Fool’s Paradise combines funk, flavor and fun in St. Augustine.
By Annabel Shettel
Friday afternoon starts off with Morning Fatty at Shipwreck stage. I watch an older couple sit on their beach cruisers singing along to “Hey Jude,” as their set comes to an end. Andrew White shouts, ”Are the drugs kicking in? Give it a second, you can’t see under these sunglasses!”
People ranging from all ages start to flow into the festival grounds, they are tailgating outside of the amphitheater and checking out the food trucks. My favorite is a local food joint serving popsicle goodness, Hyppo. They offer unique flavors and it's perfect for cooling off in the hot Florida weather. Big Island Bowls is another favorite that sells acai bowls, which are also good for cooling off. The bowls provide lots of energy for us to keep on grooving. I overhear a young guy wearing gaucho styled joggers and lots of jewelry say he flew in all the way from Puerto Rico, just to be a part of the Fool’s vibe. The couple he is chatting with is in shock he came so far and explains they drove in from Nashville.
Marvel Years starts their set on the main stage. I watch a group of friends who are playing hacky sack, with lots of smiles and laughs. A few more people start running down the amphitheater steps to join in on the hacky game and dance along to the music.
The crowd begins to fill in as Goldfish’s set activates. A couple with goldfish signs wave them in the air and bubbles arise, drifting from their bubble machine. Confetti and goldfish crackers are thrown all around. People start making fish lips with their mouths and putting their hands on their cheeks to form fish fins. The set comes to an end as they play "Seven Nation Army" on the bass - everyone riots. The rainy weather doesn't bring anyone’s groove down. As the sky gets a little darker and it starts to rain, everyone keeps dancing along. Luckily, the majority of the amphitheater is covered anyways.
The rain eventually stops and makes for a chiller, yet humid evening. Lettuce’s set continues the buildup. An older man brings two lettuce heads into the pit. He walks around, passing out lettuce leafs to everyone. I witness an older couple put the lettuce in their hair, a guy puts lettuce on top of his hat, and another woman puts it in her cleavage. As the set kicks off everyone jumps up and down, lettuce flying everywhere and ending up all over the stage. Success! Nigel Hall walks out towards the end of the set and shouts, “We got Nicolas Cage here tonight… APRIL FOOLS.” He starts laughing but the whole crowd is silent, they aren’t falling for it.
I meet a group of college students who tell me they drove fourteen hours from Delaware. They are hyped for GRiZ’s set, and for a a good reason. GRiZ performs one of the most powerful sets of the evening. The entire pit is packed tight and full of people. Then the lights get heavy. Not even half way through, Grant Kwiecinski’s knee starts bleeding from kneeling hard on the ground slaying the saxaphone. Not one person wasn’t jumping up and down. Lettuce and GRiZ top the night off in a harmonious union of funk. The set delivers a sense of closeness to the crowd and we all feel the amazing vibes and love.
Planet Sarbez’s, a bar and cafe hosting the after party, features Herd of Watts and Morning Fatty on Friday night. Tomorrow (Saturday) the after party welcomes Herd of Watts (round two), Manyfest, and Groove Orient. The local joint serves gourmet grilled cheeses, it's decorated with stuffed animals that look like they are mounted on the walls like deer heads. VHS tapes line the wall of the bar while arcade games are in the corner and there's a fire pit outside. The place was packed out with Fools. It's the perfect ending to Friday evening.
With dried lettuce on the stage floor, and a cooler morning wind, the second day of Fool’s Paradise begins round two of funk. The Nth Power starts off on the main stage bringing in the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed people. Cory Henry, from Snarky Puppy, joins in on The Nth Power’s set. They shred hard at the end of the set covering “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Then they leave the stage, but not before shouting to the crowd,”We love you, we love you!”
If this weekend couldn't be any more magical, we all become witnesses to a wedding ceremony. The couple is in tears as they say their vows before Vulfpeck’s set. Theo Katzman walks on stage, and a bearded middle aged man in the crowd yells out,”You enhanced my entire life!” Theo plays “Christmas in FLA”, (otherwise known as “Christmas in LA”) and “Back Pocket,” with the crowd chorusing along. Antwaun Stanley comes out and Theo Katzman announces that Antwaun was now on Instagram (@antwaunstanley), as a request by Theo for his 30th birthday. Cory Henry also comes out on stage and they take turns playing the keyboard and drums. One of the most memorable jams was “Funky Duck.” Antwaun Stanley wails on the vocals and has every Fool singing along.
Chris Robinson’s Soul Revue brings the pre-Lettuce hype and starts off with “Get Out Of My Life Woman.” Everyone sings along to “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,” and “Hard to Handle.” The set comes to an ultimate frenzy when the band plays Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Turn On Your Lovelight.” Chris Robinson throws his fingers up into peace signs and thanks the crowd before exiting the stage.
The night can't get any funkier, right? Wrong! We had not yet seen Lettuce’s last set. As the stage sets in preparation, the old man with lettuce heads makes his way back again. He is armed with produce and handing out lettuce bombs to the crowd. I see another guy with a couple of bags of shredded lettuce ready for combat. After Lettuce trots on stage the raging continues as the crowd jumps up and down and lettuce flies everywhere. The stage floor is decorated in salad, even more than the previous night. Success, again!
Cory Henry joins in the SuperJam, then The Nth Power comes out to bring the funk powwow in full motion. Everyone is banging their heads and moving their bodies. Screams full of excitement are coming from every direction. Nigel Hall captures us with powerful energy on the stage as the set comes to an end. The moment enraptured everyone’s spirits as the SuperJam plays “Do It Like You Do.” E.D. Coom’s grabs the microphone and says, “Thank you for the unstoppable energy.” All the Fool’s break out in an uproar of applause, screaming and shouting. There is a brand new perspective on old historic St. Augustine, full of soul and funk. Fool’s Paradise certainly left its mark and will forever be a part of everyone who became a Fool.