SUNSET MUSIC FESTIVAL 2022: OFFICIAL REVIEW

I used to think I was a seasoned pro in the concert world. I’ve been to a handful of festivals like Jingleball, Rolling Loud, and Gasparilla Music Festival. So, when I was asked to attend and cover Sunset Music Festival, I was excited yet nervous about what I was getting myself into. As you can tell, I only have experience in the pop and rap world. I’ve never been to any kind of event that was strictly in the EDM genre of music, so I had no clue what to expect.

Naturally, I had to come prepared with my emotional support sister. There’s no one else I’d rather share this experience with than my twin. We’ve gone through everything together, so tackling this festival didn’t seem as intimidating with her by my side. My plus 1 and I took the leap into the great unknown that is the EDM world, and it embraced us with open arms. Whether you came alone or with a big group, SMF was accommodating to everyone that entered its gates. The mission was clear; for fans to have the most fun, yet safe concert experience. Now let’s get into our weekend recap!

FOOD AND REFRESHMENTS

There were plenty of food vendors between the two smaller stages, Horizon and Eclipse. There were some local places like Cosmic Charlies, that sold everything from plates full of loaded mac and cheese, to huge slices of New York-style sliced pizza. The portions were always enough to leave you full and ready to rage.

As a huge Zephryhills girl, I was excited to see that Zephryhills was a sponsor of this event. They had plenty of Zephryhills trucks to get free water and free refills. I always felt hydrated and secure in finding more water near me if I ever ran out. It was clear that the festival was taking hydration seriously, as we all know the heat in May in Florida is no joke.

There were about 6 giant areas with drinks, ranging from 3-10 tents each, that served water, lemonade, and seltzers. These kinds of areas were always in sight and never too far away. Because of the abundance of tents, the lines were never too long. At most festivals, it seems like the refreshments are only in one area, and once you get there you have to wait in a long line. That’s why I have to emphasize – I’ve never seen a festival care as much as SMF does.

ENGAGEMENT AND ENTERTAINMENT

At music festivals, you don’t really expect any other entertainment besides the music, but at Sunset you’d be wrong. They had plenty more options of things for fans to do if they weren’t feeling the music.

One of my favorite places to go was the Beatbox tent. As a sponsor of the festival, Beatbox had its own tent with its own activities inside. Before you bought yourself a drink, they let you taste-test to see which one you wanted. They had an area with an artist that was doing free face paintings. She did them so quick but so perfect, she kept the long line moving. The coolest feature was the 360 photo booth. The line to participate was absolutely insane but it was so fun watching other people do it.

Next to the Beatbox tent was the STNR tent, aka the “Elevated High-Rise Lounge”. They sold everything Delta 8: from Gummies to disposables. I’ve never taken Delta 8 before so I didn’t really want to risk it while I was covering this festival. But if it works how I’ve heard it does, it seems perfect for these kinds of shows. The visuals of each set are absolutely mesmorizing whether you’re sober or not.

THEIR MESSAGE: FANS COME FIRST

They say love is in the details, and you can see that in every part of this event. They had plenty of announcements and graphics of reminders to stay hydrated and eat plenty of food. As a huge festival taking place in the South Florida summer, they had no choice but to be extremely careful. SMF had more than enough tents set up for concert-goers to buy water and fountains to refill their water bottles. There were huge fans that sprayed mist placed all around the venue. SMF even set up a tent full of huge air conditioners that you could walk through if you needed a break. If you were front row at a show, the staff offered water throughout the day.

The festival even had its own app with all the important information on it. It had the map, FAQ, a list of food vendors, and the schedule. It even had an option to like your favorite artists and create your own schedule. I thought this was convenient so I could block out the artists I wasn’t seeing and focus on the ones I really wanted to go to.

As I said, the setup was interactive. They had huge tents with platforms for people to sit. Some smaller tents had hammocks that were connected to one another. My sister and I managed to snag a pair while we waited for performers we wanted to see.

