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SunFest 2023 – REVIEW

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A variety of genres gave everyone something to listen to at South Florida’s local music festival, SunFest.

May 5th – 7th, 2023

DAY 1

by Coach, Kate Langford

Smaller is better, that’s the narrative organizers for the long-running annual festival were hoping to illuminate for visitors. Well, it worked and didn’t work for many, afterall in an effort to get bigger name artists, SunFest scaled back from three stages to just two. Yet, that was just one of the missing attractive things from previous years. This year, the festival also was without the large collection of artworks, several vendors with items to purchase and the closing night fireworks display.

Still, even with the changes and consequently more packed stages, SunFest was an absolutely welcomed party. As it has grown tremendously from its inception, the event maintained its status as a must-stop for visitors from all over the country. Featuring a diverse range of music including EDM, rock, pop, reggae, punk and hip-hop, the event also offered a variety of food to appease most everybody. The food ranged from traditional festival fare like funnel cakes and corn dogs to more upscale options like sushi and gourmet burgers. However, it also continued to feature the Captain Morgan barge and a Craft Beer Garden where attendees were able to sample a range of local and regional brews.

Opening night featured headliners: The Chainsmokers and Flo Rida, along with a few up-and-coming artists and local musicians. All night fans were able to enjoy their fun, interactive showmanship, but also the comfort of being next to a picturesque waterfront. I was just blown away by the combination of all the talent and coziness of the backdrop. Notable tracks from the performers included The Chainsmoker’s “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Closer,” plus Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and “Right Round.”

DAY 2

by Jenna Lee

Jack Johnson and A Boogie wit da Hoodie Steal the Show. You can hear Sunfest before you see it. 

From the minute the first act hits the stage, you can hear the thump of the music all the way down Clematis Street to the SunFest gates. Once you entered, the vibe was unmatched. Inside, you can find attendees wearing everything from cowboy boots to classic grunge attire, reflecting the mix of genres represented through the performances.

The full day event kicked off on May 6th with headliner Jack Johnson and other notable acts like Dropkick Murphys, Allegra Miles and A Boogie wit da Hoodie lighting up the Ford and Ideal Nutrition stages. 

Dropkick Murphys were a particular highlight. Their electric set mixed classic Irish bagpipes with a distinct rock sound that had the crowd moshing and singing along. Allegra Miles, who attended local high school Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, showed off her vocals with original pop tracks. 

“I think there’s such a strong sense of community here,” Miles said of the South Florida music scene. “And Sunfest specifically has always included lots of local artists, which is incredible and I’m really grateful for this opportunity.”

However, A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Jack Johnson were the biggest acts of the night, and they played very different sets. Rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie had a mostly teenage crowd screaming his lyrics to tracks like “Drowning” and “Look Back at It” and moshing while the stage lit up with pyrotechnics and smoke.

Yet, Jack Johnson simply took the stage in a laid-back fashion with his acoustic guitar and sang calmly into his microphone, swaying back and forth and closing his eyes to his soft rock sound. Plenty of hits churned out like “Taylor,” Sitting, Waiting, Wishing,” “Upside Down,” “Flake,” “Better Together” and even covers of Sublime’s “Badfish” and Jimmy Buffet’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty.”

Besides the music, vendors of all kinds of food and drink lined Flagler Street representing everything from huge brands like Dunkin Donuts to local South Florida businesses. Members of the community — some as young as high school — were seen volunteering at different booths as well as performing specific duties around the event. 

“I had a lot of fun, especially last year,” Leigh Cottrell, a volunteer, said of why she came to Sunfest. “I saw all my friends and my co-workers and we hung out and we listened to bands and we got free things and we’re a service to the community, which gives us a nice job to go to every day.”

SunFest has always been a place to showcase the work of local artists and businesses. Between the vendors, kids and adults were painting on different murals stationed down the street. Mobile Murals is the business behind it. Based in West Palm Beach, they go to different events and have people paint-by-color murals of their designs.

