Rain or Shine, SunFest Delivers Once Again
By Edysmar Diaz-Cruz
Festival season is upon us.
Crazy, once-in-a-lifetime lineups are flooding across all social media platforms while wallets everywhere are coughing and hurting, especially for festival enthusiasts such as myself. Thankfully, Florida is filled with mini festival experiences that can transport attendees to their dream fests across the nation -- whether that’s Coachella, Lollapalooza, or even Ultra.
For me, it’s SunFest, a quaint music and arts festival next to a beautiful view of the waterfront in Downtown West Palm Beach. For four days, attendees can immerse themselves into the carefree environment where a diverse lineup yields an equally diverse crowd across all three stages.
From Country to Rap to EDM, you name it, SunFest’s lineup boasts big names in every department: Keith Urban, G-Eazy, and Diplo, just to name a few.
I’ve been to many festivals, but none is quite like this South Florida summer kick-off event. I never had salty ocean air waft through my hair as I danced to alternative reggae music at JetBlue Stage. Let alone, share that experience with my 50-something-year-old mom and 13-year-old sister thanks to the all-ages appropriate atmosphere (for the most part).
I arrived at around 1 p.m. with the sun shining directly overhead and bearing heavy on my shoulders, but I was determined to get the most out of my day. The first artist on my list was the one and only, Ludacris, the legendary hip hop artist-turned-actor responsible for all of your sensual coming-of-age jams.
I was determined to sing and dance to “Money Maker” live for the first time as flashbacks of its old-school MTV music video came in waves of nostalgia. Nothing compares to listening to 2000s hip hop classics such as “How Low” and “What’s Your Fantasy.”
The crowd was huge and sweaty so I decided to cool down at SunFest’s very own Art District, where murals were being painted live by street artists and where one could purchase a variety of paintings, sculptures, clothes and merchandise. I’m a window shopper myself so I simply weaved back and forth, taking in everything before bumping into my next set: The B-52’s.
The great thing about festivals is making accidental, yet amusing discoveries. To my surprise, this 70s rock group’s most popular song “Love Shack” enticed a writhing crowd of nostalgic grown-ups. I danced too.
However, my favorite musical discovery of the day was Aerotek, whose set was scheduled right before Diplo’s on the main stage. I did not know what to expect, but I was in for the ride. The mysterious Chilean-born electronic music artist blew me away with his visuals reminiscent of vintage video games as he continued to tear into the night with incredible drops and bursts of stage fire.
Hidden behind a visually stimulating screen, Aerotek would emerge every now and then, prompting us with the flick of his hand and delivering some of the sickest beats I’ve heard in a while. By the end of his set, I was hype and ready for Diplo.
At this point of the night, I had been rained on, spilled pad thai noodles over my shoes, and my legs were aching from nonstop walking and standing, but once the stage lighting and visuals changed, I was ready to be on my feet for the next hour.
Diplo eventually took reign and slowly eased into his set. Before you know it, the stage bursts into party string, entangling the crowd -- a beautiful sight paired with emotionally cathartic music capable of bringing you back and forth between utter happiness, sadness that the moment won’t last forever, and raging energy to memorably end the night, alongside thousands of strangers who are absolutely feeling the same way.