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Review: Florida Georgia Line party hard all night at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Tyler Hubbard, left, and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on May 29, 2015.

Jay Cridlin

Tyler Hubbard, left, and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on May 29, 2015.

Would a world run by Florida Georgia Line really be all that bad?

Think about it. All the whiskey you could drink. A pickup in every driveway, and a blonde in every pickup. And sleeves! Sleeves would be a thing of the past!

I kid, but man, we might be heading in that direction. A sold-out crowd of 19,000 partied hard with Florida Georgia Line Friday night in the duo’s first-ever headlining show at Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. The size of the gig is indicative of FGL’s ascent to country’s A-list, and boy howdy, do they seem amped for the spotlight.

Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley pulled out all the stops in their relentless drive to bridge the worlds of country, rock, hip hop and pure guilty-pleasure entertainment. They filmed a live music video; turned backflips on trampolines; covered Eminem, Wiz Khalifa and Bruno Mars; and even hired a magician to perform between sets. AN ACTUAL MAGICIAN.

The real magic, though, is in how Hubbard and Kelley managed to pull off this whole hot mess, and still leave everyone wanting more. Full Story

This week in Tampa: Florida Georgia Line, Shelby Lynne, Collie Buddz and more

If you're looking for a party this weekend, you can find it at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, where Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett and Frankie Ballard will hit the stage on Friday. Other concerts this week in town include Shelby Lynne (above), Collie Buddz, Michelle Branch, Veil of Maya, Beartoe, Kill Paris, Melt-Banana and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...

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Ticket Window: Patton Oswalt, Zappa Plays Zappa, MisterWives and more

Over the past couple of years we've seen a few great comics come to Tampa Bay either for the first time in ages (Marc Maron, Tig Notaro) or the first time ever (Aziz Ansari, Chris Hardwick). Add to that list one of the most popular comics who has yet to pop into our neck of the woods: Patton Oswalt.

Tampa Bay Tickets with concerts going on sale this week include: The Fixx (July 3, Capitol Theatre), Patton Oswalt (Aug. 29, Straz Center), Monday Night Raw (Aug. 31, Amalie Arena), Zappa Plays Zappa (Sept. 11, Jannus Live), One Man Breaking Bad - The Unauthorized Parody (Sept. 17-19, Straz Center) and MisterWives (Oct. 7, State Theatre).

Click here for this week's edition of Ticket Window.

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SoundBytes; Tove Lo, Twenty One Pilots, Sean Paul, Zappa Plays Zappa and more

-- The Tampa Bay Storm are getting in on the live concert game. This Saturday is "Country Night" at Amalie Arena, featurng a pregame concert by Rachele Lynae, above, whose singles include Party 'Til the Cows Come Home." She'll play for an hour starting at 6 p.m., and fans who show up early will be able to enter a raffle for a pair of Garth Brooks tickets. Click here for details.

-- Sean Paul will headline this year's Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival on June 7 at Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg. Tickets start at $20. Click here for the full details on the festival.

-- Zappa Plays Zappa, a Frank Zappa tribute act led by his son Dweezil Zappa, will perform at Jannus Live on Sept. 11. Tickets are $26.50-$28, and they go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- British rockers The Fixx are coming to the Captiol Theatre on July 3. Tickets are $42.50-$36.50. Click here.

-- Patton Oswalt is coming to Tampa! Aug. 29 at the Straz Center! Click here! …

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Patton Oswalt, 'Breaking Bad' and WWE all coming to Tampa

Three big show announcements on Tuesday could make the ultimate Venn diagram: comedian Patton Oswalt, WWE’s Monday Night Raw and a Breaking Bad parody that boils 60 episodes of the heralded TV show about a teacher-turned-meth dealer into a single stage send-up.

All three have rabid fan bases, that’s for sure. But do any of them intersect?
Why yes, they do. In a place called Tampa, where all three are coming in August and September.


