Weezer and Snoop helped provide the sights and smells of another remarkable night. The Strumbellas get the party started.
– review of the event (downtown West Palm Beach).
Downtown West Palm Beach came alive Wednesday as the epic SunFest began churning. No other festival showcases a better and more diverse scope of music, arts, foods and fun than does SunFest. This night was a prime example of that diversified sound from all of their packed stages.
The first band we caught was The Strumbrellas on the Ford Stage. The folky rock quintuplet from Canada hyped up the crowd with their harmonious melodies, catchy lyrics and good humor! We Don’t Know had lead singer Simon Ward conducting the band and Isabel Ritchie’s violin reminding us of that 90’s sound found in hits by Collective Soul. Having some Appalachian roots myself, The Strumbellas’ unique blend of rock and bluegrass are what really stood out to me. This awesome folky sound came out when Isabel sang Rhinestone from their first album My Father And The Hunter. The Strumbellas’ keyboardist David (Dave) Ritter was all smiles and wit and really made you want to sing along. Speaking of that, the crowd was invited to sing along on their song Wild Sun from their newest album Hope. After joining the band in song, they introduced themselves to the crowd and lead singer/songwriter Mr. Ward immediately earned my respect when he mentioned that they had all “geeked out” when they saw River’s from Weezer doing his sound check earlier that day. The Long Road from their second album We Still Move On Dance Floors, had an Irish folk twang to it, which reminded me of something from Scottish band Belle And Sebastian. The band ended their set with undoubtedly their biggest hit to date, Spirits, which perfectly captured their “FolkPop, RockGrass, AltCountry” sound!
The next act we caught was Mr. LBC himself, a man even more iconic as a legend than he is as an artist, Snoop Dogg. Cultures crossed and came together packing the grounds around the stage under a smoky haze of anticipation. Snoop, the Double G, played on this and even shouted on the audience, “What do we do everyday?” and the crowd in an ear piercing response screamed, “Smoke Weed!” The Doggfather himself looked the part with his dreads, his gold microphone and a gold necklace that said “Cold.” That golden mic lit up the crowd with monster hits like The Next Episode, Gin & Juice and Drop it Like its Hot. The whole audience sang, danced and, um well, enjoyed themselves.
Co-headlining with Snoop, was my highlight of the night. Weezer, a legendary California band that’s been ruling the airwaves for the last three decades, showed West Palm Beach why they are one of the best. They opened with a recording of California Kids and they took the stage in their iconic stylings of normality with no frills and the unchanged look of relatability that has kept them with so many fans for so many years. Their well-known symbol, the huge blazing =W= for Weezer lit up with dazzling champagne colored lights as frontman Rivers Cuomo led them into Hashpipe. The crowd sang and cheered with reckless abandon as they got lost in the sound and a 13-song set list that encapsulated all their of their albums.
While I loved the whole show…here’s my top 10:
1.) Brian’s mean harmonica skills in My Name Is Jonas.
2.) In I Want You To, the harmony in the lyrics “there may come a day…”
3.) Pork And Beans…all of it!
4.) The “Nueva Cancion,” Feels Like Summer. So fresh & modern with the same ‘ol crunchiness; and a reggae backbeat! It reminded me of an Ace Of Base song.
5.) The long intro into Beverly Hills.
6.) The Good Life…one of my favorites from Pinkerton.
7.) In King Of The World, Rivers dons a crown and cape, then they ever so smoothly transition into Only In Dreams.
8.) The whole crowd singing along to Say It Ain’t So.
9.) The iconic reverb at the “end” of the show.
10.) The encore of El Scorcho and Buddy Holly.
This was only one part of a single night at Sunfest. The music is definitely the backbone and always has such a great eclectic mixture that anyone can come out on any particular night and still enjoy it. If not a stage, you can even enjoy music on one of their signature barges. However, SunFest is so much more than just a concert. It’s a food experience, an art experience and a family fun experience not to be missed.