Review: Kiss, Def Leppard embrace rock 'n' roll excess at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Kiss performs at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 23, 2014.

Luis Santana

Kiss performs at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 23, 2014.

Say this for the Kiss Army plebes who shell out untold fortunes for the right to sit front-row-center: Those glittery, godlike gargoyles try to give 'em every penny’s worth.

Kiss plays to the front of the house like few bands before or since, mercilessly mugging for the cameras, unfurling their bloody, lascivious tongues, wiggling their sequined moneymakers and offering front-row fans tasteful glimpses of chest sweat and buttcheek.

But bands don’t make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame merely by titillating the haves.

"Everybody here deserves a front row seat at some point during the show!” singer-guitarist Paul “Starchild” Stanley squealed during Wednesday’s explosive concert at Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. And so he gave it to them, gliding out on a wire to a rotating stage in the center of the shed, where he danced beneath a disco ball to the endearingly silly Love Gun.

After 40 years, Kiss is having a moment in 2014. It’s not just that they finally made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or the cover of Rolling Stone, or this summer’s blockbuster tour with equally epic hair-bangers Def Leppard. Wednesday’s show drew a surprising number of younger fans no doubt seeing Kiss for the first time. “We've been playing here for longer than some of you have been alive here in Tampa,” Stanley reminded the house early on.

And at 62 and 64, respectively, Stanley and the Demon himself, Gene Simmons, don’t seem to care for the roles of dignified elder statesmen. Full Story

SoundBytes: American Authors, Flying Lotus, Guided By Voices, Cassadee Pope and more

-- Ready for your third dose of American Authors this year? The group, who scored a commercial and chart smash with Best Day Of My Life, played the Big Guava Music Festival in May, they're opening for OneRepublic on Aug. 16 in Tampa, and they'll headline the fall portion of this year's Honda Civic Tour, which will hit Jannus Live on Oct. 24. The Mowgli's and Oh Honey will open the show. Tickets go on sale Aug. 1. Click here.

-- In-demand DJ/producer Flying Lotus is making a rare appearance in Florida with a gig at Orlando's Beacham theater on Oct. 9. Tickets are $25, and Thundercat will open. Click here.

-- Also coming to Orlando on Nov. 11: '90s indie-rock kings Guided By Voices. They'll play the relatively intimate Social, and Bobby Bare Jr. will open. Tickets are $30-$35. Click here.

-- Cassadee Pope, who fronted the pop-punk group Hey Monday before going solo, hitting big on NBC's The Voice and launching a country career, will play the Dallas Bull on Aug. 21. Tickets are $10-$15. Click here. …

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Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, Paramore's Hayley Williams talk Monumentour, Warped Tour and more

Surprisingly few bands have ever gone from playing the hot, sweaty stages of the Vans Warped Tour to headlining amphitheatres and arenas. Even the most successful such bands -- think Blink-182, No Doubt and My Chemical Romance -- have split or gone on hiatus over the years.

So it is with Fall Out Boy and Paramore, whose "Momentour" hits the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Saturday (tickets start at $26; click here). After hitting huge highs in the mid-2000s, both bands went on hiatus and nearly imploded a few years back. But in 2013, they returned in a big way, with Fall Out Boy's Save Rock and Roll earning rave reviews and Paramore's Ain't It Fun becoming the biggest hit of their career.

“To top arena shows feels incredible,” Paramore singer Hayley Williams said during a recent conference call with journalists. “And now we’re getting to do all these amphitheaters — some amphitheaters that we played with No Doubt back in 2009 — and it feels amazing. I can’t wait to see how much celebration there is between Paramore fans and Fall Out Boy fans who have watched our bands come from nothing.”

“Being able to get into amphitheaters — I guess we didn’t even have the hope of that when we started this album process,” added Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz during a conference call of his own. “We came from a very specific scene of music, and now that doesn’t seem to exist. It’s a different thing now, and we’re trying to figure out what our place in it is.”

For more of our story about how Paramore and Fall Out Boy went from Warped to conquering the world -- along with a few thoughts from Sydney Sierota, singer of the current Warped band Echosmith -- click here.Full Story

Ticket Window: Capital Cities, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Trace Adkins, Vanessa Williams and more

Another huge week of concerts with tickets going on sale this week, including a slew of holiday shows at Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Capitol Theatre in November and December. Vanessa Williams, above, just misses the cut -- she'll perform Jan. 5 at the Cap. …

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Rodrigo y Gabriela coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Ruth Eckerd Hall is expecting the guitarheads of Tampa Bay to come out en masse for the Experience Hendrix Tour on Sept. 20 -- and with a lineup that includes Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, they won't go home disappointed.

But those in the know would do well to grab a seat for Rodrigo y Gabriela on Oct. 9, too.

