Coral Skies Festival
October 26, 2014
West Palm Beach, FL
Review and photos by Ashleigh Ahern
The weekend before Halloween is typically spent searching for the perfect costume, preferably one that won’t give you heatstroke in the terrible heat/humidity combination that is Florida. This weekend, though, Florida received two treats: humidity-free weather and a wonderful indie festival jam-packed with talent.
Coral Skies Fest attracts all the mom jean wearing, flower crown sporting fans from the Tampa and West Palm Beach areas with their variety of indie music, independent artists/shops, and delicious food trucks. Really, what hipster could resist such a gathering?
Kicking off the day were twins Brooke and Britt Graeff of Sarasota band Good Graeff. Now, I’m going to be honest here. I firmly believe that Good Graeff should not have been the opener. For me, they were one of the highlights of the day and not nearly enough people were able to experience their performance. The sisters brought electric indie pop to the stage, making it absolutely beautiful with the infusion of cello into the music. If I were to recommend three bands to check out from the festival, they would certainly be on that list.
Next on the Sunrise stage was the synth-punk music of Junior Prom. While you may not recognize the name, the Brooklyn boys actually spent the beginning of 2014 on tour and opening for Panic! at the Disco. By now, the venue was starting to fill, and fans of Junior Prom (a few girls even brought their own sign reading, “I finally got asked to Junior Prom”) bounced along to the duo. Switching over the the Sunset stage was Tampa’s Benjamin Booker. With a small band to support him, Booker changed things up and brought us soulful, blues-inspired songs.
Back at Sunrise, the pretty boys of Wild Cub regaled us with a story of their near fight from the previous night in St. Augustine, all because some locals didn’t like their hair. Despite an obvious illness that was affecting lead singer, Keegan DeWitt, the band played on and brought us soothing tunes, and of course played the ever-popular Thunder Clatter.
Next up were Canadian boys, Tokyo Police Club. It was hard not to dance along, especially when Bambi and Hot Tonight were played. The Bleachers were next to captivate the Sunset stage. Lead singer (and guitarist of pop band, fun.), Jack Antanoff gave us a taste of what the 80’s sounded like while giving one of the more electrifying performances of the night. Of course, no one could help but sing along as they closed off their set with hit, I Wanna Get Better.
Taking a step back from indie, The Hold Steady brought a heavier sound. Fans of all ages made their way to the front, clung to the barricades, and sang/screamed back at the band as they played songs from the majority of their discography, something a lot of bands don’t seem to do these days. City and Colour brought the tone back down with their sweet, heart-melting acoustic folk songs that could easily push a person to tears. Hearing them for the first time, I instantly understood why they were so loved. Closing out the Sunrise stage at sunset was the beloved Manchester Orchestra, and the space in front of the small stage was jam-packed. Chugging through their set, the energy and blood of the crowd was up and racing again, especially when Shake It Off and I’ve Got Friends were played.
Following was Julian Casablancas + the Voidz. In case you weren’t already aware, yes, the one and only Julian Casablancas, frontman of the Strokes, does have a side project. And yes, they are magical. Casablancas easily drew the biggest crowd of the night. The band presented Strokes fans with a more avante-garde side of Casblancas, a side not seen in the popular band’s music. The music seemed to rub fans, old and new, the right way, as the lawn suddenly filled with people. There was dancing, happy mosh pits, hand-holding, kite flying, and some new thing where everyone on the field holds hands then runs towards each other in a wall-of-death fashion. As strange as it was, it was the most mind-boggling experience of the day.
Closing out the eleven hour day were the eccentric guys of Cage the Elephant, and believe me, they could not be caged. Lead singer Matthew Schultz was everywhere, barely taking a moment to breathe. While the crowd had thinned considerably, the voices of the audience did not disappoint. Aberdeen, Come A Little Closer, and Back Against The Wall stood out as everyone sang back to Schultz, and finally closed out the glorious indie-filled day with Sabertooth Tiger.