Memorial Day Weekend was spent down in Tampa, Florida for Mic Drop Music, attending another edition of the electronic tradition that is Sunset Music Festival. This isn’t my first rodeo with Sunset, and after 8 years, they are more established than ever with a strong foothold in the Tampa music scene. So, why does it still feel like a first year festival?
It’s no knock on Sunset and what they have created but as a patron for a few years now I can say, it’s feeling a little stagnant. The stages haven’t changed at all, the artists who get booked are predictable, no new art installations or attractions. It feels like the creators know people will buy tickets regardless, so “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. A bold assumption to make, especially after the rain fiasco and cancellation last year.
With the festival industry becoming more over saturated by the year, it makes keeping a fresh lineup difficult. It has become more crucial than ever for festivals to keep it fresh, and those who cannot are dying. Several Florida festivals have been killed off in recent years. With no Okeechobee in 2019, Hulaween still on hold with things looking bleak, this was really a great chance for SMF to take a step up. To join the ranks of other iconic Florida festivals like Ultra.
Day one had a promising start, Holly Woods kicked the day off strong and loud. Tampa’s own Blunts and Blonds had a killer set with a huge crowd, as the city made sure to come out and support. Fisher had a late afternoon set that I greeted with high expectations, though he came through with basic songs and an average set at best. Dion Timmer brought the night back to life with a high energy performance, leading us into a Liquid Stranger set on Eclipse Stage that did not disappoint. As the night came to a close, Walker & Royce bumped house with Chris Lake as Zedd took the main stage. A good day overall, left me ready and excited for day two.
Sadly, day two had some major issues with the payment system. For a few hours the bands that were used to pay for water, food, and alcohol all went down. So for quite some time many attendees, myself included, were without water and food. Far from ideal, or even safe for that matter, on a hot summer day. The technical issue was resolved later in the afternoon, and as far as my research goes there were no health concerns with dehydration. I guess no harm, no foul? Peekaboo and 12th Planet went heavy and hard as they always do, while Ganja White Night brought some funk and flair on the Sunset stage. Finally the moment we had all been waiting for, Zeds Dead! The duo was fantastic, the perfect choice to close out the festival.
As another year of SMF passes, I hope we can prepare for another with positive changes in mind. I would love to see this festival going for many years to come, as they really have earned their place in the Florida EDM community.