Everybody knows about the healthy rivalry in downtown West Palm Beach. On the east side, we have people who wear khakis and braided leather belts and meet at E.R. Bradley's after work to drink Miller Lite. On the west side -- literally, across the train tracks -- we have punkers, goths, and rockers whose long-time HQ is the nightclub called Respectable Street. The well-manicured east side has Mayor Lois Frankel in its corner; the west side rallies behind Respectable's owner Rodney Mayo. Each spring, the city sanctions SunFest, a pleasant enough event that draws wholesome musicians to play for families. But every Rocktober, Mayo and fellow business owners counter with their own shindig: Moonfest. Who's invited? Forty thousand costumed freaks, tarot card readers, street vendors, DJs, and musicians who are on their way up, not down.
This year's lineup reminds us of a Halloween show we caught around 1991. Rag magazine had written about a local band that made the writer come to a graveyard to get a copy of its demo tape. Intrigued, we attended the Halloween concert, which featured a contest for the "most unique" costume. At least 15 girls showed up as dead brides. The singer ended up having two different-colored eyeballs, pouring chocolate sauce on audience members, and simulating oral sex. He kept a 5-year-old boy in a cage on stage. Sure, the music was good, but most important, the show had one ingredient that most shows lack: It was entertaining. Yep, the band was Marilyn Manson.
Once again, South Florida has hatched a band worth watching. The singer goes totally freakshow in his suit and white suede shoes. The guitar player is a rock god. The bass player clearly stepped out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yeah, the music is good (mod-style rock à la the Jam), but most important, the band is fun as hell to watch. The singer once died on stage and had to be revived. They once held elections to rename the band. There was the infamous electric kool-aid test, and another time, they took the stage as Vanilla Friendship Bracelet. Take note of this band now, kiddies. We usually steer clear of writing about them, since the singer happens to be New Times' assistant calendar editor, Jason Budjinski (who argued against this paragraph). The band, Billy Boloby, is the Moonfest headliner.
Moonfest also stars bands Ginger Snapped, Doorway 27, the Mission Veo, eL, the Bikes, and more. At the "bizarre bazaar," vendors sell glow sticks, hemp necklaces, and temporary tattoos. There will also be rides, DJs, and a costume contest. And in a show of solidarity, everybody in town -- khaki-wearin' yuppies and Mayor Frankel alike -- barhops on both sides of the tracks for some good, good times. Be there or be bored. -- Deirdra Funcheon