• Patton Oswalt, an A-list alternative comic if there can be such a thing, is coming to the Straz Center Aug. 29, and tickets go on sale Friday for $30-$50 at strazcenter.org at 10 a.m. Even though the writer, comedian and actor has been in a slew of mainstream shows and movies from King of Queens to Parks and Recreation to Remy the rat in Pixar’s Ratatouille, he still maintains his indie popularity among fans of alternative comedy. Maybe it’s because nothing he chooses to work on is too big or too small for his attention. Adult Swim to podcasts to heartbreaking roles in movies like Big Fan and Young Adult. He is one of stand-up comedy’s smartest, most wide-ranging talents. …

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Florida Georgia Line: Why America loves, hates and loves to hate country's hottest duo

Innovators, instigators, idiots. Heartbreakers, hellraisers, heroes. Call 'em what you want, there's no denying Florida Georgia Line have set the world of country music ablaze.

For the last two years, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard have been opening gigantic shows for the likes of Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Just two weeks ago, they toppled both of those acts to win Best Country Act at the Billboard Music Awards. And they're in the midst of their first huge headlining tour, which will hit Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday with Thomas Rhett and Frankie Ballard in tow (click here for details).

They've done it all while perfecting the art of "bro country" -- songs about tailgates, pickups, party girls and drinking. A whole lot of drinking. And while many outright loathe them for it, others point to FGL as one of the freshest tornadoes of attitude to hit Nashville in many years.

"When you think about country music, you really can't compare them to anybody, and you can't really compare anybody to them," said Barry Knox of the band Parmalee, who toured with FGL back before this wave of craziness hit. "There's just nobody else out there that is doing it like them."

For more on Florida Georgia Line, click here for our story.

And hey, if you're one of the haters who can't stand 'em, check this out -- it's our guide to Not Hating Florida Georgia Line in Seven Easy Steps. Play along at home!Full Story

Photos: Sunset Music Festival goes hard till the end with Armin van Buuren, Porter Robinson, more in Tampa

"But first ... let me take a selfie!" The Chainsmokers performed at the 2015 Sunset Music Festival on May 24, 2015.

Luis Santana

"But first ... let me take a selfie!" The Chainsmokers performed at the 2015 Sunset Music Festival on May 24, 2015.

Breaking news! The Sunset Music Festival did NOT have to shut down due to weather on Sunday!

After evacuations in 2014 and on Saturday's Day 1 (click here for our full report), Day 2 of the 2015 Sunset Music Festival wrapped up with an explosive, exciting atmosphere on Sunday, as DJs like Armin van Buuren, Porter Robinson, DVBBS, the Chainsmokers and more performed for more than 20,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium. Plenty of revelers were there in their finest, weirdest attire -- and so was Luis Santana, who snapped a ton of photos.

Click the headine of this post for a slideshow of Day 2 at the 2015 Sunset Music Festival.

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Review: Rush turn back the clock on four decades of rock at Tampa's Amalie Arena

Singer Geddy Lee and Rush performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on May 24, 2015.

Jay Cridlin

Singer Geddy Lee and Rush performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on May 24, 2015.

It's a guesstimate, but scanning Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sunday night, I'd say a solid third of the sold-out crowd of 14,827 was wearing Rush T-shirts.

"It's not retro, it's original!" I overheard one T-shirted fan emphatically attest to another.

Who would doubt it? Rush's legendarily obsessive fans live and die with the band, and you just know many have a drawer full of faded tees back at home. Rush may not be cool, you see, but for 40-plus years, they've never gone out of style.

So it's no wonder they all lifted their lighters and roared with approval as the Canadian prog-rock icons walked back a four-decade career in what might be their final show ever in Florida.

This concept of this tour – likely their "last major tour of this magnitude,” the band has said – is endearingly clever: A career retrospective in reverse, starting with 2012’s Clockwork Angels and winding all the way back to 1974’s Rush. It’s an unraveling of who Rush is and how they got here, and why that matters so much to so many.Full Story

Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings storms, superstar DJs, surprise guests to Tampa

Skrillex performed at the Sunset Music Festival in Tampa on May 23, 2015.

