While the sun has set and Sunset Music Festival is over, the good times and memories made will not fade. This past Memorial Day weekend, approximately 40,000 people descended upon the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for two days of shuffling and sunshine. While temperatures where very high, the festival organizers delivered on promises to provide more water stations, shaded areas, and cool down tents (featuring a pretty cool maze). From more stage production to an increased number of vendors selling the latest rave gear to all the killer main stage performances from Zed’s Dead, Major Lazer, RL Grime, and Above & Beyond, SMF truly stepped it’s game up this year.
Music Genre – EDM (everything from Trance to Bass)
Camping – Nope.
Capacity – Large (40k attendees)
Crowd Type – Headbangers and trance lovers alike danced from day until night trading kandi bracelets all along the way. Girls dressed in of tutus, butterfly wings, and whole lot of glitter could be found all throughout the festival grounds. On stage, dancers in seahorse costumes, giant blonde afro wigs, and even more glitter jumped around, elevating the energy of the crowd.
Water stations – Yes; Last year I remembered ridiculous waits to fill my hydration pack while this year I was able to fill up with almost no line and the volunteers were so friendly!
For The First Timers – PACE YOURSELF! This festival is a marathon. If you are like me and have a love for a wide variety of electronic music then you are going to find yourself there early and running from stage to stage. In the Florida heat and humidity that is no easy feat. Wear a hat, bring a hydration pack, and be sure to pack sunscreen in your bag (be sure to get a travel size, non aerosol). Dance your heart out but be sure to take breaks throughout the day!
Standout Food – A break out star of the weekend were the Pork Belly Wonton Tacos from Unami Bites! Pork belly cooked to perfection topped with a Mae Ploy Sweet chili sandwiched in a crispy wonton were filling enough to replenish me but also light enough to consume on such a hot day. 10/10 would recommend checking them out.
Musical Highlights – The stand out performance of the weekend hands down was San Holo. Listening to his hit song “Light” as the sun began to set was truly magical. Complimenting this beautiful moment was the undying energy he exuded from the stage. My fitbit said that I danced about 14 miles Saturday and I am pretty sure at least 5 of them are from jumping around during this set.
You have to love it when an up-and-coming artist gets a larger, higher energy crowd than expected. Wingtip Sunday afternoon experienced just this. He told the crowd that he bet his manager that if more than 30 people showed up he would jump off the stage. Well we showed up, danced in the hot sun, and he did just that.
Things To Do – This year the organizers added a few more things to check out. There were vendors selling everything from stylish refraction glasses to the ever essential hydration packs, a photo booth where you could pose with your squad and some props, and more “chill” zones including one that gave out alcoholic popsicles!
VIP or Nah – This year the festival rolled out the “SMF Oasis”, a reserved table with a private server, bottle service, and other luxuries like access to A/C restrooms and express parking. While I can’t say I experienced it personally, a table in the shade and air conditioned bathrooms sure would have been nice in that Tampa heat!
Story Corner – My friends and I are at Cedric Gervais. The sun is setting so I am obviously attempting to get a “Sunset at Sunset” picture when my friend starts yelling at me. “Hmmm Hmm is Hmm” is all I hear. “What?!” I yell over the music. “HULK HOGAN IS HERE” My friend says while flexing.