SunFest New Music Night
With Weezer, We Are Scientists, Constellations, Crash Kings Gringo Star, Locksley, and These United States
West Palm Beach Waterfront
Check out Ian Witlen's slideshow of photos from SunFest's New Music Night here.
Better than: Mud balls in your face
Considering all the rain we've had the past couple days, SunFest organizers lucked out with the clearing of the skies and the picture-perfect weather in the mid-70s degrees that occurred just in time for Wednesday night's New Music Night for SunFest's opening day. New Times really did hustle in order to make it in time for promising opening acts These United States and Locksley but to no avail.
We did, however, slide in on time to catch the start of Atlanta, Georgia's Gringo Star performing their reverb drenched Southern rock -- with an Eddie Money pep -- track "Transmission" to a sparse crowd at the Bank of America main stage. The four- piece seemed really tight musically but their output wasn't altogether memorable; when it went into track "All Y'all," a song with lyrics evidently paying homage to its Southern roots but with a garage rock tone too purposefully Kinks-like, we thought it to be an opportune time to pay the Captain Morgan's floating barge a visit.
After adequately quenching our thirst, we strolled back through the Bank of America stage to hear Los Angelinos Crash Kings performing some Goo Goo Dolls-sounding piano ballad, and on that note, made our way directly to the Tire Kingdom stage to nestle in for the start of New York's We Are Scientists.
This show was a homecoming for the band's frontman Keith Murray, who grew up in Cooper City before making his way to San Francisco and Brooklyn to seek indie rock fame and fortune -- if such a thing can exist. Murray's back story is important because it serves as an explanation for the band's light, almost flippant handling of its set.
We Are Scientists has always been a gregarious act, no question, but it seems on this night, the guys had their cheekiness quotient cranked way up, sacrificing their musical acumen. Murray's cadence for example had this unusual tremble the whole night, making his extended choruses sound a bit goat-like in nature -- this coming from a guy who really nailed the glossy melodies on We Are Scientists' debut album With Love and Squalor. Murray did do a perfectly adequate job churning out quicker higher fret guitar work on songs like "The Scene Is Dead" and "Inaction" though. But continuous long-winded banter with bassist Chris Cain made one think that the group had its sights on being the next Flight of the Conchords (which, funny enough, it kind of is already in England, staring in a short-form MTV series called Steve Wants His Money over there).
Weezer was up next on the main stage, and it began things with thunderous riffs that lead into a satisfyingly crunchy version of "Hash Pipe," with lead singer Rivers Cuomo showing he can still reach those impossible falsettos on the song's first verses. The quintet then roared into a high energy, unapologetically over-the-top version of "Undone (The Sweater Song)," which was followed by another dynamic soft-loud-soft crowd-pleaser "Surf Wax America." It was a one-two punch that was undoubtedly the highlight of the night -- yes, it was a top heavy set.
The group then cunningly threw in a new number, "Let It All Hang Out," which had that thick, choppy distortion that made Weezer so famous in the first place. Some would say though that it's the bubblegum hooks that are this group's draw: judging by the volume of the audience's sing along to "Say it Ain't So" -- so loud that they overtook Cuomo's pleading chorus -- we'd say both are equal.
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For an encore the group fiddled with MGMT's dance-pop number "Kids." Surprisingly, though, the Weezer guys stuck to the original sparkling electro tune's nature. They then took a bizarre but completely entertaining turn and played about two bars worth of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," with Cuomo humorously putting on a blonde wig and all. A true to form "Buddy Holly" came as the set-ender next, no surprise there.
You couldn't have asked for better weather and a more amusing band to kick things off right. We look forward to the next round of eclectic acts (and more barge time) in the day ahead.
Personal Bias: I would have liked to have heard more Pinkerton
By the way: In case you hadn't heard, the Flaming Lips canceled