West Palm Beach's massive five-day, totally diverse music blowout, SunFest, is prime time for the voyeuristic hobby known as people-watching. It is especially entertaining during the daylight hours when heavy drinking is involved.
Sunday at the waterfront provided the perfect scene for peeping the folks of SunFest with plenty of packed beer tents posted under a clear blue sky. We spoke with fans at a few of the early shows to get a vibe for the fest, including Streetlight Manifesto, Blues Traveler, and Dropkick Murphys.
See also: SunFest 2014, Day 5 (Slideshow)
Streetlight Manifesto livened up the Ford stage with their energetic ska as the smell of ganja filled the air. With the exception of a sort of mosh pit up-front, the crowd had a very chill, surfer-type vibe. Teens and those in their early 20s included old and new fans.
"I'm here for the show, but I have no idea who they are," said concertgoer Denise. "He loves them," she said, motioning to her boyfriend. Brian, who explained, "They were originally Catch 22. I love all their songs. They have an original ska sound."
Another crowd member we interviewed named Jennifer said that she never "got into them but will now download their music." Among all the newbies and Brian, we also met die-hard fan Jeffrey. "They're fucking awesome," he said excitedly. They have a great variety of music." When asked if the concert was living up to his expectations, he gushed, "Oh, it's more than that." It didn't surprise us when we saw Jeffrey run up to join the wannabe mosh pit with a giant grin on his face during "A Better Place, a Better Time."
Next, we moseyed on over to Blues Traveler. Here, the crowd was older and more composed, with not a pit in sight. The band exerted a certain degree of class with John Popper's extended harmonica intro and strut onto the stage.
The folks in this crowd clearly wanted a more mellow vibe. "Blues Traveler play a lot of variety in their music. They're more chill and more laid-back for a Sunday funday," stated one girl.
For some, it was purely nostalgic. Kevin, an older gentlemen we interviewed, listened to them in college and says the music "brings back good memories" (Funny, our college music was more of the 2 Live Crew caliber). He also added in regard to their live performances, "They're great; they usually are." Based on an especially kickass rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," there's no denying that assessment.
Our last stop was Dropkick Murphys, which was down all the way from Boston. The crowd here was full of fans that were of-age and those tiny kids not yet fit for drink. It was the most crowded concert of the day, extending past the lawn area and into the street.
The first fan we spoke with, Mark, wore a green Dropkick shirt and had his son with him. He said, "This is who I'm here for. I've been listening to them for over a decade." And that's because Dropkick always brings high energy to its shows, and even two bagpipers joined the band onstage in true Irish fashion.
They played original songs, as well as covers of Irish classics like "Black Velvet Band" and "Irish Rover." In the midst of the mayhem, we were chatting up one lady about the band when we were interrupted by Sara, a fan of the super sort. "They're fucking awesome!" she enthusiastically shouted. We asked her how long she'd been into the Dropkick Murphys; she said, "I've been listening to them since the '90s. I don't know exactly; you're asking a fucking stoner."
The crowd was full of enthusiasm but remained fairly calm until the band said, "You ready to get started? Let's get 'em started!" With that, it launched into "Which Side Are You On?" Coincidentally, we noticed a mini mosh pit brewing in the front. Luckily, it was rather tame, even when the band "took a poll" to see who was from Massachusetts and brought up the Bruins game. With that, Dropkick played "Tessie," a song about the Red Sox, of course.
"We're a lucky band to be doing this for a living," lead singer Ken Casey said after a few more numbers. "Keep the kids safe and we'll be doing this for the next 20 years. This is a kids' favorite," and they launched into "Rose Tattoo."
Speaking of kids, there was a little boy on the side of the stage with a guitar that Casey was prompting him to play. "Ahh, he's been saying all week that he wanted to play in the middle, but now he's shy," he grinned. And the crowd swooned.