Luis Santana

Skrillex performed at the Sunset Music Festival in Tampa on May 23, 2015.

Is Tampa's rave scene unkillable? At the Sunset Music Festival, it’s starting to look that way.

For the second straight year, severe weather forced Tampa’s rowdiest day-glo bacchanal to evacuate thousands of fans into Raymond James Stadium. For the second straight year, pretty much everyone complied with patience and good humor. And for the second straight year, the second the music resumed, so did the party, the mood barely dinged by the storms.

Rain or shine, Sunset just has a way of engendering positive vibes among all who pass through its sparkly neon gates. In its fourth year, the EDM festival keeps getting bigger and bolder, not only in terms of record-breaking crowds – around 27,500 on Saturday’s opening day – but with ever more ambitious stages, technology and star wattage.

The opening day of Sunset 2015 brought not only A-list headlining DJs Tiesto and Skrillex, but a couple of huge surprises – Colombian rock singer Juanes and Tampa’s own Hulk Hogan, who both held court on the main stage during a set by Cedric Gervais. Full Story

Photos: Before fourth anniversary, Ol' Dirty Sundays throws down at Crowbar in Ybor City

DJ Chuck Chillout pumps up the crowd at Crowbar for Ol' Dirty Sundays on May 17, 2015.

Luis Santana

DJ Chuck Chillout pumps up the crowd at Crowbar for Ol' Dirty Sundays on May 17, 2015.

On Sunday, Crowbar's weekly hip-hop party known as Ol' Dirty Sundays will celebrate a milestone: Its fourth anniversary. DJs Kon and Rich Medina will headline alongside residents Casper and Lesage, Blenda, Mega, Fader, Deacon and more, plus live performances by Tribal Style and others. There will be Jamaican cuisine and much more. Click here for details.

A week ahead of its four-year anniversary, Luis Santana checked out the scene at Ol' Dirty Sundays. Click the headline of this post for a gallery of photos.

 

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Festivals and forecasts: How do events like the Sunset Music Festival prepare for weather disasters?

Workers build the main stage for the 2015 Sunset Music Festival outside Raymond James Stadium.

Eve Edelheit

Workers build the main stage for the 2015 Sunset Music Festival outside Raymond James Stadium.

John Santoro knew nasty weather might force him to pull the plug on his biggest party.

"We're in Tampa," said the co-organizer of the annual Sunset Music Festival, a fluorescent carnival of electronic dance music that returns this Saturday and Sunday to Raymond James Stadium. "It just goes with the territory."

Still, safely evacuating a crowd of 20,000 is no easy feat, especially under the threat of lightning, high winds and quarter-sized hail. When storms forced Santoro to cut the power at Sunset '14, plenty of fans were initially confused. Many at the gate chanted profanities.

But by and large, the evacuation went off without a hitch, with no riots and no injuries. When the gates reopened shortly thereafter, it was like the party never stopped.

"It actually worked out to plan, and that never happens," said James "Disco Donnie" Estopinal, Jr., Sunset's other co-organizer. "People were very understanding, they went where we told them to go, and it worked out perfect."

For more of our story on festivals' weather preparedness, click here.Full Story

SoundBytes: Madonna, DVBBS, The Temperance Movement and more

-- If you had tickets to see Madonna at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena on Aug. 29 and 30, bad news: The Material Girl has postponed those dates -- and others in Atlanta and San Juan, P.R. -- to January. Madonna's new Florida dates are Jan. 23 and 24. "Assembling all the elements will require more time than we realized," Madonna said in a statement. "I promise you this show will be worth the wait."

-- British blues-rockers The Temperance Movement will open for the Rolling Stones on June 12 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Click here.

