Tortuga Music Festival: The Pluses and Minuses

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Looking back at Tortuga Music Festival.

Congratulations are in order. The organizers and producers of the inaugural Tortuga Music Festival provided a fine introduction to what might, in the years to come, evolve into one of South Florida's leading music festivals. The combination couldn't be better --- sun, fun, sand, and sounds. So I thought a look back with a fresh, day-after perspective was in order. Here's what worked and what could use use some improvement at the 2013 Tortuga Music Festival.

See also

- Top Ten Best and Worst Fashions of Tortuga Music Festival

- Biggest Trend of Tortuga Music Festival: Boobs, Boobs, and More Boobs

- Gary Clark Jr. Broke My Heart at Tortuga Music Festival

- Avett Brothers - Tortuga Music Festival, Fort Lauderdale - April 14

- Avett Brothers' Seth Avett Admits: "We Are Genuinely Sensitive Men"

- Grace Potter on Touring with the Avett Brothers: "We're Totally Sick of Each Other!"

The Pluses

An impressive line-up

Not bad for an initial foray. After all, it's not easy to sell a two-day event that's never been done before. Getting Kenny Chesney, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grace Potter, the Avett Brothers, and the Wailers all to one venue is one mean feat. Congrats on wrangling some big names to your first shindig.

An A for organization

Everything was laid out remarkably well. Everything was marked clearly, and the traffic flow within the festival confines appeared to be seamless. There were plenty of portable toilets, lots of tasty varieties of food -- everything from stir fry to paninis to chili -- and beverages (and by beverages, we mean beer). There was more than adequate security. And the specific areas for viewing the proceedings made sense. Many festivals continue to struggle with logistics. Tortuga nailed it right away.

Everything ran according to schedule

Getting stuff done on time at a fest is a hugely impressive hurdle unto itself.

Plenty of crowd control

No stampedes, no pushing and shoving. It was all very polite. Maybe next year, there will be a bigger swarm of people, but this time around, it felt just right. After all, you could actually see the stage. You can't always claim that advantage at a gathering like Bonnaroo.

Shade and seating

Now that's a big plus, especially when the temperature climbs into the 90s (or at least that's how it felt). Having a place to sit after traipsing back and forth to the stages at opposite ends of the site was a real blessing, especially if you didn't want to opt for your own sand coach. And having shade was a big plus as well, especially when you don't have to fight your fellow festivalgoers to escape the sun.

Did we mention beer?

Kudos to the folks at LandShark for the free samples. Kudos for making it so available. Kudos period. And more kudos as well. Yay, beer!

The Improvements, Please

The lineup

OK, we know we offered this as a plus, and maybe some things were out of your control, Tortuga types. The cancellation of headliner Gary Clark Jr. for one. But maybe a few bigger names in terms of rock relevance would have been nice, like, oh I don't know, Mumford and Sons, the Lumineers, Paul McCartney... I know I'm stretching it a bit on the last one, but what's that saying? Shoot for the stars? I mean, we love country, y'all, but maybe mix it up a bit next time.

Control the cost

With tickets going for $100 and more per day, that could be out of the reach of many folks who would have otherwise attended. A few bigger names might have made it seem a better value (see above).

Give us more set time

This might tie in with item number one, but some of the non-headliner acts didn't seem to get their due. Specifically, the Avett Brothers (read my review here).

Parking problems

Granted, this is always a problem in South Florida, but damn if it didn't seem like we parked in another time zone once we arrived. The boat taxi from Las Olas was affordable, and we gotta admit, we liked the chance to take in a bit of sightseeing, but with a half hour boat ride tacked on to the time it took to park, it seemed like we sacrificed a lot of viewing time in order just to get there.

Allow some nudity

Okay, maybe that's a selfish suggestion. But we were at the beach after all. Why not have some clothing option viewing sites?! Yes, we know that boots and cowboy hats seemed like mandatory wardrobe choices, but you've heard of that Naked Cowboy fella up thar in New York, haven't ya? Haven't ya? Ah, hell. Indulge me.

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