The Mexican buskers turned globe-trotting maestros of jazz, rock and mariachi-tinged metal put on a show like few others, which is why they've played nearly every major rock festival on the planet, their fingers flipping, fluttering and flying across their fretboards in exhilarating fashion. Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero have performed with orchestras, written music for movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and left millions of jaws agape in their wake. Seriously: Just watch this recent performance on Conan and try not to have your mind blown.

The duo haven't played Tampa Bay since a 2010 show at the Ritz Ybor, and their Oct. 9 show at Ruth Eckerd will mark a welcome return. Tickets are $32.50-$120, and they'll go on sale Saturday. Click here for more details on the show.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Trace Adkins, Kenny G, Dave Koz, Christopher Cross announce holiday concerts in Clearwater

Talk about celebrating Christmas in July.

Ruth Eckerd Hall on Tuesday announced a slate of holiday concerts there and at the Capitol Theatre, putting the 2014 holiday season on track to be the most music-filled yet.

Trace Adkins (above), Kenny G, Dave Koz, Jim Brickman, Rockapella and the Manhattan Transfer are among eight holiday concerts that'll take place between Nov. 29 and

All eight shows will feature an array of Christmas classics, and tickets to each will go on sale at noon Friday.

Let's run down the list:

Nov. 29: Saxophonist Dave Koz with R&B singer-guitarist Jonathan Butler, Grammy-winning singer Christopher Cross and singer Maysa at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets are $35-$85. Click here.

Dec. 7: Singer-songwriter Jim Brickman's annual holiday tour will combine new music, classic hits and holiday favorites at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets are $35-$75. Click here.

Dec. 11: A cappella vocal group Rockapella brings their annual Christmas tour to the Capitol Theatre on Dec. 11. Ticktes are $30-$59. Click here.

Dec. 12: Smooth jazz king Kenny G will bring his holiday tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets are $49.50-$79.50. Click here. …

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2014 Warped Tour preview: We the Kings, Sleeping With Sirens, Issues, Sleeper Agent and more artists to watch

Issues: No one was really asking for rap-metal to make a comeback, but Atlanta’s Issues are giving it their best shot, harkening back to the heyday of Limp Bizkit and Korn with their blend of metalcore shredding, hip-hop bass, DJ scratching, synthesizers and, of course, the obligatory tongue-in-cheek pop cover: Justin Bieber’s Boyfriend.


Issues: No one was really asking for rap-metal to make a comeback, but Atlanta’s Issues are giving it their best shot, harkening back to the heyday of Limp Bizkit and Korn with their blend of metalcore shredding, hip-hop bass, DJ scratching, synthesizers and, of course, the obligatory tongue-in-cheek pop cover: Justin Bieber’s Boyfriend.

For its 20th edition, the Vans Warped Tour seems to be taking a look in the rear view. Most of the big names on this year’s tour, which returns to St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park on Friday, are playing their third, fourth, even eighth (!) edition of Warped. While not exactly a greatest hits package, it’s certainly got a taste of everything that’s made Warped so popular over the past two decades. For more on the show, click here. To help get your primed, click the headline of this post to start a slideshow of some of the Warped veterans (as well as a couple of newbies) you can expect to see on Friday.

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SoundBytes: Capital Cities, Skinny Puppy, Stiff Little Fingers and more

-- Playing a club is a long way from opening for Katy Perry in a major arena, but it probably won't affect the party vibe of Capital Cities too much. Three weeks after opening for Perry at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Safe and Sound duo has announced a show at the Ritz Ybor on Oct. 23. Tickets are $25. Click here.

-- Industrial legends Skinny Puppy are teaming up with VNV Nation, Haujobb and Youth Code for a tour that'll hit Jannus Live on Dec. 5. Tickets will go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- Alien Ant Farm scored a late-'90s hit with the cheeky Michael Jackson cover Smooth Criminal, and now you can see them at the State Theatre on Aug. 31. Tickets are $16-$18. Click here.

-- Also coming to the State Theatre on Oct. 17: Chainsaw-wielding hair metal outfit Jackyl. Tickets are $20. Click here.

-- DJ Carnage played to a massive crowd at Hogan's Beach in Tampa on July 6. Will he do the same when he plays the Amphitheatre in Ybor City on Oct. 9 alongside Dzeko and Torres and Paris Blohm. Tickets are on pre-sale now for $20. Click here. …

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Echosmith's Sydney Sierota talks Warped Tour, 'Cool Kids,' the pressures of pop stardom and more

Scan through past lineups for the Vans Warped Tour, and you’ll find the names of artists you can’t believe once played it.

Katy Perry. Eminem. Pharrell Williams. The Black Eyed Peas.

Someday in the not-too-distant future, we might be adding Echosmith to that list.

“I would have never thought to be on Warped Tour, ever,” Echosmith singer Sydney Sierota said during a recent phone call from a Warped stop in Massachusetts. “It has had a stereotype over the past few years as (having) more screamo bands or harder bands than us, but (Warped founder Kevin Lyman) is trying to broaden the genres even more lately. I think we’re one of the bands he’s kind of experimenting on that with, because we’re definitely not the most expected type.”