“This year for SunFest, we have all these fun characters from sun and robots, little beach animals like a crab and a bird, and what we’re trying to do is engage with the community,” Sydney Woods, the head artist, said. “A lot of people never really get a chance to break out some paint. So we just want to get people involved with the art scene around here and hopefully somebody will pick up something new that they’ve never done before.”

DAY 3

by Coach, Jess Bolivar

While the temperature outside was bearable, the humidity once again made the outdoors feel like a nightmare…but not enough to dampen the fun-loving mood of SunFest’s visitors. Afterall, with libations continuing to swarm over the barges and an avalanche of fans pressing closer and closer to the stages, the faucet-like sweat they bestowed didn’t seem to bother themselves. This day, much like the previous two days was all about sharing in laughter, plus singing and dancing to our favorite tunes. Leading the way were the popular national acts The Killers, 311, Ziggy Marley and All Time Low. While each one provided their own unique sound, they each unified the crowd with one anthem after another.

All Time Low made waves with their massive hit “Monsters” and a fun cover of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” while Ziggy Marley poured through his famous father’s catalog along with his own iconic tracks like “Love is my Religion” and “Look Who’s Dancing.” However, as the day pressed along, the hits kept churning out with 311’s rock-reggae-funk-rap infusion sound. Unbeknownst to several spectators, “You Wouldn’t Believe” how many tracks they knew. From popular tracks such as “Amber” and “Come Original” to early album tracks like “Do You Right,” which catered to longtime fans, everybody seemed “Down” for a sing-along even though some seemed “All Mixed Up” form the jump.

311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

Closing the night off, minus the customary fireworks display, The Killers, set the place ablaze themselves…well that is with cannons firing off confetti and souvenir 1-million-dollar bills during “The Man.” Seriously, if you have not seen Brandon Flowers and his bandmates show before, you’re really missing out. Each show is truly a spectacle as the band really captures an arena/stadium sound to it, which is unlike so many of today’s artists. At SunFest, that sentiment was not watered down in the slightest, but in fact it came across more personable with the smaller numbers. Paired with a trippy, yet vivacious backdrop, concertgoers were on a journey with The Killers to a fantasy land of music featuring hits still popular 20 years later like “Mr. Brightside” and other seasoned tracks such as “Somebody Told Me,” “All These Things I Have Done,” “When You Were Young,” “Human,” “Spaceman,” “Read My Mind,” to more recent hits like “Caution” and “Boy.”

For more information on SunFest visit www.SunFest.com

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Ziggy Marley performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Ziggy Marley performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Ziggy Marley performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Ziggy Marley performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Ziggy Marley performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Ziggy Marley performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Ziggy Marley performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • The Killers performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Surfer Girl performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Surfer Girl performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • Surfer Girl performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • All Time Low performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • 311 performs during Sunfest on May 7, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. ©South Florida Insider

  • East Harbor performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • East Harbor performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Atmosphere during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Anabel Englund performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Anabel Englund performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • The Nameless performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • The Nameless performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • The Nameless performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • The Chainsmokers perform during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • The Chainsmokers perform during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • The Chainsmokers perform during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Soulpax performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Soulpax performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Soulpax performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Soulpax performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • PLS&TY perform during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • LAYA performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • LAYA performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • LAYA performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Flo Rida performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Flo Rida performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Flo Rida performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Flo Rida performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • East Harbor performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • East Harbor performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • East Harbor performs during Sunfest on May 5, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Aaron Gilbert

  • Boogie wit da Hoodie performing on Day Two of Sunfest. Photo by Angelia Capalbo.

  • Dropkick Murphys performing at Day 2 of Sunfest. Photo by Angelia Capalbo.

  • Allegra Miles performing at Day Two of Sunfest. Photo by Angelia Capalbo.

  • Jack Johnson, headliner for Day Two of Sunfest. Photo by Angelia Capalbo.

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