quit my job last week and flew down to Miami. Why? Simple. To see, The Killers perform at Riptide Music Festival. I have been a fan since buying ‘Hot Fuzz’ at Best Buy but have yet to see them live. All that was about to change, as I landed in Miami early Saturday morning, listening to “Spaceman”. A train ride and a Lyft drive later, I arrived at a sandy paradise. An ecstatic crowd migrated toward an array of food trucks and tent-shops, dotting the seaside. There was a Lollapalooza energy intertwined with a Fort Lauderdale Spring Break setting. Giant Octopus figurines greeted me, welcoming me to the ocean-shore oasis of Alternative Music. This was Riptide.

Soft sand beneath my feet stretched on for blocks. A salty, sea breeze drifted toward the shimmering ocean shore and thousands of eager fans in swimsuits awaited Saturday night’s headliner, The Killers. I enjoyed an exquisite burrito from one of the local food tents as the sun disappeared beneath the waves and the pink-orange painted sky buzzed with anticipation.

Beneath a starry night sky, the crowd chanted as The Killers took the stage. They started with a salute to Frank Sinatra, playing “Luck be a Lady”. Then, the light show illuminated the darkness as “Somebody Told Me” blared through the speakers. Every fan on the beach cheered and sang along to the beloved melody. After the first song concluded, Brandon Flowers greeted the crowd of thousands, explaining The Killers haven’t played in Fort Lauderdale for 15 years. The crowded beach went crazy, welcoming the band back to the Sunshine state.

Midway through the set, they paid tribute to the late great Tom Petty, a Jacksonville native, who they recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dazzling strobe lights danced, and the crowd rocked back and forth, as they covered “American Girl”. The “Petty” chants echoed long after the last chord of the song was plucked. Everyone was delighted to see the Killers pay tribute to one of their inspirations.

Shortly after, Flowers surveyed the crowd and invited a member up on stage to join them on drums. The crowd member proceeded to play well enough to spark some debate about whether he was planted in the audience. Either way, his performance riled up the crowd and kept us guessing.

After a little over an hour, the lights dimmed. Anxious murmurs broke out and some fans departed, thinking the set had concluded. Then, the drums started beating again to the rhythm of “All These Things That I’ve Done”.  The crowd led the way, singing out “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.”

Instead of starting the song, The Killers let the crowd sing themselves out, which took at least five minutes. They kept the crowd involved by playing “When You Were Young” next. Then, the set came to a thunderous close with “Mr. Brightside.”

Leaving the show, my friend asked me if seeing the Killers was worth it, in the end. I smirked and looked out at the waves rolling into the shore. I breathed in the palm tree dotted shoreline full of rides and cheering fans. Finally, with a smile from ear-to-ear, I nodded. Absolutely, it was worth it.

Photos by
Rob Loud