The Sweetlife Food and Music Festival had its ups and downs. The weather was a pretty big disappointment, not only for concertgoers but also the musicians — many of whom had performed at Coachella the previous weekend.
Intent on enjoying the day, groups huddled together under blankets and umbrellas to catch the eclectic line-up, featuring Kid Cudi, Fun., and Fitz and the Tantrums. The Shins gave a great show, adding a little spark to their typically mellow sound and playing a number of songs from Chutes Too Narrow that lead older attendees down memory lane. The biggest disappointment was Harlem born and raised, A$AP Rocky, who kept everyone waiting 45 minutes for a 20 minute set.
Explosions in the Sky provided the perfect late afternoon chill vibe for those who wanted to sit back, relax and enjoy food from the Food Forest. Best known for their work on the “Friday Night Lights” film soundtrack, their music is purely instrumental.
The biggest draw may have been the many talented artists on stage, but the food was a close second. The popular Jose Andres’ Pepe Truck fed the masses with flautas and Spanish fare. Smucker Farms, The Big Cheese and Applegate Farms served up vegetarian and vegan baskets, fancy grilled cheese and organic meats, respectively. The Food Forest boasted eats from many locally sourced organic farms, which fit right in with Sweetgreen’s eco-friendly theme. The TRASHed Recycling Store, while nice in concept, seemed like a ploy to get people to buy more concessions. In order to earn just 1 point towards “free stuff”, participants had to turn in 3 compostable cups. With an average drink price of about $11, a great idea turned into an expensive proposition.
Sweetlife’s second stage, The Treehouse, offered those waiting in long food lines the chance to hear some great music from lesser known bands. A real stand out was LP front woman, LP, who flaunted some serious pipes and a mean whistle. Typically recognized for her recently released single, Into the Wild (featured in the Citicard commercial where the woman turns down a diamond ring for rock climbing), this ukulele playing lead singer and her band were phenomenal.
The festival’s headliner, Swedish house superstar Avicii, gave the extraordinarily young crowd exactly what they wanted – pulsing beats to dance the night away. With glow sticks still raised, I walked away from the festival feeling like I’d been a little too old and a little too sober to fully appreciate all Sweetlife had to offer. (For the record, I still have a few good years left in me.) Sweetlife Food and Music Festival has a ways to go before it can compete with major summer music festivals.