Capital Cities brings infectious vibe to Coastline Festival in West Palm Beach on Sunday

By Michael Hamersly | mikehamersly@gmail.com11/7/2013

Lollapalooza. Coachella. Summerfest. And now … Coastline?

The rock fest that makes its debut this weekend might never achieve the fame and acclaim of these legendary events, but the Coastline Festival is off to a decent start, scoring indie-rock and dance-pop acts including Passion Pit, Two Door Cinema Club, Matt & Kim, Fitz & The Tantrums, The Joy Formidable, Capital Cities and more on two stages.

The all-day festival – which hits Tampa on Saturday and West Palm Beach’s Cruzan Amphitheater on Sunday - features more than just great music, with a Craft Beer Cove offering more than 25 selections from Florida’s best breweries, plus a smattering of national faves (such as the luscious Dogfish Head); the Food Trucktopia, with eclectic cuisine from Mediterranean to vegetarian to Argentinian; and the Isle of Art, featuring acclaimed artists from Florida’s progressive scene.

But of course, the music is the real draw, and it starts with the headliner, Passion Pit, whose versatile sound, drawing from both melodic indie-pop and electronic beats, fits in at most any music event, save a death-metal fest.

“I don’t think it was a conscious thing, but it’s something that we’ve realized and all talk about,” says Jeff Abruzzese, Passion Pit’s bass player. “If we have the choice, we enjoy more being the dancier band that plays at Lollapalooza versus being, like, the rock-‘n’-roll band playing at [the DJ-heavy] Ultra Fest. So it’s cool that our sound is so broad that we can play in all these different scenarios.”

The band will close out each show with a 75-minute set featuring the obvious hits “Sleepyhead,” “Take a Walk” and “Carried Away,” but there are some surprises in store.

“We’ve done a lot of rehearsing, reaching back to our earlier stuff, and we’re playing some new material that we haven’t played on previous tours,” says Abruzzese. “So it’ll be a lot of songs stretching across our three records, plus a previously unreleased song called “American Blood,” and a lot of high energy.”

Another band on the bill (West Palm Beach only) with a lot of high energy is Capital Cities, whose mercilessly catchy hit “Safe and Sound” is suddenly blowing up on pop radio, long after its release.

“It came out almost two and a half years ago, so the ride has actually been kind of a slow build,” says Ryan Merchant, who along with Sebu Simonian formed Capital Cities while writing jingles for ad campaigns as their day jobs. “But definitely in the past year, since it’s started to be picked up on radio, it’s been a whirlwind – extremely fun and extremely tiring, but mainly exciting.”

The success of “Safe and Sound” is buoyed by its fascinating video chronicling the history of dance over the past century, a playful work of art heavily featuring Merchant and Simonian more than capably busting a move.

“We took dance lessons for that one,” says Merchant with a laugh. “Onstage, we’re not quite as choreographed, but we definitely move around a lot, because our music is dance-y. Naturally, your body has to get in tune what’s going on with the music.”

The infectious, feel-good vibe of Capital Cities’ music might sound effortless, but it was a gradual creative evolution.

“Sebu and I are both a little bit older by pop-music standards – we’re both in our 30s now,” says Merchant. “When we came together five years ago, we both had been through many different bands where we were playing angst-y music that was exploring a darker side of growing up. And I think when you get a little older, you tend to grow out of that somewhat. We were both ready to do something a little more fun and upbeat.”