Music Festivals

The Five Best Acts at SunFest 2017

Tinashe Photo by Dennis Leupold
Coachella made headlines in that other sunny state, but South Florida is no slouch on the festival circuit. With the development of newer events such as Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, III Points, and Rolling Loud and the evolution of mainstays such as Ultra, the original Miami megafest, South Florida offers a wide range of genres and artists at big gatherings.

This week, SunFest returns to West Palm Beach with a lineup worth the hike up I-95. The festival offers many more chances to catch rock bands than competing festival lineups, which tend to rely heavily on pop and electronic acts. Established bands such as Weezer, Blink-182, Widespread Panic, and X Ambassadors will make guitars great again and play alongside up-and-coming local talent like SunGhosts and Alex Di Leo.

Here's a rundown of the best acts to catch at SunFest 2017.

8:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, on the Ford Stage

It seems like Tinashe has been the "next big thing" for years. The quintuple threat — singer, actress, dancer, songwriter, and producer — had minor roles in films and TV shows before pursuing singing. A failed stint in the girl group the Stunners led Tinashe to take greater creative control of her music on some buzzed-about mixtapes. Her debut solo album, Aquarius, yielded the sleeper hit “2 On,” featuring Schoolboy Q. The song was big enough to get the remix treatment from Drake, who bumped Q’s feature from the track. Follow-up singles fizzled out, but Tinashe’s hustle game was recognized by pop's reigning princess, Britney Spears, on their cheeky collaboration “Slumber Party.” The two went stiletto-to-stiletto in the song’s racy music video. With her sophomore album coming later this year and a much-hyped forthcoming stint on the TV show Empire, Tinashe’s star is surely rising, and it would be wise to catch her at an event like SunFest before she starts selling out arenas. Her career trajectory and blend of R&B-based pop are reminiscent of another star who took some time to find her footing before becoming the “Only Girl in the World”: Rihanna. Tinashe is still at the “Pon de Replay” stage of her career, but it won't be long before she finds her “Umbrella.”
click to enlarge Ben Harper - COURTESY OF SHORE FIRE MEDIA
Ben Harper
Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
8 p.m. Thursday, May 4, on the Tire Kingdom Stage

Voices like Ben Harper's are crucial for society’s healing during times of division and strife. His voice communicates the weariness of a never-ending fight for progress, but it also pushes forward steadily, guiding listeners through rumination and declarations about the fraught times in which we live. On his latest album, 2016’s Call It What It Is, he reunites with his backing band, the Innocent Criminals, and they don't shy away from the issues at hand. “They shot him in the back/Now it's a crime to be black,” he sings on the album’s title track. There's good cops/Bad cops/White cops/Black cops,” he continues before name-checking Trayvon Martin. “Call it what it is/Murder.”
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Celia Almeida is the digital editor of American Way and the former arts and music editor of Miami New Times. Her writing has been featured in Venice, Paper, and Billboard; and she co-hosts Too Much Love on Jolt Radio.
Contact: Celia Almeida