Sunfest 2017 Day 1 – Wednesday, May 3rd (The Strumbellas, Snoop Dogg, Weezer)
Article written by Sheldon Robertson
Photos © Reggae Reflection
This award-winning sextet got my Sunfest off to a pleasant start, with a catchy folk-rock sound reminiscent of The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons. Formed in Toronto in 2008, the Canadian character of the band showed in its opening-night show. After performing “End of an Era” and “We Don’t Know”, guitarist-frontman Simon Ward encouraged American violinist Isabel Ritchie to sing the next number “Rhinestone”, since she was back in her home country. The quirky stage patter, sprinkled liberally throughout the set, seemed reminiscent of that of Canadian pop-rock juggernaut Barenaked Ladies.
The band has spent the last year touring in support of its third album, the April 2016 release Hope, and singles from that release were featured prominently in the Sunfest set, including the latest, 2017’s “Young and Wild.” Last song of the set was the group’s biggest hit “Spirits”, which front-man Simon turned into a joyous sing-along.
As night fell over the West Palm waterfront, a haze of “smoke” rose over the Tire Kingdom stage, accompanied by a bone-shattering bass soundtrack. But before the legendary gangsta-rapper took to the stage, a couple of trailers were shown on the screen: one for Snoop’s new album “Neva Left”, and one for a movie bio on the late Tupac Shakur, “All Eyez On Me”, with a soundtrack featuring collaborations with Snoop and his late fellow West Coast rapper. “Neva Left” was released May 19th and includes the single “Lavender”, which was released earlier in the year with a controversial Trump-as-clown video. The Tupac movie is to be released on June 16th.
When Snoop did make his entrance, his flashy accessories included a large diamond-encrusted pendant of the word “Cold” in cursive writing, Elvis-like sunglasses and a gold microphone. The rapper was also accompanied by two energetic dancers and his mascot, Nasty Dogg.
Snoop’s set featured some of his better-known collaborations, such as “P.I.M.P” (recorded with Fifty Cent) and “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” (with Dr. Dre). It also included what could almost be the rapper’s theme song, “Gin and Juice.”
Like Snoop Dogg, this alt-rock quartet is another returning Sunfest headliner, having previously played the festival in 2010. With the band logo (best described as a flying ‘W’) in lights behind the drum kit, the group’s performance featured songs from its 2016 release, yet another self-titled effort that has received a colour-coded nickname, in this case The White Album, like the legendary self-titled Beatles’ release. “Thank God for Girls” was both the lead-off single and biggest hit from this album, but the band also played its latest single, “King of the World.” Of course, the set-list included a number of the band’s rocking classics, such as the eminently singable “Beverly Hills”, “Island In The Sun”, “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Say It Ain’t So.” But Weezer saved its best for last, ending a two-song encore with its biggest hit, 1995’s “Buddy Holly.”