Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday December 17th 2014

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Just Beachy: Recap of the 3rd Annual DeLuna Fest

Day One
by Kate Peterson with contributions from Michael Osley

Our motto for the day was that if there is a music festival on our beach, we should support it. The third annual DeLuna Fest on Pensacola Beach supplied all we needed for a great music festival. The weather was great and the beach was lovely. It is so nice to have a music festival moments from where you live and work. Myself, and my contributor, were able to scour the festival and report on what each aspect was like.

The entrance was a mix of those that were just purchasing their tickets, and standing in line, and those who had already purchased their tickets, and needed a wrist band. It created a long wait to get in. A suggestion for less congestion at the entrance would be to send out wristbands in advance, so those who already have their tickets can sail through the entry point. Arriving at about 2:50 p.m. and not getting through the line until about 3:45 p.m., shows were missed. Two entrances would also alleviate the back up. Everyone liked that you could exit and re-enter.

The absence of a tent stage was felt by many. Most major festivals have a tent where you can recharge out of the sun and it provides a great viewing area for DJ’s, because they can have a better lighting and sound experience that heightens their music. Having the event in a parking lot was kind of carnival-like. Not as many people visited the other beach stage, the Heritage Stage. There was a moment or two where you could hear 12th Planet’s bass booming while Pearl Jam was playing. The Red Bull stage, and the DJ stage by the main entrance played old school hip hop. The Marlboro tent was nice to be able to get $1 smokes and sit down at a table to recharge.

There were plenty of bathrooms and having the hand washing stations was a big plus. However, the bathrooms were placed too far away from the main stage. Water was not close enough either. A beverage station on the beach or on either side of the main stage would have been great. Food vending prices were good, beer price was fair, although the price on cold bottled water was high, $2 would be fair—people need cool water at a lower price. The water refill stations were great to have. There was a lot of swag given away during the festival, Marlboro was giving away a choice of sunglasses or a utility knife (banned by security), Mediacom and Tito gave away sunglasses.

We caught Dwight Yoakum, Ben Folds Five, who were vey beatle-esque, Ivan Neville’s Dumstaphunk on the Heritage Stage – they put on a great show that really got the crowd going, Pearl Jam, the consummate rock band, 12th Planet, DJ Jazzy Jeff, both of whom put on great DJ sets, Guided by Voices who were chugging tequila. We would like to see the organizers focus on booking more mid-level bands and not spend all the money on huge bands. There were not enough mid-range bands, and not enough diversity. The line-up was either, bands that would play the Civic Center or play Vinyl Music Hall, not as many in between.

There was some scuttlebutt about the VIP area. It turns out that there was a competition between the Pearl Jam fan club, and those that had purchased VIP access. The VIP area got full, and the security folks would not allow VIP wristband purchasers into the Pearl Jam VIP area, because it was full. In addition, there were instances of DeLuna officials erasing comments on Facebook if they were negative. Many have been asking for their money back. An adjustment should be made on the size of the VIP area, allowing more fans to get closer to their favorite artists.

Some festivalgoers commented that there were not enough trolleys and that they were not on time to make the shows. Cabs being positioned outside the festival were convenient.

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Day Two
by Sarah McCartan

While fest-goers gradually recovered from pumping their fists and singing along to the two-hour plus Pearl Jam set Friday evening, the crowd slowly gathered just around lunchtime Saturday as the gates opened for day two of DeLuna Fest.

This bright and sunshiny day kicked off with local acts—one of these being Paloma. This is the second year in a row that Paloma has played DeLuna Fest. Paloma’s performances last year included a daytime show as well as a late night set on the Dock Stage. This time friends and fans braved the heat to gather in the early afternoon at the WindCreek Stage.

“I’m honored to be a part of local music representing Pensacola at the fest and proud of local production for putting on such a stellar event,” said band member Hale Leal.

Just after Paloma completed their set, Austin, Texas was represented by back-to-back rock bands The Canvas Waiting on the GoPensacola Stage and Saints of Valory on the WindCreek Stage.

