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Tortuga Music Festival 2018: 10 Must-See Acts

From Eric Church and FGL to Snoop Dogg and Cheap Trick, the can’t-miss sets at this weekend’s Fort Lauderdale beach bash

tortuga music festival

Eric Church, Lanco and Snoop Dogg are among the must-see acts at this weekend's 2018 Tortuga Music Festival.

Invision/AP/REX Shutterstock, 2; Chelsea Lauren/REX Shutterstock

Held each spring since 2013, the Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has earned a reputation for beachside concerts benefiting marine-conservation efforts with the Rock the Ocean Foundation. Tortuga is even named after the sea turtles that call Florida’s shores home. But this year, what has primarily been known as a country and roots festival is taking a further step out of its shell.

Kicking off April 6th, the 2018 edition of the fest features an eclectic lineup of musical styles and stars, from slow-rolling gangsta rap to Seventies pop-rock and straight up honky-tonk on two sandy stages. Here’s the 10 artists you just can’t miss this weekend. 

tortuga music festival

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Florida Georgia Line

As one of the most visible crossover acts in country music, Florida Georgia Line should feel right at home on the eclectic 2018 Tortuga lineup. In the past year alone they’ve released collaborations with country superstar Tim McGraw, electronica duo the Chainsmokers, boy band icons the Backstreet Boys and pop singer Bebe Rexha. FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley will headline the Main Stage on Friday Night, just after Snoop Dogg gets the crowd in the zone.

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Brothers Osborne

With their upcoming sophomore album, Port Saint Joe, Brothers Osborne are poised for another huge year in country music – and Tortuga marks the beginning of the run. Already holding the crown as the reigning ACM and CMA Vocal Duo of the Year, brothers John and TJ will be extra fired up for a couple of reasons. Port Saint Joe comes out less than two weeks after their Sunday night Main Stage set, and they’ve already shown some big-time love to coastal Florida, having named the album after the beachside hideaway where it was recorded.

tortuga music festival

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Keith Urban

A longstanding proponent of genre-defying experimentation, Keith Urban might actually represent the musical middle ground at this year’s Tortuga. Having blazed a trail between rock and country in his early career, the New Zealand native has continued right through 2016’s Ripcord, which leaned heavily into the worlds of electronica, disco and funk. Urban is gearing up for his Graffiti U World Tour, which kicks off June 15th in St. Louis, so fans might get an early taste of the new show when he headlines the Main Stage on Saturday night.

tortuga music festival

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Shaggy

Jamaican-born fusion singer Shaggy is an unexpected-but-perfect match for Tortuga. His music is so relentlessly upbeat that his 2000 earworm “It Wasn’t Me” (featuring Rikrok) made the literal act of getting caught with your pants down seem like fun. And there’s actually quite a bit of reggae influence in country right now – and not just from beach bums like Kenny Chesney and Jake Owen. Artists from Jerrod Niemann to Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett are also getting in on the act. Shaggy takes the Sunset Stage Saturday night.

tortuga music festival

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Eric Church

Often rocking a leather jacket and a scowl, Eric Church probably isn’t the first country artist you think of when it comes to an oceanfront beach concert. But his stage performances are epic, and he is set to close the 2018 Tortuga Music Festival from the Main Stage on Sunday night. Last year, Church wrapped up his Holdin’ My Own Tour, which like its name suggests featured three-hour shows with no opening act and a bare-bones presentation, placing the focus squarely on Church’s songcraft and stage presence. A three-hour set is most likely not in the cards at Tortuga, but that all-or-nothing artistry is.

tortuga music festival

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Lanco

Fresh off their first Number One country hit – the epically nostalgic, truck-averse “Greatest Love Story” – and with a chart-topping album debut to boot, Lanco are making their first Tortuga appearance on the Sunset Stage Friday night. Their knack for vivid sonic tapestries and heartfelt storytelling should lead to plenty of memory making on the beach – and the band will also take part in what will likely be one of the festival’s most memorable transitions. Lanco’s latest single is the surging anthem “Born to Love You,” but the band probably had no clue they were destined to open for Snoop Dogg.

tortuga music festival

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Snoop Dogg

Last year’s Tortuga Festival did feature hip-hop acts like Nelly and the jammy G. Love & Special Sauce, but rap royalty is hitting the beach on Friday with Snoop Dogg headlining the Sunset Stage. The West Coast icon just released a double album of gospel rap titled The Bible of Love, and he’s no stranger to country fans, having released a cover of Everlast’s “My Medicine” featuring Willie Nelson and Brad Paisley in 2008 and finding a kindred spirit in Nelson with his “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” weed anthem.

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Cheap Trick

After a long weekend of beachy, boozy good times, festivalgoers would be wise to save some energy for the classic power-pop of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick. The Seventies hitmakers, with charismatic lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, are closing down the Sunset Stage on Sunday night with immortal anthems like “I Want You to Want Me” and “Surrender,” but a few new tunes may also be on the menu. Proving they’re far from a touring tribute to their own past, the band has released three albums in last two years, and frontman Robin Zander makes his Broadway debut in a production of Rocktopia on April 23rd.

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Dan Tyminski

The majority of fans at Tortuga might not recognize the name Tyminski, but they will most likely recognize Dan Tyminski’s voice. One of the most celebrated vocalists in roots music, Tyminski’s reputation was built on timeless bluegrass authenticity, first as a member of Grammy-vacuum Alison Krauss’ Union Station and again as the singing voice of George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Lately, he’s been working with modern sounds, scoring an international hit with EDM favorite Avicii (“Hey Brother”), then releasing a full album in the same vein called Southern Gothic. He’ll deliver a daytime set on the Main Stage Sunday afternoon.

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Dwight Yoakam

Taking the Sunset Stage on Saturday night directly after Shaggy is neo-honky-tonk icon Dwight Yoakam, an odd-couple combination if there ever was one. Yoakam should make it a seamless transition, though, having built his whole career on thinking outside the box. Too twangy and headstrong for Nashville in the Eighties, Yoakam brought back the Bakersfield Sound with his debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., and has kept up the restless experimentation through 2016’s Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars … Plus, he can still rock a pair of skinny jeans.