Yesterday (March 6) was the Parahoy! cruise’s first full day at sea. Cruisers — especially the first timers — were able to settle in a bit and learn the lay of the land… or ship. Neither Paramore nor Chvrches played a set, so guests had more time to kick back, enjoy the ship, watch one of the smaller bands work the main stage, or catch their favorites moderate some fan-centric activities.
By noon, most of the crowd had meandered out of its stupor from whatever fun they had the previous night. This meant they could catch bingo with Chvrches in the indoor theater, or line up on the top floor for their scheduled photo ops with Paramore (every cruiser got an assigned time).
On the pool deck, Vacationer eased the crowd into the afternoon with a relaxing 2 p.m. set. Afterwards, we caught up with bandleader Kenny Vasoli for an interview.
Vacationer isn’t a household name, but the aptly-named tropically tinged project of Startling Line frontman Kenny Vasoli must have been an easy pitch to the Parahoy bookers. Vacationer is cruise ship music.
We chatted with Vasoli following their ship deck set yesterday afternoon. Between the hour of poolside grooves, xylophone echo, and sticky bass licks, Vasoli proposed hangover cures for the night before and made propositions like, “Let’s take a ride on the chill coaster.” Vibes, man.
“There’s zero angst in this music,” Vasoli admits. “I try to make it a stress relieving experience for me and the audience.” So far, Vacationer’s music has led to two albums, several singles and EPs, shows at surf shops like Montauk Surf Lodge and South Carolina’s Small Waves, and one Sperry-sponsored sailboat DJ set.
Vasoli took up Vacationer after tiring of his first band (seminal 2000s pop-punks The Starting Line) and wanting to write songs that better suited his post-teenage vocal cords. He looks like a guy you’d see in a PacSun ad and listens to a lot of Beach House, Radio Dept. and Stereolab. In other words, an ideally sunshine-y interloper for between Paramore, Chvrches and X Ambassadors sets.
“I was more hesitant because I didn’t know how Paramore’s fans would take us in,” he says. “But them vouching for us is warming the crowds up to us.” Vasoli befriended Paramore back in 2007. After trekking the country on the Warped Tour that summer, Paramore and The Starting Line still weren’t sick of each other, so they took the country for a second run, this time on their own tour.
He calls Vacationer his “bread and butter” now, but isn’t completely done with his old friends. TSL released an EP late last year and he says he has enough material for another seven-inch. But another LP? “The ordeal of writing and pre-production for a whole new full length… I don’t quite have the inspiration or drive for that. I do shatter expectations of what people have for me. I just do what I want to do. I’m really not interested in being a crowd-pleaser, which I think a lot of bands are.”
He hints he could make some more money with a more traditional job — like the ones some of his old bandmates have taken on — but holds by an old surfer dude mantra: “Nothing makes me happier than making music and no amount of money will make me happier than making music. So that’s kind of it.”
And it’s worked out for him. At old Person L shows (his other, other post-TSL project) fans used to shout out requests for standards like “The Best of Me,” but with Vacationer, he’s done an admirable job of sailing into another persona.
“I don’t feel like I’m breaking my back trying to play punk rock as a 31-year old.”
Don’t ruin the vibes, man.
Billboard also managed to chat with a local celebrity: If you’re on Parahoy!, you know the legend of Rainbow Beard. Adam Reider is a burly, amicable dude you’ll catch all around the ship, usually pairing his iconic facial hair with a Denver sports jersey, and always obliging strangers for a barrage of hi-fives.
The legend began on Parahoy! 2014. The San Diego resident had recently taken his daughter to a Paramore arena show and was so impressed, he copped tickets for the fledgling cruise right away. He hit it off with the cruise staff at a pre-sailing Hard Rock Café event and got shouted out by Hayley Williams during Paramore’s kickoff concert the opening afternoon. From there, his celebrity status amongst the cruisers took off.
Billboard got the story from the man himself.
“Based on Tegan & Sara, my wife was doing cool streaks in her hair and my daughter was dying her hair red,” he reminisced. “I thought there was going to be a big LGBT population on the boat, so I was like, ‘I’m gonna do rainbow colors in my beard.’”
Fast-forward to 2016, and numerous cruisers — strangers to Rainbow Beard — are sporting handmade, felt rainbow beards over their faces. Through Twitter and the Parahoy! Facebook group, his cult of personality stayed strong online in between cruises. They think back to moments like the 2014 bellyflop competition, when the legend really came to life.
“I had been officially picked for the free throw competition thing. I was so super nervous; I don’t think I made a single basket.” He was dejected, but then he noticed the poolside show setting up on the main deck. He wasn’t officially signed up, but being Rainbow Beard gets certain velvet ropes lifted.
“I went last, got an epic flop, and I think the coolest part was when I did the final flop, the whole boat was chanting ‘Rainbow Beard!”
It’s a cute story on its own, but big Adam’s very random stardom actually became an organic way to work into the music industry, even as a dad with a comfy job in tech. Since the ’14 cruise, he’s used his freelance photography experience (mostly sunrise pics for hotels and such) to shoot New Found Glory live and hop on the Warped Tour as a merch guy. He was even asked by Parahoy! to serve as a guest ambassador for this year’s cruise.
“It literally changed my life direction… This is what I need to do — I need to be in music somehow.”
His main goal now is to get back on Warped this summer, and if bands are smart, they’ll be lining up.
During mewithoutYou’s early evening main stage set, a fan called out for their song “Rainbow Signs” but of course frontman Aaron Weiss just assumed the inevitable. “Oh, Rainbow Beard? He’s an institution!” Only after taking some time to scan the crowd for him did they realize fans were asking for the song. He was actually inside the ship, taking with a friend by that floor’s elevators, just away from the stage. We told him what just happened, and he wasn’t too surprised.
For most of the cruisers, last night was party time. Guests got dressed up in harlequin suits, stormtrooper uniforms, or at least dresses adorned with Paramore album art and flocked to the main atrium for Paraprom. Like most alt kids at a formal dance, they were mostly shy to dance at first, but non-traditional prom jams like Fall Out Boy’s “Dance, Dance” and Jimmy Eat World’s “Sweetness” and got them moving. Later on, Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out” brought on a full-fledged, sing-along shakedown. Only at Paraprom.
After midnight, the party moved outside onto the pool deck. A prom king and queen were crowned, and Vacationer’s Kenny Vasoli returned to the stage, this time for a DJ set. He started off with a funk-heavy set for the crowded floor, and then moved onto more offbeat picks like Four Tet’s “Sing” and Todd Terje’s “Inspector Norse” as the crowd whittled down to those down for the long haul. Cruisers returned to their rooms knowing they had a morning and afternoon of relaxation in Cozumel, Mexico in store the next day.