SunFest 2015 concluded on Sunday with another potent display of eclecticism punctuated by Fall Out Boy, whose massive sing-along hit “Centuries” still seemed to be echoing across the West Palm Beach Waterfront while closing fireworks painted a luminous moon in reds, purples and golds.
The finale for the 33rd annual festival featured a lineup highlighted by the punkish fury of the Pixies, classic-rock survivors Boston and the soaring anthems of Fall Out Boy, whose radio-ready arena rock seems to speak to something deeper in its fans.
With blues skies and a gentle breeze, the weather maintained a sunny disposition for the thousands of fans jammed onto the festival site, even showing a sense of humor in reserving the only sprinkle of the day for the set by Matisyahu, whose best-known songs include “Sunshine.”
Sitting along the water in a black CBGB T-shirt, white-haired John Kirk, of Boca Raton, was there to see the Pixies. That was his kind of music, as CBGB was his kind of club, going all the way back to the 1980s, when the hotel executive was a bouncer at a club called the Ivory in Atlantic City.
The Pixies did not disappoint their fans, with a rousing set of music from their latest album, “Indie Cindy,” and classics including “Where Is My Mind,” “Hey” and “Debaser.” In black from jeans to cap, Black Francis prowled the stage with vigorous engagement, energetically abetted by guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering and exuberant new bassist Paz Lenchantin.
The set ended with Black Francis walking to the edge of the stage, touching his hand to his heart and offering a gentlemanly bow.
“They were great,” said Kirk after seeing his first live show by the Pixies. And soon he’d experience another first. Seated next to wife Nancy and daughter Samantha, Kirk explained that he was waiting to follow his daughter to the Fall Out Boy performance.
“It’s what I have to do,” Kirk said, his voice a mix of paternal resignation and, perhaps, fatigue, after having spent the previous night at SunFest with a longtime friend, South Florida radio personality Paul Castronovo.
But this is one of the great things about SunFest, that ability to ricochet among styles and eras of music and the legions who love them.
The hot-tub time machine that is the Spazmatics, whose classic covers come with scoops of good humor, offered an overflow crowd energetic takes on Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance” and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Best moment came watching moms and toddlers tear up the grass to the Ramone’s “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Matisyahu, whose whitening beard would look perfect with a couple of scrolls, delivered the sunny (as in optimistic), family-friendly rhythms that make him such a perfect fit for SunFest.
(Memo to the DJs on the Captain Morgan barge: SunFest brings in a lot of kids on certain days, so easy with the F-bombs.)
Following the Spazmatics on the Meyer Ampitheatre stage was Boston, who gathered a crowd that had to be among the largest and most enthusiastic of the five-day festival. Leading its hit-filled set with “Rock and Roll Band,” the group ran through all the big hits, including “Peace of Mind,” “Smokin’” and “More Than a Feeling” from the 1976 debut album, with guitarist and founder Tom Scholz’s iconic solos as dynamic and pristine as ever. New vocalist Tommy DeCarlo, critically, held his own, no easy task.
Just after Boston left the stage, Fall Out Boy arrived on theirs a hundred yards away to a much more youthful crowd that expressed its passion with more skin, more ink and less air guitar. Ball caps were worn backward here and with irony: One young blonde’s trucker cap, tilted at a jaunty angle, read “Foxy Grandpa.”
Experiencing his first Fall Out Boy show in the same crush of fans that included John Kirk was young Jake Nacca. His mother had surprised the 12-year-old with a trip down from Port St. Lucie, as a reward for being a good kid.
“This is his first concert, and it’s his favorite band,” said Jackie Nacca, her nose and eyebrow fashionably pierced. “And they started with his favorite song (“The Phoenix”).”
The two had been in the middle of the crowd, but moved to a less-populated space shortly after the music started, and fans got too pushy, Jackie Nacca said.
Was it what Jake expected a Fall Out Boy show to be?
“Yes. But better,” he said, shyly, shaking his head when asked if he could explain why.
Few contemporary bands surpass the chart-topping, rock-anthem firepower of Fall Out Boy, which rolled out its most crowd-pleasing hits as the day gave way to night. Among them were “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race," “Alone Together” and, of course, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.”
An exclamation point came when vocalist Patrick Stump advised fans to take hundreds of red and white lights that apparently had been handed out and light ‘em up for the song “Uma Thurman.” Obediently, a twinkling field was created as the band bounced through the ubiquitous hit, with its allusions to a 20-year-old movie (“Pulp Fiction”) and a guitar sample grabbed from a TV show (“The Munsters”) that premiered more than 10 years before the “Boston” album.