REVIEW: TortugaFest day 2
Plan for perfection,
nothing goes as planned,
and it all turns out perfect.
Such is the case with TortugaFest ’23, whether the exhaustive lengths underwent getting there,
weather delays & electrical storms, or performances missed due to technical issues or scheduling mishaps.
No matter how far off-target plans were,
I left Tortugafest with the biggest smile and fullest heart, having spent 3 days running the length,
Putting in 30 miles barefoot, and catching 32 of 45 performers share their art with us…
That 32/45 is just about my high watermark at around 70% and a rough, near impossible goal I set,
though Tortuga feels to be a smaller campus than say, Stagecoach in the desert, narrower,
and the flexibility of riding solo.
That said, the number would’ve been more like 36/45 if not for a hefty water taxi delay
this second day, Saturday April, 15th.
Tropidelic begins to play on the Sunset Stage just as I’m in,
having missed Chase McDaniel, Alexandra Kay, Dylan Marlowe, and Corey Kent,
the latter 2, a couple I had my heart set on, though relieved at the chance to make it up at Stagecoach,
less than 2 weeks later.
Corey Kent, a young buck soon to headline many a big show,
with kickass songs, a solid look, and a trajectory designed for stardom.
My Saturday would kick off with Tropidelic and a great way to start, if I may.
a sort of reggae sound with brass and hip hop influences,
collectively performed by an entourage barrage of sound.
Highly recommend for anyone interested in the Rasta feel, a New Orleans sound, or music.
On the move to Nashville Stage and Chayce Beckham, to find a jam-packed venue,
so I bypass it, with knowledge of his later set on the cozy acoustic Corona Stage,
making my way to Brittney Spencer on Main Stage: traditionally, I think, gospel background
with a beautiful voice and a country sound, playing with a fairly young band backing her.
Still early, so I zig-zag near the stage and here’s where I complain about small issues plaguing festivals:
the rudeness in crowds standing near the front, sometimes just to be upfront, which is fine,
but have conversations at high volume, competing with artists behind them
whom we can assume we’re here for, considering it’s a festival (you’re here for all at festivals).
Instead, back is shown to the performer, likely frustrating, though more importantly,
chatter is frustrating for the rest of us listening and paying respect to artists sharing their soul,
as Britney Spencer so sincerely does with her brand of vocals and lyrically sweet songs…
yes, who brought dad? I get it, but still
Feeling for her, I stick just a bit longer than planned, paying respect,
and then back to Nashville Stage for some country-country music and Tyler Booth,
a good ole boy rocking tank top & jeans, crankin a country drawl, with traditional country bangers,
to include a classic cover, “Family Tradition”, paying tribute to Hank Williams, Jr.,
livening up any group of onlookers. Rowdy is the name of the game under the Nashville tent
and just about the right time as we cross 4p, heat begins dissipating,
crossing us into the half over point of TortugaFest ‘23.
Original plan had me running back to Main for Jameson Rodgers,
another dude who creates party atmospheres in large arenas,
instead choosing to watch from afar and await Erin Kinsey on the smaller, more connective Nashville Stage.
Likely pretty clear I’ll assume, that my affinity and affection lie with the smaller stages,
home to the young and hot, vintage, and unique, for a variety of reasons including more effective shooting
with an iPhone when lacking a legit camera, a covered, ocean-facing stage,
and a rare opportunity to connect with folks before they’re headliners or retirees.
So back to Nashville for a vibrant and cheerful Erin Kinsey rocking her set to a jubilantly crowded mass,
not letting go of her smile, creating confident energy within us as receivers,
fueling me to get through the night…
along with a free Monster Energy Drink (typically only drink these sorta things at these sorta things)
and of course, some crotch whiskey.
Husting a short way over to the Corona Stage, set cockeyed between Main and Nashville
in village design allowing about 60+ to get some acoustic love
and this dude, Chayce Beckham is a talent to be shared, telling us a bit about a new song
and background for another, then wails out gold to inspired and potential fans…
Catching this intimate performance then Carly Pearce to follow,
one of Country Music’s hottest singers, though she’s been on the scene for some time,
meant missing Dylan Scott, which again, annoying, but all part of the game is my motto and play it, I must.
So on to Pearce where my original plan had me hanging here to filter into close range for Shania,
set an hour after Carly, forsaking Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers.
