Friday, May 17, 2013

'Round Town

So what's been happening around West Palm Beach these days? Lots of things.

The first annual "Brew at the Zoo" was held on April 27th at the Palm Beach (formerly Dreher Park) Zoo. It was a surprisingly very well attended event. Local brewers such as Due South set up stations around the park, mainly near the front entrance, and refilled the nifty ~4oz. plastic cup you received at the gate with their mostly excellent brews. Some local restaurants were also present, as were a cover band cranking out classic rock. Fine beer sampling is still fairly new to me but with each taste my appreciation and discernment deepens.

I went with my good friend Stephen and a very nice guy named Jeff who I met for the first time. We had a very mellow evening, sipping amber and dark while chatting about music (Jeff is a drummer) and a myriad of other topics. Not every part of the zoo was open during this event (sorry, no raising of glasses to the Bengals), but some vendors were camped a bit further in, near the Mayan ruins etc.

Each time I visit the Palm Beach Zoo I am amazed at how far it's developed since my childhood, when it was little more than a few trees with exotic birds and fences with select beasts behind. The Zoo and the Science Museum behind it were very popular elementary school field trip destinations. I went to both many times with my dad, too. Some years later, a friend who returned to town after graduating from Palm Beach Atlantic College worked there for awhile, giving me the inside, uh, poop on things. In the last decade or so, the Zoo more resembles a mini Disney World.

The annual music festival SunFest was held a few weeks back.  The first few days the event was soaked by storms, though some brave souls enjoyed Smashing Pumpkins the first night. Saturday evening I joined my childhood bud Chris for a show, just as we did 2 years earlier for Jeff Beck (documented on this blog). This time we saw Cheap Trick, best known for energetic rockers like "Surrender" and "Dream Police." The guys still rock, hard at that. Chris reminded me that I introduced him to the band 30 plus years ago when we listened to Dream Police in my bedroom.

It was a bit disappointing to see that drummer Bun E. Carlos (and his forever cigarette from lips dangling) was absent, though guitarist Rick Nielsen's son Daxx assumed the stool and did just fine. Dad still flings  picks into the crowd and trots out that outrageous 5 necked guitar at the finale. All the hits were played, along with several album cuts many around me didn't know.  Singer/guitarist Robin Zander wore a Sgt. Pepper outfit (the band has played that Beatles album on other tours).

One distinctive note: this year the northernmost stage at SF featured what seemed like a non-stop rave. Trance music played so loudly that when Cheap Trick finished a song, the bass nearly overpowered them. "I guess we need to turn our shit up!" Nielsen quipped. Futuristically dressed men with super soaker water guns instead sprayed paint on the audience. Many kids were walking around covered in it and mud, left over from the monsoons we had earlier in the week.  In some spots, this year's SunFest was akin to a mini Woodstock. Disturbingly, many concertgoers appeared to be 13 year old girls wearing just there outfits. Like mini Lolitas in the making.

To add to the evening's amusement, every fifth person commented on Chris' Chewbacca T-shirt with either a "Cool shirt, man" or an approving nod.  Maybe I should've worn that BLUE VELVET tee someone once gave me, the one with Dennis Hopper and the gas mask. One of his famous lines runs along the bottom. I won't quote it here.