Reggaetronic Lake Murray Music Festival returns this weekend

Posted 6/14/23

While one of the two floating music festivals that regularly take place on Lake Murray is canceled for a second straight year, the other is back and looking to expand.

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Reggaetronic Lake Murray Music Festival returns this weekend


While one of the two floating music festivals that regularly take place on Lake Murray is canceled for a second straight year, the other is back and looking to expand.

The Reggaetronic Lake Murray Music Festival, a reliable presence on the lake since 2011, returns this weekend with a floating stage along the shore of Spence Island ready to be viewed by a horde of reveler-filled boats.

Drift Jam, the other floating music festival that regularly occurs on the lake, was canceled abruptly a couple weeks ago following the exit of a key sponsor. The event, which didn’t happen last year, is set to return in 2024 for one final outing.

While Reggaetronic founder Ronnie Alexander emphasized many advantages to the way his festival is put on and spoke with enthusiasm about future plans, he acknowledged that putting on a music festival on a lake isn’t without challenges.

“It’s a logistical nightmare,” he said, explaining that without the festival’s bigger sponsors getting on board, it likely would have fizzled some time ago. “We have been searching for land and water around the lake area, but being in the middle of, I guess more of a conservative bible belt area, you know, no one really wants to let us use their land.”

Relegated strictly to the water, Reggaetronic can’t access many of the typical sources of revenue available to festivals — namely, ticket, food and beverage sales.

The organizers compensate by finding sponsors and selling a limited number of VIP spots for people to park their boats in comfort closer to the stage, but it’s still a difficult equation to balance.

Despite these challenges, they keep making it work. The festival donates its surplus revenue to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, with Alexander reporting that the festival averages about a $13,000 donation each year.

And now they’re looking to expand, with the founder giving early details about plans to start sister festivals in Myrtle Beach and Charleston. The Myrtle Beach event would take the form of a music festival out on the sandy beach. Meanwhile, the Charleston event would hopefully (finally) provide the sort of land/water hybrid Reggaetronic has sought on the lake, with organizers setting up in Riverfront Park so that attendees could watch from the lawn or the river.

These future plans don’t represent a push to get away from Lake Murray. 

Alexander said the festival is increasingly able to get routing dates from national acts (shows where artists add a date in the middle of an already planned tour at a significantly lower price point for the promoter than if they were traveling out specifically for their event). The festival founder reasoned that this has to do with Reggaetronic’s own name growing and the Midlands continuing to draw bigger names to Columbia rooms like Colonial Life Arena and The Senate.

This year’s lineup includes Artikal Sound System, MADDS, Of Good Nature, Lefty at the Washout, and Mystic Vibrations.

And while mounting the festival on water presents many of Reggaetronic’s biggest challenges — such as having to find a new barge while the one the festival typically uses sits in the Saluda River helping with interstate construction efforts to rework “Malfunction Junction” — taking place on the lake makes the event stand out.

Being out on the water allows organizers to throw a midday outdoor event at a time on the Midlands calendar that is mostly too hot to put on such a festival otherwise.

“College kids really aren’t our target markets,” Alexander said. “They probably don’t have boats. Our demographic really ranges from young professionals to retirees. It does give them something to do over the summer rather than having to go to the beach or the mountains or you somewhere else.”

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