Live: Glass Candy at Moonfest, October 29

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Moonfest, featuring Glass Candy
With Millionyoung, Under Every Green Tree, Brobrah Nation, Sweet Chariots,

Darling Sweets, Dharmata, Luna Rex, Doorway 27, Hard Richards, Band in

Heaven, and Loxahatchee Sinners Union
500 Block of Clematis Street, West Palm Beach
Saturday, October 29, 2011

View a slide show from Moonfest here.

Better Than:
Digging under a car seat for spilled Mike & Ikes.

For some, West Palm Beach's yearly all-out Halloween fest is likely a Fear and Loathing-type experience -- and not just because there were no fewer than a dozen Hunter S. Thompsons mixing in the chaos on Clematis Street. With all the chemical indulgence, the darkness, the smoke, the guy dressed as a (eek!) used maxi pad, and all associated misdeeds coming at a person from all sides, it's either ride the tide or get towed under.

Helping the zombie nurses simultaneously find and lose their balance was electro-pop (or Italo disco, if you prefer) duo Glass Candy. On the street stage, the fest's headliners turned the 500 block of Clematis Street into an intimate show that could be absorbed up-close and from hundreds of feet away (Ultra Music Festival organizers, take note).

Perhaps it was that the threat of rain that never came that made everyone on the streets feel like they were given a shiny gift in Technicolor paper or that vocalist Ida No and keyboardist/everything Johnny Jewel were just that delightful. "Digital Versicolor" launched the Glass Candy party, and No, peeking out from heavy mascara, jumped around the stage in a houndstooth-on-acid dress in bare feet because even she can't contain herself even though she's done some of these songs hundreds of times.

With a few strategically placed spots on his face, Johnny Jewel worked his vintage Univox synthesizer and mirrored her energy. The front row might have been slugging Busch Lights, but everyone in attendance was gripping tightly to a more potent concoction found in "Candy Castle." Simply put, every artist wishes he had a composition that fully expresses the entirety of his mission, and this catchy, midtempo throbber is it. "Let's take off our masks and be so natural," she chanted in the middle, but everyone's limbs were shaking too much to comply with that order.

Over the course of the evening, cooing party princess No high-fived everyone within reach of the stage. And for everyone she couldn't physically touch, her banshee screams served just fine. Jewel never stopped moving, and when he wasn't working his wizardry on the keyboard, he joined the cheerleading efforts. The only admonishment the crowd received was when No remarked with mock disappointment, "I haven't seen a single Lady Gaga tonight!"

Eventually got to their sickly catchy jam, "Halloween." With its heavy finger snaps and a apocalyptic up-and-down keyboard line, the inevitable guest verse from Clipse could be coming at any moment. The crowd was stoked enough by all of this that eight dancers -- a couple who were dressed like Mexican wrestlers -- joined a game No onstage for a rowdy dance party that exposed the weak wiring connections of the sound equipment. The song playing ended prematurely, and the revelers dispersed.  "Now I have to dance all by myself," she shouted with exaggerated sadness.

Glass Candy tried to close out the set with the bit of "peace love unity respect" with recent single "Warm in Winter" -- until the power blew again. No, who was in the crowd at that moment, had to regroup, and Jewel cued up another song more in an R&B vein that wasn't quite so anthemic but a punctuation mark before the noise curfew all the same.

Not quite the ending Jewel and No had hoped for, but it was better than the fate Millionyoung had faced earlier that evening. Mike Diaz, dressed in a blue Star Trek shirt and sporting a Fresh Prince flattop, spent his entire allotted stage time battling technical difficulties and never got to play a single note.

As for the rest of the local acts, the Brobrah Nation (although drummer Jack Tree told us later the act will be called When Did We Die)

played a set of anthemic instrumentals on the Respectable Street back patio that'd be great for the starting

lineups of the Miami Dolphins. With a keyboardist in a Jason mask, they

toured a variety of kaleidoscopic melodies. A little Serge Gainsbourg.

Fortunately, the roof above them didn't prove necessary.

Can the Hard Richards please dress up every time they play? Frontman

Steve Abbott, donning a viking helmet and flanked by Slash and Elvis, admitted "I might've started drinking too early," but they had no trouble with their ska-core set with the usual trimmings. Sweet Chariots were somewhat zombified for their rockabilly set, but the most striking characteristic of all was that big, black upright bass in the center -- it looked like a coffin.

Critic's Notebook

Best band costume: The Hard Richards' drummer as Albert Einstein. Seeing that scientific genius hitting the kit was an indelible image.

Honorable mention: The Loxahatchee Sinners Union's frontman Scarecrow Jenkins was elaborately dressed as a sombrero-donning spook, but he's pretty much always in costume, right?

Overheard: "I just spilled beer all over my boobs."

By the way: Glass Candy debuted a video for "Halloween" this weekend.

Follow County Grind on Facebook and Twitter: @CountyGrind.

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