SunFest 2019 brought a mix of rock, reggae and pop to Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach May 2nd to the 5th amid high heat and torrential downpours. And we were there to cover it!
SunFest has been a staple event in the West Palm and surrounding areas since 1982. Held annually, the festival stretches most of the length of Flagler Drive from N. Clematis Street to Lakeview Ave and attracts some 130,000 visitors each year. The festival spans 3 stages and has multiple food vendors and an Arts District showcasing hundreds of local artist ranging from fabricators to fine art. Past acts include 311, Alice in Chains, Duran Duran, Sublime with Rome, Gregg Allman and many more.
This years line up was stacked with heavy hitters across multiple genres of music including Papa Roach, One Republic, Keith Urban, Stick Figure, Hawthorne Heights and many, many more.
Day 1 - Thursday
Day one’s line up included headliner Onerepublic, Flogging Molly, Big Gigantic, and Hawthorne Heights. There was a steady stream of fans entering the various gates and exploring the festival grounds. The evening started overcast, warm but bearable. The first two bands were able to play their sets without issue however once Hawthorne Heights was supposed to take the stage, the skies decided to open up. And by open up I mean torrential downpour! For those that were prepared with ponchos and umbrellas it was a minor inconvenience. For those that were not, it was a mad dash for some cover!
The rain pushed back Hawthorne Heights set by roughly 45 minutes. The good guys of Flogging Molly were generous enough to let them cut into their set time some to make up for the delay. Hawthorne put on an amazing show, playing new tracks as well as classics such as “Ohio Is For Lovers” and “Niki FM”. Next up was Flogging Molly, a seven piece Irish-American Celtic rock band. This was my first time seeing them and they did not disappoint and clearly were a crowd favorite. Fans spanned back past the mix booth in the center of the lawn, dancing and singing along with the band. Front man and founder David King announced upon coming on stage that they had literally stepped off the plane, coming from Japan! With the energy everyone brought on stage, it was hard to tell they just made an almost 8,000 mile journey. They played for just over an hour, full of upbeat tunes and fantastic lighting.
Day 2 - Friday
Day two started off a bit better than day one, with some cloud cover but no rain thankfully. The line up included headliner G-Eazy, Earth Wind and Fire, Rebelution and more. Due to time constraints I was only able to cover Rebelution’s set. Rebelution played on the JetBlue stage to a packed crowd, spanning well down Flagler. They played for roughly an hour, tapping into new songs as well as older tunes. Songs included “Feeling Alright”, “Fade Away” and count me in.
Day 3 - Saturday
Day three was our first FULL day of music, food and the arts. The lineup consisted of headliner Diplo, Papa Roach, Ludacris, Iration and more. With the sun shining, I took the opportunity to walk the whole festival and check out everything that was going on. I spent some time in the Arts District to see what all the various artists from around the county were displaying. From paintings to jewelry to sculptures it was all very impressive. The festival also had three main areas for food vendors, ranging from burgers to gyros and noodles. There was a little bit of everything for everyone. For those that like to dabble in the spirits, there were two large “floating bars” in the harbor (21+ only to enter) as well as various bars throughout the festival.
The artist put on some amazing performances. Papa Roach and headliner Diplo went on around the same time and I chose to cover Papa Roach on the Tire Kingdom stage. Papa Roach is a band I’ve been listening to pretty much since their sophomore album “Infest” dropped. The band recently released their newest album “Who Do You Trust?” and have been touring to promote it. I think most thought they would open with one of their newer singles but to my surprise (and enjoyment) they opened with “Last Resort”. Brought me back! They cycled through some older tunes as well as new ones of the latest record. Early in the day, Iration and Fortunate Youth played on the JetBlue stage bringing in
Day 4 - Sunday
Day four, the last day of the festival. Under the scorching South Florida sun we made our way back to the Ford stage (main stage) to watch Maryland rockers Ballyhoo! Perform. Interesting story behind their set - they almost didn’t make it! While up in the Melbourne (FL) area filling up their fan, a motorcyclist coming into the gas station lost control and ran into their trailer, damaging one of the tires and the axle. The motorcyclist was injured pretty significantly according to the band but thankfully was going to be ok - it could have been much worse. As for their trailer, it was shot. The band made moves and secured a rental trailer and made it down in time, just slightly delayed.
Howie and the boys pulled off an amazing set in front of quite a large crowd, playing a wide array of songs like “Walk Away”, “Mixtape” and “Riddled With Bullets”
Next up was California reggae phenoms Stick Figure. After much anticipation of waiting for them to go on, who came out first? None other than CoCoa the Tour Dog! CoCoa accompanies Stick Figure on all their tours and is definitely a fan favorite. Fans went out of their way to bring her toys and treats, which Cocoa happily accepted. Stick Figure put on an amazing set despite the midday heat, giving it their all. The night closed out with Keith Urban (who also nearly missed the show due to travel issues!).
All said and done, this years SunFest was one for the books. We can’t wait until next year!
Sunfest 2019 Gallery