On day four, SunFest festivities in downtown West Palm Beach took a decidedly EDM turn as flocks of teens donning white tanks, neon sweatbands, bikini tops and every possible kind of booty-short flooded the grounds lining the intracoastal waterway. The vibe was a lot less like the "mini Woodstock" my dad described from his memories of the '80s SunFests, and much more like a mutant offspring of Miami's annual rave spectacle, Ultra.
After days of heavy rain, flooding finally gave way to clear skies and summer temperatures, adding fuel to those already amped for Life in Color, "the World's Largest Paint Party." The headlining event at the Ford main stage delivered five hours of non-stop EDM shreddage, accompanied by beat-matched cannon blasts of water-soluble dayglo body paint splattered across the crowd.
For the first two hours, a massive digital clock on stage counted down the seconds until 8 p.m., when the cannons would release their blasts and Miami's DJ David Solano would begin his set. Apart from the sizable crowd already pumping their fists to the music at the Ford stage, throngs of tanned bodies swarmed the three Captain Morgan Floating Oasis barges tied up to the seawall, where DJs played a range of typical dance club bangers along with some more laid back disco tunes.
While the younger crowd was clearly more driven by the electronic offerings of Saturday's festival lineup, there was definitely no shortage of buff soccer mom types in fluorescent athletic wear jumping up and down by the DJ booths and gray-haired dudes in fishing T's and baseball caps lingering at the bars. Young or old, everyone was more or less on the same page: full-on party mode.
By the time the clock had struck eight, and the sun more or less set, the crowd at the Ford stage for Life in Color was borderline impenetrable. In order to get to anywhere near the front and center, you either had to be a master crowd weaver mazing your way through the dense mob of dancing bodies, or you'd camped out since the brutal daylight hours. Those dedicated enough to the experience found their way to the front, but even at the farthest outskirts, enthusiastic ravers waved their glow sticks and iPhones, shrieking in ecstasy any time the paint splatters made it into their zone.
David Solano kept the crowd energized during his approximately hour-long set, at one point urging everyone to take off their shirts, wave them around, and then throw them up in the air. Like any good EDM crowd, the sweaty, paint-covered partiers obeyed, shedding any extra layers and powering into Grammy-nominated DJ Morgan Page's set. The main headliner of the Life in Color 2013 tour, Morgan Page brought the hits, even dropping Daft Punk's new mega-single "Get Lucky" into his set and keeping everyone grooving until the night ended around 11.
With a roster as eclectic as this year's SunFest lineup, it was a concern whether all the different sounds would mesh together in a way everyone could really enjoy. Even though it was difficult to imagine transitioning from going hard in the paint at Life in Color to singing along to the rock anthems of Cheap Trick later at the Tire Kingdom stage, Saturday's events all went considerably smoothly. Youngsters covered in green, orange, pink, yellow, and blue paint were exiting the festival in twos and threes, the fresh glow of large-scale EDM euphoria emanating form their faces. Older folks were testing out their moves to the strange new sounds or looking on in sincere wonderment; while those with younger children in tow steered clear, for the most part, from the madness.
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