50 concerts, 50 venues, one summer: My top 5 venues
I should make one thing clear: As I spent this summer traveling to 50 concerts at 50 different venues, I did NOT visit every live music venue in town. In fact, I missed some pretty big ones: Tampa Theatre, Dunedin Brewery, Gasoline Alley, The Emerald, Hyde Park Cafe, Club 112 ... you get the idea.
Why didn't I make it to these venues? A variety of reasons. I wanted to hit each venue for a show that sounded genuinely interesting enough to write about. And often, the most interesting shows at these venues came on nights when, for one reason or another, I just couldn't make it.
At other times, it seemed the fates were conspired against me. I tried to attend a Ramones tribute show show at Dunedin Brewery, but it was sold out. I attended a gothic metal wedding at Gasoline Alley, but didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the band, Retrovein, and didn't feel like I could write a decent review. I was all set to see The Semis at the Emerald, but a last-minute family issue forced me to reschedule. These things happen. I'm not moving away anytime soon; I'm sure I'll catch a show at these places in the near future.
That said: Of all the venues I DID visit this summer, these five are where I'd most like to go back for another show. Catch me on another day, and this list might look a little different. In no particular order:
1. Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center: Ornate decor, excellent acoustics in Carol Morsani Hall. I sat almost directly above Flight of the Conchords, and thought the view and sound were just fine. If I had to pick one mid-sized arena in which to see a one of my favorite bands perform, it’d probably be this one.
2. Garage Bar: Loved the rockabilly vibe and faux tattoo art by St. Pete’s Vitale Brothers on the walls. It perfectly suited the band I was there to see, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. Unfortunately, it closed in August. D’oh!
3. Dave’s Aqua Lounge: This place couldn’t be more laid-back, working class and divey. I came here at the end of a long day, and the bar, and the music by Tampa Tina and the Delta Aces, was just what I needed to unwind.
4. Dallas Bull (above): If only they’d open up the Bull to non-country artists. Great sound, extraordinarily friendly vibe, and plenty of games and drinks to keep you busy if the artist onstage (in my case, Joe Nichols) isn’t doing it for you.
5. Channelside: Seriously. I saw Trapt here during the Buccaneers’ Kickoff Party, and let me tell you: Channelside needs a permanent stage right next to the water. It was the most eye-catching venue I saw all summer, with great sight lines all around, and plenty of places to eat and drink. During one song, a dinner cruise pulled up beside the stage so passengers could check out the band. Where else is that going to happen?
— Jay Cridlin, tbt*