Sunset had the honor of hosting Florida’s first post-pandemic festival, and Mic Drop had the honor to attend! It had been a LONG 15 months since our most recent live event coverage, so we were equal parts anxious and thrilled to arrive on site!
I had attended the festival as a fan years ago, and was so excited to be back, but this time as a critic. There are things about Sunset that have always been consistent throughout the years. They always bring a killer line up with a diverse spread of EDM, that keeps fans coming back year after year. The variety doesn’t end at the music, as they offer an impressive spread in both vendors and food. In addition to their consistencies, I did observe several improvements that made this year so memorable. Now let’s dive into everything that made my Sunset experience so great!
Let me walk you through the festival set up! SMF is a two day festival that formally takes place on Saturday and Sunday, starting promptly at 3 PM each day. The three main stages are the Sunset Stage, the Eclipse Stage, and the Horizon Stage. Each stage features a collective familiarity in sound, allowing each location to host its own unique vibe.
The Sunset Stage hosted big names like Seven Lions, NGHTMARE, Said The Sky, Rezz, 4B, TroyBoi, and more. I like to call the Sunset Stage the Groovin’ Stage. Each of the artists that played at this stage provided a mixture of sounds and genres that got us all to move and groove. Walking past the Sunset Stage, you would typically hear a combination of ethereal melodies, filthy dubstep, drum and bass, techno, and a little bit of wonk.
The Eclipse Stage on the other hand, is strictly for my bassheads. No matter what time you go to this stage, you can easily find a mosh pit to join or a partner to bang your head with — the Eclipse Stage is always a good time.
Now, the Horizon Stage is where you find the house/techno gang. Featuring house DJs all day and night, the Horizon Stage provides a constant flow of fun, lively, and energetic house tunes.
Saving the best for last, at the Cool Down, Get Down tent, where all kinds of different acts would take turns spinning. This stage was always a complete surprise and an unforgettable time. The music played here was a mix of everything, so it was nice to get some variety.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
I’ll be honest, that Tampa heat was no joke! However, it was evident the crew took safety precautions to avoid overheating. The SMF crew set up rotating water misting fans on the festival grounds, ensuring we didn’t burn to death. Some were placed near the water refill stations, near the rail at the stages, and in the farther back sections of the stages as well. It was comforting to notice the abundance of water refill stations on the festival grounds. This kept the refill lines efficient, a process that usually takes way too long.
Not only did the festival crew make sure that its attendees were hydrated, they also made sure the food was bussin’. Offering various options such as gyros, chicken tenders, corn dogs, burgers, quesadillas, and many others, no Sunsetter went home hungry this Memorial Day Weekend. Let’s not forget- FREE Checkers french fries?! Say less.
In addition to the food vendors, there was a plethora of boutiques and merch shops. Each vendor had their own unique products to offer from fun festival clothing, pashminas, to functional accessories, and gifts. I even saw a braiding and henna tattoo station, which was an awesome addition to the lineup. One of my favorite vendors from the festival was Daytripper Custom Apparel. We featured them on our insta story as one of the co-founders spoke about their brand and products. Each item is one of a kind and all of their designs are done by hand. Daytripper travels to festivals around the country, so look out for them at your next event!
Another effort that did not go unnoticed are the art installations that doubled as a source of shade. I appreciated the effort to elevate the vibe and keep us safe from the sun at the same time!
DAY ONE HIGHLIGHTS
Now let’s talk about what we really came here for, the music! My favorite sets I saw on Saturday were Lizzy Jane, KENDOLL B2B SINDEN, LUCII, Said The Sky, NGTHMRE, and Seven Lions. Lizzy Jane, KENDOLL, and LUCII put on for the girls. The lineup this year consisted of the most female names in SMF history, and each of the women came to show up and show out. Coincidently, each of the women I named featured their original tracks made during the pandemic as well. It was an unforgettable experience being able to hear the new unreleased magic that each artist has been yearning to reveal to the live public.
SINDEN absolutely killed it with KENDOLL. You can see their chemistry as they alternated back to back, presenting a perfectly constructed house symphony at the Horizon Stage. Said The Sky, NGTHMRE, and Seven Lions on the other hand, did not disappoint. Day one was already fueled with anticipation and high energy from the Sunsetters, but ending the first day at the main stage with names like that? I’m telling you, you had to be there. It was such a hard decision to decide between the Sunset Stage and the Horizon Stage Saturday night. Night Bass brought the crew to Tampa and they took over Horizon. However, I ended my night at the Sunset Stage and I feel complete. The smoke, the lights, the fireworks… Ray Jay was on fire after day one.
DAY TWO HIGHLIGHTS
Day two of SMF was my favorite day of the weekend. We got the first day jitters out, and we were ready to get our day started. Beginning my day with SWARM and TVBOO, my mind was blown within the first two hours of my arrival that day. SWARM made his debut appearance, full of passion, hard work, and excitement. A very heavy set that I enjoyed so much, SWARM ended it with a heartfelt speech. Reminding us Sunsetters to chase our dreams, never give up, and to keep going for our goals, even if they sound far fetched. A few of us shed a tear after his kind words, then we went straight back to moshing. Keeping the party going, TVBOO stepped up and rocked our world with his fun, weird, and energetic sound. I didn’t see one person standing still during TVBOO’s set. It was amazing.
After a strong start, I spent a few hours exploring the fest. I made use of the beautiful shaded tents set up around the grounds and took some time to rest. Then I headed back to the Eclipse Stage to see INZO, Champagne Drip, and LSDREAM. INZO and Champagne Drip were honestly life-changing sets. I heard a handful of my favorite classics, as well as new original tracks that I had never heard before.
I have to give credit to the artists visuals this weekend! Especially Champagne Drip and LSDREAM, who had some unforgettable visuals that I absolutely loved.
I ended my final day with TroyBoi, Shiba San, REZZ, and Green Velvet. I got my last dose of the Cool Down, Get Down tent, and danced the night away with my squad.
The collective energy from both days was contagious. Endless laughs and smiles from cheek to cheek passed me by, no matter which direction I walked in. It was wonderful. It was such a privilege to be able to cover both Mic Drop’s and Florida’s first festival back. The abundance of water refill stations, new artwork, plenty of areas to chill, amazing food and clothing vendors, gave us unparalleled vibes. It truly started festival season with a BANG.
SMF was a MOVIE and we can’t wait for next year. Thank you, Sunset, for giving us the live music we’ve all been craving. Festival season is really here ladies and gents. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ride. See you at the next one!