Saturday, May 18, 2024

SunFest Announces 2016 Lineup

SunFest organizers leaked their 2016 lineup a few days earlier than expected this week, and it promises to live up to its reputation as one of the most eclectic music festivals in the southeast. It features a handful of big-name headliners in rock, rap and R&B, a slew of emerging alternative acts whose songs you know even if you don’t know you know them, and a few classic-rock throwbacks.

Duran Duran, one of the few New Wave standard-bearers to survive and thrive into the Aughts, will headline the Ford Stage on Wednesday, April 27, in support of “Paper Gods,” the group’s first album in five years. Over on the Tire Kingdom Stage, recent Grammy winner and “All About That Bass” songstress Meghan Trainor will prove why both her throwback music and body image have been an inspiration to millions.

On Thursday, April 28, Train, which can almost boast an annual residency at SunFest, will perform its sun-bleached pop-rock anthems and soulful ballads on the Ford Stage, while Jason Derulo, the rap producer-turned-crossover artist—and Miramar native—will sexify the Tire Kingdom Stage.

Friday, April 29 will feature two of the more exciting indie bands of the past decade: The Bright Light Social Hour, the Austin-based art-rock collective turned band whose melding of dance, psychedelic and soul music continues to defy categorization; and North Wales’ raucous Joy Formidable, my personal favorite booking of this year’s SunFest, whose springy live show can slay you one minute and lull you into slumber the next. They open, respectively, for Death Cab for Cutie, the indie music darlings turned commercial music darlings led by the plaintive confessionals of singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard; and Bastille, the English electro-rockers behind “Pompeii” and “Of the Night.” Since both of these bands target the same audience, their competitive time slots is mystifying and unfortunate, but the scheduling gremlins ensure that decisions like this happen every festival.

The full day of music on Saturday, April 30 is the fest’s classic pop and rock showcase, with sets from Salt N Pepa (yes, they still exist), perpetual heartthrob Rick Springfield, and the bearded blues rockers of ZZ Top. The South Stage’s diverse hip-hop/R&B night includes Half Deezy, Devon Baldwin and G-Eazy, while Capital Cities and Fitz & the Tantrums will perform roof-shaking alt-rock on the Ford Stage. Best of all? An afternoon set from the insanely talented Roots, on loan from their residency at “The Tonight Show.”

The festival closes Sunday, May 1 with another of those frustrating set-time overlays, with the night’s three best acts performing simultaneously: recent Grammy winners and soul-infused rockers Alabama Shakes; the soaring, moody and progressive rock veterans Evanescence; and Walk the Moon, the infectiously cheerful quartet behind “Shut Up and Dance” and “Different Colors.”

Other acts scheduled this year include Andy Grammar, Slightly Stoopid, Steve Aoki, Shovels & Rope and Flogging Molly, along with the customary showcase of local bands.

There’s enough here for almost everyone. The lineup looks prettier and shinier the more you delve into it, but it’s missing one element: essential indie rock. There’s nobody in the entire five-day slate that matches last year’s bookings of The Pixies or Wilco in influence and just plain skill. The many, many people who attended SunFest 2015 only for these bands have little reason to return.

Then again, alt-music lovers who can’t handle the expense of Okeechobee Festival next month can enjoy a dance-y showcase closer to home. Overall, SunFest’s musical pulse and sensibilities are in the right place.

For the complete schedule and lineup, visit

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