DAY ONE

When we first got to the festival, we wandered around the whole grounds to get an idea of where everything was. I was absolutely mesmorized by the way the whole grounds was decorated. My sister and I ended up in the far left corner at the Eclipse stage, where ATLiens were performing. As intense as they were, I really enjoyed them. They got me headbanging immediately.

The Sunset stage got our attention because they started playing trap music. I saw the stage name was GORDO, but on his way out, they called him Carnage. I started freaking out because I love Carnage and his songs, but I only got to see the ending of his set. But I absolutely enjoyed it while I was there.

Before the headliners were set to perform, my sister and I decided to head over to the food vendors and we got ourselves some New York Pizza. These slices were as big as my face – no exaggeration (as pictured above). There were lots of tables and platforms set up for us to relax and recharge before we got back out into the crowd.

It was easy to see that everyone was attending the first day was there to see Illenium. Everywhere I turned, someone had an Illenium accessory from shirts to tattoos. So I had to see what the hype was all about. I listened to a few of his songs in preparation for this show but it couldn’t compare to a live show. The beat drops were a lot more intense in person. The crowd was absolutely losing their minds. Being able to watch people part of this community come together for their favorite artist was one of my favorite things to see.

DAY TWO

Saturday was definitely my favorite day of them all. My sister and I took advantage of all the amenities from the face paintings to free Kandi stations. We walked in and we headed straight towards the free Kandi station, which I found out was the spot for bracelet-making. Making these bracelets are a huge part of the community at these types of festivals – they’re like friendship bracelets, and you give them to people you meet and want them to remember you. The station had buckets full of all the charms you could imagine, and plenty of string to make the bracelets with. My sister and I each made our own and gave them to each other, of course.

As the day went on, we fell more in love with each set we laid our eyes on. We walked up to the Horizon stage and during L.P. Giobbi’s performance. Her set design had screens that read “This is femme” and displayed pictures of feminine figures such as Marsha P. Johnson and Amanda Gorman. I absolutely loved the tribute and I got lost in her music.

Liquid Stranger had to be my favorite performer of the whole festival. The visuals were absolutely insane and I could’ve stared at them all night. It was full of chrome and rainbows and they were paired with the most insane beat drops I’ve ever heard.

DAY THREE

I was excited for day three because I found some familiar faces in the lineup. My sister and I started our day early at the Eclipse stage to see Evalution. As a FSU alumni, I’ve seen him perform at a few of the clubs and frat parties in Tallahassee. It was only right for me to see him perform. He did not disappoint. At the end of his set, he played a new song with Chris Sgammato, who played the saxophone, while Evalution played the electric guitar. It was absolutely insane.

BonniexClyde is also a frequent name in the Florida State world and my sister wanted to see them. They actually sang their own songs which I thought was a lot different than the other performers.

My favorite performer of the day was Dillon Francis. He is a seasoned vet and knows how to get the crowd to engaged. He mastered the art of playing in his hits that everyone knows, and then adding his own remixes and beats to make it his own.

By the end of the festival, my sister and I had a handful of collectibles given to us by other people. We got things from plastic little babies to paperclips that said: “you are a sunflower” – which was really cute.

I came to SMF a skeptic of EDM festivals, and I left a headbanger. I appreciated that the focus wasn’t only on the performers, but on the attendees as well. Whether it was for their safety or just the aesthetic, the fans absolutely came first. I’ve never felt so absolutely safe at a festival or any type of concert until SMF.

The lineup was absolutely insane, every artist brought their A game. You could see the excitement in the crowd with their outfits that they had planned for months, their Camelbaks- they were seasoned pros. Like I said, the festival’s dedication to its fans was unlike anything I had ever seen before. No other event I’ve ever been to cared as much as the staff at SMF did. They were able to balance allowing guests to have fun but also ensuring safety. So when I say SMF is nothing like anything I’ve been to before, I mean it in the best way possible. I had such an amazing time being able to experience this special festival and I’m so honored that I had the privilege to attend.

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