REVIEW: SunFest Not Much Sun But Plenty of Fun

Music lovers rejoiced as South Florida’s largest music and arts festival returned to the West Palm Beach waterfront following two years of postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sold-out, 2022 edition of SunFest welcomed more than 100,000 attendees over the four-day music festival. Although this year’s SunFest had more rain that anyone cares to remember, it was the weather played havoc on concertgoers who found themselves ducking for shelter under anyplace they could find to provide respite from the downpours. As it turns out the rain was a factor for nearly three out of the four days; However, there were definitely some highlights to write home about along with memorable sets from Goo Goo Dolls, Melissa Ethridge, Sam Hunt, Brett Young, Lil’ Wayne, Adam Lambert, Counting Crows, Steve Aoki, AJR, Boyz II Men, and Black Pumas.

After much speculation and with anticipation from the long-rooted SunFest faithful who make attending the weekend-long series of concerts a part of their annual music calendar. The lineup featured a genre-diverse group of more than 50-plus artists from pop, rock, country, and hip hop among other genres. The fest featured some local up-and-coming bands who had their chance to shine despite the rain and share the same stage with several Grammy award-winning multi-million-album-selling artists, including several of the most-recognized names in the music business. The weekend-long extensive schedule of musical performances took place across three massive stages stretched along the panoramic West Palm Beach intracoastal waterfront. If you have attended this festival in the past, you know that there is plenty of walking in part because of the distance between the three stages. While some chose to stay in one location for the day, others found themselves walking to the diffent stages to catch their favorite artists.  However, while walking about, those attending got to experience that this festival is about much more than just music. If you’re a foodie, and who isn’t!, there were plenty of good eats at one of the three food sections that featured everything from fan-favorite pineapple chicken to fried noodles. Of course there were hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza, but with such an incredible mix of culinary choices, many opted for the unique flavors that make this a one-of-a-kind experience. If you like to indulge in grown-up beverages, there wasn’t any shortage of beer, this included15 stands spread across the festival grounds plus mixed drinks. Combine that with the on-hand artists who created live art that was both for sale and display,  and it proved to be an incredible weekend of creatives.

 

Thursday

The first night of Sunfest kicked off with several local favorites including Citizen Badger, American Sign, Andrew Morris Band, Colony House, Kidd G, and Flipturn followed by alternative rockers Goo Goo Dolls, who returned to West Palm Beach, having played SunFest several years ago. Indie rock band Rainbow Kitten Surprise delivered an impressive set to a faithful rain-soaked audience, and night one closed out with Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Sam Hunt, whose fans endured a soaking while they waited for him to perform. True to form, Hunt rewarded them with a high energy set of his most recognized foot-stomping sing-a-long tunes including “Young Once” and “Leave the Night On.”  

 

Friday

The weekend kicked off with local multi-instrumental duo Indigo Dreamers followed by Joey Calderaio Band, Sko Gudino, Fancy Hagood, GaTa, and The Main Squeeze. Bay area rock band Counting Crows played a great set that included their 1993 radio-hit “Mr. Jones.” Young rapper Polo G played a solid but short set late into the night that had the young crowd energized as he delivered what everyone came for: a great time. The second night of music closed out with San-Diego based reggae rockers Slightly Stoopid.

 

Saturday

The day drew huge crowds despite a rain-soaked day that had many wearing rain ponchos off and on throughout the day. With fans in droves ready for music, the day opened with indie-pop/singer-songwriter from Nashville Bre Kennedy, Levi Hummon, De’Wayne, and Southern California country singer Brett Young, whose career continues to skyrocket. Folk rocker Melissa Etheridge was equally impressive, not skipping a beat on a 30-plus-year career. Ethridge sang the hits including “I Want to Come Over” and “Come to My Window” to the delight of thousands who were there. Chase Atlantic, Chris Pierce, Public Sounds, iDiaz, Rogue Theory, Justus Bennetts, Elena Rose, Selfish Sons, and Justin Quiles also rocked out. Current Queen frontman Adam Lambert covered four Queen tunes including “Another One Bites The Dust,” “I Want to Break Free,” “Dragon Attack,” and “Stone Cold Crazy.” To wrap up a rainy yet spirited Saturday night, longtime rap icon Lil Wayne brought the hype and electrified the rain-soaked crowd with a high-energy performance.

 

Sunday

On what proved to be the only day without rain, Sunfesters were greeted with clear blue skies and plenty of sun to make up for the previous three days. Things got started with local Lake Worth-based reggae band Artikal Sound System, who opened the day by marking their return to the stage, having last played SunFest in 2019. The day continued with Ric Wilson, Spencer Sutherland and SOJA. Miami-born and now L.A.-based DJ Steve Aoki was definitely a fan favorite on this day. To the delight of nearly everyone in the crowd, Aoki showered his fans with cakes, something that seems to be the norm at all his concerts. The day continued with LANY, Crush Company, Topless in Tokyo, Matt Brown, Mihali, Alex Mali and Baby Jake. Austin-based R&B Soul specialists Black Pumas played an extended set to reward those fans who walked to the far end of the grounds to catch their set. Clearly the duo were glad to be there, and Eric Burton left the stage to join his fans with a sing-a-long to several songs. Timeless entertainers Boyz II Men showed everyone in the crowd that they still have harmony, and each took the spotlight individually, singing parts to many of their number-one charting radio hits including “Motown Philly” and “End of The Road.” Closing out Sunfest 2022 were brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met, known as AJR. The trio was welcomed by thousands who spent most of the day holding onto their front-row spots enduring a searing sun to catch the indie pop band. It’s clear why AJR is popular; not only do they have catchy tunes, but they delivered an incredibly fun show.

 

SunFest, see you in 2023!

 

Adam Lambert
AJR

 

BabyJake
Black Pumas

 

Counting Crows

 

Goo Goo Dolls

 

Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne
Melissa Ethridge
Polo G

 

Sam Hunt

 

Steve Aoki

 

 

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