-- Nashville Pussy and Valient Thorr are teaming up for a tour that'll hit Crowbar on Aug. 20. Tickets are $14-$16. Click here.

-- Singer-songwriter Noah Gunderson is coming to Crowbar on Oct. 17. Tickets are $15-$17. Click here.

-- This weekend's Sunset Music Festival has announced the headliners for its after parties on Saturday and Sunday. Destructo and Mija will take the stage at the Amphitheatre in Ybor City on Saturday, and DVBBS will perform there on Sunday. Tickets to both nights are $25 apiece. Click here.

 

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The Illusionists' Jeff Hobson and Dan Sperry talk tough rooms, gruesome tricks, the magic of magic and more

Dan Sperry

Photo by Joan Marcus

Dan Sperry

The Illusionists, coming to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday through May 31, brings together seven magicians from around the world, each bringing his own specialty to the mix. Show producers gave them each a name encapsulating their magic style: the Anti-Conjuror, the Inventor, the Futurist, the Escapologist, the Manipulator, the Trickster and the Warrior.

"We all are doing our A-level stuff every night," said Jeff Hobson, the Trickster.

"When the promoters put me on the flier, I was going for something different," said Dan Sperry (above), the Anti-Conjurer. "I didn't want them to say magician or illusionist because it would paint a picture, you know, the stereotype. It might not fit with their idea of a good time. 'We don't want to see a magician. We can just come later and see the band.' If it's Anti-Conjuror, they might ask, 'What's that'"

Tickets to The Illusionists start at $56. Click here for details.

For more of Robbyn Mitchell's interviews with Sperry and Hobson, click here.

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You're wearing what? The weirdest looks from last year's Sunset Music Festival

Body paint? Check. Lingerie? Check. Butterfly wings? Check. Rhinestone face stickers? Check. Brenna Crippen emerged from her cocoon ready to be seen and photographed. On top of her unique take on the festival directive to show as much skin as possible, she also has the necessities: shades, fanny pack and a million watt smile. It's go time.

Luis Santana

Body paint? Check. Lingerie? Check. Butterfly wings? Check. Rhinestone face stickers? Check. Brenna Crippen emerged from her cocoon ready to be seen and photographed. On top of her unique take on the festival directive to show as much skin as possible, she also has the necessities: shades, fanny pack and a million watt smile. It's go time.

This weekend's Sunset Music Festival celebrates EDM music, an artform that notoriously brings out the brightest, weirdest (and sometimes scariest) looks anywhere, ever. Flip through samples of styles our photographer Luis Santana spotted at last year's events.

[Related: After last year's Sunset Music Festival storms, safety is a top concern]

Can Sunset's fashion top itself this year? Rest assured we'll be watching. Check back this weekend to Soundcheck for more freaky EDM fashion. 

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This week in Tampa: Sunset Music Festival, Rush, Darius Rucker, Flo Rida, 97X Barbecue and more

The biggest musical event happening this weekend happens to be one of Tampa Bay's biggest musical events, period: The fourth annual Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium. The two-day affair is headlined by DJs like Skrillex, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren and Porter Robinson, but will feature dozens of DJs across three gigantic stages.

We've been previewing Sunset all week -- click here for our interview with Robinson, and click here for the Sunset Music Festival schedule and set times. And don't forget about the afterparties -- Saturday brings Destructo and Mija to the Amphitheatre in Ybor (tickets are $25) and Sunday brings DVBBS (tickets are $25). Click here for all the details on SMF 2015.

Even beyond SMF, it's a gigantic music weekend in Tampa Bay, with shows by Rush, Darius Rucker, Smash Mouth, Flo Rida, LunchMoney Lewis, the Jacksons, Cody Simpson, Brett Eldredge, Steve Earle, Paul Van Dyk, Brothers Osborne, A Thousand Horses, Firebeatz, Jackson Scott and the 97X Barbecue, featuring Awolnation, Panic! At The Disco, Robert DeLong and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...Full Story