On Friday, April 8, South Florida opened its doors to the world of country music: Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival. With headliners starring every night until Sunday, April 10, performances from Morgan Wallen, Thomas Rhett and Luke Combs, to name a few could be heard next to the crashing waves in Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Many UMiami students, whether rookies or long-time supporters of country music were seen enjoying the festival experience.
Brooke Weiser, a sophomore majoring in meteorology and Spanish attended all three days.
Weiser attended last year’s Tortuga Music Festival and has been hooked ever since.
“I went for one day last year with some of my friends in November so this was my second time but my first time attending all three days,” Weiser said.
Weiser had been listening to country music for about a year now.
“For me, my roommate is a big reason why I went. She’s really into country music so I started listening to it and then our friend group started enjoying it,” Weiser said.
Weiser stated she was most excited to see Morgan Wallen. Morgan Scola, a freshman majoring in marine science and biology and a big country music fan was also excited to see Wallen perform.
“I loved Morgan Wallen. I actually started crying because I was overwhelmed with emotions; they were happy tears,” Scola said.
However, Scola also enjoyed the smaller stages.
“One stage was called ‘Up Next from Nashville’ which had the newer people. There were a few different singers from this stage that my sister and I like to listen to,” Scola said.
“There was Lainey Wilson and Randy Houser which I really liked and I even facetimed my little sister so that was fun. It was kind of like ‘oh wait they sing this song? I love this song,’” Scola continued.
However, the festival had more than solely country music stars. It was created to generate awareness as well as raise funds for ocean conservation.
“Each year, a portion of the proceeds from Tortuga are donated to the Rock the Ocean Foundation. With the help of Tortuga fans, we have raised over $2,000,000! These funds have gone to over 60 partners in ocean conservation, 5 universities, and sponsored research in the United States, Bahamas and Asia,” stated in the Tortuga website.
The Rock the Ocean Foundation focuses on 5 values: turtle conservation, coral reef degradation, marine pollution, overfishing, and shark conservation. Tents were seen raising awareness and giving away prizes during the 3-day festival.
As a marine science major, Scola appreciated the marine conservation aspect of the festival.
“All the drinks were in aluminum cans and in between sets they’d yell out ‘3,2,1 clean up all the trash you see around you,’” Scola said.
“There were a bunch of trash cans and they gave out bags that if you fill those with trash you get a ton of points that you could win like YETI coolers and fishing shirts,” Scola continued.
Apart from the conservation aspect, some felt as if the festival was a world away from UMiami and the city of Miami.
“A lot of the people there weren’t from Florida and traveled from out of town so it did feel removed from UM. There are people at UM that like country music but it wasn’t like the majority of school was there and it did feel separate from college experience,” Weiser said.
“It attracted people who were interested in country music and that didn’t necessarily overlap with the college demographic in Miami,” Weiser continued.
Scola also felt similarly, seeing the difference between the crowd at the festival and students at UMiami.
“It felt like it was a step away from UM. The majority of the crowd was like early 30s, couples, and groups of friends that were going for a fun weekend,” Scola said.
“It was the biggest country music crowd I’ve ever seen. They were selling a bunch of cowboy hats and a bunch of people had boots on so it was definitely different from the UM campus,” Scola continued.
Cowboy hats and boots may not be a regular sighting among UM’s campus, but many who attended recommend going to the festival in the future.
“Even if you’re not super into country music I’d still recommend it especially if you have a group of friends that are going because the music festival on a beach is a fun experience to have,” Weiser said.