Which is another sacrifice one must make to avoid relegation to the far-stretched fringes of the Main Stage
for headlining acts, and I’ve always liked The Wallflowers,
especially favorites like “6th Avenue Heartache” and “One Headlight”,
having listened to their potential setlist, the rest just didn’t quite do it for me, on paper…
But, imperfectly perfect plans had another giggle for me as a wild hair tickled me away
from the stick & filter plan, so swimming upstream I go,
away from flocking hoards honing in on Shania.
One quirky little thing I adore and am especially talented at, is crowd surfing,
not on the hands of others, but through crowds of obstacles, negotiating the route from one point to another
as a sixth sense of sort kicks in. Head down, seeing multiple steps ahead, adapting to the next one taken,
and a path through and around thousands makes itself known,
typically, without bumping, impeding, or cutting off others.
En Route to the opposite end of the universe at this point,
a dude and his buddy are sitting on the hard deck boardwalks put down as paths
for those not wanting to rough the sand.
The sulking dude is clearly on death’s doorstep while his buddy watches him and passersby
give annoyed glances at what they see are people blocking what feels like the sole walkway.
Heatstroke, booz, and likely ‘drugs’ are the impetus here so I sprint my ass back to a beer vendor
and kindly ask for some ice which they handed me without wait, making my way back
to a now laying, eyes rolled back dude surrounded by what feels like everyone and their brother at this point,
as they yell advice in his face.
Knowing one more sticky, hot body up in his grille is likely more draining than beneficial,
I place some ice on his chest and cup some in my hand while tucking into his armpits
to hit pressure points with shocking cold ice…
After about a minute, the crowd becomes unbearable so I leave the cup of ice
and make my way again toward Sunset Stage flagging down EMTs on the way.
Once again on track to The Wallflowers, I’m surprised at the mix of young and ‘old’ in attendance
as The Wallflowers seem to be an older Xennial favorite, though I’m betting the son of Legend, Bob Dylan
helps fuel the fandom across all ages.
Jakob kicks in and I’m set about 5 or so heads from the front, and boy did they rock…
Dylan is so very personable and playing well with audiences with charismatic presence and infectious smile
and if ever I’ve eaten crow, it couldn’t have tasted as good as this,
because live, The Wallflowers may have given one of the best performances of the weekend
as he thanked fans for taking valued time away from jockeyed positioning
for a legend in her own right, Shania Twain,
to give him the respect he deserves.
Front row now as folks slowly begin to peel away,
Dylan plays the hits, finishing with tributes to Tom Petty, a high we ride back to the other side of the venue.
On the walk, many could be overheard
“omg they were awesome, I had no idea.”
I think I’d have to agree.
Now seams bursting, bouncing with energy, filled with the trashed
after a long, hot Saturday under sunny skies…
Main Stage flashes and Shania appears before a roaring crowd, kicking off a longtime return
to a large venue with “Up!” and “Life’s About to Get Good”.
After a few, what feels like fireside chats and possibly nervous comments,
it’s clear Shania’s uncomfortable, yet continuing with “Don’t Be Stupid” and her newest, “Giddy Up.”
Another couple disjointed conversations with a now confused crowd,
to add what appeared to be blame to production for a malfunctioning monitor
and an audible murmur rumbles through the crowd.
And the hits keep comin with “Any Man of Mine”, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under”,
and “Honey I’m Home,” just as great as ever.
Shania walks out to the point,
sits down, guitar in hand, and tells of her time coming up thru the ranks, surrounded by music
that only told of drunk cowboys and heartbreak, then pays tribute to Janis Joplin with
“Me and Bobby McGee” then “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys”
followed by more meanderings about air and the benefit of bubbles while flocks pulse toward exits,
gaining a jump on the exodus,
which is, of course normal no matter who’s playing.
Rounding out her polar performance, Shania included “I’m Gonna Getcha Good”,
“You’re Still the One”, tears… “Inhale/Exhale”, and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”
leaving many of us with mixed thoughts as we journey back to our respective pads
and while it’s easy to complain or mock the oddness in her ramblings, I prefer to chalk it up to nerves
and highlight the music, great as ever,
and gratitude for the gift of a Shania Twain live performance.
A long walk to a longer water taxi ride home, scarf one of 3 Publix hoagies in the fridge,
bought 2 days prior specifically to be eaten at the end of each night,
and day 2 in the books.
nap time till the finale…
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Born city, raised country, west coast to east coast and back again. B.A., M.B.A., then back to LA,
lending to a love of capturing moments given any lens, and the adoration of all music, especially experienced live,
where this moment-capturing poet jives and thrives.
work in progress, y’all
[a part of the Founders Yonder Collective (FYCmoments)]