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80’s in the Park returns to Melbourne, Florida for their 3rd annual festival

Ronnie Younkis, Brian Forsythe, Mark Schenker of Kix

By Vicki DiAddezio, Photographer and Gillian DiAddezio, Journalist–Orlando, Florida

Venue: Melbourne Auditorium, Melbourne, Florida–80s In The Park–August 28th-30th, 2015

The Mighty Swine

The Mighty Swine

August 28-30, 2015 presented 80’s music lovers with the third annual music festival, appropriately titled 80’s in the Park. Due to a lot of rainfall last year leaving the ground at Wickham Park full of mud, the festival was moved indoors to the Melbourne Auditorium for this year’s festivities. There were two stages set up with a small one being outside and a larger one inside the auditorium. Unfortunately, mother nature once again presented the festival with plenty of rain along with the threat of a tropical storm. This sadly resulted in several bands having their set on the outside stage cancelled. Despite the weather, the auditorium itself was full of people in their best 80’s attire and they rocked to the sounds of some great music the entire weekend.

Although we didn’t arrive until Friday, the festival began Thursday night with performances by the bands Mystery, Burning Heat, and Bullet Boys. On Friday, the day started off a bit slow and the crowd was light until around five o’clock when things really got moving. There were many fans excited to see some of their favorite 80’s bands and there was plenty of great music to be heard. The outside stage hosted The Mighty Swine, Cult Revolution: A Tribute to the Cult, and Project Terror while the inside saw the likes of Gene Loves Jezebel, Asia, and FireHouse. Saturday brought a much bigger crowd and even more energy than what was seen the day before. Killer Dwarfs and Big City Nights, a tribute to the Scorpions, played on the outside stage, and both bands were fantastic. Despite the awful weather, the party continued in the auditorium where it was dry and the bands LA Guns, Kix, Nova Rex, and Slaughter rocked the stage. With the threat of severe storms on Sunday, all bands scheduled to play outside were cancelled and the party stayed inside once again. For the final day of the festival, Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Femme Fatale, Autograph, Kip Winger, and Lita Ford thrilled the fans with one exciting set after another.

Lita Ford

Lita Ford

Throughout the weekend, when the music had finished in the auditorium each night, crowds had just enough time to hop in their car and head over to the Crown Plaza where there was an official after-party. Fans that were able to stick around and keep the party going were treated to more music by several of the bands they had seen over the weekend as well as the opportunity to chat and take pictures with some of the many different band members.

To keep the crowds nourished throughout the weekend, there were a variety of retail vendors as well as tents and food trucks where you could purchase things such as cheesesteaks, ribs, pizza, coffee, frozen drinks and more. Inside, you could cool off and relax with some ice cream or an adult beverage.

Kip WInger

Kip WInger

Despite sound issues and the music being extremely overpowering for the inside of the auditorium at times, it was an exceptionally fun weekend.  We met some wonderful people and heard some amazing bands. We absolutely loved all of the music as well as the concept, but we would like to mention a standout performance that we think we will remember most.  Through all of the rocking that went on over the weekend, we loved when Kip Winger took to the stage with only his guitar. He entertained the crowd with his humor and his songs for an hour and never lost our interest. During his set, he brought an audience member up on stage to sing a song with him and as luck would have it, the guy could really sing. They harmonized so well together that you would think they sang together all the time. At another point he pulled out his cell phone and called Reb Beach, a guitar player for White Snake, so that the audience could sing “Happy Birthday” to him. We loved all the high energy of the other bands but for just that one hour, less was more.

Having just completed its third year, 80’s in the Park is still a relatively new festival, and they still have a few kinks to work out. Overall however, it is definitely an event to add to your calendar for next year. They have already set the dates for August 26 -28, 2016 and it sounds as though the event will only improve from here. There are already VIP tickets on sale for next year’s event, which will include even more headliner shows, acoustic sets by the pool, entry to the festival itself, the after-parties, and a special casino cruise featuring some of the headliners. You can check out their website or their Facebook page for even more details.

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