Reliving the 5th Annual Lake Tahoe Reggae Fest

‘Chill figuratively, not literally’ was the name of the game at the fifth annual Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival at Harvey’s Outdoor Amphitheater located in Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on July 29th. Ample grass for picnic blankets, shade structures to boot, one stage (!) and long, vibey set change interludes hosted by local reggae DJ Squarefield Massive Sound promised us all a delicious Sunday, with lounging at its very finest. 

It was hot and it was humid. The beers helped.

The shade over the grass helped even more. What really helped? Being so in the moment dancing to your favorite reggae bands that you didn’t even realize you were hot. The first band of the day was Tahoe locals, Lizano: they came, they jammed, they conquered. A high-energy opening performance cemented their set in everyone’s mind and there’s no doubt that many new Lizano fans were made that Sunday in Tahoe and beyond.

Festival-goers were still making their way through the crowded entrance when The Elovaters, Boston’s finest, took the one and only main stage. Lead singer Jackson Wetherbee belted hit after hit from last year’s Castles as lead guitarist John Alves gave us the shred we needed performing “Criminal”, “Shots Fired” and “Margaritas” — everyone’s favorite tequila song. Speaking of drinking, have you checked out their new co-branded wine with The Wine Boss?

Fortunate Youth took to the stage and brought up their unofficial mascot/hypeman Ozzie Sanchez (aka, We Should Smoke) to light up the signature baseball bat joints onstage they have become known for. The crowd danced in the spray of the water gun being shot from the photo pit to the horn-forward tracks of 2021’s Good Times (Roll On). Everyone’s favorite island boys, Common Kings, took the stage next and the crowd went wild as they performed their brand new single, “Damn Good Time”.

Next up was Tribal Seeds, with lead singer Steve-I’s replacement, Hector Roots Lewis.

His voice and charisma, coupled with their dynamic brass section, captivated the crowd; everyone danced along with Hector as he skanked across the stage. A tough act to follow, sure, but no match for GRAMMY Award-winning SOJA, who — graced by the warm afternoon glow of the golden hour — shook the ground and inspired a sing-along to “I Don’t Wanna Wait”.

Dusk fell, the mountains glowed purple and Dirty Heads took the stage. A shirtless Jared Watson “Bee dum bee dum bum bum bum”-ed for us and Duddy B laid down his classic hard-hitting verses against his signature blooming riffs. The moist day turned to a classic summer night as the Heads closed out their hour-long set, the temperature still hovering around 80-degrees and the need for jackets nonexistent. 

Finally, for the last set of the night, Ocean Beach OG’s Slightly Stoopid brought beach vibes and an insane, laser-filled light show that no one was ready for. Singing everything from oldies like “No Cocaine” and “2AM” to newer hits like “Way of Life”, the crowd threw up their hands and swayed in the warm, blue-tinged air. 

Lake Tahoe Reggae Fest is a fun, shotgun festival that not only stocks Tahoe local vendors, but moreover is a relaxing change of pace for the city on the lake. As we bask in the energy of 2022’s installment and anxiously look forward to next year, the question remains: is there any chance this would ever be a two-day festival? Only time will tell! 

Photography by Allie Adams

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