Merriweather Post Pavilion kicked off a new season of concerts with the Sweetlife Food and Music Festival last Saturday, April 28th. While the weather was less than desirable, the third annual Sweetgreen-sponsored concert brought out a large gathering of food and music lovers alike.
The first band to take to the Main Stage was fun. The group kicked off their eight-song set with “One Foot,” a track off of their sophomore album, Some Nights, released last month. Despite their somewhat early 12:30 set time, fun. drew in a very respectable crowd and helped energize concertgoers. “Are you ready for a long day?” asked lead singer Nate Ruess at one point, to which audience members responded with cheers and applause.
The three-piece group was accompanied on stage by a touring band that included a trumpet player, as well as a saxophonist/keyboardist. While it’s no question that fun. kept fans engaged during their entire performance, it was their last song, the ubiquitous “We Are Young,” that commanded the most attention and led to what I found to be the most epic sing-along of the day. Overall, the band’s set was upbeat, lighthearted, infectious, and, needless to say, all things fun.
The Main Stage even featured performances mid-set, with DJ Mia Morretti and violinist Caitlin Moe playing covers of popular songs (e.g., “Midnight City” by M83) in between acts. Also at the festival was a wide a variety of food catered by local restaurants and eateries. I personally enjoyed a cupcake and brownie for lunch from dessert shop Baked + Wired (I really like sweets, okay?), but other vendors on site included Roberta’s, Shake Shack, Honest Tea, Pleasant Pops, Central Kitchen, Roberta’s Pizza, Toki Underground, and of course, Sweetgreen, among many, many others.
Located near the food vendors was Sweetlife’s second stage, the Treehouse Stage. The weather seemed to be the main point of discussion among performers—the Malaysian-based Yuna told concertgoers she was having difficulty adapting to the colder temperature, while gothic-pop songstress Zola Jesus tried to motivate her fans, saying, “We are not wet, and we are not cold,” as she fired through her set.
Also taking to the Treehouse Stage was U.S. Royalty. The Washington, DC-based band has a perfect Sweetlife attendance record, having played the festival every year. The band would play a set that was short but sweet. A crowd of fans watched as the four-piece band played a set full of Americana-tinge
Another performance highlight came from Fitz and the Tantrums, whose set took place during one of the day’s short-lived moments of sunshine and warmth. Despite performing for a seemingly sleepy crowd (I, admittedly, was in a dessert-induced food coma), the band, which featured singers Noelle Scaggs and Michael Fitzpatrick clad in coordinating red pants, performed their Motown-soul-alternative songs with an admirable amount of charisma and energy. The group eventually helped the audience wake up when they covered the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” a few songs prior to closing their set with their hit single, “MoneyGrabber.”
Hands-down the biggest draw of the day for me was The Shins, who were near the top of my “Bands I Really Want to See Live” list until they performed on the Main Stage on Saturday. Loyal fans stood in the rain to take in band’s sixteen-song set, which included “Bait and Switch” and “Simple Song,” cuts from their new album, Port of Morrow, the group’s first release in five years. The band would go on to get nostalgic as they delved into their catalog and played old favorites like “Phantom Limb,” “Australia,” and “Caring is Creepy.”
Taking the stage after The Shins was Kid Cudi, who had the crowd under his grasp as he played songs like “Up Up and Away” and “Mojo So Dope.” Taking the stage after Kid Cudi was headliner Avicii, who breezed through catchy dance songs and remixes that had the majority of the audience up and moving. I, along with probably everyone else, was eagerly awaiting for him to play “Levels,” the Etta James-sampling song that helped launch him into stardom. Once he did, he one-upped himself and mixed it with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” garnering a huge reaction.
Between the good food and good music, the Sweetlife Festival proved to be successful, rain or shine. I can’t wait for Year 4!