Although this year the WindCreek Stage was disappointingly not in the sand, making for a hotter and harder surface to manage when it came to long periods of standing and intense dancing sessions, the close proximity of the four stages to each other served as slight redemption.

The early afternoon hours of Saturday provided a prime opportunity to leisurely meander about and sample some mouthwatering treats from this year’s vendors, including crowd favorite Geaux Popsicles, serving up an assortment of delectable exotic popsicle flavors. Free Lovin’ Foodery was another standout vendor, specializing in flexi-tarian cuisine, satisfying hunger pains of carnivores and vegans alike all weekend with their giant burritos.

If you weren’t in the football lounge keeping up with the score of your college football game of choice, the Dock was the place to be Saturday afternoon to seek welcomed shade, catch more tunes and grab a frozen drink.

Sporting leopard print pants, country singer Maggie Rose got people singing and swaying along to her rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” and then up and dancing to her new single “I Ain’t Your Mama.”

An hour later, the Dock kicked it down a notch with Chris Staples, frontman of Twothirtyeight. Not only did Twothirtyeight play a reunion show in Atlanta Friday night, but they also played two Sunday shows, one at the fest and again at an unforgettable after-party back in town at the Handlebar.

Just as a breeze began to blow over the fest and the sun started to inch its way down, the WindCreek Stage and surrounding areas were infiltrated with no shortage of enthusiasm or leather jackets as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts took the stage. Not only is Jett one hell of a badass, Saturday was her birthday and she looks damn good at age 54.

While longtime fans swarmed the GoPensacola Stage to catch legendary punk band Bad Brains, Welsh band, Joy Formidable took the main stage. Guitarist and energetic front-woman Ritzy Bryan wowed the crowd, while the night sky officially rolled in and beach balls were tossed about.

Next up back at the WindCreek Stage was Band of Horses, kicking off their set with their new single “Knock Knock.” By the time they played tunes from their breakthrough album “Cease to Begin” including “No One’s Gonna Love You,” the crowd was harmoniously singing along. Longtime fans erupted into a full choir as the band played their debut single, “Funeral.”

Immediately after Bands of Horses completed their short but very sweet set, the crowd quickly turned and made their way back over to the sand for the Foo Fighters.

Thousands lined the sand and outlying areas anxiously awaiting their favorite Foo Fighters songs. Slight equipment malfunctions did not slow Dave Grohl down when it came to delivering an epic two-hour set to awestruck fans.

“I would have never considered I would be rocking out to the Foo Fighters but Dave Grohl made me a believer,” said Gio Lugo, member of Paloma. “I was mesmerized by the rock and roll powerhouse that they are.”

Not only did the Foo Fighters perform epic encores, they even brought Joan Jett onstage at one point during the show to sing happy birthday to her while she blew out candles on her birthday cake. They then joined forces to perform a rendition of “Bad Reputation.” By the end of the night many were asking themselves, Pearl Jam who?

“Pensacola is rapidly becoming a monumental scene for music in this country,” shared local resident Grant Tyson. “Nowhere else can you see Band of Horses play a perfect set and watch Joan Jett join the Foo Fighters for a killer rendition of ‘Bad Reputation’ on her birthday.”

Meanwhile, back on the WindCreek Stage, a dance party was erupting. First it was Paper Diamond, high-energy dubstep and Mad Decent label mates of Diplo. Then it was the man himself. If you looked to your left and to then back to your right scanning the sweat-drenched crowd during Diplo, you were sure to spot hula-hoops, mobs of dancing and even a unicorn.

“If you’ve got a girl beside you, put her on your shoulders!” Diplo yelled at one point during the set. As if girls on shoulders and Diplo stage diving into the crowd wasn’t enough, the true highlight came near the close of the show when it was time to “Express Yourself.” Diplo even brought girls onstage to do the dance. In case you are unfamiliar with this signature “dance,” it involves making your way into a position that is somewhere between a handstand and downward facing dog yoga pose and shaking it.