She can say that again. It’s rare for any Warped band to have a Top 40 single under their belt; it’s rarer still when that single — in this case, Echosmith’s Cool Kids — is actually shooting up the charts while the band is out on Warped. Add to that fact that Echosmith’s four members are all siblings between the ages of 15 and 21, and they’re arguably the least likely Warped act in the past few years. …

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Artist of the day: Beach Bum Pirate

Scott Ramsey, a Palm Harbor-based singer-songwriter who performs under the name "Beach Bum Pirate,"

Former graphic designer Scott Ramsey of Palm Harbor decided to take the plunge as a professional musician last November after his friends asked him to write a theme song for their cruise group, which calls itself "The Island Hoppers."

"I thought it was funny how easy it was," said Ramsey, 50, who performs under the name Beach Bum Pirate. "No wonder Jimmy Buffett does this."

Beach Bum Pirate will perform from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Sunset Grill Tiki Bar in Ruskin. For more on Ramsey, click here for Victoria Jacobsen's profile.

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This week in Tampa: Kiss, Def Leppard, The Fray, American Idol Live and more

Luis Santana

Big, balls-out rock 'n' roll take center stage this week, as Kiss and Def Leppard bring their summer tour to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. But there are plenty of other good shows this week, including The Fray, American Idol Live, Cultura Profecta, Aaron Lewis, Machine Gun Kelly, Alex G, DJ Pierre and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...

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Ticket Window: Jason Aldean, Coral Skies Festival, Halestorm, Garfunkel and Oates and more

It's safe to say the summer doldrums are almost behind us, and a crazy fall concert season is on its way. This week's Ticket Window is simply massive, with a number of major shows going on sale, including the Coral Skies Music Festival with Cage the Elephant, Julian Casablancas, Bleachers and more on Oct. 25 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. A $20 early bird ticket sale has been extended through Monday, so hop on it. …

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Artist of the day: The Porch Sessions

The Porch Sessions are an instrumental group hailing from Ybor City. The quartet fuses the sounds of mid-nineties instrumental acts (think the math rock rhythms of Don Cabellero) with King Crimson’s violin-fueled ’73-’74 lineup. This amalgamation yields a unique twist on the genre, producing somber introspective sounds.

The Porch Sessions are Christina Piasecki, guitar and bass; Kevin Zimnock, drums; Josh Cannon, bass and guitar; and Chris Barbosa, viola. We caught up with Piasecki and Barbosa at one of their favorite haunts, New World Brewery, to learn more about their instrumental offerings.

On your Facebook page, it is stated: “On the stoop of an old Ybor City bungalow, musicians and friends gather around a twelve pack of PBR and a bottle of Buffalo Trace. And so it began.” There has to be more to the story than that. Could you elaborate? …

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Review: Dave Matthews Band digs deep, goes big for career-spanning set at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Dave Matthews Band performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on July 16, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

Dave Matthews Band performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on July 16, 2014.

You could argue the gimmick of Dave Matthews Band's 2014 summer tour -- two sets, one acoustic, one electric -- was engineered to ward off whiffs of the band becoming a legacy act.

This has never seemed like it might be a problem. The band's catalog is deep enough, its setlists diverse enough, that they can draw 15,000 fans to Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on a muggy, muddy Wednesday without batting an eye. They've played this venue 10 of the last 11 summers, and no one has ever complained. Why change?

Well, whatever shake-up the band felt they needed, it worked. For three and a half hours, Matthews' merry miscreants zigged and zagged, jammed and jogged through a career-spanning set, pleasing first-timers with huge hits and long-timers with whimsical, noodly deep cuts. If the band considered the lengthly split set a challenge to themselves, fans would have to say they met it with aplomb.Full Story

Mary Chapin Carpenter coming to the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater

The music world is all abuzz about where Garth Brooks' big comeback tour will take him, so as long as we're on the subject of mid-'90s country, let's spend a couple of minutes on Mary Chapin Carpenter.

The singer-songwriter is best known for her endlessly hit-spawning 1992 album Come On Come On -- Passionate Kisses! He Thinks He'll Keep Her! The Hard Way! I Feel Lucky! -- but her entire discography is littered with sweet, folksy songs about love and loss and hard lives. Anyone who thinks Kacey Musgraves or Brandy Clark is the be-all-end-all of authentic country folk in 2014 needs to take a deep dive into Carpenter's catalog.

Or maybe they can check her out on Nov. 7 at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater. Carpenter will bring her intimate acoustic tour to the Cap, where she'll perform stripped-down versions of her biggest hits and deepest cuts alongside a pianist and multi-instrumentalist. She'll also be joined by opener Tift Merritt, a solid draw in her own right. …

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