It's never been easy to pin down exactly what kind of festival SunFest aims to be. But whereas other festivals might try to hone in on a niche-but-loyal audience, the long-running SunFest sees its identity crisis as a virtue. It's easy to see why: since its 1982 debut, the festival has lured tens of thousands of repeat attendees through its open approach to booking. Past performers have included everyone from Blink 182 to Kendrick Lamar to Bob Dylan.
Nearly four decades in, SunFest isn't changing its formula (or lack thereof). If you're attending, expect to hear samplings from across the musical spectrum, from EDM to hip-hop to rock and pop. With so many diverse choices, we narrowed down the five acts you need to see this year.
OneRepublic. You probably know OneRepublic from that one giant hit Timbaland produced for the band back in 2007. Lead singer and songwriter Ryan Tedder knows this — he wrote the band's "All the Right Moves" as a self-deprecating take on the idea that the band had likely peaked. The song ended up becoming a hit in itself, and OneRepublic has kept at it, scoring more hits with songs like "Counting Stars" and "I Lived" along the way. Beyond the band's success, Tedder is one the most in-demand songwriters in the music business today, counting heavyweights like Adele and Beyonce as collaborators. 8:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday, May 2 on the Ford Stage.
G-Eazy. You know you've made it when you're making music with divas like Britney Spears, Cardi B, and Halsey. Unfortunately, G-Eazy's been in the dog house as of late after Halsey, the rapper's ex-girlfriend, reportedly wrote her chart-topping, angry missive, "Without Me," in the aftermath of his rumored infidelity. See if he can work his way back into the public's good graces at his Friday night headlining set at SunFest. 9:30 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 3 on the Ford Stage.
Diplo. This larger-than-life DJ has ruled the stages at every EDM festival known to man. Now it's time to dominate a different kind of crowd. Diplo's hour-and-a-half set is among the most anticipated at this year's festival. To underscore just how unconventional SunFest's conflicts can be, Diplo's set coincides with headlining performances by Papa Roach and Don Omar. Diplo owns the night, though: His set will close out the festival's Saturday night festivities. 9:30 to 11 p.m. at the Ford Stage.
Garbage. Most SunFest attendees probably aren't hoping for rain this weekend, but Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson once famously sang, "I'm only happy when it rains," so she might be. In a lineup that features music by party favorites like Diplo and Ludacris, Garbage will cast an angsty shadow over West Palm on the festival's final day. But it'll be worth it to stroll over to the dark side with the band, whose queer-affirming music was decades ahead of its time when the band first broke through in the mid-90s. 2:25 to 3:30 p.m. at the JetBlue Stage.
Tears for Fears. It's nearly impossible to make a perfect album, but Tears for Fears got pretty damn close with 1984's Songs from the Big Chair. The album spawned classics like "Shout," "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," and "Head Over Heels," but listing the band's timeless contributions doesn't do it justice. Tears for Fears is still among the most compelling live acts touring in 2019. Cross your fingers for the band's soul-stirring cover of Radiohead's "Creep" — even if you're sick of the song, the band breathes new life into the modern staple. 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. at the Jet Blue Stage.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.