Some festivals feel like they just aren’t meant to happen, and with Thursday night featuring 50mph of wind and more than an inch of rain, Tropical Pressure 2023 seemed like it fit that bill.
Afterward, a miraculous event occurred—the build remained intact. Individuals gathered at the site, and music filled the air. Despite my apprehensions, I braced myself for potential reductions or even the cancellation of the entire project.
However, Tropical Pressure 2023 was indeed proceeding as planned, showcasing its full splendor. Without a doubt, it was truly magnificent.
Mount Pleasant Ecopark, once again, proved to be an exceptional festival venue. With its well-draining terrain, picturesque natural landforms, and breathtaking views, Tropical Pressure boasts one of the finest locations in the industry, skillfully maximizing its potential. The event featured four distinct music venues, each delivering incredible sounds that left a lasting impression.
The festival adhered to its traditional three-day format, with each day showcasing a different theme. Friday spotlighted Latin American Music, Saturday celebrated African melodies and rhythms, while Sunday embraced the vibrant sounds of the Caribbean islands.
During Latin Day, Luzmira Zerpa stood out with her vibrant Latin Folk performance on the main stage. Memorable moments included her rendition of a traditional Brazilian cowboy song and an electrifying finale.
I thoroughly enjoyed Tuto Tribe at the Amphitheatre on Friday. They skillfully blend many elements I appreciate – a Latin ska orchestra with dual saxophones, infused with influences from Vaudville and Eastern-Jewish roots. Tuto Tribe offered an energetic and amusing experience that left me eager for more. I highly recommend joining their saxophone-led conga train whenever possible.
La Dame Blanche, the headliner from Cuba, was a delightful experience. Known for her pre-performance cigar smoking ritual, La Dame seamlessly blends flute melodies with Spanish language Hip Hop, Cumbia, and Dancehall, creating an electrifying atmosphere that the crowd thoroughly enjoyed.
Saturday brought forth a plethora of awe-inspiring performances. One captivating sight at the Amphitheater was an impressive stringed drum, played by Gaspar Nali of Malawi. Its sheer majesty held the mesmerized audience captive throughout.
Next up on the main stage was Yamaya, whose vibrant energy swept over the crowd like a crashing wave. Their skillful horn play ignited a jubilant and wild party atmosphere, enticing many to dance and revel in pure joy. Taking the stage thereafter, Sam Redmore and their Tropical Soundclash All Stars maintained the high energy with their funky, brass-driven performance that drew inspiration from diverse musical influences worldwide. The infectious audience participation blended seamlessly with the resounding drums, ensuring an exhilarating experience throughout their set. Then came Juanita Euka, captivating the audience with her Latin-infused melodies. With her stunning presence and irresistible salsa beats, she had the crowd enthusiastically moving to the rhythm.
Alogete Oho and his Sounds of Joy, hailing from northern Ghana, headlined Saturday’s event. Their captivating music celebration was filled with enchanting rhythms, soaring distorted guitar melodies, and a fondness for cheesy 80s synths. As their performance progressed, it transformed into a dynamic drum-driven spectacle, igniting an infectious energy that compelled everyone to dance fervently.
The day kicked off with the Skatalites, a talented ska reggae cover band. Alongside Bob Marley classics and ska standards, their own compositions and genre transitions truly stood out. While they could benefit from greater confidence in showcasing their original work, their performance was still thoroughly enjoyed.
Following them was the Steelers, a steel drum band comprised of young musicians. They played covers of songs by Rage Against the Machine and Led Zeppelin, and also performed an impressive medley. Despite the rain, their rendition of Toots’ song was delightful for the morning.
The Caberats, a fantastic accordion-led ska adjacent band, followed them. In my opinion, their performance was absolutely brilliant, brimming with humor, energy, and a captivating finale. The vocalist showcased mesmerizing siren-like vocals before they unleashed an electrifying Eastern-inspired breakdown.
King Dinosaur delivered a lively blend of ska and rock and roll with a touch of honky-tonk vibes at the Amphitheatre. Their impressive repertoire of covers, captivating original songs, and infectious on-stage exuberance brought immense joy. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness their incredible showmanship firsthand.
My Friday favorite was definitely Dafutchaman and the Fire Blaze Band, as they brought an electrifying reggae dancehall vibe to the main stage. Led by an incredible bandleader with a voice like thunder, their 10-piece band, complete with uniformed singers, transformed the festival into a tropical paradise, overshadowing the khaki ponchos.
During the evening, David Walters delivered captivating music from Haiti, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, creating a chill, smooth, and groovy atmosphere that enchanted the audience. Although there was an initial delay for the headliners Janet Kay and Caroll Thompson, known as the Queens of Lovers Rock, their band managed to entertain the crowd with stilted chatter. However, when they finally took the stage, they were absolutely delightful, treating the audience to a melodious performance with even more familiar tunes than anticipated.
During the late hours, Channel One Sound System, renowned for its powerful sound, delivered an impressive auditory experience that enveloped listeners. Their exceptional selection of music captivated audiences, even when they didn’t employ their signature speakers. Channel One remains among the UK’s finest recorded music encounters.
Tropical Pressure 2023 defied the weather and became an extraordinary festival. The music offered a captivating blend of diversity and excitement. The venue showcased its beauty, while the atmosphere radiated with energy and joy.
While I have one major concern about the festival’s decision to become fully vegan, my overall impression of Tropical Pressure 2023 remains positive. This shift from vegetarianism may pose challenges for individuals with specific dietary requirements or preferences. Nevertheless, the event was a remarkable and pleasurable experience that I would highly recommend to nearly everyone.