Rock legends and up-and-comers shine over the SunFest’s final day.
– review of day 5 of the festival (downtown West Palm Beach).
For its fifth and final day, SunFest again managed to showcase several legendary acts while gathering fans from otherwise completely separate musical spheres. Only here could you actually witness hula-hooping festy kids hanging and grooving along with 90’s punk scenesters. This quality, along with the wide age distribution from babies to some real old timers, is something that has always made SunFest truly stand out and create an atmosphere all its own.
One of the most hotly anticipated acts, was also one of the earliest to play, as jam band elites, Widespread Panic, took the stage for a customarily long two-and-half-hour set. Over two decades, WSP has managed to achieve the kind of following and status that only a few other jam bands can claim to match and they were not shy about showing off their skills for a more mainstream crowd. From Bust it Big, to a soulful Expiration Day and some interesting wobbles and electric tones in Protein Drink, the long songs stretched into, as always, unique new soundscapes – riding the incredibly instrumental skills and guided by the classic voice of John Bell. Without a doubt, many new jam band fans were minted on this day.
The next band up on the same stage were Cali indie rock band Wavves, who along with Roanoke and Alex di Leo held the brief min-day 30-minute sets. The group however managed to get in quite a few songs into the short timeframe. From the very appropriate My Head Hurts, to the brand new A Million Entities before finishing up with fan-favorite Mikey Mouse from their breakthrough album “King of the Beach.” Curiously, from 5 to 9 pm, the Ford stage essentially represented the 2017 Blink 182 tour, as both Wavves and The Naked and Famous are touring with the punk band.
Speaking of The Naked and Famous, the indie ensemble from New Zealand followed up with another powerful performance. Very clean vocals were a standout during songs like Punching in a Dream and Higher, while more electronic fare dominated We Are Leaving. The Indie was going strong indeed, as Icelandic group Kaleo performed at the same time over at the Jet Blue stage. Their recent hit Way Down We Go has really put them on the map over the last year and going by the quality of the set, their start is only beginning to rise.
Wrapping up the day, blues-rocker Steve Winwood and punk rock legends blink-182 delivered a nostalgia packed closeout for the festival. Despite having recently gotten back into the spotlight with a new album (one that reached #1 on the charts no less) blink-182 made sure to play all the old-school fan-favorites like Miss You, All the Small Things and Dammit to end the show. Of course, plenty of tracks from 2016’s California also made the cut – from She’s Out of Her Mind, to Sober and Bored to Death. The set kept a lighthearted mood, with several random moments of silliness (teasing Nirvana covers that were never gonna happen comes to mind) as well as a killer solo by drummer Travis Barker and an upgraded visual show to keep up with the times.
As the yearly fireworks display started and the crowd spilled into streets to keep the party going, I knew I would continue coming to SunFest for the foreseeable future – it has yet to disappoint and every year I get to cross off a prodigious amount of bands from my “must see” bucket list. There is simply no more eclectic, well organized and startlingly affordable musical experience in South Florida. So cheers to another decade or two!