounds of each performer, respectively, was enough to take your breath away. HIRIE brought out Matisyahu for the first-ever performance of their new hit song, “Blacklist”, too! Iration reminded us of how enchanting “Summer Nights” are and Matisyahu nudged us back into a playful mood when he unleashed a mass amount of beach balls into the crowd mid-song.
Headlining Day Two was the GRAMMY-winning Virginia-based SOJA, yet another group that took the time to remind us that the Mid-Atlantic is a haven for reggae artists. Forming in 1997, these guys are no strangers to large crowds and festival performances. The ease with which they executed their flawlessly polished performance left us all exiting the venue with jaws dropped. Conversations swirled around how mind-blowingly wonderful the day played out and how Day Three could possibly top it. Stay tuned for more!
Photography by Jenna Shaw