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The 50-50 Club: One summer, 50 concerts, 50 venues




Hi. See that guy in the middle? That's me, Jay Cridlin, your humble Soundcheck editor.

I'm standing front-row center at a Flaming Lips concert on April 14, 2007 at Jannus Landing. I had arrived early in hopes that I might serve as one of the dancing outer-space Santa Clauses that populate the Flaming Lips’ live shows, and then write about the experience. Sadly, I was not picked, possibly because modern science has yet to produce a Santa hat large enough to cover all that hair.

No matter. The concert was awesome, one of the best I’ve ever seen. I was deaf for days, and I loved it.

Today I am older and wiser, and I have gotten at least one haircut. But if the Flaming Lips come back to town, I would still love to write that story. It’s one of many crazy rock 'n’ roll stories I’d like to write someday.

Here’s another one: This summer, I plan to attend 50 concerts at 50 different venues across Tampa Bay. From now through August, I’ll hit as many bars, bandshells, arenas and theaters as possible, all in search of the ultimate Tampa Bay concert experience.

Country music at the Dallas Bull. Hip-hop at Club Underground. Death metal at the Brass Mug. You name it, I want to try it. I’m calling this quest “The 50-50 Club,” and I will blog about it here.

I assume you, like so many of my loved ones, have questions. After the jump, I‚Äôll do my best to answer them.

Yes, you in the back.

"The 50-50 Club" is a stupid name. You’re stupid.

Good question. I picked it because it sounds like it could be the name of a music venue where half the bands are pretty good, and half the bands are terrible*. I figure that ratio will probably be about what I can expect from this project.

How come you get to do this for a living? I hate you.

I hear you. The truth is, this assignment probably won‚Äôt be as much fun as it sounds. You may think going to 50 concerts in a single summer would be an absolute hoot and a holler, but really, it‚Äôs only fun if you‚Äôre going to shows by artists you like at venues you like. I‚Äôll be attending plenty of concerts by artists I‚Äôve never heard of at venues I‚Äôve never set foot in. And it‚Äôs also possible ‚Äî no, it‚Äôs a guarantee ‚Äî that I‚Äôll be returning home from some of these shows at 1 a.m. on a school night, reeking of Camels and PBR.

Screw you, man. That sounds awesome.

Okay, yes, you’re right, it is awesome. Next question.

What makes you qualified to do this? Also, I hate you.

Excellent point! As an entertainment journalist and former semi-professional snack-foods blogger, it is my job to know the answers to questions like, "At the Pegasus Lounge, do the urinals contain blocks of ice or deoderizing cakes?'" Here at Soundcheck, we aim to provide you with those answers! (In the business, we call that a "tease.")

In addition, I have written all of three (3) concert reviews for tbt*, and I am possibly the only man alive** to have interviewed both Carrie Underwood and Gwar. If that doesn’t put your doubts to rest, well, then, you, sir, are an uncultured moron.

Aren’t you the same Jay Cridlin who once wrote in a concert review, "(Taylor) Hicks’ harmonica work — outstanding, by the way — was really fun"?

Look, "who I am" is neither here nor there. The point is, I’m serious about this project. I have a soft spot for ridiculous journalistic stunts, and soaking in a couple hundred hours’ worth of music over the course of four months definitely qualifies.

You’re such a poseur. How come I’ve never seen you at any local concerts?

"Oooh, look at me, I use the word 'poseur'! I spell things the British way! I eat crisps and mushy peas! My currency is multicolored! My Web site ends in '.uk’! I’m so great!”

(Translation: I don’t have a good comeback for that. But one of my goals with this project is to help me meet more local artists. I’m an open-minded guy — if you want me to check out one of your shows, hey, holler at your boy.)

Please, god, whatever you do, never use the phrase "holler at your boy" again.

Done and done. And with that, we conclude the FAQ portion of this post. If I didn’t get to your question, by all means, holler at — I mean, please send me an electronic-mail. I hope you’ll bookmark this site and check back in throughout the summer, as I slowly develop tinnitus. I look forward to blogging at you.

The 50-50 Club kicks off tonight with Flight of the Conchords at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. I will be there, and I will be square. Check back here Tuesday morning for a full report.

And if you happen to see me at the show, please tell me: Is there a Christmas store around here that sells plus-size Santa hats?

— Jay Cridlin, tbt*

* Not true, actually: I picked it because I am lazy.

** Aside, of course, from Walter Cronkite.

[Photo by Luis Santana, tbt*]

[Last modified: Monday, April 6, 2009 11:30am]


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