Life In Color: Hard in the Paint

Strolling by the sun soaked and breezy Intracoastal yesterday it was easy to detect which SunFest attendees were waiting for Life In Color to begin.

The “World’s Largest Paint Party,” a five-hour rave set featuring chart-topping DJs and 400 gallons of neon (water soluble) paint, was set to start at 6 p.m. Fans were encouraged to wear white and come ready to dance. Guys and girls (mainly between the ages of 15 and 25) stood out during the day with glowing brim hats, sheer, frayed crop tops, and white bathing suits.

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Watching trailers and reading about Life In Color left a lot to the imagination, and as a seasoned Ultra veteran I was eager to see how the night would play out.

First, the “Reserved Seating” area before the Ford Stage was cleared and those who opted for the ticket upgrade were checked at the gates and presented a backpack complete with Life In Color sunglasses, T-shirt, rubber bracelet, towel and a CD. The rest of the crowd packed as closely to the mainstage as possible.

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For the first two hours, the colorless crowd danced and raved in the beautiful sun. A giant stop clock appeared on the screen, ticking down the time till 8 p.m. when the first headliner, Miami’s own David Solano, would take the stage.  It was then that the concert was elevated to an entirely different level.

With the sun tucked below the horizon, the clock hit zero and small cannons arranged across the front of the stage sent an explosion of green war paint across the crowd. Steam and confetti were released at staggered bursts, coinciding with the deafening bass from the speakers. The crowd went ballistic.

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A paint production team dressed in all white zip-up suits (think like scientists working in a chemical lab) handed out bottles and bottles of paint to the crowd to squirt and squeeze as they pleased.

The team also had massive water-gun looking toys they dipped into buckets of blue, green and pink paint before sending the colors flying high into the night sky.

On stage, strange and wondrous creatures would periodically slink in front of the crowd. An insane skeleton-faced monster bounced into view wearing moon shoes, launching itself high over the crowd, before grabbing a supercharged hose that released a powerful jet of paint and drenched everyone in sight.

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There were also stilt walking unicorns, a robot made of lights, and a trippy faceless alien with wings and balloons. All were eerie and perfect additions to the evening.

The Grammy nominated and indescribably talented Morgan Page took the booth at 9 p.m., mixing heart-stopping beats with his own signature tracks. I definitely was there to catch a few Tegan and Sara songs and Daft Punk’s new single “Get Lucky.”

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For many younger fans, this was probably their first honest taste of the EDM experience. The safe and contained environment was perfect for those intrigued by house beats, flashing lights and expertly produced sound.

The party stretched until 11 p.m., marking the longest set of the week.

Later, when racing over to Phillip Phillips on the opposite end of the festival, I was witness to an unspoken bond between guests dripping with paint: slight head nod, a smile, a silent congratulations to an experience we won’t soon forget.

All Photos by Chris Salata