Did April sneak up on you? It's like the past few months have been one big blur. Now the sun is out and shining and SunFest is 'round the corner.
The last weekend in April means the same thing every year for a dedicated South Floridian: live music and long nights in downtown West Palm Beach. And while the Robin Thickes and Kid Rocks of the world will no doubt bring out the dancing queens and country kings to town, this is a key time to absorb those acts that make our local live music scene special too.
The bands that play in your backyard all year will also grace the SunFest stages. Take Surfer Blood, for instance. The band paid its dues as a local favorite before making it big on the indie scene and taking a piece of West Palm pride with it as it toured the world. This year, it's back at SunFest with a legit slot.
So, we wonder, who will be the next local band to come full circle? We can't quite crown the next victor, but we can do some serious contemplation. Here are our picks for the top five Florida bands playing SunFest 2014 that are ready to really make a name for themselves.
See Also: Ten Best Acts to See at SunFest 2014
5. The Edge Effect
This 6-piece vocal powerhouse might bring some serious suaveness to the stage, but the guys are careful to note that they are not a boy band. The Edge Effect are taking a capella to the extreme and showcasing a polished sound. The Orlando group is feeling giddy about the opportunity to perform. "This is our first major festival," the group informed us in an email, "needless to say, we lost our minds when we got the news!"
Chances are high that you've seen the Edge Effect from winning MTV's Top Pop Group and Boyz II Men's Next Great A Cappella Group, or maybe even as America's Got Talent finalists. "We pride ourselves on being an engaging, energetic live act," the guys told us. "Even if you've never heard our music or seen us before, we put on a show!"
The Luxury of Company fellas are no strangers to the local spotlight. As Doorway 27 in the early 2000s, lead singer Bryan Wohlust and his crew entertained Florida with their Incubus-inspired rock. The lineup got a shake up, but those same creative juices never stopped flowing, and they simply transformed, evolved even, into Luxury of Company.
And all the years they dedicated to the music were worth it. Wohlust says, "there's definitely a validation to the hard work you've put in when you get chosen to do something like SunFest." The bigger stage doesn't just mean new fans to the band though, it's a chance to elevate their sound. And they're adding the Lahinch Mob's violinist extraordinaire Robert Norvell to the mix. As Wohlust puts it, "We've got a big stage to fill."
Considering our current swampy local music climate, it's only appropriate that a rootsy bluegrass band made the cut. We're pretty impressed to see SOSOS on the bill. The Fort Lauderdale-based band cut their teeth touring with Donavon Frankenreiter and G Love and Special Sauce, but now they're ready to bring their talents back to the homefront. Guitarist Mitch Herrick knows that even with all the time on the road, "The fact that we are going to be a part of what is to be considered one of the biggest local music events on home turf makes us very proud." Make a point to catch this folky act before they head off on another tour and get too famous to come back.
See also: SOSOS: Far Better Than Merely So-So
2. Spred The Dub
To know Spred The Dub is to love them. The "good time reggae" South Florida staple goes into every show with the intent of permanently plastering smiles on faces.
Clutching a primo spot opening for Dirty Heads and Rebelution, the guys couldn't be more stoked. Lead singer Mick Swigert told us about when they got the news. "I can only imagine we looked like a bunch of beauty pageant winners jumping up and down and tearing up, waving our hands in front of our faces."
While they are planing on pulling out all the stops and making this show extra special, that doesn't mean they will be deviating from their proven formula. "The show is past noon, so we'll be drinking," says Mick, "and making sure everyone that's there is having fun. Birds fly, fish swim, Spred the Dub drinks whiskey."
1. Speaking Volumes
Hip-hop groove machine Speaking Volumes is not stranger to the SunFest stage.They had the pleasure of rocking the crowd back in 2010, but the band has changed so drastically since then, it's time for round two. The genre-twisting crew will be opening for Aer and Sublime with Rome and know that their set is crucial in setting the pace. Frontman Chad Slade says, "We'll start the vibe and they'll finish it."
It's great to see a local group understand that playing the big stage is more than a one off. Slade says, "Being selected to be a part of SunFest just reinforces your beliefs that you are doing a good thing."
The group is more than ready to rap their way into the hearts of new fans. There is no lack of confidence either. "You need to see us," says Slade, "simply because you will feel better after it's all said and done."
This is just the tip of the local music iceberg that will be peaking to the surface during all five days of SunFest. The festival isn't just about the party barges and seeing your favorite band from yesteryear. Take the time to show up early for the local guys, it's the only way to do it.
For more SunFest tips, follow Dana on Twitter @DowntownDana
SunFest is April 30 to May 4 on the West Palm Beach Waterfront. Visit SunFest.com for more information. The Edge Effect play Thursday, May 1 on the Tire Kingdom Stage at 6:15 p.m. Luxury of Company open the show Saturday, May 3 at noon on the Ford Stage. SOSOS play Sunday, May 2 at noon on the Tire Kingdom Stage. Spred The Dub is playing Saturday, May 3 at 1:15 p.m. on the Ford Stage. Speaking Volumes is playing Thursday, May 1 at 5:45 p.m. on the Tire Kingdom stage.
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