Crowds filtered out of the gates and into the streets as Diplo shut down DeLuna in the post-midnight hour. Many attended select after-parties including a second night of chaos at local beach bar the Islander with Timberhawk, while rumor has it, a mix of VIPs and artists ended up partying to DJ Jazzy Jeff in the presence of the Foo Fighters.

Ultimately, Saturday proved to be another jam-packed day and night of killer music and endless fun, so much that it’s a wonder anyone made it out in one piece. But they did, and it all started over again Sunday for the final round of fun in the sun.

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Day Three
By Hana Frenette

Day three. Still sunny. Still hot as hell. Most of the crowds were a little bit tanner than they were on Friday.

Twohtirtyeight took to the Go Pensacola stage early in the day, at 1:15 p.m. They give way to a Pensacola ‘90s nostalgia that’s not easily rivaled. People love this band, not only because it reminds them of their adolescence, but because they are still damned good. Crowd members loyally sang the words to songs and wiped the sweat from their brows as the direct sunlight beat down on their heads.

Ben Sollee and his band appeared on the same stage shortly after the Twothirtyeight set and played their clean and crisp version of Kentucky mountain soul. Sollee played a guitar and a mandolin, eventually switching both out for his cello, and winning over the audience with several beautiful strummed melodies. National Public Radio named Sollee one of the top ten unheard of musicians, and for good reasons. His shows are less demanding of attention- you can’t hear the drums or guitar thrashing from football field away, but if you were walking by, it’d be almost impossible not to stop. One girl in the crowd summed it up well in a drunken amorous declaration.

“You’re amazing! No one gives you credit but you’re awesome!”

Sollee smiled at her, shrugged modestly, and said, “Well, you know, we’re just playing music, that’s all.”

Across the festival, on the Deluna main stage, people were anticipating The Wallflowers. “Always Be True” by The Beatles came on over the loudspeakers and then the band was walking across the stage, complete with a Jakob Dylan who looked like he might be incognito.

Dylan wore large sunglasses, a hat, and was covered from head to toe in clothing.

The band played several new songs from their latest album, before Dylan told the crowd, “We’re not going to torture you with just the new stuff,” before breaking into introspective throwback jams “6th Avenue Heartache” and “One Headlight.”

During The Wallflower’s set, thousands of dragonflies appeared in the crowd, landing on people’s hands as they danced, in beards and braids, and even the microphones of the band.

After The Wallflowers, people anxiously headed over to the Windcreek Stage. Indie rock legends Superchunk were getting ready to take the stage, and tons of people were already staking their claim on a good spot for Florence, who was scheduled immediately after on the same stage.

Superchunk played with high energy and the spirit of the ‘90s. Jumping, screaming, and generally having a good time as the sun began to set on the festival.

The sky was pink and purple as stagehands brought out golden harps and pink guitars for Florence + The Machine. They unrolled a giant backdrop that was made to look like the purple stained glass of the inside of a church.

Florence appeared on the side of the stage and walked across to the front, her long black chiffon dress flowing in the breeze.

The set was enigmatic, theatrical, and completely captivating. The colors on stage, and the lighting, her ethereal haunting voice– all came together to create a magical experience. It could have easily served as a modern, musical interpretation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Early in the set Florence addressed the crowd saying, “We need a few human sacrifices!” And continued on, “If you are with someone, and you love them—or you like them, or you just met them or you gave birth to them, raise them up!”

People in the crowd began hosting their loved ones and strangers alike onto their shoulders while Florence excitedly counted them as they appeared.

She fluttered offstage and ran through the middle of the crowd, waving her long white limbs and shaking her bright red hair with the upmost elegance of a ballerina.

They ended the set with “Dog Days are Over” while the crowd jumped and danced until the last drum was hit and Florence bid Pensacola a good night.

It seemed like everyone left the show on a high. Some went over to watch the Zac Brown Band close out the festival with beachy country covers of Nirvana, in addition to many of their sing-along
originals. The other half sped to the Handlebar to see the encore set of Twothirtyeight and relive nostalgia and sweat from the afternoon all over again.